Background/aim: Targeted radiotherapy of liver malignancies has found to be effective in selected patients. A key limiting factor of these therapies is the relatively low tolerance of the liver parenchyma to radiation. We sought to assess the preventive effects of a combined regimen of pentoxifylline (PTX), ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA) and low-dose low molecular weight heparin (LMWH) on focal radiation-induced liver injury (fRILI).
Methods and materials: Patients with liver metastases from colorectal carcinoma who were scheduled for local ablation by radiotherapy (image-guided high-dose-rate interstitial brachytherapy) were prospectively randomized to receive PTX, UDCA and LMWH for 8 weeks (treatment) or no medication (control). Focal RILI at follow-up was assessed using functional hepatobiliary magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). A minimal threshold dose, i.e. the dose to which the outer rim of the fRILI was formerly exposed to, was quantified by merging MRI and dosimetry data.
Results: Results from an intended interim-analysis made a premature termination necessary. Twenty-two patients were included in the per-protocol analysis. Minimal mean hepatic threshold dose 6 weeks after radiotherapy (primary endpoint) was significantly higher in the study treatment-group compared with the control (19.1 Gy versus 14.6 Gy, p = 0.011). Qualitative evidence of fRILI by MRI at 6 weeks was observed in 45.5% of patients in the treatment versus 90.9% of the control group. No significant differences between the groups were observed at the 12-week follow-up.
Conclusions: The post-therapeutic application of PTX, UDCA and low-dose LMWH significantly reduced the extent and incidence fRILI at 6 weeks after radiotherapy. The development of subsequent fRILI at 12 weeks (4 weeks after cessation of PTX, UDCA and LMWH during weeks 1-8) in the treatment group was comparable to the control group thus supporting the observation that the agents mitigated fRILI.
Trial registration: EU clinical trials register 2008-002985-70 ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01149304.