Aim: To evaluate the efficacy, safety, and tolerability of apararenone 10 mg/day in patients with nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). Methods: In this multicenter, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled phase II study, patients received apararenone 10 mg or placebo once daily for 72 weeks. The primary efficacy end-point was percent change in serum alanine aminotransferase (ALT) from baseline to 24 weeks after randomization. Secondary efficacy end-points included changes in liver fibrosis markers. Adverse drug reactions (ADRs) and serum potassium levels were evaluated. Results: Forty-eight patients were randomly assigned to treatment (placebo, 23; apararenone, 25). The percent change in ALT at 24 weeks was −3.0% and −13.7% with placebo and apararenone, respectively (p = 0.308). The apararenone group showed greater reductions from baseline in fibrosis markers (type IV collagen 7S and procollagen-3 N-terminal peptide) and noninvasive tests of fibrosis (enhanced liver fibrosis score and Fibrosis-4 index) at all time points versus placebo. The percentage of patients with improvement of 1 point or more in fibrosis stage/without nonalcoholic fatty liver disease activity score worsening was 41.7% with apararenone and 26.1% with placebo (p = 0.203). Adverse drug reactions were reported in three (13.0%) and three (12.5%) patients in the placebo and apararenone groups, respectively. Serum potassium levels increased in the apararenone group during the study and decreased to near baseline after the end of treatment. Conclusions: In patients with NASH, apararenone 10 mg/day for 72 weeks was effective in decreasing ALT levels, improved multiple potential fibrosis markers, and was safe and well tolerated. Pathological findings showed anti-inflammatory and antifibrotic effects of apararenone.
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