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DOI: 10.1016/S2468-1253(24)00074-8


BACKGROUND: In patients with Alagille syndrome, cholestasis-associated clinical features can include high serum bile acids and severe pruritus that can necessitate liver transplantation. We aimed to evaluate the efficacy and safety of the ileal bile acid transporter inhibitor odevixibat versus placebo in patients with Alagille syndrome.

METHODS: The ASSERT study was a phase 3, double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled trial that enrolled patients at 21 medical centres or hospitals in ten countries (Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Poland, Türkiye, the UK, and the USA). Eligible patients had a genetically confirmed diagnosis of Alagille syndrome, a history of significant pruritus, and elevated serum bile acids. Patients were randomly assigned (2:1) to receive oral odevixibat 120 μg/kg per day or placebo for 24 weeks (in a block size of six and stratified by age:≥10 years toyears) via a web-based system. Patients, clinicians, study staff, and people analysing the data were masked to treatment allocation. The primary efficacy endpoint was change in caregiver-reported scratching score (on the PRUCISION instrument; range 0-4) from baseline to weeks 21-24. The prespecified key secondary efficacy endpoint was change in serum bile acid concentration from baseline to the average of weeks 20 and 24. Outcomes were analysed in patients who received at least one dose of study drug (the full analysis set for efficacy outcomes and the safety analysis set for safety outcomes). This trial is registered on (NCT04674761) and EudraCT (2020-004011-28), and is completed.

FINDINGS: Between Feb 26, 2021, and Sept 9, 2022, 52 patients were randomly assigned to receive odevixibat (n=35) or placebo (n=17), all of whom were included in the analysis sets. The median age was 5·5 years (IQR 3·2 to 8·9). 27 (52%) of 52 patients were male and 25 (48%) were female. The mean scratching score was elevated at baseline in both groups (2·8 [SD 0·5] for odevixibat vs 3·0 [0·6] for placebo). Mean scratching scores at weeks 21-24 were 1·1 (0·9) for odevixibat and 2·2 (1·0) for placebo, representing a least-squares (LS) mean change of -1·7 (95% CI -2·0 to -1·3) for odevixibat and -0·8 (-1·3 to -0·3) for placebo, which was significantly greater for odevixibat than for placebo (difference in LS mean change from baseline -0·9 [95% CI -1·4 to -0·3]; p=0·0024). Odevixibat also resulted in significantly greater reductions in mean serum bile acids from baseline versus placebo (237 μmol/L [SD 115] with odevixibat vs 246 μmol/L [121] with placebo) to the average of weeks 20 and 24 (149 μmol/L [102] vs 271 μmol/L [167]; LS mean change -90 μmol/L [95% CI -133 to -48] with odevixibat vs 22 μmol/L [-35 to 80] with placebo; difference in LS mean change -113 μmol/L [95% CI -179 to -47]; p=0·0012). The most common treatment-emergent adverse events were diarrhoea (ten [29%] of 35 patients in the odevixibat group vs one [6%] of 17 in the placebo group) and pyrexia (eight [23%] vs four [24%]). Seven patients had serious treatment-emergent adverse events during the treatment period: five (14%) in the odevixibat group and two (12%) in the placebo group. No patients discontinued treatment and there were no deaths.

INTERPRETATION: Odevixibat could be an efficacious non-surgical intervention to improve pruritus, reduce serum bile acids, and enhance the standard of care in patients with Alagille syndrome. Longer-term safety and efficacy data of odevixibat in this population are awaited from the ongoing, open-label ASSERT-EXT study.

FUNDING: Albireo Pharma, an Ipsen company.

Journal Title

Lancet Gastroenterol Hepatol





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MeSH Keywords

Humans; Double-Blind Method; Alagille Syndrome; Male; Female; Child; Adolescent; Pruritus; Treatment Outcome; Bile Acids and Salts; Adult; Child, Preschool; Young Adult; Carrier Proteins; Membrane Glycoproteins; Methylamines; Thiazepines


Double-Blind Method; Alagille Syndrome; Pruritus; Treatment Outcome; Bile Acids and Salts; Carrier Proteins; Membrane Glycoproteins; Methylamines; Thiazepines


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