Minimal hepatic encephalopathy (MHE) is a subclinical cognitive impairment frequently observable in patients with cirrhosis. Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) can contribute to small-bowel bacterial overgrowth, but no study has investigated the link between PPIs and MHE. We investigated the relationship between MHE and PPI use as well as the role of PPI use in the development of overt HE and survival. Consecutive patients with cirrhosis (n = 310) were included in the study and followed up for 14.1 ± 12.3 months. At entry, MHE was diagnosed when the Psychometric Hepatic Encephalopathy Score was ≤-4. Data were analyzed by logistic regression for the factors associated with MHE and by time-related models for overt HE development and survival. At inclusion, 131 out of 310 patients with cirrhosis (42%) were affected by MHE. One hundred and twenty-five patients (40%) were using PPIs. The variables independently associated with the presence of MHE were PPI use, previous overt HE, low albumin, low sodium, and age. During follow-up, the development of overt HE was higher (64% versus 25%, P < 0.001) and overall survival lower (41% versus 81%, P < 0.001) in PPI users than in nonusers. Variables independently associated with the development of overt HE were PPIs, history of overt HE, low albumin, MHE, and age, while variables independently associated with mortality were PPIs, development of overt HE, Model for End-Stage Liver Disease score, low sodium, and age. Conclusion: The study identifies a potentially removable factor associated with the presence of MHE and related to the development of overt HE and survival in patients with liver cirrhosis.
© 2018 by the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases.