Liver and Bile
J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2023;38(5):703–9
Role of rifaximin in the management of alcohol-associated hepatitis: A systematic review and meta-analysis
Background and aim: Alcohol-associated hepatitis (AAH) is an acute, inflammatory liver disease with severe short-term and long-term morbidity and mortality. AAH can lead to severe complications including hepatic failure, gastrointestinal bleeding, sepsis, and the development or decompensation of cirrhosis. Rifaximin is an antibiotic that reduces bacterial overgrowth and gut translocation, and it may have a role in decreasing systemic inflammation and infection in patients with AAH. Therefore, the authors conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to evaluate the role of rifaximin in the management of AAH.
Methods: A comprehensive search strategy was used to identify studies that met the inclusion criteria in Embase, Medline (PubMed), Cochrane Library, Web of Science Core Collection, and Google Scholar. Outcomes of interest included rates of infection, 90-day mortality, and overall mortality between the rifaximin versus non-rifaximin group. Open Meta Analyst software was used to compute the results.
Results: Three studies with a total of 162 patients were included in the final meta-analysis. Of the 3 studies, 2 were randomized control trials, and 1 was a case-control study. There was a significantly lower rate of infection in the rifaximin group versus the non-rifaximin group (risk ratio [RR] = 0.331, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.159–0.689, I2 = 0%, p = 0.003). There was no significant difference in 90-day mortality in the rifaximin versus non-rifaximin group (RR = 0.743, 95% CI: 0.298–1.850, I2 = 24%, p = 0.523), nor was there a significant difference in overall mortality (RR = 0.624, 95% CI: 0.299–1.3, I2 = 7.1%, p = 0.208).
Conclusions: The use of rifaximin in alcohol-associated hepatitis (AAH) is associated with a lower rate of infection rate than the non-rifaximin group. Additional research is needed to determine whether this effect is more pronounced in patients concurrently being treated with prednisolone. Differences in 90-day or overall mortality did not reach statistical significance. Further studies, particularly large randomized controlled trials, are needed to establish the role of rifaximin in AAH, especially as an adjunct therapy with prednisolone.