The researchers investigated the use of metformin in the treatment of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, and reported their findings in the latest issue of the Lancet.
Currently, there is no established treatment for steatohepatitis in patients who are not alcoholics.
This disease is a potentially progressive liver disease associated with hepatic insulin resistance. Only a weight-reducing diet in overweight patients has proved effective.
The investigators treated 20 patients who had steatohepatitis, but were not alcoholics, with metformin (500 mg 3 times a day, for 4 months). Metformin is an agent that improves hepatic insulin sensitivity.
| Effects of metformin:|
- Transaminase levels reduced.
- Insulin sensitivity improved.
- Liver volume decreased.
When compared with the 6 individuals not complying with treatment, long-term metformin was found to significantly reduce mean transaminase concentrations. The levels returned to normal in 50% of actively-treated patients.
Also, insulin sensitivity improved significantly and liver volume decreased by 20%.
The team, led by Dr Giulio Marchesini, concluded that a randomized-controlled study is needed to further investigate this treatment.