In addition to the portal pressure reducing effect, non-selective beta blockers (NSBBs) have possible immunomodulatory and effect in reducing bacterial translocation. Recently, it has been shown that patients who are already on NSBBs should be continued on them (if feasible), if acute-on-chronic liver failure (ACLF) develops. It, however, remains unknown if patients with ACLF and no or small esophageal varices at presentation will benefit from the use of NSBBs. We studied the efficacy and safety of carvedilol in patients with ACLF in reducing mortality, variceal bleeding and non-bleeding complications.
136 patients with ACLF (with no or small esophageal varices and HVPG ≥ 12 mmHg) were randomized to either carvedilol (n = 66) or placebo arms (n = 70).
Within 28 days, 7 (10.6%) of 66 patients in the carvedilol group and 17 (24.3%) of 70 in the placebo group died (p= 0.044). Fewer patients in the carvedilol compared to placebo group developed acute kidney injury (AKI) (13.6% vs 35.7%, p = 0.003 and spontaneous bacterial peritonitis (SBP) (6.1% vs 21.4%, p= 0.013). Significantly, more patients in the placebo group had increase in APASL ACLF Research Consortium-ACLF grade (22.9% vs 6.1%, p= 0.007). There was no significant difference in the 90-day transplant-free survival rate and development of AKI, SBP, non-SBP infections (including pneumonia) and variceal bleed within 90 days, between the two groups.
In ACLF patients with either no or small esophageal varices and HVPG ≥ 12 mmHg, carvedilol leads to improved survival and fewer AKI and SBP events up to 28 days. CLINICALTRIALS.