Lay Summaries - Volume 71 Issue 4

Lay Summary: Sofosbuvir/velpatasvir is a combination direct-acting antiviral that is approved for treatment of patients with hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. Despite the lack of dosing recommendations, sofosbuvir-containing regimens (including sofosbuvir/velpatasvir) are frequently used for HCV-infected patients undergoing dialysis. This study evaluated the safety and efficacy of sofosbuvir/velpatasvir for 12 weeks in patients with HCV infection who were undergoing dialysis. Treatment with sofosbuvir/velpatasvir was safe and well tolerated, resulting in a cure rate of 95% in patients with HCV infection and end-stage renal disease.
Lay Summary: Treatment with sofosbuvir/velpatasvir/voxilaprevir (SOF/VEL/VOX) for 12 weeks is the current recommendation for the 5% of patients infected with HCV who do not achieve eradication of the virus under treatment with direct-acting antivirals. In a Spanish cohort of 137 patients who failed a previous combination of direct-acting antivirals, a cure rate of 95% was achieved with SOF/VEL/VOX. Genotypic characteristics of the virus (genotype 3) and the presence of cirrhosis were factors that decreased the rate of cure. Treatment with SOF/VEL/VOX is an effective and safe rescue therapy due to its high efficacy and very good safety profile.
Lay Summary: Patients who are immunosuppressed are vulnerable to developing chronic liver disease following infection with hepatitis E virus (HEV). To-date, there is no approved therapy for chronic hepatitis E. Interferon-α and ribavirin are off-label treatment options, but their applications are limited by side effects. Thus, immunotherapy, more specifically T cell-based therapy, may be an alternative approach. We designed T cell receptor-engineered T cells that effectively conferred immune cells, taken from patients with chronic hepatitis E, with the ability to recognize virus-specific epitopes and mediate killing of target cells in vitro.
Lay Summary: Chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection is a major public health problem worldwide. The clearance of HBV relies largely on an effective T cell immune response, which usually becomes dysregulated in chronic HBV infection. Our study provides a new mechanism to elucidate HBV persistence and a new target for developing immunotherapy strategies in patients chronically infected with HBV.
Lay Summary: There is a growing epidemic of advanced liver disease, this could be offset by early detection and management. Checking liver blood tests (LFTs) should be an opportunity to diagnose liver problems, but abnormal results are often incompletely investigated. In this study we were able to substantially increase the diagnostic yield of the abnormal LFTs using the automated intelligent LFT system. With the addition of referral recommendations and management plans, this strategy provides optimum investigation and management of LFTs and is cost saving to the NHS.
Lay Summary: An optimal allocation system for scarce resources should simultaneously ensure maximal utility, but also equity. While the model for end-stage liver disease is currently the standard for this model, many adjustments were implemented in most countries. A future globally applicable strategy should combine donor and recipient factors predicting probability of death on the waiting list, post-transplant survival and morbidity, and perhaps costs.
Lay Summary: In the clinical arm, graft YAP expression negatively correlated with liver function and tissue damage after human liver transplantation. YAP activation attenuated hepatocellular oxidative stress and diminished the innate immune response in mouse livers following ischemia-reperfusion injury. In the mouse model, YAP inhibited hepatic stellate cell activation, and abolished injury-mediated fibrogenesis up to 7 days after the ischemic insult.
Lay Summary: Abundant TOX expression in CD8+ T cells impairs their antitumor function in hepatocellular carcinoma. Mechanically, TOX reduces PD1 degradation and promotes PD1 translocation to the cell surface in CD8+ T cells, thus maintaining high PD1 expression at the cell surface. Downregulating TOX expression improves the antitumor function of CD8+ T cells, which shows the synergetic role of anti-PD1 therapy, highlighting a promising strategy for enhancement of cancer immunotherapy.
Lay Summary: There is mounting evidence that FBXW7 functions as a tumor suppressor in many cancer types, including intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma, through its ability to promote the degradation of numerous oncoproteins. Herein, we have shown that the low expression of FBXW7 is ubiquitous in human cholangiocarcinoma specimens. This low expression is correlated with increased c-MYC activity, leading to tumorigenesis. Our findings suggest that targeting c-MYC might be an effective treatment for intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma.
Lay Summary: The defense functions of immune cells are suppressed in cholangiocarcinoma tumors. Stimulating or blocking “immune checkpoint” molecules expressed on tumor-infiltrating T cells can enhance the defense functions of these cells. Therefore, these molecules may be promising targets for therapeutic stimulation of immune cells to eradicate the tumors and prevent cancer recurrence in patients with cholangiocarcinoma.
Lay Summary: Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a heterogeneous disease associated with a poor prognosis. In patients with HCC, TLR3 downregulation is associated with reduced survival. Herein, we show that the absence of TLR3 is associated with a lower rate of apoptosis, and subsequently more rapid hepatocarcinogenesis, without any change to the immune infiltrate in the liver. Therefore, the poor prognosis associated with low TLR3 expression in HCC is likely linked to tumors ability to escape apoptosis. TLR3 may become a promising therapeutic target in TLR3-positive HCC.
Lay Summary: Primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) is a chronic cholestatic liver disease characterized by biliary inflammation and fibrosis, whose current medical treatment is hardly effective. We observed an increased interferon (IFN)-γ response in patients with PSC and in a mouse model of sclerosing cholangitis. IFNγ changed the phenotype of hepatic CD8+ T lymphocytes and NK cells towards increased cytotoxicity, and its absence decreased liver cell death, reduced frequencies of inflammatory macrophages in the liver and attenuated liver fibrosis. Therefore, IFNγ-dependent immune responses may disclose checkpoints for future therapeutic intervention strategies in sclerosing cholangitis.
Lay Summary: Dysregulation of bile acid metabolism and T cells can contribute to the development of cholangiopathies. Before targeting T cells for the treatment of cholangiopathies, it should be determined whether they exert protective effects on bile acid metabolism. Herein, we demonstrate that T cell-induced cholangitis resulted in decreased levels of harmful unconjugated bile acids. T cells were able to directly control synthesis and metabolism of bile acids, a process which was dependent on the proinflammatory cytokines TNF and IFN-γ. Understanding the effect of lymphocytes on bile acid metabolism will help in the design of combined treatment strategies for cholestatic liver diseases.
Lay Summary: Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is now recognized as the most prevalent chronic liver disease worldwide. Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) is an important risk factor for NAFLD. Additionally, T2DM seems to accelerate the progression of liver disease in NAFLD. Despite the high prevalence and serious clinical implications of NAFLD in patients with T2DM, it is usually overlooked in clinical practice. This meta‐analysis provides evidence of the high prevalence of NAFLD and NASH in patients with T2DM. In this context, increasing awareness about the importance of NAFLD in patients with T2DM among all important stakeholders (primary care physicians, specialists, and health policy makers) must be prioritized.
Lay Summary: Children with biopsy-proven non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) have a higher prevalence of abnormal glucose tolerance (prediabetes or type 2 diabetes) than children without NAFLD. Children with biopsy-proven NAFLD and abnormal glucose tolerance also have a higher prevalence of the progressive form of disease, non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, than those with normal glucose tolerance, though central adiposity is the factor that is most strongly associated with non-alcoholic steatohepatitis.