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Eur J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2014 Jun;26(6):646-53. doi: 10.1097/MEG.0000000000000068.

Pentoxifylline for the treatment of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease: a meta-analysis of randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled studies.

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Department of Environment and Health, Institute of Toxicology, School of Public Health, Shandong University, Jinan, People's Republic of China.



Pentoxifylline has been used to treat nonalcoholic fatty liver diseases (NAFLDs) due to its anti-tumor necrosis factor-α effects. We conducted a meta-analysis of randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trials to investigate the effect of pentoxifylline on the biochemical and histological parameters of NAFLD patients.


A comprehensive literature search was conducted in the database including PubMed, Embase, ISI web of knowledge, the Cochrane Library, and Google Scholar to identify randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trials about the effects of pentoxifylline on NAFLD. The pooled weighted mean difference (WMD) with 95% confidence interval (CI) was calculated to compare the effects of pentoxifylline and placebo.


Five well-designed studies were retrieved. Pooled results showed that pentoxifylline significantly reduced the serum alanine transaminase activity (WMD=-27.97; 95% CI: -42.59, -13.34) and aspartate transaminase activity (WMD=-13.97; 95% CI: -23.31, -4.63) in NAFLD patients compared with placebo. In addition, pentoxifylline significantly improved steatosis (WMD=-0.68; 95% CI: -1.01, -0.34), lobular inflammation (WMD=-0.49; 95% CI: -0.86, -0.12), and fibrosis (WMD=-0.60; 95% CI: -0.99, -0.21). Furthermore, pentoxifylline also led to significant reduction in BMI (WMD=-0.51; 95% CI: -0.96, -0.06) and fasting glucose (WMD=-8.97; 95% CI: -14.52, -3.42), but did not significantly affect the serum tumor necrosis factor α and adiponectin levels when compared with placebo.


Pentoxifylline could reduce the aminotransferase activities and improve the histological parameters in NAFLD patients. Large well-designed, randomized, placebo-controlled studies are needed to confirm these results.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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