BACKGROUND:Newer therapies are needed for patients with primary biliary cirrhosis and incomplete response to ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA). Fenofibrate is a fibric acid postulated to regulate immune response and cell proliferation.
AIM:To evaluate the efficacy and safety of fenofibrate in patients with primary biliary cirrhosis and incomplete response to UDCA.
METHODS:We undertook a pilot study involving 20 patients with primary biliary cirrhosis and serum alkaline phosphatase (ALP) ≥ 2× ULN. Nonparametric statistical tests and Spearman correlation test were used as appropriate.
RESULTS:Twenty patients received fenofibrate (160 mg/day) in addition to UDCA for 48 weeks. Median serum ALP decreased significantly at 48 weeks compared with baseline values [351 (214-779) U/L at baseline vs. 177 (60-384) U/L at 48 weeks, P < 0.05]. A rebound in ALP occurred upon drug discontinuation. Serum aspartate aminotransferase and Immunoglobulin M also decreased significantly, while bilirubin and albumin remained unchanged. Median IL-1 decreased from 28.9 (2.7-10 000) to 11.3 (2.5-277.7) pg/mL (P = 0.049), and median IL-6 from 4.6 (3.2-5205) to 3.5 (3.2-73.4) pg/mL (P = 0.027). Heartburn was the most frequent adverse event, leading to discontinuation of two study subjects.
CONCLUSIONS:Combination therapy of fenofibrate and UDCA induced significant biochemical improvement in patients with primary biliary cirrhosis and incomplete response to UDCA. Further studies are warranted.
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