Background & aims: We performed a meta-analysis to evaluate the effects of ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA) on pruritus, liver test results, and outcomes of babies born to women with intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy (ICP).
Methods: We performed a systematic review of 9 published, randomized controlled trials (3 double blinded) that compared the effects of UDCA to other drugs, placebo, or no specific treatment (controls) in patients with ICP. We analyzed data from 454 patients: 207 received only UDCA, 70 received only placebo, 42 received cholestyramine, 36 received dexamethasone for 1 week and then placebo for 2 weeks, 65 received S-adenosyl-methionine, and 34 received no specific treatment. To achieve consistency among end points, a standard questionnaire was sent to all corresponding authors. For each end point, we performed pooled analysis that compared the effects of UDCA with those of all controls and UDCA with those of placebos.
Results: In pooled analyses that compared UDCA with all controls, UDCA was associated with total resolution of pruritus (odds ratio [OR], 0.23; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.07-0.74; P < .01), reduced pruritis (OR, 0.27; 95% CI, 0.13-0.55; P < .0001), normalization of serum levels of alanine aminotransferase (ALT) (OR, 0.23; 95% CI, 0.10-0.50; P < .001), decreased serum level of ALT (OR, 0.24; 95% CI, 0.11-0.52; P < .0001), reduced serum levels of bile acids (OR, 0.37; 95% CI, 0.19-0.75; P < .001), fewer premature births (OR, 0.44; 95% CI, 0.24-0.79; P < .01), reduced fetal distress (OR, 0.46; 95% CI, 0.25-0.86; P < .01), less frequent respiratory distress syndrome (OR, 0.30; 95% CI, 0.12-0.74; P < .01), and fewer neonates in the intensive care unit (OR, 0.49; 95% CI, 0.25-0.98; P = .046). In pooled analyses that compared the effects of UDCA with placebo, UDCA reduced pruritus (OR, 0.21; 95% CI, 0.07-0.62; P < .01), normalized (OR, 0.18; 95% CI, 0.06-0.52; P < .001) or decreased serum levels of ALT (OR, 0.12; 95% CI, 0.05-0.31; P < .0001), and reduced serum levels of bile acids (OR, 0.30; 95% CI, 0.12-0.73; P < .01).
Conclusions: Based on a meta-analysis, UDCA is effective in reducing pruritus and improving liver test results in patients with ICP; UDCA therapy might also benefit fetal outcomes.
Copyright © 2012 AGA Institute. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.