Lay Summaries - Volume 77 Issue 3

    NAFLD and Alcohol-Related Liver Diseases
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    Guido A. Baselli, Oveis Jamialahmadi, Serena Pelusi, Ester Ciociola, Francesco Malvestiti, Marco Saracino, Luigi Santoro, Alessandro Cherubini, Paola Dongiovanni, Marco Maggioni, Cristiana Bianco, Federica Tavaglione, Annalisa Cespiati, Rosellina M. Mancina, Roberta D’Ambrosio, Valentina Vaira, Salvatore Petta, Luca Miele, Umberto Vespasiani-Gentilucci, Alessandro Federico, Jussi Pihlajamaki, Elisabetta Bugianesi, Anna L. Fracanzani, Helen L. Reeves, Giorgio Soardo, Daniele Prati, Stefano Romeo, Luca VC. Valenti on behalf of the EPIDEMIC Study Investigators
    Journal of Hepatology, Vol. 77, Issue 3, p596–606
    Open Access
Lay Summary:  We found that rare mutations in a gene called autophagy-related 7 (ATG7) increase the risk of developing severe liver disease in individuals with dysmetabolism. These mutations cause an alteration in protein function and impairment of self-renewal of cellular content, leading to liver damage and inflammation.
Lay Summary:  Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and its more severe form, non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), are serious liver conditions that worsen over time if untreated. The reasons people develop NASH are complex and combining therapies that target different aspects of the disease may be more helpful than using single treatments. This trial showed that the use of 3 different types of drugs, namely semaglutide, cilofexor and firsocostat, in combination was safe and may offer additional benefits over treatment with semaglutide alone.
Lay Summary:  Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and its more severe form, non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, are associated with a build-up of fat in the liver (steatosis). However, the exact mechanisms that underly steatosis in patients are not completely understood. Herein, the authors identified that the lack of a protein called VMP1 impairs the secretion and metabolism of fats in the liver and could therefore contribute to the development and progression of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.
Lay Summary:  After spontaneous hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) seroclearance, the risk of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) remains. Age at HBsAg seroclearance, presence of cirrhosis, family history of HCC, and more-than-moderate alcohol consumption were independently associated with HCC development after HBsAg seroclearance. The novel prediction model using these 4 variables enables reliable risk estimation of HCC and serves as a useful reference for decision-making in HCC surveillance and management for HBsAg-cleared patients.
    Viral Hepatitis
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    Full length article
    Man-Fung Yuen, Kosh Agarwal, Xiaoli Ma, Tuan T. Nguyen, Eugene R. Schiff, Hie-Won L. Hann, Douglas T. Dieterich, Ronald G. Nahass, James S. Park, Sing Chan, Steven-Huy B. Han, Edward J. Gane, Michael Bennett, Katia Alves, Marc Evanchik, Ran Yan, Qi Huang, Uri Lopatin, Richard Colonno, Julie Ma, Steven J. Knox, Luisa M. Stamm, Maurizio Bonacini, Ira M. Jacobson, Walid S. Ayoub, Frank Weilert, Natarajan Ravendhran, Alnoor Ramji, Paul Yien Kwo, Magdy Elkhashab, Tarek Hassanein, Ho S. Bae, Jacob P. Lalezari, Scott K. Fung, Mark S. Sulkowski
    Journal of Hepatology, Vol. 77, Issue 3, p642–652
    Open Access
Lay Summary:  Core inhibitors represent a novel approach for the treatment of chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection, with mechanisms of action distinct from existing treatments. In this study, vebicorvir added to existing therapy reduced HBV replication to a greater extent than existing treatment and was generally safe and well tolerated.
Lay Summary:  Liver inflammation is observed during SARS-CoV-2 infection but can also occur in some individuals after vaccination and shares some typical features with autoimmune liver disease. In this report, we show that highly activated T cells accumulate and are evenly distributed in the different areas of the liver in a patient with liver inflammation following SARS-CoV-2 vaccination. Moreover, within the population of these liver-infiltrating T cells, we observed an enrichment of T cells that are reactive to SARS-CoV-2, suggesting that these vaccine-induced cells can contribute to liver inflammation in this context.
Lay Summary:  In patients with cirrhosis, previous studies have suggested that platelets (i.e. circulating blood cells that help form clots to stop bleeding) are dysfunctional. In particular, these studies suggested that platelet aggregation (the process by which platelets adhere to each other to form clots) is reduced. Since platelet aggregation is important for clot formation, it has been hypothesized that alterations of platelet aggregation may be responsible for the increased risk of bleeding observed in patients with cirrhosis. Our study demonstrates: i) that platelet aggregation in patients with cirrhosis is higher than in healthy individuals; ii) that platelet aggregation in patients with decompensated cirrhosis (i.e. those who have already experienced some complications of cirrhosis) is particularly elevated and associated with risk of further complications and death.
Lay Summary:  The current randomized-controlled trial performed in critically ill patients with cirrhosis and sepsis-induced hypotension highlights that 20% albumin restores arterial pressure more quickly but causes more pulmonary complications than plasmalyte. The impact on renal functions was also modest. These effects did not result in improvement in survival at 28 days. Plasmalyte is safer and well-tolerated and can be considered for volume resuscitation in patients with cirrhosis and sepsis-induced hypotension.
Lay Summary:  Response rates to immune checkpoint blockade (ICB) treatment in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) remain modest and adverse events are common. Herein, we identified early predictors of response and gained an in-depth understanding of the immunological mechanisms behind response and adverse events in patients with HCC treated with ICB. We also proposed a new combination immunotherapy for HCC that enhances response without exacerbating adverse events.
Lay Summary:  Detection of patients with early liver cirrhosis is of importance to prevent the occurrence of complications and improve prognosis. This study demonstrates that the implementation of a structured screening program using easily obtainable measures of liver function may increase the early detection rate of cirrhosis in the general population. In this context, the ‘SEAL’ pathway represents a feasible and potentially cost-effective screening program.
Lay Summary:  The Pfizer-Biotech BNT162b2SARS-CoV-2 vaccine induced significant immunity among liver transplant recipients after a third dose. The majority of the patients developed sufficient levels of both humoral and cellular immune responses. Factors that predict non-response were older age and immunosuppressive medications.
Lay Summary:  The literature suggests that interactions between the endoplasmic reticulum and mitochondria could play a role in hepatic insulin resistance and steatosis during chronic obesity. In the present study, we reappraised the time-dependent regulation of hepatic endoplasmic reticulum-mitochondria interactions and calcium exchange, investigating reversibility and causality, in mice with diet-induced obesity. We also assessed the relevance of our findings to humans. We show that organelle miscommunication is an early causal trigger of hepatic insulin resistance and steatosis that can be improved by nutritional strategies.
Lay Summary:  Treatment options for liver fibrosis and portal hypertension still represent an unmet need. Herein, we uncovered a novel role for glycolytic enzymes in promoting stiffness-induced angiocrine signaling, which resulted in inflammation, fibrosis and portal hypertension. This work has revealed new targets that could be used in the prevention and treatment of liver fibrosis and portal hypertension.
Lay Summary:  Western diets, containing high fat and high fructose, often induce non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). Mitochondrial dysfunction is considered pathogenically linked to diet-induced NASH. We observed that the mitochondrial protease ClpP decreased in the livers of mice fed a western diet and supplementation of ClpP ameliorated western diet-induced NASH.
Lay Summary:  Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis represents the fastest growing cause of hepatocellular carcinoma. It is also associated with reduced efficacy of immunotherapy, which is the standard of care for advanced hepatocellular carcinoma. Herein, we show that non-alcoholic steatohepatitis is associated with impaired motility, metabolic function, and response to anti-PD-1 treatment in hepatic CD8+ T cells, which can be rescued by metformin treatment.