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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Hepatic safety of itraconazole.

BACKGROUND: As the use of the newer oral antifungal agents for the treatment of superficial fungal infections becomes more widespread, the issue of safety surrounding their use is becoming an increasingly important consideration. Itraconazole is effective and well tolerated, with most side effects being minor and reversible. The most common adverse events are gastrointestinal upset, headache, and transient skin reaction. There have also been rare reports of hepatitis. OBJECTIVE: To assess the hepatic safety of pulse and continuous itraconazole in the treatment of onychomycosis. METHODS: An analysis was performed on all itraconazole clinical trials sponsored by Janssen Research Foundation in the treatment of onychomycosis, where there was an assessment of laboratory safety. A review of the published literature was also undertaken to assess the hepatic safety of itraconazole in common practice. RESULTS: The data indicate that itraconazole pulse treatment is safe, with no significant differences in the number of code 4 abnormalities (baseline value is in the normal range and at least two values, or the last testing in the observation period, exceed twice the upper limit of normal) in the liver function parameters studied: alanine aminotransferase (ALT), aspartate aminotransferase (AST), alkaline phosphatase, and total bilirubin. The incidence of all the code 4 abnormalities was below 2%. In the literature there are reports of symptomatic hepatitis with itraconazole continuous therapy but no published report of symptomatic hepatotoxicity using the pulse regimen. CONCLUSIONS: Itraconazole pulse therapy for onychomycosis appears to be safe, especially from the perspective of potential liver damage. In the itraconazole package insert liver function tests are recommended for patients receiving continuous itraconazole for periods of time exceeding 1 month. There is no such monitoring requirement for the pulse regimen unless the patient has a history of underlying hepatic disease, the liver function tests are abnormal at baseline, or at any time that there is the development of signs or symptoms suggestive of liver dysfunction.[1]


  1. Hepatic safety of itraconazole. Gupta, A.K., Chwetzoff, E., Del Rosso, J., Baran, R. Journal of cutaneous medicine and surgery. (2002) [Pubmed]
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