Impact of continued administration of tolvaptan on cirrhotic patients with ascites

BMC Pharmacol Toxicol. 2018 Dec 18;19(1):87. doi: 10.1186/s40360-018-0277-3.


Background: The vasopressin V2-receptor antagonist tolvaptan is used to treat cirrhotic patients with ascites. We investigated the outcome of long-term treatment.

Methods: This was a single-center retrospective study. Overall, 170 cirrhotic patients (95 males, median age 63 years) were enrolled and received tolvaptan orally after hospitalization for ascites, which included treatment with conventional diuretics. We compared patients who withdrew tolvaptan treatment after < 1 year (n = 90) with patients who continued treatment for ≥1 year (n = 37). In continuously treated patients, the pretreatment and post-treatment (1 year) blood biochemistry values were assessed.

Results: Overall, 37 patients received treatment for ≥1 year and showed a higher response after tolvaptan therapy. The reduction in body weight was 2.0 (- 3.4-17.2) kg compared to discontinued cases, which had a body weight reduction of 1.1 (- 6.2-7.5) kg after 1 week. The group that received treatment for ≥1 year had a significantly lower rate of the complication gastroesophageal varices and also showed better liver function. In patients with continued treatment, serum levels of albumin was significantly higher without renal disturbance after 1 year of treatment. The prothrombin time/international normalized ratio and ammonia level were also significantly improved. Multivariate analyses showed that a change in body weight reduction and serum levels of albumin were predictive factors of continued administration.

Conclusions: Long-term tolvaptan treatment increased serum levels of albumin, decreased ammonia levels, and preserved renal function after 1 year of treatment. A reduction in body weight after 1 week was associated with a favorable outcome of tolvaptan therapy.

Keywords: Body weight reduction; Liver cirrhosis; Long-term outcome; Tolvaptan; Vasopressin V2-receptor antagonist.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Ammonia / blood
  • Antidiuretic Hormone Receptor Antagonists / administration & dosage*
  • Ascites / blood
  • Ascites / drug therapy*
  • Body Weight / drug effects
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Liver Cirrhosis / blood
  • Liver Cirrhosis / drug therapy*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Serum Albumin / analysis
  • Tolvaptan / administration & dosage*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult


  • Antidiuretic Hormone Receptor Antagonists
  • Serum Albumin
  • Tolvaptan
  • Ammonia