The Prevalence of Nodular Regenerative Hyperplasia in Inflammatory Bowel Disease Patients Treated with Thioguanine Is Not Associated with Clinically Significant Liver Disease

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Abstract

Background:

Nodular regenerative hyperplasia (NRH) of the liver is associated with inflammatory-mediated diseases and certain drugs. There is conflicting data on the prevalence of NRH and its clinical implications in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) patients treated with thioguanine.

Methods:

A retrospective cohort study involving 7 Dutch centers comprised all IBD patients who were being treated with thioguanine and underwent a liver biopsy as part of the standard toxicity screening. Liver biopsy specimens were reviewed by 2 experienced liver pathologists. Clinical data as well as liver chemistry, blood counts, and abdominal imaging were collected.

Results:

One hundred eleven IBD patients who submitted to liver biopsy were treated with thioguanine in a daily dose of 0.3 mg/kg for a median duration of 20 (4–64) months. NRH was detected in 6% of patients (7; 95% confidence interval, 3–14 patients). Older age (P = 0.02), elevated gamma-glutamyl transferase (P = 0.01) and alkaline phosphatase (P = 0.01) levels, a higher mean corpuscular volume (P = 0.02), and a lower platelet or leukocyte count (P < 0.01 and P = 0.02, respectively) were associated with NRH. Three of the 7 patients with NRH did not have any associated clinical symptoms or signs. The other 4 had minor biochemical abnormalities only. Ultrasonography revealed splenomegaly in 3 of the 78 patients (4%; 95% confidence interval, 0%–9%), only one of whom had NRH. There was no clinically overt portal hypertension.

Conclusions:

The prevalence of NRH was 6% in liver biopsies obtained from IBD patients treated with thioguanine. Histopathological irregularities including NRH were not associated with clinically significant findings over the period of observation.

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