Lay Summaries - Volume 74 Issue 1

Lay Summary:  Glycolipid metabolic diseases, which have become a major public health concern worldwide, are triggered by abnormalities in lipid and glucose metabolism. Herein, we show that miR-552-3p has the ability to ameliorate hepatic glycolipid metabolic diseases by modulating the transcriptional activities of LXRα and FXR in the nucleus. These findings provide evidence that miR-552-3p may serve as a potential therapeutic target.
Lay Summary:  Fatty liver disease is a common condition where fat builds up in the liver, which can cause liver inflammation and scarring (including ‘cirrhosis’). It is closely linked to obesity and diabetes, but some genes are also thought to be important. We did this study to see whether one specific change (‘variant’) in one gene (‘MBOAT7’) was linked to fatty liver disease. We took data from over 40 published studies and found that this variant near MBOAT7 is linked to more severe fatty liver disease. This means that drugs designed to work on MBOAT7 could be useful for treating fatty liver disease.
Lay Summary:  COVID-19 has resulted in many hepatitis elimination programs slowing or stopping altogether. A 1-year delay in hepatitis diagnosis and treatment could result in an additional 44,800 liver cancers and 72,300 deaths from HCV globally by 2030. Countries have committed to hepatitis elimination by 2030, so attention should shift back to hepatitis programming as soon as it becomes appropriate to do so.
Lay Summary:  We compared the risk of several clinical events in participants infected by human immunodeficiency virus and hepatitis C virus with those infected with hepatitis C virus alone, matched on age and sex, after treatment with contemporary direct-acting antivirals. We found a higher risk of all-cause deaths, non-liver-related deaths, and non-liver-related cancers in participants coinfected with the human immunodeficiency virus and hepatitis C virus, and no differences for the risk of liver-related deaths or events.
Lay Summary:  In patients with autoimmune hepatitis, the imbalance between regulatory T cells and T helper type-17 cells is linked to dysfunction of the aryl hydrocarbon receptor pathway, resulting from aberrant inhibition or non-canonical activation. These alterations impair Treg- and Th17 cell-induced upregulation of CD39, an ectoenzyme key to immunoregulation. Blockade of excessive inhibition or non-canonical activation of the aryl hydrocarbon receptor pathway might represent a novel therapeutic strategy to control inflammation while restoring immune balance in autoimmune hepatitis.
Lay Summary:  Primary biliary cholangitis is a chronic liver disease in which the small bile ducts are progressively destroyed. We tested whether the treatment with obeticholic acid (OCA) would improve liver excretion of bile acids compared with placebo in 8 patients with primary biliary cholangitis. A special scanning technique (PET scan) showed that OCA increased the transport of bile acids from blood to bile. OCA thereby reduced the time that potentially toxic bile acids reside in the liver by approximately one-third.
Lay Summary:  Variceal bleeding that is not controlled by initial endoscopy is associated with high risk of death. The results of this study showed that in the occurrence of failure of the liver and other organs defines the risk of death. In these patients, insertion of a shunt inside the liver to drain the portal vein improves survival.
Lay Summary:  Patients with cirrhosis develop changes in their brain function, and men often develop feminization with disease progression. However, the interaction between sex, microbiota and disease severity is unclear. We found that as disease progressed in men, their microbial composition began to approach that observed in women, with changes in specific microbes that are associated with male hormone metabolism.
Lay Summary:  Next-generation sequencing (NGS) performs massive sequencing of DNA allowing the simultaneous evaluation of multiple genes even at very low mutational levels. Application of this technique in a cohort of patients with non-cirrhotic non-tumoral portal vein thrombosis (NC-SVT) and a negative study for thrombophilic disorders was able to identify patients with a mutation in exon 12 not previously detected by conventional techniques. Moreover, NGS detected High Molecular Risk (HMR)-variants (Mutations involved in myeloid disorders different from JAK2, CALR and MPL genes) in approximately one third of patients. These patients appear to be at increased risk of rethrombosis. All these findings supports NGS as a potential useful tool in the management of NC-SVT.
Lay Summary:  Tsc1 loss facilitates the p53 (haplo)insufficiency-mediated activation of the PTEN/Akt/mTOR axis, leading to the elevated expression of Abcc4 to drive HCC tumorigenesis and metastasis in mice. Inhibition of mTOR protects against p53 haploinsufficiency and Tsc1 loss-triggered tumour-promoting activity, providing a new approach for treating an aggressive subtype of HCC exhibiting high Abcc4 expression.
Lay Summary:  Macrotrabecular-massive hepatocellular carcinoma (MTM-HCC) is a histopathologic subtype of HCC characterised by aggressive biological behaviour and poor prognosis. We developed imaging criteria based on liver MRI that could be used for the non-invasive diagnosis of MTM-HCC. HCCs showing imaging findings of MTM-HCC were associated with poor outcomes after hepatic resection.
Lay Summary:  Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), the most common type of liver cancer, affects diverse populations and has a global impact, being the fourth leading cause of cancer deaths worldwide. There are currently no systemic therapies for HCC that can significantly prolong long-term survival. Thus, novel effective treatment options are urgently required. To understand the molecular basis of tumour regression, we compared tumours and regressing liver tumours in mice. We show that a small non-coding miRNA, miR-342-3p, is a tumour suppressor in HCC. Expression of miR-342-3p is low in tumours and high in regressing tumours. When miR-342-3p is delivered to mouse livers with HCC, it can significantly slow down liver tumour development and improve survival. Our study highlights the promising therapeutic potential of miR-342-3p intervention in HCC.
Lay Summary:  RNA editing is a process in which RNA is changed after it is made from DNA, resulting in an altered gene product. In this study, we found that RNA editing of a gene known as coatomer subunit α (COPA) is lower in tumour samples and discovered that this editing process changes COPA protein from a tumour-promoting form to a tumour-suppressive form. Loss of the edited COPA promotes the development of liver cancer.
    Liver Transplantation
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    Jordi Colmenero, Manuel Rodríguez-Perálvarez, Magdalena Salcedo, Ana Arias-Milla, Alejandro Muñoz-Serrano, Javier Graus, Javier Nuño, Mikel Gastaca, Javier Bustamante-Schneider, Alba Cachero, Laura Lladó, Aránzazu Caballero, Ainhoa Fernández-Yunquera, Carmelo Loinaz, Inmaculada Fernández, Constantino Fondevila, Miquel Navasa, Mercedes Iñarrairaegui, Lluis Castells, Sonia Pascual, Pablo Ramírez, Carmen Vinaixa, María Luisa González-Dieguez, Rocío González-Grande, Loreto Hierro, Flor Nogueras, Alejandra Otero, José María Álamo, Gerardo Blanco-Fernández, Emilio Fábrega, Fernando García-Pajares, José Luis Montero, Santiago Tomé, Gloria De la Rosa, José Antonio Pons
    Journal of Hepatology, Vol. 74, Issue 1, p148–155
Lay Summary:  In liver transplant patients, chronic immunosuppression increases the risk of acquiring COVID-19 but it could reduce disease severity. Complete immunosuppression withdrawal may not be justified. However, mycophenolate withdrawal or temporary conversion to calcineurin inhibitors or everolimus until disease resolution could be beneficial in hospitalised patients.
Lay Summary:  Our findings identify a novel mechanism of inflammation in the liver. Experiments in cell cultures, mice, and human samples show that a specific form of cell death, called pyroptosis, leads to the release of complex inflammatory particles, the NLRP3 inflammasome, from inside hepatocytes into the extracellular space. From there they are taken up by other cells and thereby mediate inflammatory and pro-fibrogenic stress signals. The discovery of this mechanism may lead to novel treatments for chronic liver diseases in the future.