Effect of zinc on liver cirrhosis with hyperammonemia: a preliminary randomized, placebo-controlled double-blind trial.
Nutrition. 2014 Nov-Dec;30(11-12):1409-14. Epub 2014 May 10. PMID: 25280421
OBJECTIVE: To our knowledge, no randomized study has shown whether zinc replacement therapy is effective for hyperammonemia in liver cirrhosis; therefore, we performed a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial to examine efficacy and safety of the zinc replacement therapy.
METHODS: Patients with liver cirrhosis and hyperammonemia (at or above the institutional reference value) and hypozincemia (≤65 μg/dL) were enrolled in the outpatient units of the participating institutions and were randomly divided to receive placebo (P group) or zinc acetate preparation at a dose of 3 capsules/d for a total zinc content of 150 mg/d (Z group) by the envelope method. Of the 18 enrolled patients, 6 dropped out; thus, the analyses included 12 patients (5 in the P group and 7 in the Z group). Variations in blood concentrations of zinc and ammonia as well as liver function test results were compared.
RESULTS: Blood zinc levels significantly increased in the Z group (P = 0.0037; Friedman test) but not the P group. Blood ammonia levels significantly decreased in the Z group (P = 0.0114; Friedman test) but not the P group. The percent change in blood ammonia level also revealed significant reduction at the eighth week in the Z group (P = 0.0188: Mann-Whitney test). No serious adverse events attributable to the zinc preparation were noted.
CONCLUSION: Although this study is preliminary and includes a small sample, it is, to our knowledge, the first randomized controlled trial to show that zinc supplementation for 3 mo seems effective and safe for treating hyperammonemia in liver cirrhosis. Studies with a larger sample size are needed to confirm our findings.