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Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2009 May 1;29(9):947-58. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2036.2009.03959.x.

Systematic review: clinical efficacy of chelator agents and zinc in the initial treatment of Wilson disease.

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  • 1Department of Paediatric Gastroenterology, University Medical Centre Utrecht, Utrecht, The Netherlands.



No consensus is available on the optimal initial treatment in Wilson disease.


To assess systematically the available literature of treatment in newly presenting patients with a presymptomatic, hepatic or neurological presentation of Wilson disease.


A systematic literature search of the MEDLINE, EMBASE and COCHRANE databases was performed. Original studies on clinical efficacy of D-penicillamine, trientine, tetrathiomolybdate or zinc monotherapy as initial treatment in Wilson disease were included. A descriptive analysis of the relevant published data was performed.


One randomized trial and 12 observational studies met the inclusion criteria. These studies were quite heterogeneous and generally of low validity. Nevertheless, according to currently available data, patients with hepatic presentation of Wilson disease are probably most effectively treated by D-penicillamine. Zinc seems to be preferred above d-penicillamine for treatment of presymptomatic and neurological patients, as in these subgroups, the tolerance profile is in favour of zinc, while no obvious differences in clinical efficacy could be observed.


There is lack of high-quality evidence to estimate the relative treatment effects of the available drugs in Wilson disease. Therefore, multicentre prospective randomized controlled comparative trials are necessary.

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