Lay Summaries - Volume 69 Issue 6

Lay Summary: In phase III studies, 12 weeks of treatment with the combination of sofosbuvir, velpatasvir and voxilaprevir (SOF/VEL/VOX) cured 97% of patients with hepatitis C virus who failed prior treatment with direct-acting antiviral drugs. Herein, we show that the presence of pretreatment drug resistance did not affect treatment outcome in these patients who had previously received direct-acting antivirals. We also showed that new drug resistance was rare in patients who failed treatment with SOF/VEL/VOX for 12 weeks. This has important implications for the selection of best retreatment strategies for these patients.
Lay Summary: Using a unique hepatocellular model system designed to support viral growth, we demonstrate that hepatitis B virus (HBV) has remarkably slow infection kinetics. Establishment of the episomal transcription template and the persistent form of the virus, so called covalently closed circular DNA, as well as viral transcription and protein expression all take a long time. Once established, HBV maintains a stable pool of covalently closed circular DNA via intracellular recycling of HBV genomes and through infection of naïve cells by newly formed virions.
Lay Summary: About 15% of patients with idiopathic non-cirrhotic portal hypertension are women of childbearing age, who can become pregnant. As available reports on pregnancy in these women are scarce and heterogeneous, it is unclear whether or not pregnancy should be contraindicated in this setting. We provide detailed data showing that, regardless of the associated conditions, the overall outcome of women with idiopathic non-cirrhotic portal hypertension becoming pregnant is good despite a significant incidence of complications related to portal hypertension, and that fetal outcome is favorable in most pregnancies reaching 20?weeks of gestation.
Lay Summary: Patients with cirrhosis who are on the liver transplant waiting list often develop complications which prevent them from receiving a transplant. Circulatory dysfunction is a key factor behind a number of complications. This study was aimed at investigating whether treating patients with midodrine (a vasoconstrictor) and albumin would improve circulatory dysfunction and prevent complications. This combined treatment, at least at the doses administered in this study, did not prevent the complications of cirrhosis or improve the survival of these patients.
Lay Summary: Patients and their families had a poor understanding of advanced liver disease and its impact on them. They need more information about the treatments they receive and how to get practical and psychological support. Liver specialists and GPs found it difficult to talk to patients and their families about the seriousness of advanced liver disease and the lack of healthcare options available to them if their condition gets worse. All doctors and nurses involved in the care of patients with advanced liver disease recognise that palliative and supportive care have an important role in improving patient care.
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    Nathalie Ganne-Carrié, Cendrine Chaffaut, Valérie Bourcier, Isabelle Archambeaud, Jean-Marc Perarnau, Frédéric Oberti, Dominique Roulot, Christophe Moreno, Alexandre Louvet, Thông Dao, Romain Moirand, Odile Goria, Eric Nguyen-Khac, Nicolas Carbonell, Térésa Antonini, Stanislas Pol, Victor de Ledinghen, Violaine Ozenne, Jean Henrion, Jean-Marie Péron, Albert Tran, Gabriel Perlemuter, Xavier Amiot, Jean-Pierre Zarski, Michel Beaugrand, Sylvie Chevret, for CIRRAL Group
    Journal of Hepatology, Vol. 69, Issue 6, p1274–1283
Lay Summary: Cirrhosis is a risk factor for primary liver cancer, leading to recommendations for periodic screening. However, for alcohol-related liver disease the rational of periodic screening for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is controversial, as registry and databased studies have suggested a low incidence of HCC in these patients and highly competitive mortality rates. In this study, a large cohort of patients with biopsy-proven alcoholic cirrhosis prospectively screened for HCC demonstrated a high annual incidence of HCC (2.9%) and a high percentage of small cancers theoretically eligible for curative treatment. This suggests that patients with liver disease related to alcohol should not be ruled out of screening.
Lay Summary: The most effective treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma is surgical removal of the tumour but there is often recurrence. In this large international study, we develop a statistical method that allows clinicians to estimate the risk of recurrence in an individual patient. This facility enhances communication with the patient about the likely success of the treatment and will help in designing clinical trials that aim to find drugs that decrease the risk of recurrence.
    Molecular and Cell Biology
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    Brenda Naemi Nakagaki, Kassiana Mafra, Érika de Carvalho, Mateus Eustáquio Lopes, Raquel Carvalho-Gontijo, Hortência Maciel de Castro-Oliveira, Gabriel Henrique Campolina-Silva, Camila Dutra Moreira de Miranda, Maísa Mota Antunes, Ana Carolina Carvalho Silva, Ariane Barros Diniz, Débora Moreira Alvarenga, Maria Alice Freitas Lopes, Viviane Aparecida de Souza Lacerda, Matheus Silvério Mattos, Alan Moreira Araújo, Paula Vieira Teixeira Vidigal, Cristiano Xavier Lima, Germán A.B. Mahecha, Mila Fernandes Moreira Madeira, Gabriel Rocha Fernandes, Raquel Ferraz Nogueira, Thais Garcias Moreira, Bruna Araújo David, Rafael Machado Rezende, Gustavo Batista Menezes
    Journal of Hepatology, Vol. 69, Issue 6, p1294–1307
Lay Summary: Newborns face major challenges in the extra-uterine life. In fact, organs need to modify their cellular composition and gene expression profile in order to adapt to changes in both microbiota and diet throughout life. The liver is interposed between the gastrointestinal system and the systemic circulation, being the destination of all macronutrients and microbial products from the gut. Therefore, it is expected that delicately balanced mechanisms govern the transformation of a neonatal liver to a key organ in adults.
Lay Summary: Herein, we reveal a new mechanism for cholesterol gallstone formation, in which increased paracellular phosphate ion permeability across hepatobiliary epithelia causes calcium phosphate core formation and cholesterol gallstones. Thus, altered phosphate ion metabolism under cholesterol overdose plays a major role in the lifestyle- and age-related risks of developing cholesterol gallstone disease.
Lay Summary: A locus in the human leukocyte antigen gene (HLA-A*33:01, B*14:02, C*08:02) was significantly overrepresented in Caucasian and African American patients with liver injury attributed to the antifungal medication, terbinafine. These data along with the molecular docking studies demonstrate that this genetic polymorphism is a plausible risk factor for developing terbinafine hepatotoxicity and could be used in the future to help doctors make a diagnosis more rapidly and confidently.
Lay Summary: Loss of caspase 8 – a protein involved in programmed cell death – in liver parenchymal cells protects against experimental cholestasis. Therefore, specific pharmacological intervention against caspase 8 might be a valid alternative for the treatment of obstructive cholestasis in the clinic, whereas broad pan-caspase inhibiting drugs might trigger undesirable side effects.
Lay Summary: microRNAs are deregulated in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. The microRNAs, miRNA-34a, miRNA-122 and miRNA-192, were identified as potential biomarkers of non-alcoholic fatty liver and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, at different stages of disease severity. The correlation between miRNA expression in the serum and in liver tissue was inconsistent, or even inverse.
Lay Summary: Some patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) are non-obese. The optimal management of such patients is unclear. In this long-term follow-up study of a clinical trial, we show that remission of NAFLD can be achieved in 67% of non-obese patients after lifestyle intervention. The majority of patients can achieve NAFLD remission with modest weight loss of 3–10%. Non-obese patients are also more likely than obese patients to maintain weight reduction and normal liver enzymes in the long run.
Lay Summary: Individuals diagnosed with classic alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency (ZZ) are at risk of liver injury and scarring, because of the accumulation of abnormal alpha-1 antitrypsin in the liver. A liver biopsy in ZZ individuals can demonstrate the accumulation of alpha-1 antitrypsin within the liver and identify if any associated liver scarring is present. Indviduals with large amounts of alpha-1 antitrypsin on biopsy may be at risk of liver injury and fibrosis. Additional common medical conditions of diabetes, obesity, high cholesterol, and hypertension (known as metabolic syndrome) are associated with a greater degree of liver injury.
Lay Summary: Significant liver damage and cirrhosis of the liver may develop without a known cause – a liver disease referred to as cryptogenic cirrhosis. In this work we found that, in the presence of metabolic abnormalities, cryptogenic cirrhosis may actually be a part of the non-alcoholic fatty liver disease spectrum. Yet, it appears to be more progressive than typical non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, leading to advanced liver disease at a faster rate.