Background/aims: A final step in the pathology of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is oxidative damage to hepatocytes. Probucol is a lipid-lowering agent with strong antioxidant properties. We designed a double-blind randomized controlled study to evaluate the effects of probucol in NASH.
Methods: Thirty cases of biopsy-proven NASH were included. Subjects were randomly allocated to either the treatment group or to the control group by a 2:1 ratio. The treatment group was given 500 mg of probucol daily for 6 months, and the control group, an identically appearing placebo.
Results: Twenty-seven cases completed the study. The mean aspartate transaminase (AST) and alanine transaminase (ALT) levels changed from 81.9 to 36.2 and 102.2 to 44.7 in the treatment group and from 57.6 to 49.6 and 96.8 to 96.2 in the control group, respectively. The decrease in ALT level in the treatment group as compared to the control group was significant at the P<0.005 level (95% confidence interval: 20.2-93.7 IU). Both AST and ALT levels dropped to normal in nine cases of the treatment group (50%) but none of the control group (P=0.01).
Conclusions: Probucol appears to be significantly effective in decreasing the ALT levels in patients with NASH.