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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Successful administration of metoclopramide for the treatment of nausea in patients with advanced liver disease. A double-blind controlled trial.

A double-blind comparison of metoclopramide versus placebo was performed on 8 cirrhotic patients with nausea (8 cases) and heartburn (3 of the 8 cases) plus mild portal-systemic encephalopathy. As metoclopramide is a dopamine antagonist and dopamine-inadequate neurotransmission has been implicated in the pathogenesis of hepatic coma, this study was also designed to evaluate the effects of metoclopramide on mental state. The study included basal, placebo, metoclopramide, and final periods; each period lasted for 2 wk. Throughout the study patients received 3 g/day of neomycin and an 1800-cal diet containing 40 g/day of mixed protein. During the placebo and metoclopramide phases patients received either two 10-mg metoclopramide capsules t.i.d. or identical placebo capsules. During the study, biweekly liver function tests and portal-systemic encephalopathy parameters were evaluated. A self-evaluation for the presence of nausea and heartburn was also obtained. To monitor the dopamine-blockade effect of metoclopramide, serum prolactin levels were measured. Metoclopramide significantly suppressed the subjective signs of nausea (7 of 8 cases) and heartburn (all cases). Serum prolactin levels were 22 +/- 21 ng/ml, 30 +/- 31 ng/ml, 110 +/- 57 ng/ml (p less than 0.01), and 18.6 +/- 2 ng/ml during basal, placebo, metoclopramide, and final periods, respectively. In spite of these signs of dopamine blockade, no deterioration in mental state, asterixis, electroencephalograms, blood ammonia levels, or psychometric testings were observed. In addition, no extrapyramidal signs were noticeable during any period of the study. One patient presented transient somnolence at the end of the metoclopramide period. We conclude that dopamine blockade is not associated with the appearance of portal-systemic encephalopathy. Metoclopramide is a safe and effective treatment for nausea and heartburn in patients with advanced liver disease.[1]


  1. Successful administration of metoclopramide for the treatment of nausea in patients with advanced liver disease. A double-blind controlled trial. Uribe, M., Ballesteros, A., Strauss, R., Rosales, J., Garza, J., Villalobos, A., Briones, A., Garcia Ramos, G. Gastroenterology (1985) [Pubmed]
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