Lay Summaries - Volume 72 Issue 5

Lay Summary:  Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is characterized by fat accumulation in liver cells, which leads to inflammation and fibrosis. Emricasan was previously shown to inhibit some of the liver enzymes which lead to liver inflammation and fibrosis. In this study, emricasan did not improve liver inflammation or fibrosis in patients with NASH and pre-existing liver fibrosis.
Lay Summary:  The examination of liver tissue under the microscope (histology) serves to define the type and severity of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease morphologically, and is also used to determine improvement in therapeutic or natural history clinical trials. The FLIP algorithm/SAF classification is a new histological classification well validated on morphological but not clinical grounds. Here, we demonstrate that different disease categories defined by the FLIP/SAF classification correspond to entities of different clinical and biological severity. We also show a strong association between the activity of steatohepatitis (defined histologically) and the amount of fibrotic scar.
Lay Summary:  While the efficacy of sofosbuvir for the treatment of hepatitis C virus is clear, data regarding its possible nephrotoxicity are controversial. Herein, we showed that sofosbuvir worsened on-treatment kidney function but led to an off-treatment improvement. Our findings suggest that treating physicians should be alert to risk factors for kidney dysfunction before initiating direct-acting antiviral treatment for patients with hepatitis C virus infection.
Lay Summary:  Risk scores have been developed to predict the likelihood of patients with chronic hepatitis B developing hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). We investigated the role of 2 such scores, PAGE-B and modified PAGE-B, in predicting the risk of HCC in 32,150 nucleos(t)ide analogue-treated patients with chronic hepatitis B. These scores identified a group of patients at very low risk of developing HCC who could therefore be exempted from HCC surveillance.
Lay Summary:  We report that hepatitis C virus infections are frequently acquired among HIV-negative men who have sex with men (MSM) using pre-exposure prophylaxis to prevent HIV infection. New infections occurred more frequently in those reporting receptive anal sex without using condoms, having an anal sexually transmitted infection, injecting drugs, and sharing straws when snorting drugs. The viruses found in HIV-negative men using pre-exposure prophylaxis are genetically similar to those in HIV-positive men, but not in other hepatitis C risk groups, suggesting that (sexual) transmission is occurring between HIV-positive MSM and HIV-negative MSM using pre-exposure prophylaxis.
Lay Summary:  This study shows that the protein MX2, which is induced by interferon-α, has important anti-hepatitis B virus (HBV) effector functions. MX2 can reduce the amount of covalently closed circular DNA, which is the form of DNA that HBV uses to maintain viral persistence within hepatocytes. MX2 also reduces HBV RNA levels by downregulating synthesis of viral RNA. MX2 likely represents a novel intrinsic HBV inhibitor that could have therapeutic potential, as well as being useful for improving our understanding of the complex biology of HBV and the antiviral mechanisms of interferon-α.
Lay Summary:  Acute liver failure in children is a rare but devastating condition. Liver transplantation is the most effective treatment, but it has several important limitations. Liver cell (hepatocyte) transplantation is an attractive option, as many patients only require short-term liver support while their own liver recovers. Human hepatocytes encapsulated in alginate beads can perform the functions of the liver while alginate coating protects the cells from immune attack. Herein, we demonstrated that transplantation of these beads was safe and feasible in children with acute liver failure.
Lay Summary:  Cirrhosis (scarring of the liver) is the main consequence of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). Cirrhosis leads to high pressure in the portal vein which accounts for most of the complications of cirrhosis. Reducing portal pressure is beneficial in patients with cirrhosis. We studied the possibility that emricasan, a drug that improves inflammation and scarring in the liver, would reduce portal pressure in patients with NASH-related cirrhosis and severe portal hypertension. Our results in a large, prospective, double-blind study could not demonstrate a beneficial effect of emricasan in these patients.
Lay Summary:  Immunogenomic features of multifocal hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) are important for understanding immune-escape mechanisms and developing more effective immunotherapy. Herein, comprehensive immunogenomic characterization showed that diverse genomic structures within multifocal HCC would leave footprints on the immune landscape. Only a few tumors were under the control of immunosurveillance, while others evaded the immune system through multiple mechanisms that led to poor prognosis. Our study revealed heterogeneous immunogenomic landscapes and immune-constrained tumor evolution, the understanding of which could be used to optimize personalized immunotherapies for multifocal HCC.
Lay Summary:  Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is one of the most prevalent tumors worldwide and is correlated with a high mortality rate. In patients with HCC, lower expression of the enzyme OGDHL is significantly associated with worse survival. Herein, we show that silencing of OGDHL induces lipogenesis and influences the chemosensitization effect of sorafenib in liver cancer cells by reprogramming glutamine metabolism. OGDHL is a promising prognostic biomarker and potential therapeutic target in OGDHL-negative liver cancer.
Lay Summary:  Herein, we have defined a homogeneous subgroup of hepatocellular carcinomas in which the BAP1 gene is inactivated. This leads to the development of cancers with features similar to those of fibrolamellar carcinoma. These tumors more frequently develop in females without chronic liver disease or cirrhosis. The presence of PKA activation and T cell infiltrates suggest that these tumors could be treated with PKA inhibitors or immunomodulators.
Lay Summary:  There are 2 magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)-based approaches available for the non-invasive diagnosis of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), using either extracellular or hepatobiliary contrast agents. The current results showed that the sensitivity of MRI with hepatobiliary contrast agents was similar to that with extracellular contrast agents, but the specificity was lower. Thus, hepatobiliary contrast agent-based MRI, although detailed in international guidelines, should be used with caution for the non-invasive diagnosis of HCC.
Lay Summary:  IL-17A is a tumor-promoting cytokine, which critically regulates inflammatory responses in macrophages (Kupffer cells and bone-marrow-derived monocytes) and cholesterol synthesis in steatotic hepatocytes in an experimental model of alcohol-induced HCC. Therefore, IL-17A may be a potential therapeutic target for patients with alcohol-induced HCC.
    Experimental and Translational Hepatology
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    Sukumar Namineni, Tracy O'Connor, Suzanne Faure-Dupuy, Pål Johansen, Tobias Riedl, Kaijing Liu, Haifeng Xu, Indrabahadur Singh, Prashant Shinde, Fanghui Li, Aleksandra Pandyra, Piyush Sharma, Marc Ringelhan, Andreas Muschaweckh, Katharina Borst, Patrick Blank, Sandra Lampl, Katharina Neuhaus, David Durantel, Rayan Farhat, Achim Weber, Daniela Lenggenhager, Thomas M. Kündig, Peter Staeheli, Ulrike Protzer, Dirk Wohlleber, Bernhard Holzmann, Marco Binder, Kai Breuhahn, Lisa Mareike Assmus, Jacob Nattermann, Zeinab Abdullah, Maude Rolland, Emmanuel Dejardin, Philipp A. Lang, Karl S. Lang, Michael Karin, Julie Lucifora, Ulrich Kalinke, Percy A. Knolle, Mathias Heikenwalder
    Journal of Hepatology, Vol. 72, Issue 5, p960–975
    Open Access
Lay Summary:  Innate immune cells have been ascribed a primary role in controlling viral clearance upon hepatic infections. We identified a novel dual role for NF-κB signaling in infected hepatocytes which was crucial for maximizing interferon responses and initiating adaptive immunity, thereby efficiently controlling hepatic virus replication.
Lay Summary:  Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is associated with the progressive dysfunction of lipid metabolism and a consequent inflammatory response. Decreased ARRB1 is observed in patients with NASH and murine NASH models. Re-expression of Arrb1 in the murine NASH model ameliorated liver disease, an effect which was more pronounced in the presence of pro-GDF15 overexpression, highlighting a promising strategy for NASH therapy.