Heavy Consumption of Alcohol is Not Associated With Worse Outcomes in Patients With Idiosyncratic Drug-induced Liver Injury Compared to Non-Drinkers

United States Drug Induced Liver Injury Network

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Scopus citations


Background & Aims: The relationship between alcohol consumption and idiosyncratic drug-induced liver injury (DILI) is not well understood. We investigated the relationship between heavy consumption of alcohol and characteristics and outcomes of patients with DILI enrolled in the Drug-induced Liver Injury Network (DILIN) prospective study. Methods: We collected data from 1198 individuals with definite, highly likely, or probable DILI enrolled in the DILIN study from September 2004 through April 2016. At enrollment, all participants were asked about alcohol consumption; those with any alcohol consumption during previous 12 months were asked to complete the Skinner questionnaire to assess drinking history. Heavy consumption of alcohol was defined as more than 3 drinks, on average, per day by men or more than 2 drinks, on average, per day by women. Results: Of the 601 persons who reported consuming at least 1 alcoholic drink in the preceding 12 months, 348 completed the Skinner questionnaire and 80 reported heavy consumption of alcohol. Heavy drinkers were younger (average age, 42 years) than non-drinkers (average age, 49 years) and a higher proportion were men (63% of heavy drinkers vs 35% of nondrinkers) (P <.01 for each comparison). Anabolic steroids were the most common cause of DILI among heavy drinkers (in 13% vs 2% in non-drinkers) (P <.001). Heavy drinkers had significantly higher peak serum levels of alanine aminotransferase (1323 U/L) than non-drinkers (754 U/L) (P =.02) and higher levels of bilirubin (16.1 mg/dL vs 12.7 mg/dL in non-drinkers) (P =.03) but there was no significant difference in liver-related death or liver transplantation between heavy drinkers (occurred in 10%) vs non-drinkers (occurred in 6%) (P =.18). Conclusion: In an analysis of data from the DILIN, we found anabolic steroids to be the most common cause of DILI in individuals who are heavy consumers of alcohol. Compared to non-drinkers, DILI was not associated with a greater proportion of liver-related deaths or liver transplantation in heavy drinkers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)722-729.e2
JournalClinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2018



  • Chronic DILI
  • Drug Induced Liver Injury
  • Drug Induced Liver Injury Network
  • Significant Alcohol Consumption

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hepatology
  • Gastroenterology

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