Aim: To determine whether supplemental oral vitamin E is effective in lowering serum aminotransferase and alkaline phosphatase levels in children with nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) associated with obesity.
Study design: Open-label pilot study enrolling all children <16 years old with chronically elevated serum aminotransferase (alanine aminotransferase and aspartate aminotransferase) levels for greater than 3 months, who demonstrated a diffusely echogenic liver on ultrasonography, had no demonstrable reason for abnormal serum chemistry values other than obesity, and therefore were diagnosed to have NASH. Patients were prescribed oral vitamin E between 400 and 1200 IU per day. Serum chemistry values were monitored monthly during treatment.
Results: Eleven subjects with a mean age of 12.4 years were enrolled; treated patients were followed up for 4 to 10 months. The body mass index did not change significantly before and after treatment (32.8 +/- 3.8 kg/m(2) vs 32.5 +/- 4.4 kg/m(2), respectively). Serum alanine aminotransferase decreased from 175 +/- 106 IU/L to 40 +/- 26 IU/L (P <.001, paired Student t test), serum aspartate aminotransferase decreased from 104 +/- 61 IU/L to 33 +/- 11 IU/L (P <.002), and alkaline phosphatase decreased from 279 +/- 42 IU/L to 202 +/- 66 IU/L (P <.003) during treatment. Serum aminotransferase levels remained normal during treatment but returned to abnormal in those electing to stop treatment. Serum alpha-tocopherol levels were within the normal range before the commencement of therapy and increased significantly with supplementation. The liver remained diffusely echogenic during therapy, at the time serum aminotransferase levels were reduced.
Conclusions: Daily oral vitamin E administration normalized serum aminotransferase and alkaline phosphatase levels in children with NASH. Obese children with NASH should be encouraged to lose weight as part of a comprehensive weight reduction program and to consider taking supplemental alpha-tocopherol.