BACKGROUND: Several risk factors for the development of hepatotoxicity during short course antituberculosis therapy have been suggested. A case-control study was undertaken to assess the role of age, sex, disease extent, nutritional status, past history of liver disease, infection with hepatitis viruses, acetylator status, and high alcohol intake as risk factors in the development of hepatotoxicity in patients with pulmonary tuberculosis receiving antituberculosis treatment. METHODS: The cases comprised 86 consecutive patients who were diagnosed as having hepatitis induced by antituberculosis drugs and who were negative for any of the hepatitis markers (HAV-IgM, HBsAg, HBc-IgM, and anti-HCV). The control group comprised 406 consecutive patients attending the chest clinic who completed antituberculosis treatment without developing hepatitis. The variables analysed were age, sex, body mass index (BMI), history of high alcohol intake, radiological extent of the disease, acetylator status, and serum proteins. RESULTS: The cases were older and their serum albumin levels were lower than in the control group. High alcohol intake was more common among the cases, they had more extensive disease radiologically, and the proportion of slow acetylators was higher. No differences were observed between the two groups in the other risk factors analysed. CONCLUSIONS: Of the various risk factors analysed, only advanced age, hypoalbuminaemia, high alcohol intake, slow acetylator phenotype, and extensive disease were risk factors for the development of hepatotoxicity. The risk of hepatitis in the presence of one or more of these risk factors may be increased.
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