Lay Summaries - Volume 74 Issue 4
Lay Summary: By analyzing variations in genes that contribute to fatty liver disease, we developed two risk scores to help predict liver cancer in individuals with obesity-related metabolic complications. These risk scores can be easily tested in the clinic. We showed that the risk scores helped to identify the risk of liver cancer both in high-risk individuals and in the general population.
Lay Summary: In chronic hepatitis B, antiviral T lymphocytes are deeply impaired, with many altered intracellular functions. In vitro exposure to polyphenols, such as resveratrol and oleuropein, can correct some of the deregulated intracellular pathways and improve antiviral T cell function. This effect can be further strengthened by the association of polyphenols with antioxidant compounds in a significant proportion of patients. Thus, the combination of antioxidants and natural polyphenols represents a promising strategy for chronic hepatitis B therapy.
Lay Summary: During the natural course of chronic hepatitis B virus infections, the immune response can gain control of viral replication. Quantification of viral DNA and RNA in liver biopsies of patients in different stages of chronic hepatitis B allowed us to identify the steps in the viral life cycle that are affected during the transition from active to inactive disease. Therapeutic targeting of these steps might induce sustained inhibition of viral transcription.
Lay Summary: The advent of direct-acting antivirals has enabled the effective cure of chronic hepatitis C in most patients. However, treatment failure occurs in some patients, who are often retreated with a combination regimen called VOX/VEL/SOF, which is associated with very high rates of cure. However, VOX/VEL/SOF retreatment also fails in some patients. Herein, we analysed samples from patients in whom VOX/VEL/SOF retreatment failed and we assessed the efficacy of different rescue therapies, showing that rescue treatment is effective in most patients (81%).
Lay Summary: Portal pressure is usually assessed by measuring wedge hepatic vein pressure because of solid evidence demonstrating their excellent agreement in alcohol- and viral hepatitis-related cirrhosis. Our results show that in patients with decompensated cirrhosis caused by non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, wedge hepatic vein pressure estimates portal pressure with less accuracy than in patients with other aetiologies of cirrhosis, mainly because of portal pressure underestimation.
Lay Summary: Patients with advanced chronic liver disease (ACLD; i.e. liver cirrhosis) have a certain risk of mortality according to their stage of disease. Progression of disease is greatly influenced by increased pressure in the portal venous system (i.e. portal hypertension) and occurrence of clinical complications (i.e. decompensation). Our study demonstrates that systemic inflammation markedly increases across highest disease stages, and the inflammation biomarker IL-6 in blood may specifically indicate risk of disease progression in patients with ACLD.
Lay Summary: Prioritising patients with hepatocellular carcinoma for liver transplant based on risk of wait-list dropout has been considered but may lead to inferior post-transplant survival. In this study of nearly 7,000 patients, we created a threshold dropout risk score based on tumour and liver-related factors beyond which patients with hepatocellular carcinoma will likely have poor post-liver transplant outcomes (60% at 5 years). For patients below this risk score threshold, priority status could be stratified based on the predicted risk of wait-list dropout without compromising post-transplant survival.
Lay Summary: Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is associated with a subtype of intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma, with unique clinicopathological and genetic characteristics. The tumor immune microenvironment is also different in this tumor subtype and patients with EBV-associated intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma may respond well to immune checkpoint inhibitors.
Lay Summary: Patients with hepatitis B infection have a high risk of developing liver cancer. It is therefore recommended that they undergo frequent screening for liver cancer, but whether this leads to a lower risk of dying from liver cancer is not clear. In this study, we show that liver cancer screening is associated with a reduction in the mortality from liver cancer in patients with hepatitis B infection.
Lay Summary: Cholangiocarcinoma is an aggressive, chemotherapy-resistant liver cancer. Interactions between tumour cells and cells that form a supportive environment for the tumour to grow are a source of this aggressiveness and resistance to chemotherapy. Herein, we describe interactions between tumour cells and their supportive environment via a chemical messenger, TWEAK and its receptor Fn14. TWEAK/Fn14 alters the recruitment and type of immune cells in tumours, increases the growth of cancer-associated fibroblasts in the tumour environment, and is a potential target to reduce tumour formation.
Lay Summary: This study shows that livers from donors exposed to HCV expand the donor pool and can be used safely in patients who are seronegative for hepatitis C infection. Treatment, initiated early post transplantation, is effective and resulted in cure in all patients.
Lay Summary: Early allograft dysfunction negatively affects outcomes following liver transplantation. In independent multicenter US and European cohorts totaling 3,423 patients undergoing liver transplantation, the liver graft assessment following transplantation (L-GrAFT) risk score is validated as a superior measure of early allograft function that accurately discriminates 3-month graft failure-free survival and post-liver transplantation complications.
Lay Summary: The environment of cancer cells has profound effects on establishment, progression, and response of a tumour to treatment. Herein, we show that ADAMTSL5, a protein secreted by liver cancer cells and overlooked in cancer so far, is increased in this tumour type, is necessary for tumour formation and supports drug resistance. Adamtsl5 removal conferred sensitivity of liver cancer cells to drugs used in current treatment. This suggests ADAMTSL5 as a potential marker in liver cancer as well as a possible drug target.
Lay Summary: Receptor tyrosine kinases are known to be involved in tumorigenesis and have been targeted therapeutically for a number of cancers, including hepatocellular carcinoma. ROS1 is the only such receptor with kinase activity whose ligand has not been identified. Herein, we show that RNase7 acts as a ligand to activate ROS1 signaling. This has important pathophysiological and therapeutic implications. Anti-ROS1 inhibitors could be used to treatment patients with hepatocellular carcinoma and high RNase7 levels.
Lay Summary: IL-17 is assumed to be a driver of inflammation in several autoimmune diseases, such as psoriasis. IL-17 is also present in inflammatory diseases of the bile duct, but its role in these conditions is not clear, as the effects of IL-17 depend on the context of its expression. Herein, we investigated the role of IL-17 in an experimental autoimmune cholangitis mouse model, and we identified an important protective effect of IL-17 on cholangiocytes, enabling them to downregulate bile duct inflammation via checkpoint inhibitor PD-L1.