N Engl J Med. 2021 Mar 4;384(9):818-828. doi: 10.1056/NEJMoa2008290.
BACKGROUND: The vasoconstrictor terlipressin is used for type 1 hepatorenal syndrome (HRS-1) in many parts of the world and is part of the clinical practice guidelines in Europe.
METHODS: We conducted a phase 3 trial to confirm the efficacy and safety of terlipressin plus albumin in adults with HRS-1. The patients were randomly assigned in a 2:1 ratio to receive terlipressin or placebo for up to 14 days; in both groups, concomitant use of albumin was strongly recommended. The primary end point was verified reversal of HRS, defined as two consecutive serum creatinine measurements of 1.5 mg per deciliter or less at least 2 hours apart and survival without renal-replacement therapy for at least 10 days after the completion of treatment. Four prespecified secondary end points were analyzed with the Hochberg procedure to account for multiple comparisons.
RESULTS: A total of 300 patients underwent randomization - 199 were assigned to the terlipressin group and 101 to the placebo group. Verified reversal of HRS was reported in 63 patients (32%) in the terlipressin group and 17 patients (17%) in the placebo group (P = 0.006). With respect to the prespecified secondary end points, HRS reversal, defined as any serum creatinine level of 1.5 mg per deciliter or less during the first 14 days, was reported in 78 patients (39%) in the terlipressin group and 18 (18%) in the placebo group (P<0.001); HRS reversal without renal-replacement therapy by day 30, in 68 (34%) and 17 (17%), respectively (P = 0.001); HRS reversal among patients with systemic inflammatory response syndrome (84 patients in the terlipressin group and 48 patients in the placebo group), in 31 (37%) and 3 (6%), respectively (P<0.001); and verified reversal of HRS without recurrence by day 30, in 52 (26%) and 17 (17%), respectively (P = 0.08). At day 90, liver transplantations had been performed in 46 patients (23%) in the terlipressin group and 29 patients (29%) in the placebo group, and death occurred in 101 (51%) and 45 (45%), respectively. More adverse events, including abdominal pain, nausea, diarrhea, and respiratory failure, occurred with terlipressin than with placebo. Death within 90 days due to respiratory disorders occurred in 22 patients (11%) in the terlipressin group and 2 patients (2%) in the placebo group.
CONCLUSIONS: In this trial involving adults with cirrhosis and HRS-1, terlipressin was more effective than placebo in improving renal function but was associated with serious adverse events, including respiratory failure. (Funded by Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals; CONFIRM ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT02770716.).