Background & aims: Colchicine improved survival and reversed cirrhosis in several small clinical trials. We compared the efficacy and safety of long-term colchicine, as compared with placebo, in patients with advanced alcoholic cirrhosis.
Methods: Five hundred forty-nine patients with advanced (Pugh B or C) alcoholic cirrhosis were randomized to receive either colchicine 0.6 mg twice per day (n = 274) or placebo (n = 275). Treatment lasted from 2 to 6 years. The primary outcome was all-cause mortality. Secondary outcomes were liver-related morbidity and mortality. Liver biopsy was requested prior to entry and after 24 months of treatment.
Results: Attendance at scheduled clinic visits and adherence with study medication were similar in colchicine and placebo groups. Alcohol intake was less than 1 drink per day in 69% of patients. In an intention-to-treat analysis, all-cause mortality was similar in colchicine (49%) and placebo (45%) patients (P = .371). Mortality attributed to liver disease was 32% in colchicine and 28% in placebo patients (P = .337). Fewer patients receiving colchicine developed hepatorenal syndrome. In 54 patients with repeat liver biopsies after 24 or more months of treatment, cirrhosis improved to septal fibrosis in 7 patients (3 colchicine, 4 placebo) and to portal fibrosis in 1 patient (colchicine).
Conclusions: In patients with advanced alcoholic cirrhosis, colchicine does not reduce overall or liver-specific mortality. Liver histology improves to septal fibrosis in a minority of patients after 24 months of treatment, with similar rates of improvement in patients receiving placebo and colchicine. Colchicine is not recommended for patients with advanced alcoholic cirrhosis.