Liver safety of statins in prediabetes or T2DM and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis: Post hoc analysis of a randomized trial

Fernando Bril, Paola Portillo Sanchez, Romina Lomonaco, Beverly Orsak, Joan Hecht, Fermin Tio, Kenneth Cusi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Context: Patients with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease have a high cardiovascular risk, but statins are rarely prescribed because of fear of hepatotoxicity. Objective: To prospectively assess the long-term safety of statins in patients with prediabetes/type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). Design: Post hoc analysis of statin use during a randomized, controlled trial assessing pioglitazone vs placebo for NASH. Patients: A total of 101 patients (86 receiving statins) with biopsy-proven NASH and prediabetes/T2DM were followed for up to 36 months. Interventions: Oral glucose tolerance test and percutaneous liver biopsy (baseline, month 18, and month 36); liver magnetic resonance spectroscopy and euglycemic insulin clamp (baseline and month 18). Main Outcome Measures: Histologic and biochemical safety of statin use among patients with NASH. Results: Only 37% of patients were receiving statins at enrollment despite their high cardiovascular risk. Statin nonusers had higher plasma alanine aminotransferase levels but similar histologic severity of liver disease at baseline. In both statin users and nonusers, the same number of patients (n = 4) had a twofold or greater increase in plasma aminotransferases during follow-up. One statin nonuser was discontinued from the study because of this elevation. Values returned to normal without any active measure in all other cases. No changes on liver histology or hepatic insulin resistance were observed in patients with NASH newly started on a statin and receiving placebo during the main study. Conclusions: Statin therapy is safe in patients with prediabetes/T2DM and NASH. Given their high cardiovascular risk, statin therapy should be encouraged in this population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2950-2961
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Biochemistry
  • Endocrinology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Biochemistry, medical


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