Stop of Proton-pump Inhibitor Treatment in Patients With Liver Cirrhosis - a Double-blind Placebo-controlled Trial

  • End date
    Mar 14, 2025
  • participants needed
  • sponsor
    Universitätsklinikum Hamburg-Eppendorf
Updated on 14 May 2021


Proton-pump inhibitors (PPI) are commonly prescribed in an uncritical manner to patients with liver cirrhosis without a clear evidence-based indication. Observational studies suggests that PPI use in cirrhotic patients may be a risk factor for the development of infections, especially spontaneous bacterial peritonitis (SBP). A possible explanation are PPI-associated microbiotic shifts leading to small intestinal bacterial overgrowth with subsequently increased bacterial translocation. Furthermore, PPI therapy in cirrhotic patients may lead to an increased risk for pneumonia and Clostridium difficile-infections.

However, the evidence is ambiguous, as other published studies found no evidence for an association of PPI use with an increased risk for SBP or pneumonia.

Moreover, an association between episodes of hepatic encephalopathy and PPI use has been reported.

Infections and hepatic encephalopathy may often lead to a hospitalization of cirrhotic patients and PPI use at discharge has also been associated to early re-hospitalization.

While some studies found an association of PPI and increased mortality in cirrhotic patients, other studies could not observe this association.

Thus, some of the current evidence suggests an unfavourable risk profile of PPIs in patients with liver cirrhosis. However, this patient population is considered to be at a high risk of gastrointestinal haemorrhage from peptic ulcers. Importantly, patients with liver cirrhosis have an increased mortality after peptic ulcer bleeding as compared to patients without cirrhosis. Therefore, generous PPI use may also have a yet unproven preventive effect against upper gastrointestinal bleeding.

The STOPPIT trial is the first prospective, randomized, controlled, double-blind trial investigating the effect of discontinuation of long-term PPI therapy on hospitalized patients with complicated liver cirrhosis with a pre-existing long-term PPI therapy. Importantly, patients with an evidence-based indication for PPI therapy are excluded from the trial. All study participants (n=476) stop their previous PPI treatment and are then randomized (1:1) to receive either placebo (intervention group) or esomeprazole 20mg/day (control group) for 360 days.

The primary hypothesis anticipates a delay of re-hospitalisation and/or death (composite endpoint) in patients who discontinue PPI treatment as compared to patients who continue PPI therapy. Secondary objectives include the assessment of mortality, re-hospitalisation rates, infection rates, rate of acute hepatic decompensation and ACLF, as well as rates of upper and lower gastrointestinal bleeding events in both groups. Impact of prolonged or discontinued PPI therapy on the intestinal microbiota and pharmacoeconomics will be studied as a secondary assessment.

Condition Cirrhosis, Hepatic Fibrosis, LIVER DISEASE, LIVER DISEASE, Liver Disorders, Hepatic Fibrosis, Liver Disorders, hepatic cirrhosis, liver cirrhosis
Treatment Placebo, Esomeprazole 20mg
Clinical Study IdentifierNCT04448028
SponsorUniversitätsklinikum Hamburg-Eppendorf
Last Modified on14 May 2021


Yes No Not Sure

Inclusion Criteria

Patients with liver cirrhosis. The diagnosis of liver cirrhosis may be based on histology or a combination of clinical, laboratory and radiological criteria
Hospitalization or recent hospitalization (0 to 42 days prior to the baseline visit) with complications of liver cirrhosis
Treatment with proton pump inhibitors (PPI) for at least 28 days prior to the screening visit
PPI treatment with a single standard dose/day or less for at least 7 days prior to the screening visit
Females/males who agree to comply with the applicable contraceptive requirements of the protocol
Non-pregnant, non-lactating females
Ability to understand the patient information and to personally sign and date the informed consent to participate in the study, before completing any study related procedures
The patient is co-operative and available for the entire study
Provided written informed consent

Exclusion Criteria

Diagnosis of severe reflux esophagitis (LA grade C or D) by EGD < 2 months prior to the screening visit without PPI-therapy for at least 8 weeks prior to the screening visit
Peptic ulcers diagnosed by EGD < 28 days prior to the screening visit
History of endoscopic therapy for esophageal varices < 14 days prior to the screening visit
Life-expectancy < 1 year (at the discretion of the investigator) due to extrahepatic malignancies, metastasized hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) or other severe extrahepatic diseases. Importantly, HCC without extrahepatic metastases or a reduced life-expectancy of < 1 year due to liver cirrhosis are not regarded as exclusion criteria
Regular intake of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID) on a daily basis with the exemption of acetylsalicylic acid (ASS) 100mg/day orally
Hypersensitivity or intolerance to esomeprazole, substituted benzimidazoles or other excipients of the IMP
Ongoing therapy with nelfinavir
Participation in a clinical trial or use of an IMP within 30 days or five times the half-life of the IMP - whichever is longer - prior to receiving the first dose within this study
Positive urine pregnancy test at screening or positive serum pregnancy test before the first treatment or is breast feeding
Patient is not willing to use adequate contraceptive precautions during the study and for up to 5 days after the last scheduled dose of IMP
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