Hepatic fibrosis continues to be a risk in patients receiving methotrexate for psoriasis. Measurement of amino terminal levels of type III procollagen (P3NP) has been advocated as an effective non-invasive test for ongoing hepatic fibrogenesis that could avoid liver biopsies. An audit was conducted to assess the practice of P3NP monitoring using guidelines produced by Manchester and whether the agreed levels correlate with histological severity. Sixty five patients with 174 P3NP assays and 30 liver biopsies were reviewed between the years 1999 and 2003. Total number of patient-methotrexate years was 278.9 and the mean cumulative dose of methotrexate received was 2000 (SD 1838) mg. A higher cumulative dose of methotrexate correlated significantly with high mean and maximum P3NP levels. Of the 30 liver biopsies, 26 (86.6%) showed normal histology or mild to moderate steatosis, three had focal fibrosis, and one had early cirrhosis. A median P3NP value of 5.8 μg/l or higher had a stronger correlation with histological severity. It is concluded that P3NP assay is a valuable adjunct to the clinical management of patients receiving long term methotrexate that can avoid or reduce unnecessary liver biopsies.
- liver fibrosis
- procollagen peptide
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Conflicts of interest: none.