According to a new study, a potentially life-threatening condition associated with cirrhosis and other chronic liver diseases can be treated using drug therapy.
Therapy for treating portal hypertension, in which there is an increase in the blood pressure within a system of veins called the portal venous system, has been limited. However, a recent study carried out by a team of researchers from the Mayo Clinic has found that the drug sivelestat may effectively lower portal hypertension, and improve symptoms and outcomes for those diagnosed with it. The findings were obtained using mice-models, and were also confirmed in liver samples from humans.
Vijay Shah, M.D., a Mayo Clinic gastroenterologist and senior author said, “Sivelestat has been safely used in humans with acute lung injury and bronchopulmonary dysplasia. This suggests that sivelestat and similar drugs constitute a potential means to decrease portal hypertension in patients with chronic liver disease.” The study showed that fibrin deposits (microvascular blood clots) were the chief contributors for portal hypertension. Additionally, inflammatory cells known as neutrophils contributed to the formation of fibrin. Moira Hilscher, M.D., the paper’s first author commented that this was the first time that neutrophils were identified as significant drivers of portal hypertension. The team verified these results in two different models of chronic liver disease.
In conclusion, Dr. Hilscher said, “The study paves the way for developing new drugs and repurposing of existing compounds to target inflammation in the liver driven by disease-related mechanical forces. Given the increasing prevalence of advanced liver disease due to alcohol and obesity, this is clearly an unmet need.”