Lay Summaries - Volume 68 Issue 3

Lay Summary: The burden of liver disease has been rising among people with hepatitis C globally. The recent introduction of highly effective medicines against hepatitis C (called direct-acting antivirals or DAAs) has brought renewed optimism to the sector. DAA scale-up could eliminate hepatitis C as a public health threat in the coming decades. However, our findings show heavy alcohol use is a major risk factor for liver disease among people with hepatitis C. If continued, heavy alcohol use could compromise the benefits of new antiviral treatments at the individual- and population-level. To tackle hepatitis C as a public health threat, where needed, DAA therapy should be combined with management of heavy alcohol use.
Lay Summary: Measuring the amount of HCV in the population of PWID is uncertain. To reduce HCV infection to minimal levels in Europe will require scale-up of both HCV treatment and other interventions that reduce injecting risk (especially OST and provision of sterile injecting equipment).
Lay Summary: We discovered a novel small molecule viral expression inhibitor that is highly selective for HBV and unlike current therapy inhibits the expression of viral proteins by specifically reducing HBV mRNAs. RG7834 can therefore potentially provide anti-HBV benefits and increase HBV cure rates, by direct reduction of viral agents needed to complete the viral life cycle, as well as a reduction of viral agents involved in evasion of the host immune responses.
Lay Summary: Using a cell-culture model of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection, our study revealed that natural killer (NK) cells become activated and proliferate when they are co-cultured with HCV-containing liver cells. The mechanism of this activation involves crosstalk with other innate immune cells and a cell–cell contact interaction mediated by the cell surface molecules OX40 and OX40L. Our study reveals a novel pathway leading to NK cell proliferation and activation against virus-infected cells that might be of relevance in antiviral immunity.
Lay Summary: In a phase II study, vesatolimod, an oral, once-weekly, experimental immune-activating drug for the treatment of hepatitis B virus (HBV), is safe and well-tolerated in chronic HBV patients who are virally suppressed on oral antiviral treatment. Despite demonstrating on-target biomarker responses in patients, no significant declines in hepatitis B surface antigen were observed. Clinical Trial Number: GS-US-283-1059; NCT 02166047.
Lay Summary: In this study, we identified the molecular details of HBV translocation through the cytoplasm. Our evidence offers a new drug target which could not only inhibit infection but also stimulate immune clearance of HBV infected cells.
Lay Summary: The ability to predict the course of a disease is an important part of the assessment, enabling timely interventions that improve outcomes. We evaluated the outcome (death vs. survival) and compared three different scoring systems for their ability to predict mortality within 28 days in children with decompensated chronic liver disease (DCLD). One-third of children with DCLD died within 28 days and the pediatric chronic liver failure sequential organ failure assessment score, which considers the main organ systems of the body (lungs, liver, brain, kidney, blood and cardiac) fared better for identification of children with a poor outcome than the Child-Pugh and pediatric end-stage liver disease score which comprise of only liver-related parameters. Our study supports the use of scores based on organ failure in prognosticating children with DCLD.
Lay Summary: In this study, we provide a new prediction model for graft loss in donation-after-circulatory-death (DCD) liver transplantation. Based on UK national data, the new UK DCD Risk Score involves the following seven clinically relevant risk factors: donor age, donor body mass index, functional donor warm ischaemia, cold storage, recipient age, recipient laboratory model for end-stage liver disease, and retransplantation. Three risk classes were defined: low risk (0–5 points), high risk (6–10 points), and futile (>10 points). This new model stratified best in terms of graft survival compared to other available models. Futile combinations (>10 points) achieved an only very limited 1- and 5-year graft survival of 37% and less than 20%, respectively. In contrast, an excellent graft survival has been shown in low-risk combinations (=5 points). The new model is easy to calculate at the time of liver acceptance. It may help to decide which risk combination will benefit from additional graft treatment, or which DCD liver should be declined for a certain recipient.
Lay Summary: AT-rich interaction domain 1a (Arid1a), is a tumor suppressor gene. Arid1a-deficiency promotes Ang2-dependent angiogenesis leading to hepatocellular carcinoma progression. Arid1a-deficiency also sensitizes tumors to Ang2 blockade by sorafenib treatment.
Lay Summary: In this longitudinal nationwide population-based nested case-control study, the association between statin use and the risk of HCC was investigated in Asian populations. Herein, we noted a beneficial effect of statin use on the development of HCC in the general population and individuals at high risk of HCC (i.e. those with diabetes or liver cirrhosis).
Lay Summary: This is a retrospective study of approximately 1,000 focal lesions at risk for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Herein, we demonstrate that the refined definition of the typical contrast enhanced ultrasound pattern of HCC introduced by the Liver Imaging Reporting and Data System (LI-RADS®) practically abolishes the risk of misdiagnosis of other malignant entities (e.g. cholangiocarcinoma) for HCC with negligible reduction in sensitivity. These data support the use of contrast enhanced ultrasound to diagnose HCC in cirrhosis.
Lay Summary: Guanine nucleotide-binding a-subunit 12 (Ga12) is upregulated in activated hepatic stellate cells (HSCs) as a consequence of the dysregulation of a specific microRNA that is abundant in HSCs, facilitating the progression of liver fibrosis. This event is mediated by c-Jun N-terminal kinase-dependent ATG12-5 formation and the promotion of autophagy. We suggest that Ga12 and its associated regulators could serve as new targets in HSCs for the treatment of liver fibrosis.
Lay Summary: We investigated more than 43,000 Swedish men in their late teens enlisted for conscription in 1969–1970. After almost 40 years of follow-up, we found that alcohol consumption was a significant risk factor for developing severe liver disease, independent of confounders. This risk was dose-dependent, and was most pronounced in men consuming two drinks per day or more.
Lay Summary: Alcoholic hepatitis is a life-threatening condition. Several scores exist to determine the outcome of these patients as well as to identify those who may benefit from treatment. This study looked at the performance of existing scores in patients who had been recruited to the largest alcoholic hepatitis clinical trial: STOPAH. ‘Static’ scores are calculable at the start of assessment. The three newer static scores (ABIC, GAHS and MELD) were shown to be superior to the oldest score (DF). ABIC and GAHS could also identify patients who had a survival benefit 28 days after starting prednisolone treatment. ‘Dynamic’ scores relate to the change in disease over the first week of treatment. Combination of the ‘static’ scores ‘with the ‘dynamic’ scores or change in ‘static’ scores allowed identification of patients who could benefit from prednisolone up to 90 days.