Colchicine in the Treatment of Cirrhosis of the Liver
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There is preliminary evidence that colchicine, an inhibitor of collagen synthesis, may be beneficial in the treatment of cirrhosis of the liver. To evaluate the use of colchicine (1 mg per day, five days per week) in the treatment of hepatic cirrhosis, we performed a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial in which 100 patients were followed for up to 14 years. Forty-five patients had alcoholic cirrhosis, 41 had posthepatitic cirrhosis, and the remaining 14 had cirrhosis with various other causes. Histologic studies were available for 92 percent of patients. Seventy-three patients were in Child-Turcotte class A, 26 were in class B, and one was in class C. Fifty-four patients received colchicine, and 46 received placebo. The overall survival in the colchicine group was markedly better than in the placebo group (median survival, 11 and 3.5 years, respectively; P less than 0.001). The cumulative 5-year survival rates were 75 percent in the colchicine group and 34 percent in the placebo group; the corresponding 10-year survival rates were 56 percent and 20 percent. Among the 30 patients treated with colchicine who underwent repeated liver biopsies, histologic improvement was seen in 9; the liver appeared normal in 2, and 7 had minimal portal fibrosis. No histologic improvement was observed in the 14 members of the placebo group who had two or more biopsies. Few side effects were observed in either group.
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