Lay Summaries - Volume 75 Issue 4

Lay Summary:  Non-invasive tests that measure liver stiffness or use magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) have been suggested as alternatives to liver biopsy for assessing the severity of liver scarring (fibrosis) and fatty inflammation (steatohepatitis) in patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). In this study, we summarise the results of previously published studies on how accurately these non-invasive tests can diagnose liver fibrosis and inflammation, using liver biopsy as the reference. We found that some techniques that measure liver stiffness had a good performance for the diagnosis of severe liver scarring.
Lay Summary:   Non-invasive scoring systems are increasingly being used in patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease to identify those at risk of advanced fibrosis and hence clinical complications. Herein, we compared various non-invasive scoring systems and identified those that were best at identifying risk, as well as those that were best for the prediction of long-term outcomes, such as liver-related events, liver cancer and death.
Lay Summary:   Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) has emerged as one of the most common causes of chronic liver disease worldwide. We used Global Burden of Disease data to assess the incidence, mortality, and disability-adjusted life years attributable to NAFLD-related liver complications in Asia, the Middle East and North Africa. NAFLD is poised to contribute to a substantial liver disease burden in these regions. Regional and global policies are needed to address the increasing burden of complications of NAFLD.
Lay Summary:   Patients with alcohol-related liver disease (ALD) may undergo liver biopsy to assess disease severity. We developed a system to classify ALD under the microscope by grading ALD activity and staging the extent of liver scarring. We validated the prognostic performance of this system in 445 patients from 4 European centers.
Lay Summary:   Direct-acting antivirals have revolutionized the treatment of chronic hepatitis C infection, but treatment failure occurs in some patients. Retreatment of patients who previously failed a regimen consisting of sofosbuvir and an NS5A inhibitor with a regimen of glecaprevir and pibrentasvir (G/P) is >90% effective. Herein, we analyzed samples from these patients and showed that retreatment efficacy with G/P is lower in patients with double- or triple-linked NS5A resistance mutations than in patients with single or no NS5A resistance mutations.
Lay Summary:   In this randomised trial, 188 people with recently acquired hepatitis C infection were randomly assigned to treatment using either a short 6-week course (93 people) or standard 12-week course (95 people) of the hepatitis C treatment sofosbuvir/velpatasvir. There were 9 cases of relapse after treatment with the short course and 2 following the standard course. A shortened course of 6-week therapy for hepatitis C infection appeared to be less effective than a standard 12-week course in people with recently acquired hepatitis C infection.
Lay Summary:   Loss of serum hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) indicates resolution of HBV infection. However, integrated HBV DNA can contribute to HBsAg production independently of viral replication. We investigated the extent of HBsAg-producing viral integration in the livers of patients with low serum viral loads. Our findings suggest that transcriptionally active HBV integration can extend to the entire liver in some patients, questioning the clinical utility of HBsAg as a surrogate marker for viral replication.
Lay Summary:   We studied the outcomes, including mechanical ventilation and day-30 mortality, of all adults with COVID-19 who were discharged from acute and post-acute care in France in 2020 (N = 259,110). Patients with mild liver disease; compensated cirrhosis; organ, including liver, transplantation; or acquired immunodepression syndrome were not at increased risk of COVID-19-related mortality. Patients with alcohol use disorders, decompensated cirrhosis, or primary liver cancer were at increased risk of COVID-19-related mortality but were less likely to receive mechanical ventilation. Our results suggest that therapeutic effort limitation may have contributed to the excess mortality in French residents with a liver-related complication or an alcohol use disorder.
Lay Summary:   Patients with cirrhosis should undergo health monitoring for liver complications to achieve early detection and treatment. In a large nationwide cohort of 82,427 patients with cirrhosis in the United States, we found a low rate of adherence (well less than half) to routine blood test monitoring and surveillance for liver cancer and esophageal varices (swollen blood vessels in the abdomen that could lead to fatal bleeding). Adherence has increased in the recent years, but much more improvement is needed.
Lay Summary:   The prevalence of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) associated with non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is increasing globally, but its molecular traits are not well characterised. In this study, we uncovered higher rates of ACVR2A mutations (10%) – a potential tumour suppressor – and the presence of a novel mutational signature that characterises NASH-related HCC.
Lay Summary:   Among patients receiving sorafenib for advanced hepatocellular carcinoma the rate of tumour growth (as assessed by changes in tumour size and the biomarker alpha-fetoprotein) and the deterioration of liver function is less in those who have the hepatitis C virus, than in those who do not.
Lay Summary:   We found that the protein FAK (focal adhesion kinase) is upregulated and activated in human and mouse intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma samples. FAK promotes intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma development, whereas deletion of FAK strongly suppresses its initiation and progression. Combined FAK and CDK4/6 inhibitor treatment had a strong anti-cancer effect in in vitro and in vivo models. This combination therapy might represent a valuable and novel treatment against human intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma.
Lay Summary:   In this study, we uncovered the dual and opposing roles of the androgen receptor in VETC (vessels encapsulating tumor clusters)-dependent and invasion-dependent metastasis of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). We elucidated the underlying mechanisms of these processes, which provided novel insights into the complex regulatory network of the androgen receptor in HCC metastasis and may have important implications for precision medicine.
Lay Summary:   Alcoholic hepatitis is characterized by inflammation and a life-threatening alteration of liver regeneration, although the mechanisms behind this have not been identified. Herein, we show that liver samples from patients with alcoholic hepatitis are characterized by profound deregulation of the Hippo/YAP pathway with uncontrolled activation of YAP in hepatocytes. We used human cell and mouse models to show that inhibition of YAP reverts this hepatocyte defect and could be a novel therapeutic strategy for alcoholic hepatitis.
Lay Summary:   Porto-sinusoidal vascular disease is a rare but life-shortening disease that affects mainly young people. Knowledge of the disrupted pathways involved in its development will help to identify novel therapeutic targets and new treatments. Using a systems biology approach, we identify that pathways regulating endothelial function and tone may act as drivers of porto-sinusoidal vascular disease.