Lay Summaries - Volume 74 Issue 5

Lay Summary:  Previous studies suggested that the impaired function of mitochondria, the power plants of cells, can promote fatty liver and type 2 diabetes mellitus. This study now shows that during the first 5 years of type 2 diabetes the increase in body fat content rapidly leads to a doubling of liver fat content, whereas the energy metabolism of the patients' livers progressively declines. These data suggest that fat tissue mass and liver mitochondria have an important role in the development of fatty liver disease in humans with diabetes.
Lay Summary:  Lactate is known to accumulate in the livers of patients during the progression of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD); however, the underlying mechanism(s) of this accumulation and its importance in disease progression are unknown. Herein, we show that the acetylation of an enzyme involved in lactate metabolism leads to impaired lactate clearance and exacerbates NAFLD progression.
Lay Summary:  Chronic HCV infection can be cured with antiviral therapy. In this study, we evaluated the long-term effects of antiviral therapy on liver-related complications in patients with cirrhosis. Our results suggest that patients with compensated cirrhosis who were cured of their HCV infection have a lower rate of complications. In contrast, the rate of complications was not related to virological cure among those with decompensated cirrhosis. While these patients seem to remain in need of liver transplantation, antiviral therapy may lower their priority on the liver transplantation waiting list.
Lay Summary:  Nucleos(t)ide analogue therapy can be discontinued in a high proportion of chronic hepatitis B patients without cirrhosis. The strength of HBV-specific immune T cell responses may contribute to successful viral control after antiviral treatment interruption. Our comprehensive study provides in-depth data on virological and immunological factors than can help guide individualised therapy in patients with chronic hepatitis B.
Lay Summary:  Although there are currently effective treatment options for HBV, treatment-resistant variants and the need for lifelong therapy pose a significant challenge. Therefore, the development of new treatment options is crucial to improve outcomes and quality of life. Herein, we report preclinical evidence showing that the anti-HBV agent, E-CFCP, has potent activity against wild-type and treatment-resistant variants. In addition, once-weekly oral dosing may be possible, which is preferrable to the current daily dosing regimens.
Lay Summary:  The risk of stillbirth in intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy (ICP) is linked to the level of bile acids in the mother which are thought to disrupt the baby’s heart rhythm. We found that babies of women with untreated ICP have abnormally functioning hearts compared to those without ICP, and the degree of abnormality is closely linked to the level of harmful bile acids in the mother and baby’s blood. Babies of women with ICP who received treatment with the drug UDCA do not have the same level of abnormality in their hearts, suggesting that UDCA could be a beneficial treatment in some ICP cases, although further clinical trials are needed to confirm this.
    Cirrhosis and Liver Failure
  • Abstract Image
    Jonel Trebicka, Javier Fernandez, Maria Papp, Paolo Caraceni, Wim Laleman, Carmine Gambino, Ilaria Giovo, Frank Erhard Uschner, Christian Jansen, Cesar Jimenez, Rajeshwar Mookerjee, Thierry Gustot, Agustin Albillos, Rafael Bañares, Peter Jarcuska, Christian Steib, Thomas Reiberger, Juan Acevedo, Pietro Gatti, Debbie L. Shawcross, Stefan Zeuzem, Alexander Zipprich, Salvatore Piano, Thomas Berg, Tony Bruns, Karen Vagner Danielsen, Minneke Coenraad, Manuela Merli, Rudolf Stauber, Heinz Zoller, José Presa Ramos, Cristina Solé, Germán Soriano, Andrea de Gottardi, Henning Gronbaek, Faouzi Saliba, Christian Trautwein, Haluk Tarik Kani, Sven Francque, Stephen Ryder, Pierre Nahon, Manuel Romero-Gomez, Hans Van Vlierberghe, Claire Francoz, Michael Manns, Elisabet Garcia-Lopez, Manuel Tufoni, Alex Amoros, Marco Pavesi, Cristina Sanchez, Michael Praktiknjo, Anna Curto, Carla Pitarch, Antonella Putignano, Esau Moreno, William Bernal, Ferran Aguilar, Joan Clària, Paola Ponzo, Zsuzsanna Vitalis, Giacomo Zaccherini, Boglarka Balogh, Alexander Gerbes, Victor Vargas, Carlo Alessandria, Mauro Bernardi, Pere Ginès, Richard Moreau, Paolo Angeli, Rajiv Jalan, Vicente Arroyo for the PREDICT STUDY group of the EASL-CLIF CONSORTIUM
    Journal of Hepatology, Vol. 74, Issue 5, p1097–1108
    Open Access
Lay Summary:  Acute decompensation (AD) of cirrhosis is characterized by a rapid deterioration in patient health. Herein, we aimed to analyze the precipitating events that cause AD in patients with cirrhosis. Proven bacterial infections and severe alcoholic hepatitis, either alone or in combination, accounted for almost all (96-97%) cases of AD and acute-on-chronic liver failure. Whilst the type of precipitant was not associated with mortality, the number of precipitant(s) was. This study identified precipitants that are significantly associated with a distinct clinical course and prognosis of patients with AD. Specific preventive and therapeutic strategies targeting these events may improve patient outcomes.
Lay Summary:  The term compensated advanced chronic liver disease (cACLD) was introduced in 2015 to describe the spectrum of advanced fibrosis and cirrhosis in asymptomatic patients. It was also suggested that cACLD could be diagnosed or ruled out based on specific liver stiffness values, which can be non-invasively measured by transient elastography. Herein, we assessed the suggested cut-off values and identified alternative values that offered better overall accuracy for diagnosing or ruling out cACLD.
Lay Summary:  Systemic inflammation and organ failures are hallmarks of acute-on-chronic liver failure (ACLF). Herein, we aimed to characterize the role of amino acids in these processes. The blood metabolome of patients with acutely decompensated cirrhosis, and particularly those with ACLF, reveals evidence of intense skeletal muscle catabolism. Importantly, amino acids (along with glucose), are used for intense anabolic, energy-consuming metabolism in patients with ACLF, presumably to support de novo nucleotide and protein synthesis in the activated innate immune system.
Lay Summary:  Gallbladder cancer is highly fatal, and its causes are poorly understood. We evaluated gallbladder tumours to see if there were differences between tumours in genetic information such as DNA and RNA. We found evidence of aflatoxin exposure in these tumours, and immune cells surrounding the tumours were associated with survival.
Lay Summary:  Checkpoint inhibition, a common form of immune therapy, is generally ineffective for the treatment of cholangiocarcinoma. These tumors suppress the infiltration and function of surrounding immune cells. Stimulating immune cells such as macrophages and dendritic cells via the CD40 receptor activates downstream immune cells and enhances the response to checkpoint inhibitors.
Lay Summary:  Telomeres are repeated DNA sequences that protect chromosomes and naturally shorten in most adult cells because of the inactivation of the TERT gene, coding for the telomerase enzyme. Here we show that telomere attrition in the liver, modulated by aging, sex, fibrosis and alcohol, associates with specific clinical and molecular features of hepatocellular carcinoma, the most frequent primary liver cancer. We also show that liver cancer is dependent on TERT reactivation and telomere maintenance, which could be targeted through a novel therapeutic approach called antisense oligonucleotides.
Lay Summary:  In solid organ transplantation, T cells are key mediators of the recipient’s immune response directed at the transplanted organ. In our study, we characterised the T cell repertoire in a cohort of 7 liver transplant recipients. We demonstrate that donor-specific T cells expand clonally and accumulate in the transplanted liver. Moreover, we show that the composition of T cells in peripheral blood differs from the T cells in the liver allograft, only aligning in the context of acute cellular rejection but not in normal graft or subclinical cellular rejection. This indicates that the intragraft immune response is not mirrored in the peripheral blood. Our findings clarify the importance of protocol liver biopsies in identifying intragraft immune responses for future investigations of allo-directed immune responses.
Lay Summary:  Liver fibrosis has various aetiologies but represents a common process in chronic liver diseases that is associated with high morbidity and mortality. Herein, we demonstrate that the intermediate filament protein Nestin plays an essential profibrogenic role in liver fibrosis by forming a positive feedback loop with the TGFβ-Smad2/3 pathway, providing a potential therapeutic target for the treatment of liver fibrosis.
Lay Summary:  Advanced chronic liver disease (ACLD) constitutes a serious public health issue for which safe and effective treatments are lacking. This study shows that lanifibranor improves portal hypertension and liver fibrosis, 2 key elements of the pathophysiology of ACLD, in preclinical models of the disease. Evaluation of lanifibranor in liver cells from patients with ACLD further supports its beneficial effects.