Background: Children with non-alcoholic steatohepatitis are insulin-resistant and metformin has been proposed as a potential therapy. However, paediatric safety and efficacy data are absent.
Aim: To test the hypothesis that metformin therapy will safely improve markers of liver disease in paediatric non-alcoholic steatohepatitis.
Methods: Single-arm open-label pilot study of metformin 500 mg twice daily for 24 weeks in non-diabetic children with biopsy-proven non-alcoholic steatohepatitis.
Results: Ten obese children (mean body mass index 30.4) enrolled and completed the trial. Mean alanine aminotransferase and aspartate aminotransferase (AST) improved significantly (P < 0.01) from baseline (184, 114 U/L) to end of treatment (98, 68 U/L). Alanine aminotransferase normalized in 40% and AST normalized in 50% of subjects. Children demonstrated significant improvements in liver fat measured by magnetic resonance spectroscopy (30-23%, P < 0.01); insulin sensitivity measured by quantitative insulin sensitivity check index (0.294-0.310, P < 0.05); and quality of life measured by pediatric quality of life inventory 4.0 (69-81, P < 0.01).
Conclusion: Open-label treatment with metformin for 24 weeks was notable for improvement in liver chemistry, liver fat, insulin sensitivity and quality of life. A large randomized-controlled trial is needed to definitively determine the efficacy of metformin for paediatric non-alcoholic steatohepatitis.