Safety of ornithine phenylacetate in cirrhotic decompensated patients: An open-label, dose-escalating, single-cohort study

Meritxell Ventura-Cots, José A. Arranz, Macarena Simón-Talero, Maria Torrens, Albert Blanco, Encarnació Riudor, Inma Fuentes, Pilar Suñé, German Soriano, Juan Córdoba

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57 Citations (Scopus)


AIMS:: Confirm in patients with cirrhosis and gastrointestinal bleeding the safety of ornithine phenylacetate (OP) and assess the pharmacokinetic profile of OP and its effects on plasma ammonia. BACKGROUND:: OP is a drug that has shown experimentally to decrease hyperammonemia and improve hepatic encephalopathy. OP is safe in healthy subjects and in stable patients with cirrhosis, but there are no data in decompensated cirrhosis. METHODS:: We performed a study to assess safety and tolerance of OP in cirrhotic patients after an episode of upper gastrointestinal bleeding.Ten patients were included within 24 hours of an upper gastrointestinal bleeding. OP was administered as a continuous infusion up to a maximum of 10 g/24 h (0.42 g/h) for 5 days. The infusion was started at 33% of the target dose and increased at 12-hour intervals achieving target dose at 24 hours. Ammonia was also assessed in control group of 10 patients. RESULTS:: No severe adverse events were observed. Mild adverse events were reported in 4 patients. Plasma ammonia (baseline: 80±43 μmol/L) showed a progressive drop between baseline and 36 hours (42±15 μmol/L), 72 hours (44±15 μmol/L), 96 hours (40±24 μmol/L), and 120 hours (33±14 μmol/L). Plasma ammonia at 24 hours was significantly higher in the control group. Plasma glutamine showed a significant decrease (-37% at day 5) and its excretion in urine as phenylacetylglutamine, a progressive rise (52±35 mmol at day 5). CONCLUSIONS:: OP is a safe and well-tolerated drug in decompensated cirrhotics that may decrease plasma ammonia by inducing its appearance as phenylacetylglutamine in urine. Copyright © 2013 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)881-887
JournalJournal of Clinical Gastroenterology
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2013


  • ammonia
  • cirrhosis
  • hepatic encephalopathy
  • ornithine phenylacetate
  • upper gastrointestinal bleeding


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