Background and Aims: Treatment with intravenous glycyrrhizin reduces the progression of liver disease caused by chronic hepatitis C (HCV) infection. Glycyrrhetinic acid, a metabolite of glycyrrhizin, inhibits the renal conversion of cortisol to cortisone by inhibiting the enzyme 11β-hydroxysteroiddehydrogenase in the kidney. The resulting excess of cortisol subsequently stimulates the mineralocorticoid receptor, leading to pseudo-aldosteronism with hypertension, hypokalemia and eventually renin and aldosterone suppression. The aim of this study was to evaluate the occurrence of pseudo-aldosteronism after treatment of chronic hepatitis C (HCV) patients with increasing doses of intravenous glycyrrhizin. Methods: Forty-four HCV patients with chronic hepatitis or compensated cirrhosis were treated with intravenous glycyrrhizin 6 × 200 mg/week, 3 × 240 mg/week or 3 × 0 mg/week (placebo) for 4 weeks. In all patients, bodyweight, blood pressure and plasma concentrations of sodium, potassium, cortisol, DHEA-S (dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate), renin and aldosterone were measured before, and at 0 and 4 weeks after treatment. Results: Within the placebo group, no significant changes were observed. Within the 1200 mg group systolic blood pressure was significantly higher at the end of treatment, while aldosterone was significantly lower; at the end of the follow-up period these values had returned to baseline. The changes from baseline in systolic and diastolic blood pressure at the end of treatment were significantly higher in the 1200 mg group compared to the placebo group. The changes in aldosterone and potassium concentrations at the end of treatment increased with increasing dosage, although not significantly. Conclusion: Hepatitis C virus patients with chronic hepatitis or compensated cirrhosis show minor reversible symptoms of pseudo-aldosteronism after treatment with 1200 mg glycyrrhizin weekly for 4 weeks.

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Keywords 11β-hydroxysteroiddehydrogenase, Cirrhosis, Cortisol, Glycyrrhetinic acid, Glycyrrhizin, Hepatitis C, Pseudo-aldosteronism
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Journal Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology
van Rossum, T.G.J, de Jong, F.H, Hop, W.C.J, Boomsma, F, & Schalm, S.W. (2001). 'Pseudo-aldosteronism' induced by intravenous glycyrrhizin treatment of chronic hepatitis C patients. Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, 16(7), 789–795. doi:10.1046/j.1440-1746.2001.02382.x