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Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2006 May;4(5):639-44. Epub 2006 Apr 17.

A double-blind randomized placebo-controlled trial of orlistat for the treatment of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.

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The Liver Unit, Department of Gastroenterology, Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center and the Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel.



Few controlled studies have addressed the issue of effective medical treatment for nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). We herein assessed the effect of orlistat in patients with NAFLD.


We performed a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study on 52 patients with NAFLD diagnosed by ultrasound (US) and confirmed by liver biopsy (40 patients). The patients were randomized to receive either orlistat (120 mg 3 times daily for 6 months) or placebo. All patients participated in an identical behavioral weight loss program. All patients underwent monthly evaluation by abdominal US; liver enzyme levels, lipid profiles, insulin levels, and anthropometric parameters were monitored, and all patients underwent nutritional follow-up evaluation. Twenty-two patients underwent a second liver biopsy examination at the end of the study.


Fifty-two patients were recruited and 44 (mean age, 47.7 y; mean body mass index, 33) completed the study. Serum glucose and insulin levels (P<.03) were significantly higher in the orlistat group, which also presented a higher degree of fibrosis. Body mass index was reduced significantly in each group, with a nonsignificant difference between the groups. Serum alanine transaminase (ALT) levels decreased significantly in both groups, with an almost 2-fold reduction in the orlistat group (48% vs 26.4%). There was a statistically significant reversal of fatty liver by US only in the orlistat group (P<.05).


Orlistat improves serum ALT levels and steatosis on US in NAFLD patients, beyond its effect on weight reduction.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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