Oral Azole Antifungal Medications and Risk of Acute Liver Injury, Overall and by Chronic Liver Disease Status

Vincent Lo Re, Dena M. Carbonari, James D. Lewis, Kimberly A. Forde, David S. Goldberg, K. Rajender Reddy, Kevin Haynes, Jason A. Roy, Daohang Sha, Amy R. Marks, Jennifer L. Schneider, Brian L. Strom, Douglas A. Corley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Background Reports on associations between azole antifungal medications and acute liver injury are inconsistent and have not been based on liver-related laboratory tests. We evaluated incidence rates of acute liver injury associated with oral azole antifungals. Methods We conducted a cohort study among Kaiser Permanente Northern California members who initiated an oral azole antifungal in an outpatient setting during 2004-2010. We determined development of: (1) liver aminotransferases >200 U/L, (2) severe acute liver injury (coagulopathy with hyperbilirubinemia), and (3) acute liver failure. We calculated incidence rates of endpoints. Cox regression was used to determine whether chronic liver disease was a risk factor for outcomes. Results Among 195,334 azole initiators (178,879 fluconazole; 14,296 ketoconazole; 1653 itraconazole; 478 voriconazole; 28 posaconazole), incidence rates (events/1000 person-years [95% confidence intervals (CIs)]) of liver aminotransferases >200 U/L were similarly low with fluconazole (13.0 [11.4-14.6]), ketoconazole (19.3 [13.8-26.3]), and itraconazole (24.5 [10.6-48.2]). Rates were higher with voriconazole (181.9 [112.6-278.0]) and posaconazole (191.1 [23.1-690.4]), but comparable. Severe acute liver injury was uncommon with fluconazole (2.0 [1.4-2.7]), ketoconazole (2.9 [1.1-6.3]), and itraconazole (0.0 [0.0-11.2]), but more frequent with voriconazole (16.7 [2.0-60.2]) and posaconazole (93.4 [2.4-520.6]). One patient developed acute liver failure due to ketoconazole. Pre-existing chronic liver disease increased risks of aminotransferases >200 U/L (hazard ratio 4.68 [95% CI, 3.68-5.94]) and severe acute liver injury (hazard ratio 5.62 [95% CI, 2.56-12.35]). Conclusions Rates of acute liver injury were similarly low for fluconazole, ketoconazole, and itraconazole. Events were more common among voriconazole and posaconazole users but were comparable. Pre-existing chronic liver disease increased risk of azole-induced liver injury.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)283-291.e5
JournalAmerican Journal of Medicine
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Acute liver failure
  • Azole
  • Drug-induced liver injury
  • Hepatotoxicity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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