Lay Summaries - Volume 73 Issue 4
Lay Summary: Peroxisome proliferated-activated receptors (PPARs) are essential regulators of metabolism and inflammation. We demonstrated that the pan-PPAR agonist lanifibranor ameliorated all aspects of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease in independent experimental mouse models. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and fatty acids induce a specific polarization status in macrophages, which was altered by lanifibranor to increase expression of lipid handling genes, thereby decreasing inflammation. PPAR isoforms have differential therapeutic effects on fat-laden hepatocytes, activated hepatic stellate cells and inflammatory macrophages, supporting the clinical development of pan-PPAR agonists.
Lay Summary: The genetic basis of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease remains incompletely defined. Herein, we identified members of the immunity-related GTPase family in mice and humans that act as regulators of hepatic fat accumulation, with links to autophagy. Overexpression of the gene Ifgga2 was shown to reduce hepatic lipid storage and could be a therapeutic target for the treatment of fatty liver disease.
Lay Summary: In this study, we show that nicotinamide methyltransferase (NNMT) – the enzyme that catalyzes nicotinamide degradation – is a pathological regulator of alcohol-related fatty liver development. NNMT inhibition protects against alcohol-induced fatty liver development and is associated with suppressed de novo lipogenic activity and enhanced AMPK activation. Thus, our data suggest that NNMT may be a potential therapeutic target for the treatment of alcohol-related liver disease.
Lay Summary: Little is known about the efficacy of NS5A inhibitors against some “unusual” hepatitis C virus (HCV) subtypes including 1l, 3b, 3g, 4r, 6u and 6v. In this study, we manufactured HCV replicons which express the NS5A protein from the unusual HCV subtypes 1l, 3b, 3g, 4r, 6u, 6v. We then tested the effect of the NS5A inhibitors daclatasvir, elbasvir, ledipasvir, pibrentasvir and velpatasvir on blocking replication, using these replicons. We show that these replicons are resistant at some level to all NS5A inhibitors other than pibrentasvir.
Lay Summary: Co-existing fatty liver disease in patients with chronic viral hepatitis B infection leads to worsening liver fibrosis, but also increases the chance of cure from hepatitis B virus. Routine bedside assessment of liver fat content is important for risk assessment in treatment-naïve patients with chronic hepatitis B.
Lay Summary: Liver enzyme abnormalities are common in patients with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). We reported the clinical characteristics and liver pathological manifestations of COVID-19 patients with elevated liver enzymes. Our findings suggested that SARS-CoV-2 infection of the liver is a crucial factor contributing to hepatic impairment in patients with COVID-19.
Lay Summary: Acute-on-chronic liver failure (ACLF) is characterized by intense systemic inflammation, multiple organ failures and high short-term mortality. In the current study, we assessed the plasma lipid profile of 100 bioactive lipid mediators in healthy controls, patients with decompensated cirrhosis, and those who had developed ACLF. We identified lipid mediator signatures associated with inflammation and non-apoptotic cell death that discriminate disease severity and evolution, short-term mortality and organ failures.
Lay Summary: β-blockers are often used to reduce the risk of variceal bleeding in patients with cirrhosis. However, it is not known whether the effect of β-blockers on arterial pressure and/or cardiac function may offset the benefit of reducing portal pressure. Herein, we show that in patients with decompensated cirrhosis the potentially detrimental systemic effects of β-blockers are greater than in compensated patients, while the beneficial pressure lowering effects are reduced. The short-term effect of β-blockers on cardiac output may adversely influence survival in patients with decompensated cirrhosis.
Lay Summary: Herein, we describe, for the first time, 3 different clinical courses of acute decompensation (AD) of cirrhosis after hospital admission. The first clinical course includes patients who develop acute-on-chronic liver failure (ACLF) and have a high short-term risk of death – termed pre-ACLF. The second clinical course (unstable decompensated cirrhosis) includes patients requiring frequent hospitalizations unrelated to ACLF and is associated with a lower mortality risk than pre-ACLF. Finally, the third clinical course (stable decompensated cirrhosis), includes two-thirds of all patients admitted to hospital with AD – patients in this group rarely require hospital admission and have a much lower 1-year mortality risk.
Lay Summary: Liver stiffness measurement is increasingly being used to assess the degree of liver fibrosis in patients with cirrhosis and/or chronic hepatitis. Using Fibroscan, we developed a novel nomogram to predict severe complications following liver resection for hepatocellular carcinoma, according to the new comprehensive complication index. This tool could be used as a reference for clinicians and surgeons to help them in clinical decision-making.
Lay Summary: Our findings show that the risk of gallbladder cancer is increased among women who have given birth (especially women with 5 or more children). In women from Asian countries, later age at menarche increases the risk of gallbladder cancer, intrahepatic bile duct cancer and extrahepatic bile duct cancer. We did not see this same association in women from Western countries. Age at menopause was not associated with the risk of any biliary tract cancers.
Lay Summary: There is an urgent need for ethical frameworks to balance the need for liver transplantation against the availability of national resources during the COVID-19 pandemic. We describe a four-dimensional model of quadripartite equipoise that models these ethical tensions and can guide the regulation of transplant activity in response to the increasing burden on healthcare systems.
Lay Summary: Cytoglobin (CYGB) is a respiratory protein that acts as a scavenger of reactive oxygen species and protects cells from oxidative DNA damage. Herein, we show that the cytokine TGF-β1 downregulates human CYGB expression. This leads to oxidative DNA damage in activated hepatic stellate cells. Our findings provide new insights into the relationship between CYGB expression and the pathophysiology of fibrosis in patients with non-alcoholic steatohepatitis.
Lay Summary: Hepatic fibrosis is the most important predictor of liver-related outcomes in patients with non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). Small molecule inhibitors of acetyl-CoA carboxylase (ACC) reduce hepatic fat content and markers of liver injury in patients with NASH. Herein, we report that inhibition of ACC and de novo lipogenesis also directly suppress the activation of hepatic stellate cells – the primary cell responsible for generating fibrotic scar in the liver – and thus fibrosis. These data provide further evidence for the use of ACC inhibitors to treat patients with NASH and advanced fibrosis.
Lay Summary: Neutrophils constitute a major but poorly understood component of human hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Herein, we unveil a novel mechanism by which metabolic switching in monocytes promotes the accumulation of neutrophils in the tumors of patients with HCC. Both monocyte-produced chemokines and signals from the tumor microenvironment promote the production of the pro-metastatic factor OSM by neutrophils. These data identify potential targets for immune-based anticancer therapies for HCC.