Antibiotic Can Reduce Hospitalization, Prevent Recurrence of Rare Brain Disorder, Analysis Shows

Mar 26, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- A study analysis by researchers at the University of Cincinnati confirms that the antibiotic rifaximin can reduce hospitalizations for patients and prevent the recurrence of a certain brain disorder caused by liver failure.

A study analysis by researchers at the University of Cincinnati confirms that the antibiotic rifaximin can reduce hospitalizations for patients and prevent the recurrence of a certain brain disorder caused by .

These findings were reported in the March 25, 2010, edition of the .

Guy Neff, MD, lead investigator on the study locally and associate professor of medicine, and transplant, with colleagues in the digestive diseases division, found that rifaximin significantly reduced the risk of hepatic encephalopathy-related hospitalizations when compared to a placebo drug.

In addition, over a six-month period, treatment with rifaximin helped patients maintain remission for hepatic encephalophaty more effectively than the placebo.

Hepatic encephalopathy, or HE, is a potentially reversible neuropsychiatric abnormality that can result due to liver failure.

"When there is severe damage to the liver, toxic substances that are normally removed by the liver accumulate in the blood and impair the brain,” says Neff, director of liver transplantation and a specialist with UC Health. "Signs of HE can include impaired cognition, asterixis—or a wrist tremor—and a decreased level of consciousness including coma, cerebral edema and possibly death.”

Rifaximin is approved to treat traveler’s diarrhea. On March 24, 2010, the U.S. also approved this drug for the unrestricted treatment of HE—the first new treatment for the disorder in over 30 years.

Researchers analyzed a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study of 299 patients with a history of HE—meaning patients and researchers were not told whether they were receiving/giving rifaximin or the placebo drug.

They found that patients who took rifaximin as opposed to the placebo had about 50 percent less risk of being hospitalized; also, approximately 58 percent of patients given the drug did not experience recurrence of HE.

"This new data solidly supports the clinical efficacy of rifaximin in reducing the risk of HE-related hospitalization and its ability to prevent patients from redeveloping the illness,” Neff says. "As demonstrated in previously published pharmacoeconomic data, reducing recurrent HE events may reduce the need for HE-related hospitalization, thereby potentially decreasing the costs of care, and improving patients' quality of life.”

Neff has received honoraria from the makers of rifaximin.

Explore further: Liberia's Sirleaf sees signs of Ebola 'stabilisation'

More information: Study paper: content.nejm.org/cgi/reprint/362/12/1071.pdf

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Ibuprofen restores learning ability in rats with liver failure

Aug 01, 2007

Cognitive impairment is one of the neurological effects in patients with hepatic encephalopathy (abnormal brain function due to severe liver disease). For the first time, a new study showed that treatment with an anti-inflammatory ...

Mayo Clinic seeks new therapies for alcoholic hepatitis

Dec 01, 2008

A new study from Mayo Clinic finds the use of the drug therapy etanercept ineffective in treating alcoholic hepatitis, an acute inflammation of the liver caused by excessive consumption of alcohol. The results of the study ...

Recommended for you

UN says Syria vaccine deaths was an NGO 'mistake'

3 hours ago

The recent deaths of Syrian children after receiving measles vaccinations was the result of a "mistake" by a non-governmental partner who mixed in a muscle relaxant meant for anesthesia, a spokesman for the U.N. secretary-general ...

First US child dies from enterovirus D68

4 hours ago

A child in the northeastern US state of Rhode Island has become the first to die from an ongoing outbreak of a respiratory virus, enterovirus D68, health officials said Wednesday.

US Ebola patient had contact with kids: governor

4 hours ago

A man who was diagnosed with Ebola in virus in Texas came in contact with young children, and experts are monitoring them for any signs of disease, governor Rick Perry said Wednesday.

UN worker dies of suspected Ebola in Liberia

4 hours ago

The United Nations mission in Liberia announced on Wednesday the first suspected victim among its employees of the deadly Ebola epidemic ravaging the impoverished west African nation.

User comments : 0