Lay Summaries - Volume 76 Issue 5
Lay Summary: Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a chronic disease primarily caused by excessive consumption of fat and sugar combined with a lack of exercise or a sedentary lifestyle. Herein, we show that the macrophage scavenger receptor MSR1, an innate immune receptor, mediates lipid uptake and accumulation in Kupffer cells, resulting in liver inflammation and thereby promoting the progression of NAFLD in humans and mice.
Lay Summary: The amount of fibrosis in the liver is closely associated with the risk of liver-related complications in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Liver biopsy currently remains the reference standard for the evaluation of fibrosis, but its application is limited by its invasiveness. Therefore, we evaluated the ability of non-invasive liver fibrosis tests to predict liver-related complications in NAFLD. Our results show that the blood test FIB4 and transient elastography stratify the risk of liver-related complications in NAFLD, and that transient elastography has similar prognostic accuracy as liver biopsy. These results support the use of non-invasive liver fibrosis tests instead of liver biopsy for the management of patients with NAFLD.
Lay Summary: Lower muscle mass – both quantity and quality – were associated with a higher risk of severe non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Therefore, improving muscle mass might be a protective factor against this increasing public health problem.
Lay Summary: For the first time, we show that, even amongst expert hepatopathologists, there is poor agreement regarding the number of ballooned hepatocytes seen on the same digitized histology images. This has important implications as the presence of ballooning is needed to establish the diagnosis of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), and its unequivocal absence is one of the key requirements to show ‘NASH resolution’ to support drug efficacy in clinical trials. Artificial intelligence-based approaches may provide a more reliable way to assess the range of injury recorded as “hepatocyte ballooning”.
Lay Summary: A subset of patients may achieve clearance of hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) – so-called functional cure – after withdrawal of nucleo(s)tide analogue therapy. In this multicentre study of 1,216 patients who discontinued antiviral therapy, we identified non-Asian ethnicity, HBV genotype C, and low hepatitis B surface antigen and hepatitis B core-related antigen levels as factors associated with an increased chance of HBsAg loss.
Lay Summary: A vaccine against hepatitis C virus (HCV) is needed to prevent the estimated 2 million new infections and 400,000 deaths caused by this virus each year. We developed inactivated whole HCV vaccine candidates using adjuvants licensed for human use, which, following immunization of mice, induced antibodies that efficiently neutralized all HCV genotypes with recognized epidemiological importance. HCV variants with modified envelope proteins exhibited similar immunogenicity as the virus with the original envelope proteins.
Lay Summary: Hepatitis E virus (HEV) showed a high level of resistance to alcohols and alcohol-based hand disinfectants. The addition of phosphoric acid to alcohol was essential for virucidal activity against HEV. This information should be used to guide improved hygiene measures for the prevention of HEV transmission.
Lay Summary: The utility of liver biopsy in diagnosing or staging idiosyncratic drug-induced liver injury (DILI) is unclear. Herein, we show that, in patients with suspected DILI, a liver biopsy can help physicians diagnose DILI or other causes of liver injury with more certainty.
Lay Summary: Rectal colonization by multidrug-resistant organisms (MDROs) is a prevalent problem in patients with cirrhosis requiring critical care. The pattern of colonizing bacteria is heterogeneous with relevant differences between centers. Colonization by MDROs is associated with increased risk of infection by the colonizing bacteria in the short term. This finding suggests that colonization data could be used to guide empirical antibiotic therapy and de-escalation policies in patients with cirrhosis.
Lay Summary: A balanced coagulation system is essential for preventing bleeding episodes and blood clot formation (thrombosis). Blood of patients with advanced liver disease may have increased coagulation potential, possibly promoting the worsening of liver disease via thrombosis in the blood vessels of the liver. The ratio between the results of 2 blood tests (procoagulant factor VIII to anticoagulant protein C) has been suggested to reflect these increases in coagulation potential. Our study demonstrates, on the one hand, that this ratio is a versatile predictor of the development of complications of cirrhosis, yet on the other hand, that it is unrelated to coagulation.
Lay Summary: Statin therapy has been shown to have numerous beneficial effects in patients with chronic liver disease. This study demonstrated a strong association between statin therapy and a reduced risk of acute-on-chronic liver failure development in patients with cirrhosis. The results of this study support the promising role that statins may play in future prevention of acute-on-chronic liver failure in patients with cirrhosis.
Lay Summary: This is, to date, the largest international (pan-European: 26 hospitals and 11 countries) observational study, in which the course of cholangiocarcinoma has been investigated, comparing the 3 subtypes based on the latest International Classification of Diseases 11th Edition (ICD-11) (i.e., intrahepatic [2C12], perihilar [2C18], or distal [2C15] affected bile ducts), which come into effect in 2022. General and tumor-type specific features at diagnosis, risk factors, biomarker accuracy, as well as patient management and outcomes, are presented and compared, outlining the current clinical state of cholangiocarcinoma in Europe.
Lay Summary: Acute-on-chronic-liver-failure (ACLF) is a specific and common form of liver failure associated with high death rates. Studies have been published using the United States transplant registry (UNOS) to identify and describe outcomes of transplant candidates and recipients with ACLF, and these data are driving policy changes for transplant allocation around the world, but nobody has shown whether these data are reliable. We found that UNOS was not categorizing ACLF in concordance or accurately when compared to chart review, which shows the need for UNOS reform and non-UNOS studies to appropriately inform policies regarding the transplantation of patients with ACLF.
Lay Summary: The impact of human liver stromal cells on myeloid cell maturation and differentiation in liver disease is incompletely understood. In this study, we present a mechanistic analysis using a primary in vitro human liver stromal-myeloid coculture system that is translated to liver disease using single-cell RNA sequencing analysis of cirrhotic and non-cirrhotic human liver tissue. Our work supports a role for stromal cell contact in restricting macrophage maturation and for stromal-derived IL-6 in limiting the differentiation of a cirrhotic macrophage subset.
Lay Summary: Radiotherapy benefits patients with unresectable or advanced hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), but its effectiveness is hampered by radioresistance. Herein, we uncovered a novel role for copper in promoting the radioresistance of HCCs. This work has revealed new targets and potential treatment strategies that could be used to sensitize HCC to radiotherapy.