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Efficacy of glutathione for the treatment of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease: an open-label, single-arm, multicenter, pilot study

Abstract Background:

Glutathione plays crucial roles in the detoxification and antioxidant systems of cells and has been used to treat acute poisoning and chronic liver diseases by intravenous injection. This is a first study examining the therapeutic effects of oral administration of glutathione in patients with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).

Methods:

The study was an open label, single arm, multicenter, pilot trial. Thirty-four NAFLD patients diagnosed using ultrasonography were prospectively evaluated. All patients first underwent intervention to improve their lifestyle habits (diet and exercise) for 3 months, followed by treatment with glutathione (300 mg/day) for 4 months. We evaluated their clinical parameters before and after glutathione treatment. We also quantified liver fat and fibrosis using vibrationcontrolled transient elastography. The primary outcome of the study was the change in alanine aminotransferase (ALT) levels.

Results:

Twenty-nine patients finished the protocol. ALT levels significantly decreased following treatment with glutathione for 4 months. In addition, triglycerides, non-esterified fatty acids, and ferritin levels also decreased with glutathione treatment. Following dichotomization of ALT responders based on a median 12.9% decrease from baseline, we found that ALT responders were younger in age and did not have severe diabetes compared with ALT non-responders. The controlled attenuation parameter also decreased in ALT responders.

Conclusions:

This pilot study demonstrates the potential therapeutic effects of oral administration of glutathione in practical dose for patients with NAFLD. Large-scale clinical trials are needed to verify its efficacy.

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