Effect of hepatitis C virus status on liver enzymes in opioid-dependent pregnant women maintained on opioid-agonist medication

Laura F. Mcnicholas, Amber M. Holbrook, Kevin E. O'Grady, Hendrée E. Jones, Mara G. Coyle, Peter R. Martin, Sarah H. Heil, Susan M. Stine, Karol Kaltenbach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aim: To examine hepatic enzyme test results throughout the course of pregnancy in women maintained on methadone or buprenorphine. Design: Participants were randomized to either methadone or buprenorphine maintenance. Blood chemistry tests, including liver transaminases and hepatitis C virus (HCV) status, were determined every 4 weeks and once postpartum. As part of a planned secondary analysis, generalized mixed linear models were conducted with aspartate aminotransferase (AST), alanine aminotransferase (ALT) and gamma-glutamyl transferase (GGT) as the dependent variables. Setting: Six US sites and one European site that provided comprehensive treatment to pregnant opioid-dependent women. Participants: A total of 175 opioid-dependent pregnant women enrolled in the Maternal Opioid Treatment: Human Experimental Research (MOTHER) study. Findings: ALT, AST and GGT levels decreased for all subjects across pregnancy trimesters, rising slightly postpartum. HCV-positive subjects exhibited higher transaminases at all time-points compared to HCV-negative subjects, regardless of medication (all Ps<0.05) condition. Both HCV-positive and negative buprenorphine-maintained participants exhibited lower GGT levels than those who were methadone-maintained (P<0.05). Conclusions: Neither methadone nor buprenorphine appear to have adverse hepatic effects in the treatment of pregnant opioid-dependent women.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)91-97
Number of pages7
Issue numberSUPPL.1
StatePublished - Nov 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Buprenorphine
  • Liver transaminases
  • Methadone
  • Opioids
  • Pregnancy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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