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Additional effect of etanercept or infliximab on the liver function tests of patients with rheumatoid arthritis: a cohort study

Authors Akhlaghi S, Sahebari M, Mahmoodi M, Yaseri M, Mansournia MA, Rafatpanah H, Zeraati H

Received 3 May 2018

Accepted for publication 12 August 2018

Published 9 October 2018 Volume 2018:14 Pages 1943—1950


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Professor Garry Walsh

Saeed Akhlaghi,1 Maryam Sahebari,2 Mahmoud Mahmoodi,1 Mehdi Yaseri,1 Mohammad Ali Mansournia,1 Houshang Rafatpanah,3 Hojjat Zeraati1

1Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, School of Public Health, Tehran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran; 2Rheumatic Diseases Research Center (RDRC), Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, Iran; 3Inflammation and Inflammatory Diseases Research Center, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, Mashhad, Iran

Purpose: One of the most important long-term side effects of therapy for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is the elevation of liver function tests, with earlier studies reporting an elevation of more than 1× the upper limit of normal (>1 × ULN). The current study expands the literature by comparing the trends of transaminase changes caused by conventional and biologic disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs).
Patients and methods: The drug categories examined were methotrexate (MTX) and all other nonbiologic DMARDs. Where RA patients exhibited inadequate response to conventional DMARDs (cDMARDs), we added biologic DMARDs (bDMARDs) to the treatment. We compared the trend of changes in alanine aminotransferase (ALT) and aspartate aminotransferase (AST) in the patients receiving MTX with the trend observed in the patients whose treatment encompassed both bDMARDs and MTX. The comparison was conducted using random intercept models, which are a type of linear mixed effects model.
Results: This work involved 512 RA patients (MTX: 450, MTX + infliximab [INF]: 26, MTX +
etanercept [ETA]: 36), whose ALT and/or AST levels were measured in 1,786 visits (MTX: 1,543, MTX + INF: 107, MTX + ETA: 136). ALT and/or AST elevations greater than 1 × ULN were observed in 344 (19.3%) visits (MTX: 295 [19.1%], MTX + INF/ETA: 49 [20.2%]). In this study, the trends of ALT and AST changes increased when receiving MTX, while the INF/ETA addition decreased these trends. The random intercept models indicated that changes in the mean ALT levels were significantly different over the time for MTX and MTX + INF/ETA groups (β [SE] =-0.190 [0.093], P= 0.040) but changes in the mean AST levels were nonsignificantly different over the time for such groups (β [SE] =-0.099 [0.064], P=0.120).
Conclusion: Despite a higher incidence of elevated transaminases during the use of MTX + INF/ETA, the combination of INF/ETA with MTX reduced transaminase levels and returned ALT levels to normal concentrations.

Keywords: longitudinal, ALT, AST, DMARDs, biologic DMARDs, MTX

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