Alterations in Alanine Transaminase, Aspartate Transaminase, Gamma-Glutamyl Transpeptidase, and Creatine Kinase in Acne Patients Undergoing Isotretinoin Treatment: A Retrospective Evaluation of Laboratory Tests

Cureus. 2024 Mar 30;16(3):e57296. doi: 10.7759/cureus.57296. eCollection 2024 Mar.


Background Isotretinoin therapy is a commonly prescribed medication by dermatologists for the treatment of acne. Regular laboratory assessments are recommended throughout the treatment period to detect any potential complications. Objectives This study aims to present the alterations in laboratory parameters throughout the course of isotretinoin therapy and identify required diagnostic testing. Methods This study involved 136 patients undergoing isotretinoin treatment at doses of 0.3-0.5 mg/kg/day, with ages ranging from 18 to 41 years. A retrospective evaluation was conducted on biomarkers including aspartate aminotransferase (AST), alanine aminotransferase (ALT), gamma-glutamyl transpeptidase (GGT), creatine kinase (CK), triglycerides, total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C), high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C), hemoglobin, white blood cells, and thrombocytes. Levels of these parameters were analyzed prior to treatment and at the third month of treatment from the records of patients and the data were compared statistically. Moreover, the parameters of ALT, AST, CK, and GGT were graded objectively, and any alterations were noted in the patients. Results The levels of ALT, AST and GGT, along with triglycerides, total cholesterol, LDL-C, and thrombocyte levels showed significant elevation (p=0.001, p<0.001, p<0.001, p=0.001, p<0.001, p<0.001, and p=0.003, respectively). A significant decrease in HDL-C with hemoglobin was also noted (p=0.022, p=0.006, respectively). One patient (0.73%) exhibited grade 1 elevations in ALT, AST, and CK. One patient (0.73%) displayed grade 1 elevations in ALT and AST. One patient (0.73%) exhibited grade 1 elevations in AST and CK, while another patient (0.73%) had grade 1 elevation in AST and grade 3 elevation in CK. Furthermore, one patient (0.73%) had a grade 1 elevation exclusively in ALT, two patients (1.47%) had a grade 1 elevation exclusively in AST, and six patients (4.41%) exhibited a grade 1 elevation in CK only. No grade changes were observed in the GGT levels in the patients. Conclusion During isotretinoin treatment, changes in ALT and AST levels were more frequently associated with the muscle enzyme CK, while GGT levels remained unaffected. Therefore, GGT can be considered a reliable parameter for evaluating liver function in patients undergoing isotretinoin treatment.

Keywords: acne; alanine transaminase; aspartate transaminase; creatine kinase; gamma-glutamyl transpeptidase; isotretinoin.