Misoprostol for non-alcoholic steatohepatitis: A randomised control trial

Mehreen Siyal, Zaigham Abbas, Muhammad Ali Qadeer, Alina Saeed, Usman Ali, Ambrina Khatoon

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Introduction The management of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is an unmet clinical need. Misoprostol, a structural analogue of naturally occurring prostaglandin E1, has been reported to decrease proinflammatory cytokine production and may have a potential role in treating NASH. We aimed to evaluate the efficacy and safety of misoprostol in treating patients with NASH. Methods In this phase 2, double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled trial, patients with NASH were randomly assigned in a 1:1 ratio to receive 200 μg of misoprostol or placebo thrice daily for 2 months. The primary endpoint was an improvement in liver function tests (LFTs), interleukin-6 (IL-6) and endotoxin levels. The secondary endpoint was improvement in insulin resistance, dyslipidaemia, hepatic fibrosis and hepatic steatosis. Results A total of 50 patients underwent randomisation, of whom 44 (88%) were males. The age range was 25-64 years (mean±SE of mean (SEM) 38.1±1.4). 19 (38%) patients had concomitant type 2 diabetes mellitus. 32 (64%) patients were either overweight or obese. At the end of 2 months' treatment, a reduction in total leucocyte count (TLC) (p=0.005), alanine aminotransferase (ALT) (p<0.001), aspartate aminotransferase (AST) (p=0.002) and controlled attenuation parameter (CAP) (p=0.003) was observed in the misoprostol group, whereas placebo ensued a decline in ALT (p<0.001), AST (p=0.018), gamma-glutamyl transferase (GGT) (p=0.003), CAP (p=0.010) and triglycerides (p=0.048). There was no diminution in insulin resistance, hepatic fibrosis (elastography) and dyslipidaemia in both groups. However, misoprostol resulted in a significant reduction in CAP as compared with the placebo group (p=0.039). Moreover, in the misoprostol group, pretreatment and post-treatment IL-6 and endotoxin levels remained stable, while in the placebo group, an increase in the IL-6 levels was noted (p=0.049). Six (12%) patients had at least one adverse event in the misoprostol group, as did five (10%) in the placebo group. The most common adverse event in the misoprostol group was diarrhoea. No life-threatening events or treatment-related deaths occurred in each group. Conclusion Improvement in the biochemical profile was seen in both misoprostol and placebo groups without any statistically significant difference. However, there was more improvement in steatosis, as depicted by CAP, in the misoprostol group and worsening of IL-6 levels in the placebo group. Trial registration number NCT05804305.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere001342
JournalBMJ Open Gastroenterology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 6 Jun 2024
Externally publishedYes




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