Key Characteristics of Human Hepatotoxicants as a Basis for Identification and Characterization of the Causes of Liver Toxicity

Hepatology. 2021 Dec;74(6):3486-3496. doi: 10.1002/hep.31999. Epub 2021 Jul 13.


Hazard identification regarding adverse effects on the liver is a critical step in safety evaluations of drugs and other chemicals. Current testing paradigms for hepatotoxicity rely heavily on preclinical studies in animals and human data (epidemiology and clinical trials). Mechanistic understanding of the molecular and cellular pathways that may cause or exacerbate hepatotoxicity is well advanced and holds promise for identification of hepatotoxicants. One of the challenges in translating mechanistic evidence into robust decisions about potential hepatotoxicity is the lack of a systematic approach to integrate these data to help identify liver toxicity hazards. Recently, marked improvements were achieved in the practice of hazard identification of carcinogens, female and male reproductive toxicants, and endocrine disrupting chemicals using the key characteristics approach. Here, we describe the methods by which key characteristics of human hepatotoxicants were identified and provide examples for how they could be used to systematically identify, organize, and use mechanistic data when identifying hepatotoxicants.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chemical and Drug Induced Liver Injury / diagnosis*
  • Chemical and Drug Induced Liver Injury / pathology
  • Humans
  • Liver / drug effects
  • Liver / pathology