Lay Summaries - Volume 73 Issue 5

Lay Summary:  Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is an advanced and progressive form of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), and despite its growing incidence no therapies currently exist to halt NAFLD progression. Herein, we show that blocking integrin receptor α4β7-mediated recruitment of CD4 T cells to the intestine and liver not only attenuates hepatic inflammation and fibrosis, but also improves metabolic derangements associated with NASH. These findings provide evidence for the potential therapeutic application of α4β7 antibody in the treatment of human NASH.
Lay Summary:  The fibrosis-4 scoring system is often used to estimate the risk of advanced fibrosis in liver diseases. Herein, we found that changes in this score over time are associated with the risk of future severe liver disease in a population-based cohort. However, even if the prediction is improved by repeated testing, the overall ability of the score to predict future events is relatively low.
Lay Summary:  We described the risk of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC, the most common form of liver cancer originating in the liver) in Danish outpatients with cirrhosis due to harmful alcohol consumption. Accurate data on that risk are important for patient counselling and decisions about screening for HCC. The risk was about 0.7% per year, which is lower than might be expected and suggests that many potentially harmful screening examinations are required for every HCC found through surveillance
Lay Summary:  In a large cohort of Caucasians with chronic hepatitis B treated with entecavir (ETV) or tenofovir disoproxil fumarate (TDF) monotherapy, cumulative rates of hepatocellular carcinoma did not differ (up to 12 years). Nor did rates of biochemical/virological remission, HBsAg loss and liver transplantation or death. However, elastographic reversion of cirrhosis at year 5 was more frequent in TDF- than ETV-treated patients with pretreatment cirrhosis.
Lay Summary:  Chronic liver infection by hepatitis delta virus (HDV) is the most severe form of chronic viral hepatitis. Despite the fact that at least 15–20 million people are chronically infected by HDV worldwide, factors determining the severity of liver involvement are largely unknown. By investigating a large cohort of 1,112 HDV-infected patients followed-up in France, but coming from different areas of the world, we were able to determine that HDV genotype, place of birth (reflecting both viral and host-related factors) and persistent viremia constitute the main determinants of liver involvement and response to treatment.
    Cirrhosis and Liver Failure
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    Massimo Iavarone, Roberta D'Ambrosio, Alessandro Soria, Michela Triolo, Nicola Pugliese, Paolo Del Poggio, Giovanni Perricone, Sara Massironi, Angiola Spinetti, Elisabetta Buscarini, Mauro Viganò, Canio Carriero, Stefano Fagiuoli, Alessio Aghemo, Luca S. Belli, Martina Lucà, Marianna Pedaci, Alessandro Rimondi, Maria Grazia Rumi, Pietro Invernizzi, Paolo Bonfanti, Pietro Lampertico
    Journal of Hepatology, Vol. 73, Issue 5, p1063–1071
Lay Summary:  Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) poses a major health threat to healthy individuals and those with comorbidities. Herein, we assessed its impact on patients with cirrhosis. Infection with COVID-19 was associated with liver function deterioration and elevated mortality in patients with cirrhosis.
Lay Summary:  Patient sex is an important contributor in many chronic diseases, including cirrhosis. Prior studies have suggested that female sex is associated with worse outcomes. We analyzed a cohort of 20,045 patients with cirrhosis using a Chicago-wide electronic health record database. Using multivariate competing risk analyses, we found that female sex in cirrhosis is actually associated with a lower risk of all-cause mortality and has no association with liver-related mortality. Our findings are novel because we show that women with cirrhosis have a similar risk of liver-related death as their male counterparts, despite lower rates of listing and transplantation.
Lay Summary:  Acute variceal bleeding is a deadly complication of liver cirrhosis that results from severe portal hypertension. This study demonstrates that the presence of acute-on-chronic liver failure (ACLF) is the strongest predictor of mortality in patients with acute variceal bleeding. Importantly, patients with ACLF and acute variceal (re)bleeding benefit from pre-emptive (early) placement of a transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt.
Lay Summary:  Sudden damage to the kidneys is becoming more common in people who are hospitalized and have cirrhosis. Despite advances in cirrhosis care, those with damage to the kidneys remain at higher risk of dying.
Lay Summary:  In a nationwide French survey of laparoscopic liver resection, expert centers were defined according to the completion of a textbook outcome, which is a composite indicator of healthcare quality. Benchmark values regarding intra-operative details and outcomes were established using data from 516 patients with laparoscopic left lateral sectionectiomy and 346 patients with laparoscopic right hepatectomy from expert centers. These values should be used as a reference point to improve the quality of laparoscopic resections.
Lay Summary:  Patients with gallbladder cancer have worse overall survival compared to those with biliary tract cancers of different primary origin. Thus, gallbladder cancer should be considered as a stratification factor in future clinical trials. Landmark survival rates enable adjusted prognosis prediction for patients with advanced biliary tract cancer who survive for some time.
Lay Summary:  Intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma is an aggressive and chemoresistant malignancy. Better understanding the complex transcriptional architecture and intercellular crosstalk of these tumors will help in the development of more effective therapies. Herein, we have identified important interactions between cancer cells and cancer-associated fibroblasts in the tumor stroma, which could have therapeutic implications.
Lay Summary:  After brain death, potential liver donors have reduced intestinal FXR, which is associated with reduced intestinal, circulatory and hepatic levels of FGF15. A similar reduction in the cell-surface receptor complex Fgfr4/Klb is observed, whereas CYP7A1 is overexpressed; together, these molecular events result in the dangerous accumulation of bile acids, leading to damage and regenerative failure in brain dead donor grafts. Herein, we demonstrate that when such donors receive appropriate doses of FGF15, CYP7A1 levels and hepatic bile acid toxicity are reduced, and liver regeneration is promoted.
Lay Summary:  During liver fibrosis and cirrhosis, activated hepatic stellate cells (HSCs) are the key cell type responsible for fibrotic tissue deposition. Recently, we demonstrated that activated HSCs release nano-sized vesicles enriched with fibrogenic proteins. In the current study, we unveil the mechanism by which these fibrogenic vesicles are released, moving a step closer to the long-term goal of therapeutically targeting this process.
Lay Summary:  Very little is known about how peptides activate signaling pathways that play a crucial role in diseases such as cancer. Specifically, we reported on a conserved peptide encoded by LINC00998, SMIM30. This peptide promoted the tumorigenesis of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) by modulating cell proliferation and migration. Of note, it bound the non-receptor tyrosine kinases, SRC/YES1, to drive their membrane anchoring and phosphorylation, activating the downstream MAPK signaling pathway. Our work not only unravels a new mechanism of HCC tumorigenesis promoted by peptides, but also demonstrates how the peptide works to activate a signaling pathway.