A Pilot Randomized, Clinical Trial of the Anti-pruritus Effect of Melatonin in Patients with Chronic Liver Disease

Pruritus is one of the disturbing complications induced by chronic liver disease (CLD), bearing a negative impact on patient quality of life and potentially resulting in early liver transplants. Given the main role of the autotaxin enzyme in pruritus induced by CLD and the suppressive effects of melatonin on the expression of the autotaxin gene, this study was designed to evaluate the antipruritic effect of melatonin in patients with CLD. A double-blind, cross-over, randomized, placebo-controlled pilot trial was conducted on patients with CLD -induced pruritis. Patients were randomly assigned to two groups where they received melatonin 10-mg at night or placebo for 2 weeks. After a 2-week washout period, patients were then crossed over to the other group. The Visual Analog Scale (VAS) and the 12-Item Pruritus Severity Score (12-PSS) were used to assess patient response to therapy as the co-primary outcomes, while liver function tests were assayed too. Forty patients completed the study. The VAS score showed alleviation of 3.21 ± 2.24 (in pruritus) with melatonin (p-value