Lay Summaries - Volume 69 Issue 2

Lay Summary: This study analyses population-wide data from the healthcare systems in Taiwan and Hong Kong to develop and validate a risk score that predicts hepatocellular carcinoma during oral antiviral therapy in patients with chronic hepatitis B. The easily calculable CAMD score requires only simple information (i.e. cirrhosis, age, male sex, and diabetes mellitus) at the baseline of treatment initiation. With a scoring range from 0 to 19 points, the CAMD score discriminates the risk of hepatocellular carcinoma with a concordance rate of around 75–80% during the first three years on therapy. The risk prediction can be extrapolated to five years on treatment with similar accuracy. Patients with a score <8 and >13 points were exposed to distinctly lower and higher risks, respectively.
Lay Summary: In this study, we identified a subgroup of patients with lymphoma and resolved hepatitis B virus infection that had a high risk of hepatitis B virus reactivation after receiving rituximab-containing chemotherapy. These findings will help optimize a preventive strategy, especially in hepatitis B virus endemic regions with limited healthcare resources.
Lay Summary: In this integrated analysis of nine clinical trials, patients with chronic HCV genotype 1–6 infection without cirrhosis were treated for either 8 or 12 weeks with the direct-acting antiviral regimen glecaprevir/pibrentasvir (G/P). The cure rate was 98% and 99% following 8 and 12 weeks of treatment, respectively; the difference in rates was not significant (p = 0.2), nor was there a significant difference in the cure rates across the two treatment durations on the basis of baseline patient or viral characteristics. These results, along with a favourable safety profile, indicate that G/P is a highly efficacious and well-tolerated pangenotypic eight-week therapy for most patients with chronic HCV infection.
Lay Summary: The covalently closed circular DNA (cccDNA) form of the hepatitis B virus (HBV) sustains the persistence of the virus even decades after resolution of the symptomatic infection (occult HBV infection). In the present study we developed a highly sensitive method based on droplet digital PCR technology for the detection and quantitation of HBV cccDNA in the liver of individuals with occult HBV infection. We observed that the amount of HBV cccDNA may be inferred from the titer in serum of the IgG class antibody to the hepatitis B core antigen. The quantitation of this antibody may represent a surrogate to determine which patients are at the highest risk of HBV reactivation following immunosuppressive therapies.
Lay Summary: Spleen stiffness measurement assessed by transient elastography, the most widely used elastography technique, is a non-invasive technique that can help the physician to better stratify the degree of portal hypertension and the risk of esophageal varices in patients with compensated advanced chronic liver disease. Performing spleen stiffness measurement together with liver stiffness measurement during the same examination is simple and fast and this sequential model can identify a greater number of patients that can safely avoid endoscopy, which is an invasive and expensive examination.
Lay Summary: In patients with chronic liver disease, an acute deterioration of liver function combined with single or multiple organ failures is known as acute-on-chronic liver failure. This study shows that acute-on-chronic liver failure is frequent during the course of severe alcoholic hepatitis. In severe alcoholic hepatitis, acute-on-chronic liver failure is associated with high mortality and frequently occurs after an infection.
Lay Summary: Acute liver failure is a rapidly progressive deterioration of liver function resulting in high mortality. In experimental mouse models of acute liver failure, we found that two metabolic enzymes, namely pyruvate dehydrogenase complex and lactic dehydrogenase, translocate to the nucleus resulting in detrimental gene expression. Treatment with an inhibitor of these two enzymes was found to reduce liver damage and to improve survival.
Lay Summary: Using a combination of tracers 18F-fluorocholine and 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose when performing positron emission tomography/computed tomography (PET/CT), often called a PET scan, helps to identify new tumor lesions in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma. This technique enabled staging modification of patients’ tumors and led to changes in treatment allocation in certain patients.
Lay Summary: Hepatocellular carcinoma is one of the complications of hepatitis C related cirrhosis. Treating patients with advanced hepatitis C with the new interferon–free direct-acting antiviral agents has been associated with improvement in liver function and survival, while more conflicting data have been reported regarding the risk of hepatocellular carcinoma. We report the results of a prospective population study on the incidence of newly diagnosed hepatocellular carcinoma in patients with advanced hepatitis C treated with direct-acting antiviral agents, clearly indicating that the residual hepatocellular carcinoma risk is reduced and declines progressively with time after a sustained virological response. Development of a liver tumor during/after therapy was associated with known risk factors and with virological failure.
Lay Summary: This analysis examined characteristics and outcomes of patients with hepatocellular carcinoma who were treated with regorafenib after they had disease progression during sorafenib treatment. Regorafenib provided clinical benefit to patients regardless of the pace of their disease progression during prior sorafenib treatment and regardless of their last sorafenib dose. The sequence of sorafenib followed by regorafenib for hepatocellular carcinoma may extend survival beyond what has been previously reported.
Lay Summary: The adult liver has an extraordinary ability to regenerate after injury despite the accumulation of scar-forming factors that normally block the proliferation and reduce the survival of residual liver cells. We discovered that liver cells manage to escape these growth-inhibitory influences by transiently becoming more like fibroblasts themselves. They do this by reactivating programs that are known to drive tissue growth during fetal development and in many cancers. Understanding how the liver can control programs that are involved in scarring and cancer may help in the development of new treatments for cirrhosis and liver cancer.
Lay Summary: In this study, we investigate the role of lysyl oxidase-like protein 2 (LOXL2), an enzyme pivotal in the development of organ fibrosis, in the pathogenesis of cholangiopathies (diseases of bile ducts), such as primary sclerosing cholangitis. We found LOXL2 to be expressed in association with bile duct epithelial injury and uncovered mechanisms for its upregulation and the subsequent effects in vitro and in vivo. Our findings support testing of anti-LOXL2 treatment strategies for patients with primary sclerosing cholangitis.
Lay Summary: Accumulation of abnormal proteins in the livers of patients with alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency may lead to decreased liver function and potentially liver failure. Therapeutics targeting the production of these abnormal proteins may be used to prevent or treat liver disease in patients with alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency.
Lay Summary: A carefully characterized model has been developed in mice that recapitulates the progressive stages of human fatty liver disease, from simple steatosis, to inflammation, fibrosis and cancer. The functional pathways of gene expression and immune abnormalities in this model closely resemble human disease. The ease and reproducibility of this model make it ideal to study disease pathogenesis and test new treatments.
    Genetic and Metabolic Diseases
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    Katharina Brandl, Phillipp Hartmann, Lily J. Jih, Donald P. Pizzo, Josepmaria Argemi, Meritxell Ventura-Cots, Sally Coulter, Christopher Liddle, Lei Ling, Stephen J. Rossi, Alex M. DePaoli, Rohit Loomba, Wajahat Z. Mehal, Derrick E. Fouts, Michael R. Lucey, Francisco Bosques-Padilla, Philippe Mathurin, Alexander Louvet, Guadalupe Garcia-Tsao, Elizabeth C. Verna, Juan G. Abraldes, Robert S. Brown Jr, Victor Vargas, Jose Altamirano, Juan Caballería, Debbie Shawcross, Peter Stärkel, Samuel B. Ho, Ramon Bataller, Bernd Schnabl
    Journal of Hepatology, Vol. 69, Issue 2, p396–405
Lay Summary: Understanding the underlying mechanisms that drive alcoholic hepatitis is important for the development of new biomarkers and targeted therapies. Herein, we describe a molecule that is increased in patients with alcoholic hepatitis. Modulating the molecular pathway of this molecule might lead to promising targets for the treatment of alcoholic hepatitis.