Drug-induced Liver Fibrosis: Testing Nevirapine in a Viral-like Liver Setting Using Histopathology, MALDI IMS, and Gene Expression

Toxicol Pathol. 2016 Jan;44(1):112-31. doi: 10.1177/0192623315617033. Epub 2016 Jan 4.


Nevirapine (NVP) is associated with hepatotoxicity in 1-5% of patients. In rodent studies, NVP has been shown to cause hepatic enzyme induction, centrilobular hypertrophy, and skin rash in various rat strains but not liver toxicity. In an effort to understand whether NVP is metabolized differently in a transiently inflamed liver and whether a heightened immune response alters NVP-induced hepatic responses, female brown Norway rats were dosed with either vehicle or NVP alone (75 mg/kg/day for 15 days) or galactosamine alone (single intraperitoneal [ip] injection on day 7 to mimic viral hepatitis) or a combination of NVP (75/100/150 mg/kg/day for 15 days) and galactosamine (single 750 mg/kg ip on day 7). Livers were collected at necropsy for histopathology, matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization imaging mass spectrometry and gene expression. Eight days after galactosamine, hepatic fibrosis was noted in rats dosed with the combination of NVP and galactosamine. No fibrosis occurred with NVP alone or galactosamine alone. Gene expression data suggested a viral-like response initiated by galactosamine via RNA sensors leading to apoptosis, toll-like receptor, and dendritic cell responses. These were exacerbated by NVP-induced growth factor, retinol, apoptosis, and periostin effects. This finding supports clinical reports warning against exacerbation of fibrosis by NVP in patients with hepatitis C.

Keywords: M2 macrophages; galactosamine; hepatic fibrosis; lipocalin 2; nevirapine; periostin; sgpl1.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antiviral Agents / toxicity
  • Female
  • Galactosamine / toxicity
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Histocytochemistry
  • Liver / pathology*
  • Liver / virology
  • Liver Cirrhosis / chemically induced*
  • Liver Cirrhosis / pathology*
  • Nevirapine / toxicity*
  • Rats
  • Spectrometry, Mass, Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption-Ionization


  • Antiviral Agents
  • Galactosamine
  • Nevirapine