Effects of Phlebotomy on Liver Enzymes and Histology of Patients With Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

Adv Biomed Res. 2017 Feb 22;6:12. doi: 10.4103/2277-9175.200787. eCollection 2017.


Background: Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), defined as excessive liver fat deposition and one of end-stage liver disease causes. Increased ferritin levels are associated with insulin resistance and a higher hepatic iron and fat content. Hyperferritinemia has been associated with severity of liver damage in NAFLD. The study aimed to evaluate the effects of phlebotomy on liver enzymes and histology in such patients.

Materials and methods: Thirty-two eligible patients who had NAFLD and after 6 months of lifestyle modification still had NAFLD, and whose ferritin serum was above 250 mg/dl, were enrolled in this clinical trial study. After written informed consent was obtained, each patient's blood serum was taken for aspartate transaminase (AST), alanine aminotransferase (ALT), alkaline phosphatase (ALK-P), complete blood count (CBC), total iron-binding capacity (TIBC), iron, and ferritin. Then the patients underwent liver biopsy. After that patients underwent phlebotomy, giving 350 cc blood monthly. Before every phlebotomy, hemoglobin and ferritin were checked. If they were in the goal range, phlebotomy was discontinued and the patient underwent liver biopsy. A serum sample was taken for testing at the beginning of the study. The results before and after phlebotomy were compared. The maximum duration of the study was 6 months.

Results: Thirty-two patients (26 males and 6 females) were enrolled, and the mean average age was 33.7 ± 6.74 years. Phlebotomy improved liver enzymes and histology of liver significantly (P < 0.001) and induced reduction of ferritin.

Conclusion: Phlebotomy is effective for the improvement of liver enzymes and histology in patients with NAFLD and hyperferritinemia.

Keywords: Hyperferritinemia; nonalcoholic fatty liver disease; phlebotomy.