What Causes Transaminitis

What causes transaminitis?

Transaminitis is caused by infection with viruses. Viruses are small infectious particles which include bacteria, fungi, parasites and protozoa. They are usually single or double stranded DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid). These viral particles enter the body through the airways, mucous membranes or other openings such as cuts and scratches. Some viruses may even get into the blood stream directly from the mouth. Viral infections can affect any organ of the human body including the brain, lungs, kidneys, heart and other organs. Viruses are very tiny and they do not cause disease unless they infect a person’s vital organs causing damage to them. Viruses can cause many different types of diseases. A virus can cause inflammation, fever, headache, muscle aches and pains, sore throat and cough. Other symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain.

How does transaminitis occur?

The most common way is when a person becomes infected with a virus which then enters the bloodstream where it damages the liver cells causing them to become inflamed. Some viruses can directly infect the liver causing it to become inflamed and damaged. Sometimes when a person has a disease such as malaria which also causes the liver to become inflamed and damaged, the damage is so severe that it can lead to a condition called fulminant hepatitis or acute liver failure, this usually occurs in a person who has other health problems and also takes harmful substances. Viral hepatitis is one of the major causes of liver failure.

What are the causes of transaminitis?

The human liver is a large organ and it is located on the right side of the abdominal cavity just below the diaphragm. The main function of the liver is to filter waste products from the blood, as well as metabolize nutrients, and produce biochemicals necessary for the body. The liver also stores certain nutrients and makes proteins such as clotting factors and other substances that are necessary for normal body functioning. The liver is a very essential and important organ and it is the only major organ that can regenerate new healthy cells. The liver has the ability to repair itself after an injury or damage in most cases, however in some cases due to severe damage it can cause liver failure, which can be fatal if left untreated.

There are many factors which may cause transaminitis.

Common viruses such as influenza (flu), mononucleosis, hepatitis and the common cold can cause liver inflammation.

Liver disease such as alcohol or drug induced liver disease, as well as hepatitis or other viral infections can cause liver failure leading to transaminitis.

Bile duct blockage which is a condition in which there is a blockage in the bile ducts that causes bile to back up in the liver and causes severe pain. This can lead to transaminitis.

Types of transaminitis

There are various types of liver cell damage and inflammation that can lead to liver failure. The main types include:

Acute hepatic necrosis – permanent cell death and tissue death in the liver following an infection, toxin or other damage. If the liver cells do not regenerate or are not repaired then it will lead to liver failure or acute liver failure.

Fulminant hepatitis – rapid liver failure caused by a serious viral infection, toxin or drug reaction.

Fatty liver disease – this is a condition in which the liver cells become filled with fat and do not work properly. It is a type of liver disorder in which liver cells are replaced with fat globules and cannot carry out their functions normally.

What are the symptoms of transaminitis?

The main symptoms of transaminitis are abdominal pain and vomiting. Other symptoms include dark urine, pale stools, jaundice, severe nausea, fever and fatigue. A person may also feel very sick and generally unwell.

How is transaminitis diagnosed?

The healthcare provider will take a medical history and examine the patient. Diagnostic tests may include blood tests, stool tests, urine tests, X-rays and liver scans.

How is transaminitis treated?

Treatment of transaminitis will vary depending on the underlying cause. When there is liver cell death due to infection, drug reaction or toxin, stopping the medication or poison is very important. In some cases a liver transplant may be necessary.

In some cases hospitalization may be required and the patient may need IV fluids and treatment for dehydration.

Living with transaminitis

When the cause of transaminitis has been identified then steps can be taken to avoid factors that cause the condition, such as certain medications or drugs.

Avoiding alcohol and recreational drugs is very important as a single use of these may trigger transaminitis.

Patients with transaminitis should eat a healthy well-balanced diet to ensure that their body receives all the nutrients it requires.

Physical exercise is also very important as this promotes better liver health.

Complications of transaminitis

If the underlying cause of transaminitis is not treated then the condition may become more severe and can lead to liver failure. This will require a liver transplant in some cases. If the patient is not eligible for a liver transplant or cannot get one in time then death will occur.

Sources & references used in this article:

Transaminitis after pancreatic islet transplantation by NR Barshes, TC Lee, SE Goodpastor… – Journal of the American …, 2005 – Elsevier

Glutathione S‐transferase mu genotype (GSTM1* 0) in Alzheimer’s patients with tacrine transaminitis. by VJ Green, M Pirmohamed… – British journal of …, 1995 – Wiley Online Library

Evaluation of cases of severe statin-related transaminitis within a large health maintenance organization by EC Charles, KL Olson, BG Sandhoff… – The American journal of …, 2005 – Elsevier

Role of polymerase chain reaction and liver biopsy in the evaluation of patients with asymptomatic transaminitis: implications in diagnostic approach by K Madan, Y Batra, SK Panda… – Journal of …, 2004 – Wiley Online Library

No association between tacrine transaminitis and the glutathione transferase θ genotype in patients with Alzheimer’s disease by M De Sousa, M Pirmohamed… – Pharmacogenetics …, 1998 – journals.lww.com

Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis-like pattern in liver biopsy of rheumatoid arthritis patients with persistent transaminitis during low-dose methotrexate treatment by S Mori, N Arima, M Ito, S Fujiyama, Y Kamo, Y Ueki – PloS one, 2018 – journals.plos.org