Aspirin for Metabolic Dysfunction-Associated Steatotic Liver Disease Without Cirrhosis: A Randomized Clinical Trial

Tracey G. Simon, Robert M. Wilechansky, Stefania Stoyanova, Alessandra Grossman, Laura E. Dichtel, Georg M. Lauer, Karen K. Miller, Yujin Hoshida, Kathleen E. Corey, Rohit Loomba, Raymond T. Chung, Andrew T. Chan

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Abstract

Importance: Aspirin may reduce severity of metabolic dysfunction-associated steatotic liver disease (MASLD) and lower the incidence of end-stage liver disease and hepatocellular carcinoma, in patients with MASLD. However, the effect of aspirin on MASLD is unknown. Objective: To test whether low-dose aspirin reduces liver fat content, compared with placebo, in adults with MASLD. Design, Setting, and Participants: This 6-month, phase 2, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial was conducted at a single hospital in Boston, Massachusetts. Participants were aged 18 to 70 years with established MASLD without cirrhosis. Enrollment occurred between August 20, 2019, and July 19, 2022, with final follow-up on February 23, 2023. Interventions: Participants were randomized (1:1) to receive either once-daily aspirin, 81 mg (n = 40) or identical placebo pills (n = 40) for 6 months. Main Outcomes and Measures: The primary end point was mean absolute change in hepatic fat content, measured by proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) at 6-month follow-up. The 4 key secondary outcomes included mean percentage change in hepatic fat content by MRS, the proportion achieving at least 30% reduction in hepatic fat, and the mean absolute and relative reductions in hepatic fat content, measured by magnetic resonance imaging proton density fat fraction (MRI-PDFF). Analyses adjusted for the baseline value of the corresponding outcome. Minimal clinically important differences for study outcomes were not prespecified. Results: Among 80 randomized participants (mean age, 48 years; 44 [55%] women; mean hepatic fat content, 35% [indicating moderate steatosis]), 71 (89%) completed 6-month follow-up. The mean absolute change in hepatic fat content by MRS was -6.6% with aspirin vs 3.6% with placebo (difference, -10.2% [95% CI, -27.7% to -2.6%]; P =.009). Compared with placebo, aspirin treatment significantly reduced relative hepatic fat content (-8.8 vs 30.0 percentage points; mean difference, -38.8 percentage points [95% CI, -66.7 to -10.8]; P =.007), increased the proportion of patients with 30% or greater relative reduction in hepatic fat (42.5% vs 12.5%; mean difference, 30.0% [95% CI, 11.6% to 48.4%]; P =.006), reduced absolute hepatic fat content by MRI-PDFF (-2.7% vs 0.9%; mean difference, -3.7% [95% CI, -6.1% to -1.2%]; P =.004]), and reduced relative hepatic fat content by MRI-PDFF (-11.7 vs 15.7 percentage points; mean difference, -27.3 percentage points [95% CI, -45.2 to -9.4]; P =.003). Thirteen participants (32.5%) in each group experienced an adverse event, most commonly upper respiratory tract infections (10.0% in each group) or arthralgias (5.0% for aspirin vs 7.5% for placebo). One participant randomized to aspirin (2.5%) experienced drug-related heartburn. Conclusions and Relevance: In this preliminary randomized clinical trial of patients with MASLD, 6 months of daily low-dose aspirin significantly reduced hepatic fat quantity compared with placebo. Further study in a larger sample size is necessary to confirm these findings. Trial Registration: ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT04031729.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)920-929
Number of pages10
JournalJAMA - Journal of the American Medical Association
Volume331
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - 19 Mar 2024
Externally publishedYes

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