for females ages 18-45 (full criteria)
at San Francisco, California
study started
estimated completion
Principal Investigator
by Monika Sarkar
Headshot of Monika Sarkar
Monika Sarkar



Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), or fat-related liver inflammation and scarring is projected to be the leading cause of cirrhosis in the United States (U.S.) within the next few years. Women are at disproportionate risk for NASH, with approximately 15 million U.S. women affected. There is an urgent need to understand risk factors for NASH and its progression in women, and sex hormones may provide a missing link.

The investigator's preliminary data support a detrimental role of androgens, or "male sex hormones" on fatty liver in women but no studies have evaluated whether androgens are associated with liver inflammation and/or scarring from fatty liver (aka NASH). To better understand the mechanism by which androgens might promote NASH and/or metabolic co-factors that contribute to NASH, the investigators are conducting a pilot clinical trial to primarily assess the feasibility of using an androgen blocking medication, spironolactone, in women with NASH. Spironolactone was selected because it is has been commonly prescribed for decades with good safety profile and tolerability to treat symptoms of high androgens, like acne and hirsutism in young women. Though primarily a feasibility-focused study, the investigators also aim to explore the pathways by which blocking testosterone receptors might alter the biologic processes that promote NASH and its associated metabolic co-morbidities in women.

Official Title

Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial of Spironolactone in Young Women With Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis (NASH)


This is a single center, double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized, (2:1) parallel group pilot clinical trial of spironolactone in women with biopsy-proven NASH receiving 6 or 12 months of spironolactone or placebo. 30 women are targeted for enrollment. Each participant will be administered a single dose of spironolactone or placebo once daily for a total of 6 or 12 months. In person evaluations will take place at Month 1, 3, 6, 9, and 12. There will be a telephone follow up visit within 3 months of end of treatment (up to Month 9 or 15).

This is a pilot clinical trial that is largely feasibility focused. Study outcomes will include

  • Change in liver stiffness on Magnetic Resonance Elastography (MRE)
  • Change in hepatic steatosis by Magnetic Resonance Proton Density Fat Fraction (PDFF)
  • Change in visceral adipose tissue (VAT) volume by Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
  • Change in NASH histology as assessed by the continuous NAFLD activity score (NAS), which measures different components of NASH on liver biopsy.
  • Biochemical endpoints: serum lipids & HOMA-IR
  • Feasibility outcomes including Rates (and reasons) for the following: a) % women that decline/women contacted for study inclusion (i.e. need for a second liver biopsy, concern regarding randomization to placebo) b) % women enrolled/women screened (i.e. exclusion criteria too narrow), c) study dropout (i.e. medication side effects, too frequent study visits, and/or phlebotomy)


NASH - Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis, Fatty Liver, Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease, Spironolactone, Spironolactone 100mg


You can join if…

Open to females ages 18-45

  1. Women 18-45 years of age at Baseline Visit.
  2. Documentation of NASH diagnosis confirmed on baseline liver biopsy (performed as clinical care) prior to study enrollment.
  3. Written informed consent (and assent when applicable) obtained from subject and ability for subject to comply with the requirements of the study.

You CAN'T join if...

  1. Pregnant, breastfeeding, or unwilling to practice birth control during participation in the study
  2. Presence of a condition or abnormality that in the opinion of the Investigator would compromise the safety of the patient or the quality of the data
  3. Uncontrolled diabetes (HbA1c 9.5% or higher within 60 days prior to enrollment)
  4. Routine alcohol consumption >7 drinks per week during the preceding 3 months prior to baseline liver biopsy.
  5. Other forms of chronic liver disease including hepatitis B virus infection (hepatitis B surface antigen positive), chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection (HCV Ab and HCV ribonucleic acid positive), autoimmune disorders (e.g., primary biliary cholangitis, primary sclerosing cholangitis, and autoimmune hepatitis), drug-induced hepatotoxicity, Wilson disease, iron overload, and alpha-1-antitrypsin deficiency, based on medical history and/or centralized review of liver histology
  6. Any prior or upcoming weight reduction surgery (e.g., Roux-en-Y or gastric bypass)
  7. HIV infection
  8. Receipt of drugs associated with NAFLD (i.e. amiodarone, methotrexate, systemic glucocorticoids, tamoxifen, anabolic steroids, valproic acid) for more than 4 weeks prior to baseline or between baseline and follow-up biopsies
  9. Perimenopausal status (defined as within 3 years of self-reported menopause) due to unstable hormonal levels during that time

    10. Renal impairment defined as glomerular filtration rate <45 ml/min/1.73m or potassium

    levels > 5.0 mmol/L due to the diuretic effect of spironolactone

    11. Participation in another clinical trial of an investigational drug or device 12. History of medication non adherence as noted upon chart review or patient report of

    difficulty with medication adherence

    13. Androgen receptor antagonist use (i.e. flutamine, spironolactone or flutamide) for

    more than 3 months within one year prior to baseline biopsy

    14. Eplerenone use as this is a diuretic that also blocks the aldosterone receptor and

    could compound side effects

    15. Cirrhosis on baseline biopsy as this condition leads to altered sex hormone metabolism 16. Unstable dosing (i.e. dose increase, intermittent use, or initiation) of Vitamin E

    anytime during the 3 months prior to baseline biopsy

    17. Significant weight loss (at least 10% decrease in body weight) over preceding 3 months

    prior to baseline biopsy

    18. Contraindication to MRI scanning (e.g. presence of permanent pacemakers, implanted

    cardiac devices, etc.)


  • UCSF accepting new patients
    San Francisco California 94143 United States

Lead Scientist at UCSF

  • Monika Sarkar
    My clinical focus is on women with liver disease, including pregnancy-related liver conditions and reproductive health. My research program is focused on the role of sex hormones in modulating liver disease in women.


accepting new patients
Start Date
Completion Date
University of California, San Francisco
Phase 1/2 research study
Study Type
Expecting 30 study participants
Last Updated