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

Histopathology of cocaine hepatotoxicity. Report of four patients.

Although cocaine is believed to be hepatotoxic for humans, the hepatic histopathology has been reported in only 1 patient. That patient had zone-1 necrosis. We have encountered 4 patients with liver injury secondary to cocaine use, 1 of whom died. The biopsies from two patients showed well-demarcated zone-3 necrosis identical to that seen with acetaminophen toxicity. The patient who died had necrosis of almost all hepatocytes as found at biopsy and autopsy. Biopsy was performed on another patient after resolution of the illness, and showed hyperplastic endoplastic reticulum but no necrosis. All patients had mild large- and small-droplet steatosis in surviving hepatocytes. Inflammation was mild. Drug screenings performed on all patients showed the presence of a cocaine metabolite and the absence of acetaminophen, alcohol, and other potential toxins. Patients typically had early marked increase and rapid decrease of serum aminotransferases, mild-to-moderate increase in prothrombin time, myoglobinuria, and moderate azotemia. The predominant pattern of zone-3 necrosis is similar to that reported of mice given cocaine.[1]


  1. Histopathology of cocaine hepatotoxicity. Report of four patients. Wanless, I.R., Dore, S., Gopinath, N., Tan, J., Cameron, R., Heathcote, E.J., Blendis, L.M., Levy, G. Gastroenterology (1990) [Pubmed]
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