Effects of ursodeoxycholic acid therapy on carotid intima media thickness, apolipoprotein A1, apolipoprotein B, and apolipoprotein B/A1 ratio in nonalcoholic steatohepatitis

Eur J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2015 Feb;27(2):142-9. doi: 10.1097/MEG.0000000000000264.


Background: Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is a prevalent liver disease that is increasingly being associated with cardiovascular disease. Ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA) may have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities, and may reduce liver injury in NASH. To date, no studies have assessed the efficacy of UDCA in carotid intima media thickness (CIMT), serum lipids, apolipoprotein A1 (apo A), apolipoprotein B (apo B), and apolipoprotein B/A1 (apo B/A1) ratios in patients with NASH.

Patients and methods: In this prospective study, 30 patients with biopsy-proven NASH and 25 healthy adults as a control group were evaluated. None of the participants had diabetes, hypertension, or hyperlipidemia. Patients with NASH received UDCA 15 mg/kg/day for 6 months. BMI, waist circumference, homeostasis model assessment, lipids, apo A1, apo B, apo B/A1 ratios, and CIMT were analyzed before and after the treatment period.

Results: At the end of the study, there were no statistically significant changes in BMI or waist circumference. Liver enzymes decreased gradually. The homeostasis model assessment decreased from 3.4 ± 1.89 to 2.06 ± 1.68 (P < 0.001). No significant changes in the mean triglyceride, total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein, or apo B levels were observed. The mean high-density lipoprotein (42.9 ± 7.1 vs. 45.5 ± 9.8; P = 0.037) and apo A1 (127.6 ± 17.7 vs. 135.9 ± 22.2; P = 0.02) increased significantly. Apo B/A1 ratios tended to decrease, but this decrease was not statistically significant. The mean CIMT decreased significantly (0.56 ± 0.15 vs. 0.47 ± 0.12; P = 0.001).

Conclusion: UDCA treatment in NASH patients resulted in statistically significant reductions in the mean CIMT over a 6-month period. We believe that this benefit of UDCA may have resulted from decreased insulin resistance and increased serum high-density lipoprotein-apo A1 levels. However, larger, longer-term studies are needed to confirm this effect of UDCA in NASH.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anthropometry / methods
  • Apolipoprotein A-I / blood
  • Apolipoprotein A-I / drug effects*
  • Apolipoproteins B / blood
  • Apolipoproteins B / drug effects*
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Biopsy
  • Carotid Intima-Media Thickness*
  • Cholagogues and Choleretics / pharmacology*
  • Cholagogues and Choleretics / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Liver / pathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease / blood
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease / drug therapy
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease / pathology*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Ursodeoxycholic Acid / pharmacology*
  • Ursodeoxycholic Acid / therapeutic use
  • Waist Circumference
  • Young Adult


  • Apolipoprotein A-I
  • Apolipoproteins B
  • Biomarkers
  • Cholagogues and Choleretics
  • Ursodeoxycholic Acid