S-adenosylmethionine versus ursodeoxycholic acid in the treatment of intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy: preliminary results of a controlled trial

Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol. 1996 Aug;67(2):109-13. doi: 10.1016/0301-2115(96)02442-6.


Objectives: To evaluate the efficacy of S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe) and ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA) in intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy (ICP).

Methods: Twenty patients in the last trimester of pregnancy were randomly assigned to receive either SAMe (1000 mg/day i.m.) or UDCA (450 mg/day) until delivery; the treatment lasted at least 15 days in all cases.

Results: After UDCA the women exhibited significantly lower levels of total bile acids (P < 0.02), but no significant differences were noted in AST, ALT, or alkaline phosphatase. All ten patients showed a complete resolution of pruritus. After SAMe no significant changes were noted in pruritus, total bile acids or liver function tests. No adverse reactions on mother or child were recorded during either UDCA or SAMe treatment and the outcome of pregnancy was favorable in both groups.

Conclusions: These findings show that UDCA is more effective than SAMe in controlling pruritus and total bile acids, which are considered a prognostic parameter in ICP with respect to the fetus. Nevertheless, before UDCA is introduced as an effective and safe treatment for ICP, which also has a beneficial effect on fetal prognosis, we believe these results should be confirmed and extended in other clinical trials.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alkaline Phosphatase / blood
  • Bile Acids and Salts / blood
  • Cholagogues and Choleretics / therapeutic use*
  • Cholestasis, Intrahepatic / blood
  • Cholestasis, Intrahepatic / drug therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / blood
  • Pregnancy Complications / drug therapy*
  • Pregnancy Outcome
  • S-Adenosylmethionine / therapeutic use*
  • Ursodeoxycholic Acid / therapeutic use*


  • Bile Acids and Salts
  • Cholagogues and Choleretics
  • Ursodeoxycholic Acid
  • S-Adenosylmethionine
  • Alkaline Phosphatase