Ryosuke Kasuga 1, Po-Sung Chu 1, Nobuhito Taniki 1, Aya Yoshida 1, Rei Morikawa 1, Takaya Tabuchi 1, Fumie Noguchi 1, Karin Yamataka 1, Yukie Nakadai 1, Mayuko Kondo 1, Hirotoshi Ebinuma 1 2, Takanori Kanai 1, Nobuhiro Nakamoto 1

Background: Patients with severe alcohol-associated hepatitis (SAH) have a high short-term mortality rate. Unmet needs exist in patients who are refractory to corticosteroids (CS) or are ineligible for early liver transplantation.

Methods: This was a prospective, open-label, nonrandomized pilot study conducted at a liver transplant center in Tokyo, Japan, starting in October 2015. Lille model and Model for End-stage Liver Disease (MELD) score-defined CS nonresponsive or CS-intolerant patients with SAH who fulfilled the inclusion criteria (leukocytosis over 10,000/μL, etc.) were considered for enrollment. The median duration from admission to enrollment was 23 days (IQR, 14-31 days), after standard of care. Granulocyte-monocyte/macrophage apheresis (GMA) performed with Adacolumn twice per week, up to 10 times per treatment course, was evaluated.

Results: 13 GMA treatments were conducted through December 2021. Maddrey Discriminant Function was 53.217.7 at admission. The overall survival rate was 90.9% at 90 and 180 days. MELD scores significantly improved, from median (IQRs) of 23 (20-25) to 15 (13-21) after GMA (p<0.0001). Estimated mortality risks using the Lille model and MELD scores significantly improved from 20.9%±16.5% to 7.4%±7.3% at 2 months and from 30.4%±21.3% to 11.6%±10.8% at 6 months, respectively (both p<0.01), and were internally validated. The cumulative rate of alcohol relapse was 35.9% per year. No severe adverse events were observed. In exploratory analysis, granulocyte colony-stimulating factor levels were significantly correlated with prognostic systems such as MELD-Sodium scores after GMA (correlation coefficient= -0.9943, p<0.0001) but not before GMA (p=0.62). Conclusions: Compared to published studies, GMA is associated with a lower-than-expected 90- and 180-day mortality in patients with CS-nonresponsive or CS-intolerant SAH. GMA may meet the needs as a salvage anti-inflammatory therapy for SAH. (Trial registration: UMIN000019351 and jRCTs No.032180221) (274 words).