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Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 1999 Sep;13(9):1187-93.

Effect of ursodeoxycholic acid administration in patients with acute viral hepatitis: a pilot study.

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Department of Infectious Diseases, S. Bortolo Hospital, Vicenza, Italy.



Ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA) is able to improve biochemical markers of cholestasis, with a parallel decrease in transaminases, in various cholestatic liver diseases.


To evaluate the effects of UDCA administration on acute viral hepatitis-related cholestasis and the course of acute viral hepatitis.


Seventy-nine consecutive patients with acute viral hepatitis (HBV: 43, HCV: 11, HAV: 15, HEV: 3, Non A-E: 7) were randomized to receive either UDCA for 3 weeks or no treatment. Liver biochemistry and serum bile acid determinations were run at weekly intervals.


No significant differences were observed in mean percentage decreases in transaminases between treated and untreated patients. By contrast, cholestatic indexes decreased significantly more quickly in patients treated with UDCA than in controls, and this effect was more evident in patients with increasing alanine transaminase levels at admission. After a peak at the end of the first week of therapy, serum levels of conjugated ursodeoxycholic acid (CUDCA) showed a gradual decrease. Conjugated cholic acid (CCA) and chenodeoxycholic acid (CCDCA) showed a progressive decrease with the resolution of viral hepatitis, but no influence of UDCA administration was observed.


Our study demonstrates that UDCA significantly improves cholestatic indices in patients with acute viral hepatitis, but this effect does not seem to affect the course of the illness.

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