The effects of sibutramine and orlistat on the ultrasonographic findings, insulin resistance and liver enzyme levels in obese patients with non-alcoholic steatohepatitis

Rom J Gastroenterol. 2003 Sep;12(3):189-92.


Objective: Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is frequent in obese subjects and has a relatively benign course; however, it may progress to cirrhosis. Weight loss in these patients may alleviate the findings of NASH. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of pharmacological anti-obesity therapies on the findings of NASH.

Subjects: There were thirteen patients (9 women, 4 men) in sibutramine group and 12 patients (8 women, 4 men) in orlistat group. The mean ages and body-mass indexes of the two groups were 42.5 years, 37.3 kg/m2 and 43.2 years, 36.1 kg/m2, respectively.

Method: The obese subjects with NASH were given sibutramine or orlistat for six months. Additionally, all patients were given a low caloric diet. Liver enzymes (AST, ALT, GGT and ALP), insulin resistance (analysed by HOMA) and hepatic ultrasound (US) findings were assessed at baseline and after 6 months.

Results: Both sibutramine and orlistat significantly reduced body weight (10.2 and 8.4%, respectively), insulin resistance (47 and 40%, respectively), AST (41 and 39%, respectively), ALT (59 and 58%, respectively), and GGT serum levels (27 and 25%, respectively). The ultrasonographic regression in steatosis was observed in 11 patients who received sibutramine and 8 patients who received orlistat. During the treatment, unexpectedly significant increases in total alkaline phosphatase levels were found in both sibutramine and orlistat groups (9 and 14%, respectively).

Conclusion: The present study shows that both sibutramine-induced and orlistat-induced weight losses result in reduction of insulin resistance, and improvements in biochemical markers and US findings of NASH. Because the GGT levels decreased in both groups, the increased ALP levels might have another source.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anti-Obesity Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Appetite Depressants / therapeutic use*
  • Cyclobutanes / therapeutic use*
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Fatty Liver / complications
  • Fatty Liver / diagnostic imaging
  • Fatty Liver / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Insulin Resistance*
  • Lactones / therapeutic use*
  • Lipase / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Liver / diagnostic imaging
  • Liver / enzymology*
  • Male
  • Obesity / complications
  • Obesity / drug therapy*
  • Orlistat
  • Ultrasonography
  • Weight Loss


  • Anti-Obesity Agents
  • Appetite Depressants
  • Cyclobutanes
  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Lactones
  • Orlistat
  • Lipase
  • sibutramine