A High Serum Level of Taurocholic Acid is Correlated with the Severity and Resolution of Drug-induced Liver Injury

Qiuju Tian, Ruiyuan Yang, Yan Wang, Jimin Liu, Aileen Wee, Romil Saxena, Lan Wang, Min Li, Liwei Liu, Shan Shan, Yuanyuan Kong, Hong Ma, Xiaojuan Ou, Hong You, Xinyan Zhao, Jidong Jia
Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology 2020 July 4

BACKGROUND & AIMS: Alterations in the serum levels of bile acids are associated with drug-induced liver injury (DILI). We investigated the association between serum levels of bile acids and the severity and outcome of DILI, along with the potential role of variants in the ATP binding cassette subfamily B member 11 (ABCB11) gene and expression of its product, ABCB11 (also called BSEP).

METHODS: We performed this prospective study of 95 patients (median age, 53 years; 73.7% female) with DILI from August 2018 through August 2019. Patients were matched for age, gender, and body mass index with healthy individuals (n=100; healthy controls) and patients with chronic hepatitis B (n=105; CHB controls). We collected demographic and biochemical data at baseline and 1 week, 1 month, 3 months, and 6 months after DILI onset and at the time of biochemical recovery, liver failure or liver transplantation. Serum levels of bile acids were measured using high-performance liquid-chromatography tandem mass-spectrometry. All 27 exons of ABCB11 were sequenced and expression of BSEP were analyzed by immunohistochemistry in liver biopsy specimens.

RESULTS: Levels of 30 of the 37 bile acids analyzed differed significantly between patients with DILI and healthy controls. Changes in levels of taurocholic acid (TCA), glycocholic acid, taurochenodeoxycholate, and glycochenodeoxycholate associated with the increased levels of bilirubin and greater severity of DILI, and were also associated with CHB. Cox regression analysis showed that only change in the levels of TCA independently associated with biochemical resolution of DILI. Combination of TCA level (≥ 1955.41 nmol/L), patient age, and DILI severity was associated with abnormal blood biochemistry at 6 months after DILI onset (area under the curve, 0.81; 95% confidence interval, 0.71-0.88; sensitivity, 0.69; specificity, 0.81). ABCB11 missense variants were not associated with differences in the serum bile acid profiles, DILI severity, or clinical resolution. However, lower levels of BSEP in bile canaliculi in liver biopsies were associated with altered serum levels of bile acids.

CONCLUSIONS: In this prospective study performed in Chinese patients, we found that the serum levels of TCA were associated with the severity and clinical resolution of DILI. Reduced protein expression of BSEP in liver tissue, rather than variants of the ABCB11 gene were associated with altered serum levels of bile acids.

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