Successful use of ursodeoxycholic acid in nodular regenerative hyperplasia of the liver

Giusy Ranucci, Francesco Cirillo, Claudia Della Corte, Raffaella Vecchione, Gianfranco Vallone, Raffaele Iorio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


OBJECTIVE: To report, to our knowledge, the first case of a patient with nodular regenerative hyperplasia of the liver (NRHL) associated with portal hypertension in whom ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA) therapy had a therapeutic effect on liver enzymes and was associated with nonprogression of portal hypertension. CASE SUMMARY: A symptom-free 13-year-old boy was hospitalized for splenomegaly and thrombocytopenia identified during a routine check-up. Infectious, autoimmune, and neoplastic causes were ruled out. Two years later, laboratory findings revealed high levels of aminotransferases and γ- glutamyltransferase (GGT), thrombocytopenia, and neutropenia. Ultrasound scanning of the abdomen confirmed portal hypertension. Results of liver pathology studies showed diagnostic features of NRHL. Given the biochemical evidence of cholestasis, UDCA was administered, with an initial dosage of 10 mg/kg/day that was progressively increased to 20 mg/kg/day (1800 mg/day). After 5 months of treatment, GGT and then aminotransferase levels normalized and remained within normal limits in the following months. With arbitrary withdrawal of UDCA after 30 months of therapy, a rapid increase in transaminase levels was observed. Prompt reinstitution of UDCA was followed by sustained normalization of liver enzymes. Laboratory and sonographic signs of portal hypertension remained stable and tended to improve during UDCA therapy, as demonstrated by regularization of the mean portal vein flow velocity, reduction of the congestion index, progressive increase of the platelet count, and improvement of the esophagogastroscopy pattern. DISCUSSION: NRHL is a rare disease that is characterized by multiple regenerative nodules in the hepatic parenchyma that may lead to noncirrhotic portal hypertension. No specific treatment is available, and management of patients with a primary form of NRHL consists mainly of treating the complications of portal hypertension. In our patient, UDCA therapy was followed by a prompt reduction and sustained normalization of liver enzyme levels and no progression of portal hypertension throughout the follow-up period. CONCLUSIONS: Since in this patient with primary NRHL, ongoing UDCA administration resulted in improved biochemical and portal hypertension markers, this therapy can be considered in cases of NRHL associated with abnormalities of liver enzymes.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAnnals of Pharmacotherapy
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2011


  • Liver function tests
  • Nodular regenerative hyperplasia of the liver
  • Portal hypertension
  • Ursodeoxycholic acid

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology (medical)


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