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Lower risks of cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma with GLP-1RAs in type 2 diabetes: A nationwide cohort study using target trial emulation framework.

BACKGROUND: To assess the association of cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) with the use of glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists (GLP-1RAs) versus long-acting insulins (LAIs), which are the two commonly prescribed injectable glucose-lowering agents (GLAs) for patients with type 2 diabetes (T2D) after the failure of multiple oral GLAs.

METHODS: We emulated a target trial using the nationwide data of a Taiwanese cohort with T2D. Incident new users of GLP-1RAs and LAIs during 2013-2018 were identified, and propensity score (PS) matching was applied to ensure between-group comparability in baseline patient characteristics. The primary outcome was the composite liver disease including cirrhosis or HCC. Each patient was followed until the occurrence of a study outcome, death, or the end of 2019, whichever came first. Subdistribution hazard models were employed to assess the treatment-outcome association. Sensitivity (e.g., stabilized inverse probability of treatment weighting analysis, time-dependent analysis), E-value, and negative control outcome analyses were performed to examine the robustness of study findings.

RESULTS: We included 7171 PS-matched pairs of GLP-1RA and LAI users with no significant between-group differences at baseline. Compared with LAIs, the use of GLP-1RAs was associated with significantly reduced risks of composite liver disease (subdistribution hazard ratio [95% confidence interval]: 0.56 [0.42-0.76]), cirrhosis (0.59 [0.43-0.81]), and HCC (0.47 [0.24-0.93]). Results were consistent across sensitivity analyses and among patients with different baseline characteristics.

CONCLUSION: Among T2D patients who require injectable GLAs, the use of GLP-1RAs versus LAIs was associated with lower risks of cirrhosis and HCC.

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