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Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2012 Jan;35(1):83-91. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2036.2011.04896.x. Epub 2011 Oct 27.

The effects of sorafenib on the portal hypertensive syndrome in patients with liver cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma--a pilot study.

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Abteilung für Gastroenterologie & Hepatologie, AKH & Medizinische Universität Wien, Austria.



Increased intrahepatic vascular resistance and hyperperfusion in the splanchnic circulation are the principal mechanisms leading to portal hypertension in cirrhosis. Several preclinical studies have demonstrated a beneficial effect of the multikinase inhibitor sorafenib on the portal hypertensive syndrome.


To investigate the effect of sorafenib on hepatic venous pressure gradient (HVPG), systemic hemodynamics and intrahepatic mRNA expression of proangiogenic, profibrogenic and proinflammatory genes.


Patients with liver fibrosis/cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma were treated with sorafenib 400 mg b.d. HVPG measurement and transjugular liver biopsy were performed at baseline and at week 2. Changes in HVPG and intrahepatic mRNA expression of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF), RhoA, tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α) and placental growth factor (PlGF) were evaluated.


Thirteen patients (m/f = 12/1; Child-Pugh class A/B = 10/3) were included. The most common aetiology of liver disease was alcohol consumption (n = 7). Eleven patients had an elevated portal pressure, including eight patients with clinically significant portal hypertension. A significant decrease of HVPG (≥ 20% from baseline) was observed in four subjects. In HVPG responders, we observed mRNA downregulation of VEGF, PDGF, PlGF, RhoA kinase and TNF-α, while no substantial mRNA decrease was found in nonresponders in any of the five genes. In two of the four HVPG responders we observed a dramatic (43-85%) mRNA decrease of all five investigated genes.


Larger controlled clinical trials are needed to demonstrate any potential beneficial effect of sorafenib on portal hypertension in patients with cirrhosis.

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