Limited relevance and progression of histological alterations in the liver during thioguanine therapy in inflammatory bowel disease patients

Dirk P. van Asseldonk, Melek Simsek, Nanne K. H. de Boer, Bindia Jharap, Elisabeth Bloemena, Gijsbert den Hartog, Dik B. Westerveld, Marco C. Becx, Maurice G. Russel, Birgit I. Lissenberg-Witte, Carin M. van Nieuwkerk, Chris J. J. Mulder, Joanne Verheij, Adriaan A. van Bodegraven

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Background: Thioguanine is associated with liver toxicity, especially nodular regenerative hyperplasia (NRH). We assessed if liver histology alters during long-term maintenance treatment with thioguanine in patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Methods: Liver specimens of thioguanine treated IBD patients with at least two liver biopsies were revised by two independent liver pathologists, blinded to clinical characteristics. Alterations in histopathological findings between first and sequential liver specimen were evaluated and associated clinical data, including laboratory parameters and abdominal imaging reports, were collected. Results: Twenty-five IBD patients underwent sequential liver biopsies prior to, at time of, or after cessation of thioguanine treatment. The median time between the first and second biopsy was 25 months (range: 14–54). Except for one normal liver specimen, any degree of irregularities including inflammation, steatosis, fibrosis and some vascular disturbances were observed in the biopsies. The rates of perisinusoidal fibrosis (91%), sinusoidal dilatation (68%) and nodularity (18%) were the same in the first and second liver biopsies. A trend towards statistical significance was observed for phlebosclerosis (36% of the first vs. 68% of the second biopsies, p =.092). Presence of histopathological liver abnormalities was not associated with clinical outcomes. Furthermore, two patients in this cohort had portal hypertension in presence of phlebosclerosis. In another two patients, nodularity of the liver resolved upon thioguanine withdrawal. Conclusion: Vascular abnormalities of the liver were commonly observed in thioguanine treated IBD patients, although these were not progressive and remained of limited clinical relevance over time.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)753-760
JournalScandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jun 2019

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