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J Hepatol. 2007 Aug;47(2):277-83. Epub 2007 May 4.

A randomized trial of antioxidant therapy alone or with corticosteroids in acute alcoholic hepatitis.

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Liver Research Group, Institute of Cellular Medicine, Medical School, Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne NE2 4HH, UK.



Oxidative stress is putatively involved in the pathogenesis of alcohol-induced liver injury. This trial was devised to determine whether antioxidant therapy, alone or as an adjunct to corticosteroids, improved survival in patients with acute alcoholic hepatitis.


Patients with a severe alcoholic hepatitis were stratified by sex and steroid use, and then randomized. The active group received N-acetylcysteine for one week, and vitamins A-E, biotin, selenium, zinc, manganese, copper, magnesium, folic acid and Coenzyme Q daily for 6 months. The trial was double blinded and placebo controlled. The primary end-point was mortality within 6 months.


Thirty-six (20 male, 16 female; mean discriminant function (DF) 86.6) received active drug, and 34 (18 male, 16 female; mean DF 76.4) received placebo. 180-day survival was not significantly different between patients receiving drug and placebo (52.8% vs. 55.8%, p=0.699). This was not affected by stratification for steroid use or sex. The only predictors of survival in multivariate analysis were initial bilirubin (p=0.017), white cell count (p=0.016) and age (p=0.037). Treatment allocation did not affect survival in multivariate analysis (p=0.830).


Antioxidant therapy, alone or in combination with corticosteroids, does not improve 6-month survival in severe alcoholic hepatitis.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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