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Immune mechanisms in tienilic acid associated hepatotoxicity.
  1. J Neuberger,
  2. R Williams
  1. Liver Unit, Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Queen Elizabeth Medical Centre, Birmingham.


    In order to investigate the mechanisms underlying the hepatotoxicity associated with tienilic acid (Ticrynafen) ingestion we have looked for evidence of sensitisation to drug altered liver cell determinants using an indirect antibody dependent, cell mediated cytotoxicity assay (ADCC). As targets, hepatocytes were isolated from rabbits pretreated with either tienilic acid or its isomer with or without previous enzyme induction with either phenobarbitone or B-naphthoflavone (BNF). Sera from 16 of 36 patients with presumed tienilic acid hepatotoxicity induced significant cytotoxicity to hepatocytes isolated from rabbits pretreated with BNF and subsequently tienilic acid. Three of 10 sera from patients receiving tienilic acid but without overt liver damage also induced significant cytotoxicity to these hepatocytes, however, although none of 20 normal controls or of 16 patients with other liver diseases did so. Non-organ specific autoantibodies, classified as anti-LKM2, were also detectable. These were present in association with tienilic acid associated antibodies: of the 36 patients with presumed tienilic acid hepatotoxicity, 38% had both antibodies, 18% had only anti-LKM2 antibodies and 9% only tienilic acid associated antibodies. These results suggest that this drug reaction is associated with sensitisation to drug altered liver cell antigens and autoantigens. If ticrynafen associated hepatotoxicity is immune mediated, then one possible mechanism is that the drug induced antigens break tolerance, leading to an immune attack on normal liver cell components.

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