Background/aims: Hepatocellular carcinoma occurs frequently in cirrhosis related to hepatitis C virus (type C cirrhosis), and preventative treatment with interferon is costly and likely to cause adverse reactions. Menatetrenone, a vitamin K2 preparation, has recently been reported to inhibit the posttreatment relapse of hepatocellular carcinoma. We therefore examined whether menatetrenone could prevent the development of hepatocellular carcinoma in patients with type C cirrhosis.
Methodology: This prospective, randomized trial recruited patients with type C cirrhosis, platelet count of 10 x 10(4) microl or less, and no history of hepatocellular carcinoma. Patients were assigned to a menatetrenone group (n = 22, 4 5mg of menatetrenone daily, orally) or a control group (n = 18). Follow-up with image diagnosis was performed every 3-6 months.
Results: No adverse events of menatetrenone treatment were observed. Hepatocellular carcinoma occurred in 2 of 22 patients in the menatetrenone group (9.1%) and 5 of 18 patients in the control group (27.8%); however, this difference did not reach statistical significance.
Conclusions: The present findings suggest that menatetrenone has some inhibitory effect on development of hepatocellular carcinoma in patients with type C cirrhosis. Consequently, to further validate its benefits, we believe that menatetrenone should be actively administered to patients with intractable (interferon-resistant) cirrhosis.