Pentoxifylline: a first line treatment option for severe alcoholic hepatitis and hepatorenal syndrome?

Stelios-F Assimakopoulos, Konstantinos-C Thomopoulos, Chrisoula Labropoulou-Karatza
World Journal of Gastroenterology: WJG 2009 July 7, 15 (25): 3194-5
Although favourable results of pentoxifylline (PTX) used in treatment of severe alcoholic hepatitis patients with a Maddrey discriminant function score > or = 32 have been previously reported, it is not currently recommended as a first line treatment for alcoholic hepatitis owing to lack of evidence for its efficacy as compared to the standard treatment with corticosteroids. In a very recent issue of World Journal of Gastroenterology, Dr. De BK and colleagues compared for the first time the two treatment modalities head to head in a randomized controlled study, demonstrating the advantage of PTX over corticosteroids in terms of patients' survival and risk-benefit profile. The advantage of PTX over corticosteroids in survival of patients with severe alcoholic hepatitis was found to be related to the prevention of hepatorenal syndrome in their study. This study raises the question of the use of PTX as a standard treatment for severe alcoholic hepatitis. Considering the fact that PTX presented a spectacular efficiency in prevention of hepatorenal syndrome in their study as well as that previous studies have shown that this effect is possibly related to a primary renoprotective action because it is irrelevant of tumor necrosis factor-alpha synthesis inhibition or improved liver function, we tempted to speculate that PXT might be an effective option for prevention and/or treatment of hepatorenal syndrome complicating other forms of advanced liver disease. This attractive theory remains to be elucidated by pressing future studies in view of the lack of effective treatment modalities for hepatorenal syndrome.

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