Colchicine decreases liver fibrosis in experimental and human disease, but a meta-analysis recently concluded that colchicine should not be used for liver fibrosis or cirrhosis irrespective of the aetiology. In this issue, Cortez-Pinto et al. confirm such negative conclusions in their series of 55 outpatients with biopsy-proven alcoholic cirrhosis followed for a median of 3.5 years. Although well tolerated, colchicine did not affect either the annual incidence rate of complications or liver function tests. Current treatment of alcoholic cirrhosis includes correction of nutritional deficiencies, exogenous administration of antioxidants (notably S-adenosylmethionine and polyenylphosphatidylcholine), and liver transplantation. In the future, preventive/therapeutic strategies will include campaigns to decrease alcohol abuse aimed at subjects genetically prone to develop alcoholic liver injury, prevention of liver fibrosis via inhibition of the Na+/H+ exchange, stimulation of apoptosis of stellate cells, antagonism of cytokines involved in liver injury, degradation of extracellular matrix, and reversal of ethanol-induced inflammatory and fibrotic changes via increased nitric oxide levels. On the grounds that it renders the hepatocyte more vulnerable to necrosis, steatosis has a key role in the pathogenesis of alcoholic and non-alcoholic liver disease. Conditions associated with insulin resistance have been recognized as risk factors for chronic liver disease and hepatocellular carcinoma in the alcoholic. This suggests that, through steatosis, insulin resistance could be a co-factor of alcoholic liver disease. Were such a hypothesis confirmed, it would unify our view of the pathogenesis of alcoholic and non-alcoholic liver disease, with all its inherent therapeutic implications.
Of liver, whisky and plants: A requiem for colchicine in alcoholic cirrhosis? / Lonardo, A; Loria, Paola. - In: EUROPEAN JOURNAL OF GASTROENTEROLOGY & HEPATOLOGY. - ISSN 0954-691X. - ELETTRONICO. - 14:4(2002), pp. 355-358. [10.1097/00042737-200204000-00003]