News Release

Studies on risks of weight-loss drugs and more presented at Digestive Disease Week

Meeting features research from four societies in digestive diseases

Reports and Proceedings

Digestive Disease Week

Washington (May 14, 2024) — Studies examining the risks of GLP-1 weight-loss drugs, distinguishing alpha-gal syndrome from other GI disorders, and comparing medications to slow the progression of liver disease in patients with alcohol-use disorder will be presented this week at Digestive Disease Week (DDW) 2024. Abstracts are available to registered media. Embargos lift at 12:01 a.m. EDT on the day they are presented.

Here are summaries of the new research:

Re-examining the risks of gastrointestinal adverse events associated with glucagon-like peptide-1 receptor agonists for weight loss with more stringent criteria on a comprehensive large database, Abstract 1074, will be presented Tuesday, May 21, 10 a.m. EDT.

This retrospective study re-examined the association found in a recent study (published in JAMA, October 2023) between GLP-1 weight loss drugs and pancreatitis, gastroparesis and bowel obstruction by incorporating BMI data that was not calibrated in the previous study. Contradicting the original publication, researchers did not find a relationship between GLP-1s and acute pancreatitis or bowel obstruction, but some increased risk of biliary disease and gastroparesis was observed.

Clinical presentation and outcomes of alpha-gal syndrome: A tertiary care single-center experience, Abstract 485, will be presented Sunday, May 19, 2:00 p.m. EDT

Of 1,260 patients undergoing testing for alpha-gal syndrome at Mayo Clinic from 2014-2023, 124 tested positive for alpha-gal and were compared to 380 randomly obtained negative patients. Patients with positive blood tests for alpha-gal syndrome had greater risk of urticaria and anaphylaxis, and decreased risk of heartburn and bloating compared to those with negative tests. Female patients with alpha-gal syndrome were more likely to have GI symptoms. Researchers conclude that an alpha-gal syndrome diagnosis should be considered in GI patients, especially females, with a history of tick bites and associated symptoms of urticaria and anaphylaxis. Symptoms like GERD, bloating and a history of asthma are less likely to be associated with alpha-gal syndrome. Nearly 90% of patients showed improvement or resolution of alpha-gal symptoms, especially on a restricted diet, but less than a third had blood tests that were negative for alpha-gal.

Association of acamprosate vs. gabapentinoids and liver disease progression in patients with alcohol-use disorder, Abstract 750, will be presented Monday, May 20, 2:45 p.m. EDT

Although acamprosate has been approved for the treatment of alcohol use disorder, gabapentinoids have been used off-label for the same purpose. This study found that gabapentinoids were associated with slower progression of alcoholic liver disease than acamprosate, and gabapentinoids may be a valuable option for the treatment of alcohol use disorder. Researchers examined medical records for 24,477 matched pairs of acamprosate and gabapentinoids users from a veterans’ health database and found liver disease progressed in 15.78% of acamprosate users compared to 13.37% of gabapentinoid users. Compensated cirrhosis and decompensated cirrhosis outcomes were also similar or better among gabapentinoid users.


Digestive Disease Week® (DDW) is the largest international gathering of physicians, researchers and academics in the fields of gastroenterology, hepatology, endoscopy and gastrointestinal surgery. Jointly sponsored by the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD), the American Gastroenterological Association (AGA), the American Society for Gastrointestinal Endoscopy (ASGE) and the Society for Surgery of the Alimentary Tract (SSAT), DDW is an in-person and online meeting from May 18-21, 2024. The meeting showcases more than 5,600 abstracts and hundreds of lectures on the latest advances in GI research, medicine and technology. More information can be found at

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