In the Literature: Research You Need to Know


Clinical question: What is the effect of corticosteroid therapy on survival in severe alcoholic hepatitis?

Background: Previous meta-analyses have suggested a survival benefit of corticosteroid treatment restricted only to those patients with severe alcoholic hepatitis (AH), with little or no benefit in less severe disease. Other meta-analyses, however, have questioned the efficacy in AH regardless of disease severity.

Study design: Meta-analysis of individual patient data.

Setting: Five randomized controlled trials (RCT) enrolling 418 patients.

Synopsis: Individual patient data were obtained from five RCTs comparing corticosteroid treatment with placebo (n3), enteral nutrition (n1), or an antioxidant cocktail (n1). Researchers analyzed 221 patients allocated to corticosteroid treatment and 197 allocated to noncorticosteroid treatment. Twenty-eight-day survival was higher in corticosteroid treated patients than in noncorticosteroid-treated patients (79.97% vs. 65.76%, P=0.0005). A subgroup analysis was performed according to the Lille score. Patients were classified as complete responders, partial responders, and null responders. Corticosteroids had a significant effect on 28-day survival in complete responders and in partial responders, but not in null responders (91.16% vs. 79.46% vs. 53.36%, P<0.0001)

Bottom line: Corticosteroids significantly improve 28-day survival in patients with severe alcoholic hepatitis. The survival benefit is mainly observed in patients classified as responders by the Lille model.

Citation: Mathurin P, O'Grady J, Carithers RL et al. Corticosteroids improve short-term survival in patients with severe alcoholic hepatitis: meta-analysis of individual patient data. Gut. 2011;60(2):255-260.

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