Lay Summaries - Volume 67 Issue 6

Lay Summary: In the mid-1990s, a group of women were diagnosed with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection following receipt of contaminated anti-D immunoglobulin between 1977 and 1979 in Ireland. Seventy-two (19%) developed cirrhosis and 18 had died from liver-related causes (5%) after 36years of infection. Disease progression accelerated in the last five years of follow-up, particularly in women with diabetes mellitus and high alcohol consumption. We recommend that patients with chronic HCV infection be advised of the additive harmful effect of high alcohol consumption.
Lay Summary: Coordination and collaboration between immune cells are essential to fight pathogens. Herein we show that during HCV infection monocytes secrete IL-18 and IL-36 inhibitory proteins, reducing NK cell activation, and consequently inhibiting their ability to express TRAIL and kill target cells.
Lay Summary: Coffee has anti-inflammatory and hepato-protective properties but its effect on mortality risk has never been investigated in patients co-infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV). This study shows that elevated coffee consumption (=3cups/day) halves all-cause mortality risk in patients co-infected with HIV-HCV. The benefits of coffee extracts and supplementing dietary intake with other anti-inflammatory compounds need to be evaluated in this population.
Lay Summary: Antiviral therapy in patients awaiting liver transplantation is safe and efficacious. Viral eradication allows removal from the waiting list of a quarter of treated patients. Delisting because of clinical improvement is a safe strategy that can spare organs for patients in urgent need.
Lay Summary: There is a need to identify predictors of acute-on-chronic liver failure (ACLF) in patients with cirrhosis in order to identify patients at high risk of developing ACLF and to plan strategies of prevention. In this study, we identified four simple predictors of ACLF: model of end-stage liver disease (MELD) score, ascites, mean arterial pressure and hemoglobin. These variables may help to identify patients with cirrhosis, at a high risk of developing ACLF, that are candidates for new strategies of surveillance and prevention. Anemia is a potential new target for treating these patients.
Lay Summary: The outcomes of patients with liver cirrhosis admitted to intensive care units (ICUs) have been previously regarded as poor. We have demonstrated that in Australia and New Zealand, annual in-hospital death rates following ICU admission in this patient group are lower than previously reported, have improved over 16years to 29% and are at a rate similar to patients without cirrhosis. Our data justify recommendations that advocate better access to intensive care for patients with cirrhosis.
Lay Summary: We established a novel mouse model of intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma (ICC). Using this new preclinical model, we evaluated the therapeutic potential of mTOR inhibitor MLN0128 vs. gemcitabine/oxaliplatin (the standard chemotherapy for ICC treatment). Our study shows the anti-neoplastic potential of MLN0128, suggesting that it may be superior to gemcitabine/oxaliplatin-based chemotherapy for the treatment of ICC, especially in the tumors exhibiting activated AKT/mTOR cascade.
Lay Summary: The risk of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) occurrence or recurrence following direct-acting antiviral (DAA) hepatitis C virus (HCV) therapy remains unclear. We conducted a meta-analysis to compare occurrence and recurrence of HCC in patients receiving either DAA or interferon (IFN) therapy. There is no evidence that HCC occurrence or recurrence is different between patients receiving DAA or IFN therapy.
Lay Summary: The assessment of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) tumor necrosis after locoregional therapy is essential for additional treatment planning and estimation of outcome. In this study, we assessed the performance of various magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) response criteria (RECIST, mRECIST, EASL, percentage of necrosis on subtraction images, and diffusion-weighted imaging) for the prediction of complete pathologic necrosis of HCC post locoregional therapy on liver explant. Patients who underwent liver transplantation after locoregional therapy were included in this retrospective study. All patients underwent routine liver MRI within 90days of liver transplantation. EASL/mRECIST criteria and image subtraction had excellent diagnostic performance for predicting complete pathologic necrosis in treated HCC, with image subtraction correlating best with pathologic degree of tumor necrosis.
Lay Summary: Trunk alterations arise at early stages of cancer and are shared among all malignant cells of the tumor. In order to identify trunk alterations in HCC, we characterized early stages of hepatocarcinogenesis represented by dysplastic nodules and small lesions. Mutations in TERT, TP53 and CTNNB1 genes were the most frequent. Analyses in more advanced lesions showed that mutations in these same genes were shared between different regions of the same tumor and between primary and metastatic tumors, suggesting their trunk role in this disease.
Lay Summary: Post-transplant low macrophage HO-1 expression in human liver transplants correlates with reduced hepatocellular function and survival. HO-1 regulates macrophage activation via the SIRT1–p53 signaling network and regulates hepatocellular death in liver ischemia-reperfusion injury. Thus targeting this pathway in liver transplant recipients could be of therapeutic benefit.
Lay Summary: Preoperative intra-platelet serotonin (IP5-HT) levels seem to substantially affect patient outcomes after liver resection for liver tumors. While there is a narrow window of IP5-HT levels where liver regeneration and tumor progression is balanced, excessively high IP5-HT levels (>134ng/ml IP5-HT) lead to an increased incidence of early tumor recurrence and excessively low IP5-HT levels (<73ng/ml IP5-HT) lead to a higher rate of morbidity. Ultimately, overall survival is negatively affected by both postoperative early disease recurrence and morbidity.
Lay Summary: FIC1, BSEP, and MDR3 represent hepatobiliary transport proteins essential for bile formation. Genetic variants in these transporters underlie a broad spectrum of cholestatic liver diseases. To confirm a genetic contribution to the patients’ phenotypes, gene sequencing of these three major cholestasis-related genes was performed in 427 patients and revealed 154 different variants of which 25 have not been previously reported in a database. In patients without a disease-causing mutation, common genetic variants were detected in a high number of cases, indicating that these common variants may contribute to cholestasis development.
Lay Summary: Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is very common in the general population, but reaching an accurate prognosis remains challenging. We investigate the long-term prognosis of a large cohort of NAFLD patients. In this, the largest ever study of biopsy-proven NAFLD, the presence of NASH did not increase the risk of liver-specific morbidity or overall mortality. Knowledge of time to development of severe liver disease according to fibrosis stage can be used in individual patient counselling and for public health decisions.
Lay Summary: The presence of fatty liver is associated with the future decline of renal function. Thus, fatty liver patients need to be monitored regularly for renal function.
Lay Summary: Hepatitis E virus (HEV) has an extra-hepatic tissue tropism and should be added to the list of viruses associated with lymphoproliferative disorders. As such, HEV should be part of the laboratory workup of any lymphoproliferation, particularly those of the T cell phenotype that involve the skin. In the context of HEV-associated cutaneous T cell lymphoproliferative disorders, antiviral treatment could be considered a first-line treatment instead of chemotherapy