[New suggestions for the management of alcoholic liver diseases]

A C Jmelnitzky
Acta Gastroenterologica Latinoamericana 1995, 25 (2): 73-84
Some recent proposals in management of alcoholic liver disease are discussed focusing on early diagnosis and treatment of alcohol abuse itself, alcoholic hepatitis early mortality, clinical meaning of nutritional therapy, serological approach and treatment of hepatic fibrosis, and problems in liver transplantation for end stage alcoholic liver cirrhosis. CAGE or similar systematized brief questionnaires, and desialylated transferrin/total transferrin ratio as serological marker, seems to be interesting contributions to "hidden" alcohol abuse diagnosis and abstinence control while psycho-social support and voluntary incorporation to self-aid groups are the best weapons to reach persistent abstinence. Corticosteroids seems to improve survival in a selected group of patients with severe alcoholic hepatitis, specially in those presenting encephalopathy but free of GI bleeding, decompensated diabetes, active infections, pancreatitis, and other contraindications or adverse effects of these drugs. Relationship between direct toxicity and nutritional deficiencies in pathogenesis of alcoholic liver injury are not clear enough, but malnutrition is generally present in patients requiring hospitalization, and related to clinical severity; oral, enteral or parenteral nutritional supplementation in this order of preference according to patients condition, associated or not with steroid anabolics, are useful in cases with moderate to severe alcoholic hepatitis or decompensated cirrhosis to eliminate the catabolic state, reaching a better nitrogen balance and liver function tests, without special adverse effects. A special role on liver regeneration is discussed. Antioxidants and supernutrients are special "modern" aspects of nutritional therapy in alcoholic liver disease generally related to the MEOS activation in chronic alcoholism, the excessive production of free radicals, and the depletion of glutathione, membrane phospholipids (specially phosphatidycholine), and vitamin A, E, and C. Natural supplements as soybean polyunsaturated lecithin, with high concentration of phosphatidycholine, or oral supplementation with natural metabolic products depleted from the liver of chronic heavy drinkers, such SAMe, have an interesting rationale based on experimental and clinical findings besides availability and costs. Carotenoids and tocopherols supplementation seems to be an useful tool, but are limited in the case of vitamin A because its special toxicity in chronic alcoholism. Serological markers of metabolism of liver connective tissue are clearly involved in fibrogenesis process and other inflammatory connected events; standardization of laboratory methods surely will result in new possibilities of non-invasive valuation of liver injury, evolution and therapeutic response; special histological damage such as sinusoidal "cappilarization" (type i.v. collagen and laminin), endothelial sinusoidal cell function (seric hyaluronate), or collagenase activity (TIMP-1 or tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinases-1) seems to be valuable by these new technologies.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

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