Alcohol is one of the most common etiologies of liver disease, and alcoholic liver disease overall is the second most common indication for liver transplantation in the United States. It encompasses a spectrum of disease, including fatty liver disease, alcoholic hepatitis (AH), and alcoholic cirrhosis. AH can range from mild to severe disease, with severe disease being defined as: Discriminant Function (DF) ≥ 32, or Model for End-stage Liver Disease (MELD) ≥ 21, or presence of hepatic encephalopathy. Management of the mild disease consists mainly of abstinence and supportive care. Severe AH is associated with significant mortality. Currently, there is no ideal medical treatment for this condition. Besides alcohol cessation, corticosteroids have been used with conflicting results and are associated with an inherent risk of infection. Overall steroids have shown short term benefit when compared to placebo, but they have no obvious long term benefits. Pentoxifylline does not improve survival in patients with severe AH and is no longer recommended based on the results of the STOPAH (Steroid Or Pentoxifylline for Alcoholic Hepatitis) trial. Anti-tumor necrosis factor (TNF) agents are associated with increased risk of life threatening infections and death. Currently, early stage trials are underway, mainly targeting novel pathways based on disease pathogenesis, including modulation of innate immune system, inhibition of gut-liver axis and cell death pathways, and activation of transcription factor farnesyl X receptor (FXR). Future treatment may lie in human induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) technology, which is currently under investigation for the study of pathogenesis, drug discovery, and stem cell transplantation. Liver transplantation has been reported with good results in highly selected patients but is controversial due to limited organ supply.
- Alcoholic hepatitis
- Induced pluripotent stem cell
- Liver transplantation
ASJC Scopus subject areas