Is there a need for liver enzyme monitoring in people using gender-affirming hormone therapy?

in European Journal of Endocrinology
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  • 1 T Stangl, Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Endocrinology, Amsterdam UMC Locatie VUmc, Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • 2 C Wiepjes, Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Endocrinology, Amsterdam UMC Locatie VUmc, Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • 3 J Defreyne, Department of Endocrinology, Centre for Sexology and Gender, University Hospital Ghent, Gent, Belgium
  • 4 E Conemans, Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Endocrinology, Amsterdam UMC Locatie VUmc, Amsterdam, Netherlands
  • 5 A Fisher, Sexual Medicine and Andrology, Department of Experimental, Clinical and Biomedical Sciences, University of Florence, Firenze, Italy
  • 6 T Schreiner, Dept. Endocrinology, Rikshospitalet, Oslo University Hospital, Oslo, Norway
  • 7 G T'Sjoen, Department of Endocrinology, Centre for Sexology and Gender, University Hospital Gent, Gent, Belgium
  • 8 M Denheijer, Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Endocrinology, Amsterdam UMC - Locatie VUMC, Amsterdam, Netherlands

Correspondence: Martin Denheijer, Email: m.denheijer@amsterdamumc.nl
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Context: Individuals with gender dysphoria can receive gender-affirming hormone therapy. Different guidelines mention a severe risk of liver injury within the first months after the start of treatment with anabolic androgenic steroids, antiandrogens, and oral contraceptives, which is potentially fatal.

Objective: The incidence of liver injury in a transgender population using gender-affirming hormone therapy.

Design: Multicentre prospective study with 1933 transgender individuals, who started with hormone therapy between 2010 and 2020.

Methods: The following parameters were analysed before hormone therapy, after 3 months, and after 12 months of hormone therapy: alanine aminotransferase (ALT), aspartate aminotransferase (AST), alkaline phosphatase (ALP), and gamma-glutamyltransferase (GGT). Both male and female reference values were considered. Liver injury was defined as either an elevation of 2x upper limit of normal (ULN) of ALP, 3xULN of ALT, or 3x ULN of AST.

Results: 889 transgender women and 1044 transgender men were included in the analysis. The incidence of liver injury within 12 months after start of hormone therapy, without attribution to alcohol abuse, medical history, or co medication was 0.1% and 0.0% in transgender women according to female and male reference intervals respectively, and 0.6% and 0.4% in transgender men (female and male reference intervals).

Conclusion: The incidence of liver injury is found to be very low. We therefore conclude that liver enzyme monitoring within the frame of the risk of liver injury due to hormone therapy is not necessary in a transgender population.

 

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