Drug-Induced Liver Injury: Highlights and Controversies in the Recent Literature

Drug Saf. 2021 Nov;44(11):1125-1149. doi: 10.1007/s40264-021-01109-4. Epub 2021 Sep 17.


Drug-induced liver injury (DILI) remains an important, yet challenging diagnosis for physicians. Each year, additional drugs are implicated in DILI and this year was no different, with more than 1400 articles published on the subject. This review examines some of the most significant highlights and controversies in DILI-related research over the past year and their implications for clinical practice. Several new drugs were approved by the US Food and Drug Administration including a number of drugs implicated in causing DILI, particularly among the chemotherapeutic classes. The COVID-19 pandemic was also a major focus of attention in 2020 and we discuss some of the notable aspects of COVID-19-related liver injury and its implications for diagnosing DILI. Updates in diagnostic and causality assessments related to DILI such as the Roussel Uclaf Causality Assessment Method are included, mindful that there is still no single biomarker or diagnostic tool to unequivocally diagnose DILI. Glutamate dehydrogenase received renewed attention as being more specific than alanine aminotransferase. There were a few new reports of previously unrecognized hepatotoxins, including immune modulators and novel gene therapy drugs that we highlight. Updates and new developments of previously described hepatotoxins, such as immune checkpoint inhibitors and anti-tuberculosis drugs are reviewed. Finally, novel technologies such as organoid culture systems to better predict DILI preclinically may be coming of age and determinants of hepatocyte loss, such as calculating PALT are poised to improve our current means of estimating DILI severity and the risk of acute liver failure.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19 Drug Treatment*
  • Causality
  • Chemical and Drug Induced Liver Injury*
  • Humans
  • Risk Factors
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • United States