Lay Summaries - Volume 1 Issue 3

Lay Summary: Primary biliary cholangitis (PBC) is a chronic immune-associated cholestatic liver disease with unclear complex/multifactorial etiopathogenesis affecting mostly middle-aged women. Patients with PBC exhibit reduced expression of the AE2/SLC4A2 gene. Herein, we found that AE2 promoter regions are hypermethylated in the liver and peripheral blood mononuclear cells of patients with PBC. This increased methylation is associated with downregulated AE2-gene expression, which might contribute to the pathogenesis of PBC. Therefore, novel epigenetic targets may improve treatment in patients with PBC who respond poorly to current pharmacological therapies.
Lay Summary: These findings show that patients with non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) experience a significant burden of illness, in terms of health-related quality of life, work productivity and activity impairment, and healthcare resource use. As there is currently no approved treatment for NASH, these findings highlight the unmet medical need of patients with NASH.
Lay Summary: Liver cancer, a major cause of cancer death among US males, is increasing. The causes of liver cancer are varied, including hepatitis C, hepatitis B, alcohol-related liver disease, and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Racial/ethnic groups are impacted differently, but the highest rates are seen among US-born men born between 1945–1965, the so-called “baby boomers”, whether White, Black, or Hispanic, likely linked to the known high prevalence of hepatitis C infection among this cohort.
Lay Summary: Hepatitis B virus (HBV)-specific T cell responses during chronic infection are weak due to the upregulation of inhibitor molecules on the immune cells. In this study we show that the inhibitory PD-1:PD-L1 axis is upregulated during chronic HBV infection and successful antiretroviral therapy does not restore normal levels of PD-1 and PD-L1 expression. However, in HBV e antigen-negative patients, treatment with an anti-PD-L1 antibody can increase the functionality of HBV-specific T cell responses by an average of 2-fold and is a promising new therapy for patients with chronic HBV infection.
Lay Summary: Acute-on-chronic liver failure is a devastating syndrome that can follow acute decompensation of chronic liver disease. Herein, we demonstrate that these patients accumulate DNA released from dying cells in their blood, and that the quantity of this DNA is related to the outcome of disease. We also show that outcome of disease is not related to recently described neutrophil extracellular traps, which have been shown in animal models to play vital roles in the progression of liver diseases.
Lay Summary: We performed a comprehensive, independent evaluation of a collagen biomarker (PRO-C3) to detect and quantify liver fibrosis in patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). We report the development of 2 diagnostic panels using PRO-C3 to identify patients with advanced fibrosis, one optimal but more complex to calculate (FIBC3), the other easier to use (ABC3D) whilst still performing well.
Lay Summary: A genetic variant in patatin-like phospholipase domain-containing protein 3 (or PNPLA3) is the most important genetic determinant of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). However, it is not known how transcriptional regulation of the PNPLA3 gene contributes to the disease characteristics of human NAFLD. Herein, we show that the mRNA levels of PNPLA3, particularly in the cytoplasm, are negatively associated with the severity of NAFLD in humans.