Background: Corticosteroids and pentoxifylline reduce short-term mortality in severe alcoholic hepatitis (SAH), but not to the extent desired. Combining both drugs may lead to better survival, but has not yet been studied.
Aim: To compare the efficacy of corticosteroids plus pentoxifylline with that of corticosteroids alone in improving survival of SAH patients.
Methods: Of the 111 patients screened, 70 patients with SAH (Maddrey discriminant function (MDF) ≥ 32) were enrolled. Patients with active infection, bleeding, renal failure, or pancreatitis were excluded. Treatment was given for four weeks to group A (n = 36; prednisolone 40 mg/day plus pentoxifylline 400 mg thrice/day) and group B (n = 34; prednisolone 40 mg/day). Patients were followed up for 6 months. Data are expressed as median (range) or percentage.
Results: Baseline characteristics of the two groups were similar (MDF group A 78.5 (36.8-140.9), group B 74.9 (45.6-140.2)). Four-week and six-month survival in groups A and B were not significantly different (four-week 72.2 and 73.5%, respectively, p = 1.00; six-month 30.6 and 23.5%, respectively, p = 0.417). At seven days, 55.6% of patients in group A and 64.7% in group B had a Lille score <0.45 (p = 0.473). Six-month survival was significantly higher for patients with a Lille Score <0.45 than for those with a Lille score ≥0.45 (group A 55.5 vs. 0%, p = 0.0006; group B 36 vs. 0%, p = 0.0304). Biological improvement at 28 days was significant for both groups; however, the difference between the groups was not significant.
Conclusions: For patients with severe alcoholic hepatitis, a combination of corticosteroids and pentoxifylline has no additional survival advantage compared with corticosteroids alone.