Lay Summaries - Volume 67 Issue 4

Lay Summary: Co-infection with hepatitis B and D virus (HBV and HDV, respectively) often causes a more severe disease condition than HBV alone. Gaining more insight into HDV and developing new treatments is hampered by limited availability of adequate immune competent small animal models and new ones are needed. Here, a mouse model of HDV infection is described, which mimics several important characteristics of the human disease, such as the initiation and maintenance of replication in murine hepatocytes, genome editing and, in the presence of HBV, generation of infectious particles. Lastly, the involvement of an adaptive immunity and the intracellular signaling molecule MAVS in mounting a strong and lasting innate response was shown. Thus, our model serves as a useful tool for the investigation of HDV biology and new treatments.
Lay Summary: The frequency of recombinant HCV is higher than expected. A novel recombinant variant (HCV genotype 2a/1b) was identified. Screening for recombinant viruses would contribute to increased response rates to direct antiviral therapy.
Lay Summary: Hepatitis B virus persists for decades in the liver of chronically infected patients. Immune escape is one of the main mechanisms developed by this virus to survive. Our study highlights how the crosstalk between virus and liver infected cells may contribute to this immune escape.
Lay Summary: This pooled safety analysis in 1,066 HCV-infected patients with compensated cirrhosis, receiving treatment with ombitasvir, paritaprevir, and ritonavir with or without dasabuvir, with or without ribavirin, shows that the rate of hepatic decompensation events was similar to previously reported rates in untreated patients.
Lay Summary: Liver transplantation improves survival of patients with very severe cirrhosis. These patients must be carefully monitored and managed in a specialized unit. The decision to transplant a patient must be quick to avoid a high risk of mortality.
Lay Summary: CD39 expression in macrophages limits P2X7-mediated pro-inflammatory responses, scavenging extracellular ATP and ultimately generating adenosine. CD39 genetic deletion exacerbates sepsis-induced experimental liver injury. Combinations of a P2X7 antagonist and adenosine A2A receptor agonist are hepatoprotective during the acute phase of abdominal sepsis.
Lay Summary: HCC is a very heterogenous tumour, both at the pathological and molecular levels. We show here that HCC phenotype is tightly associated to its molecular alterations and underlying oncogenic pathways.
Lay Summary: Dendritic cell (DC)-derived exosomes (DEXs) form a new class of vaccines for cancer immunotherapy. However, their potency in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) remains unknown. Here, we investigated exosomes from HCC antigen-expressing DCs in three different HCC mouse models and proved their feasibility and capability of treating HCC, and thus provide a cell-free vaccine for HCC immunotherapy.
Lay Summary: Extended liver surgery is the only potentially curative treatment for patients with cholangiocarcinoma (CCA/biliary cancer), but it is currently unclear which patients benefit most from surgery. Detecting serum levels of osteopontin – a specific secreted glycoprotein involved in multiple human diseases – in CCA patients might help to identify those patients that particularly benefit from tumour resection.
Lay Summary: In this study, we identified G9a histone methyltransferase was frequently upregulated in human HCC and contributes to epigenetic silencing of tumor suppressor gene RARRES3 in liver cancer. Targeting G9a may be a novel approach for HCC treatment.
Lay Summary: M1 Bone marrow-derived macrophages (BMDMs) exhibit a stronger therapeutic effect by modulating the hepatic microenvironment to recruit and modify the activation of endogenous macrophages and natural killer (NK) cells, which likely lead to hepatic stellate cells (HSCs) apoptosis and hampered fibrogenesis.
Lay Summary: High cholesterol intake exacerbated acetaminophen-induced acute liver injury via the accumulation of free cholesterol in the endolysosomes of liver sinusoidal endothelial cells. This accumulation enhanced Toll-like receptor 9 signaling via impairment of its membrane trafficking mechanism. Thus, free cholesterol accumulation, as an underlying metabolic factor, exacerbated the pathology of acetaminophen-induced liver injury through activation of the TLR9/inflammasome pathway.
Lay Summary: CD1d overexpression on T cells enhances crosstalk between type II NKT cells and T cells, resulting in their aberrant activation and leading to the development of chronic autoimmune liver disease.
Lay Summary: Fatty liver is the most frequent liver disease in Western countries. People living with HIV seem at high risk of fatty liver due to frequent metabolic disorders and the long-term effects of antiretroviral therapy. However, due to the invasiveness of liver biopsy, the traditional method of diagnosing fatty liver, there are few data regarding its frequency in people living with HIV. In this study, we used a non-invasive diagnostic tool to analyze the epidemiology of fatty liver in 726 HIV+ patients. We found that fatty liver affects over one-third of people living with HIV. When followed over time, we found that HIV+ patients without HCV co-infection develop fatty liver more frequently than those co-infected with HCV.
Lay Summary: Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is characterized by excess fat deposition in the liver predominantly due to high calorie intake and a sedentary lifestyle. NAFLD progression is usually accompanied by activation of the Sonic hedgehog (SHH) pathway leading to fibrous buildup (scar tissue) and inflammation of the liver tissue. For the first time patients with holoprosencephaly, a disease caused by SHH signaling mutations, are shown to have increased liver steatosis independent of obesity. This observation was recapitulated in a mouse model of attenuated SHH signaling that also showed increased liver steatosis but with decreased fibrosis and inflammation. While SHH inhibition is associated with a good NAFLD prognosis, this increase in liver fat accumulation in the context of SHH signaling inhibition must be studied prospectively to evaluate its long-term effects, especially in individuals with Western-type dietary habits.