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Efficacy of short-term dexamethasone therapy in acute-on-chronic pre-liver failure


Professor Qing Mao, Department of Infectious Diseases, Southwest Hospital, Third Military Medical University, Chongqing 400038, China. Email:


Aim:  Acute-on-chronic pre-liver failure (pre-ACLF) is defined as a severe acute episode of chronic hepatitis B characterized by serum bilirubin of 171 µmol/L or more, alanine aminotransferase of five times or more the upper limit of normal and prothrombin activity of more than 40%, having a potential for progression to acute-on-chronic liver failure (ACLF). This study is to evaluate the efficacy of short-term dexamethasone in pre-ACLF.

Methods:  One hundred and seventy patients were assigned to dexamethasone therapy and control group at a ratio of 1:2. For the two groups, we compared biochemical indicators, the incidence of ACLF and mortality. The influential factors on the mortality of patients with pre-ACLF were studied by Cox proportional hazards models.

Results:  The significantly lower incidence of ACLF and higher survival rate were observed in patients on dexamethasone therapy (8.9%, 96.4%, respectively) than in control patients (70.2%, 52.6%, respectively; P < 0.001). Dexamethasone treatment was an independent factor influencing the survival rate (P < 0.001, odds ratio = 0.055, 95% confidence interval = 0.013–0.225). During 4 weeks of treatment, serum bilirubin levels of survival patients were significantly lower in the dexamethasone group than control group.

Conclusion:  Five-day dexamethasone therapy is effective in improving the liver function and survival rate of patients with pre-ACLF.