Source Division of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition, Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine, Richmond, VA, USA. Center for Liver Diseases, Inova Fairfax Hospital, Falls Church, VA, USA. University of California, San Francisco, CA, USA. Metrohealth Medical Center, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH, USA. Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, CA, USA. Columbia University Medical Center, Center for Liver Disease & Transplant, New York, NY, USA. Permian Gastroenterology Associates, LLP, Odessa, TX, USA. Long Beach VA Medical Center, Long Beach, CA, USA. Salix Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Morrisville, NC, USA.
Background Hepatic encephalopathy (HE) is a brain disorder that often results from cirrhosis due to viral hepatitis, metabolic and alcohol-related liver disease, and is characterised by cognitive, psychiatric and motor impairments. Recurrent bouts of overt HE negatively impact daily functioning and quality of life.
Aim To evaluate the effect of rifaximin on health-related quality of life (HRQL) in cirrhotic patients with HE.
Methods Patients with cirrhosis in remission from HE (Conn score = 0 or 1) and a documented history of recurrent HE episodes (≥2 within 6 months of screening) were randomised to rifaximin 550 mg twice daily (N = 101) or placebo (N = 118) for 6 months. Concomitant lactulose was permitted during the study. The Chronic Liver Disease Questionnaire (CLDQ) was administered every 4 weeks, and time for occurrence of HE breakthrough was recorded. A longitudinal analysis using time-weighted averages of the CLDQ scores normalised by days on study therapy was used to evaluate the effect of treatment on HRQL, and between HE outcomes (HE recurrence, yes/no) irrespective of treatment.
Results The time-weighted averages of the overall CLDQ score and each domain score were significantly higher in the rifaximin group vs. placebo (P-values ranged from 0.0087 to 0.0436); and were significantly lower in patients who experienced HE breakthrough compared to those who remained in remission (P-values were <0.0001).
Conclusion Rifaximin significantly improved HRQL in patients with cirrhosis and recurrent hepatic encephalopathy. A lower HRQL may predict recurrence of hepatic encephalopathy (ClinicalTrials.gov identifier NCT00298038).