Lay Summaries - Volume 70 Issue 6

Lay Summary: Antiviral therapy prevents disease progression and death in patients with chronic hepatitis B (CHB), but the identification of patients in need of treatment is a challenge in low- and middle-income countries. The World Health Organization (WHO) has suggested treatment eligibility criteria for use in such settings, but in our study the WHO criteria detected less than half of those in need of therapy in a large Ethiopian cohort of 1,190 patients with CHB. Our findings suggest that the WHO criteria might be unsuitable in sub-Saharan Africa.
Lay Summary: Endoplasmic reticulum aminopeptidase 1 (ERAP1) plays a key role in antigen presentation. Genetic variants of ERAP1 (leading to distinct allotypes) are linked with specific autoinflammatory disorders, such as ankylosing spondylitis and Behçet’s disease. We found that ERAP1 allotypes modified the repertoire of virus-specific CD8+ T cell epitopes in a patient with hepatitis C virus, leading to an altered pattern of immunodominance that may have contributed to the failure of antiviral immunity in this patient.
Lay Summary: This study describes diverse compounds that act as HCV membrane fusion inhibitors. It defines viral properties that determine sensitivity to these molecules and thus provides information to identify patients that may benefit from treatment with membrane fusion inhibitors.
Lay Summary: Tenofovir is the most potent nucleotide analogue for the treatment of chronic hepatitis B virus infection and there has been no hepatitis B virus mutation that confers >10-fold resistance to tenofovir up to 8 years. Herein, we identified, for the first time, a quadruple mutation that conferred 15.3-fold (IC50) and 26.3-fold (IC90) resistance to tenofovir in 2 patients who experienced viral breakthrough during tenofovir treatment.
Lay Summary: CD4 T cells are important in controlling viral infections but are impaired in the context of chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection. Therapeutic approaches to cure chronic HBV infection are highly likely to require an immune-stimulatory component. This study demonstrates that HBV-specific CD4 T cells can be functionally augmented by combined stimulation of the co-stimulatory molecule OX40 and blockade of the inhibitory PD-1 pathway.
Lay Summary: The risk of de novo hepatitis B infection after liver transplantation was rare when using hepatitis B core positive liver grafts with entecavir monotherapy prophylaxis. Hepatitis B core antibody status did not impact on perioperative and long-term outcomes after liver transplantation. This provides support for the clinical use of hepatitis B core positive liver grafts when required.
Lay Summary: Washout on MRI is depicted in a significant proportion of benign nodules in patients with Budd-Chiari syndrome (BCS), limiting its value for the differentiation between benign and malignant lesions. Criteria proposed for the non-invasive diagnosis of hepatocellular carcinoma in patients with cirrhosis cannot be extrapolated to patients with BCS. Additional imaging findings and patient characteristics, including alpha-fetoprotein serum level, can help determine the probability of a nodule being HCC in patients with BCS.
Lay Summary: The most effective treatment for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is surgical removal of the tumor but often recurrence occurs, partly due to the presence of microvascular invasion (MVI). Lacking a single highly reliable factor able to preoperatively predict MVI, we developed a computational approach to predict MVI and the long-term clinical outcome of patients with HCC. In particular, the added value of radiomics, a newly emerging form of radiography, was comprehensively investigated. This computational method can enhance the communication with the patient about the likely success of the treatment and guide clinical management, with the aim of finding drugs that reduce the risk of recurrence.
Lay Summary: Herein, we established a system to generate human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived functional hepatobiliary organoids in vitro, without any exogenous cells or genetic manipulation. To some extent this model was able to recapitulate several key aspects of hepatobiliary organogenesis in a parallel fashion, holding great promise for drug development and liver transplantation.
Lay Summary: Nucleotide-binding oligomerization domain 1 (NOD1) is as an important modulator of polymorphonuclear neutrophil (PMN)-induced liver injury, which occurs in ischemia-reperfusion. Here, we show that the NOD1 pathway targets liver adhesion molecule expression on the endothelium and on hepatocytes through p38 and ERK signaling pathways. The early increase of adhesion molecule expression after reperfusion emphasizes the importance of adhesion molecules in liver injury. In this study we generated nanoparticles loaded with NOD1 antagonist. These nanoparticles reduced liver necrosis by reducing PMN liver infiltration and adhesion molecule expression.
Lay Summary: Hepatocyte transplantation is a promising alternative to liver transplantation for the treatment of liver diseases. However, it is inefficient, as restricted growth of transplanted cells in the liver limits its therapeutic benefits. Preparative treatments improve the efficiency of this procedure, but no clinically-feasible options are currently available. In this study we develop a novel well-tolerated preparative treatment to improve growth of cells in the liver and then demonstrate that this treatment completely cures an inherited lipid disorder in a mouse model.
Lay Summary: During chronic liver disease, while native hepatocytes are exhausted and genetically unstable, a subset of cholangiocytes clonally expand to differentiate into young, functional and robust hepatocytes. This cholangiocyte cell population is a promising target for regenerative therapies in patients with chronic liver insufficiency.
Lay Summary: The results of our investigation show for the first time that the Hh signaling in hepatocytes is time-of-day dependent, leading to differences not only in transcript levels but also in the amount of Hh ligands in peripheral blood. Conversely, Hh signaling is able to feed back to the circadian clock.
Lay Summary: Increased levels of fat in the liver impair the ability of the cardiovascular system to work properly. The amount of fat in the liver, metabolic control, inflammation and alcohol are all linked to the degree that the cardiovascular system is affected.
Lay Summary: We performed whole-exome sequencing in 19 adult patients with unexplained liver disease after an unrevealing conventional work-up performed by a hepatologist. In 5 cases, genomic analysis led to a diagnosis and informed treatment and management of the disease. Therefore, we suggest using whole-exome sequencing in the evaluation and management of adults with unexplained liver disease.