Lay Summaries - Volume 3 Issue 6

Lay Summary:  This study describes a disrupted turnover of collagen type III and VI in Acute-on-chronic liver failure (ACLF). Plasma biomarkers of these collagens (PRO-C3 and PRO-C6) are associated with the severity of liver dysfunction and inflammation. PRO-C6, also known as the hormone endotrophin, has also been found to be associated with multi-organ failure and prognosis in acute decompensation and ACLF.
Lay Summary:  Class-1 phosphatidylinositides-3 kinases (PI3Ks) are critical targets in cancer therapy, but complete inhibition of all isoforms causes liver damage, hyperglycaemia, and insulinaemia. Here we show that selective ablation of the PI3Kγ isoform dampens tumour initiation and growth in a mouse model of carcinogen-initiated and obesity-promoted hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). The effect of PI3Kγ ablation on reduced tumour growth was explained by reduced tumour cell proliferation, which was associated with reduced insulin levels, liver lipids, and reduced expression of tumour-promoting cytokines. PI3Kγ ablation in leucocytes of obese mice had no effects on tumour size. However, it reduced tumour number in association with reduced carcinogen-induced neutrophil infiltration and hepatocyte proliferation in livers of obese mice. Inhibition of PI3Kγ may thus reduce HCC initiation and growth in obese subjects by a mechanism involving reduced metabolic stress and insulinaemia and reduced carcinogen-induced neutrophil infiltration to the fatty liver.
Lay Summary:  In high-risk patients, the overall distribution of LI-RADS major features and categories is not different among the histological subtypes of hepatocellular carcinoma, but tumour-in-vein, presence of LR-M features, and ancillary features can provide information for the non-invasive diagnosis of hepatocellular carcinoma subtypes.
Lay Summary:  Clinical diagnostic and surveillance of hepatic involvement in sarcoidosis has not been standardised, and management of hepatic involvement is a clinical challenge, since it remains poorly characterised in many ways. Our results show that one-third of patients with hepatic sarcoidosis presented with clinically significant portal hypertension, 14.5% suffered from cirrhosis, and 3 patients died owing to liver-related complications. Regarding pharmacological treatment options, corticosteroids and UDCA were the medical agents most frequently used, and both of them have been shown to induce biochemical response in the majority of patients. These findings highlight the importance of correctly and early identifying hepatic involvement in sarcoidosis, because of the potentially progressive course of disease.
Lay Summary:  BRII-179 is a therapeutic vaccine designed to improve the immune response in patients with chronic hepatitis B. In this study, BRII-179 alone or with a low dose of interferon-α was safe, well tolerated, and induced enhanced HBV-specific antibody and T-cell responses in patients with chronic hepatitis B. However, BRII-179 treatment alone had minimal effect on patient’s virological status. The potential of BRII-179 to achieve a functional cure in conjunction with other agents is being evaluated in the clinic.
Lay Summary:  Current guidelines recommend performing a biopsy to confirm the diagnosis of presumed hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in patients without cirrhosis. We showed that specific imaging criteria had a 100% agreement for categorizing lesions as HCC, with a positive predictive value of 93.4%. These imaging criteria could be used to diagnose HCC in HBV patients without cirrhosis with a pre-test probability of HCC of ≥70%, avoiding the need for a liver biopsy.
    Research Articles
  • Abstract Image
    Suzanne Faure-Dupuy, Tobias Riedl, Maude Rolland, Zoheir Hizir, Florian Reisinger, Katharina Neuhaus, Svenja Schuehle, Caroline Remouchamps, Nicolas Gillet, Maximilian Schönung, Mira Stadler, Jochen Wettengel, Romain Barnault, Romain Parent, Linda Christina Schuster, Rayan Farhat, Sandra Prokosch, Corinna Leuchtenberger, Rupert Öllinger, Thomas Engleitner, Karsten Rippe, Roland Rad, Kristian Unger, Darjus Tscharahganeh, Daniel B. Lipka, Ulrike Protzer, David Durantel, Julie Lucifora, Emmanuel Dejardin, Mathias Heikenwälder
    JHEP Reports, Vol. 3, Issue 6
Lay Summary:  Immune-mediated induction of cytidine deaminase APOBEC3B is transcriptionally regulated by NF-κB signalling and post-transcriptionally downregulated by hsa-miR-138-5p expression, leading to cccDNA decay. Timely controlled APOBEC3B-mediated cccDNA decay occurs independently of cccDNA transcriptional activity and without damage to a subset of cancer-related genes. Thus, APOBEC3B-mediated cccDNA decay could offer an efficient therapeutic alternative to target hepatitis B virus chronic infection.
Lay Summary:  Acute-on-chronic liver failure (ACLF) progresses rapidly and often leads to death. Liver transplantation is used as a treatment and the sickest patients are treated first. In this study, we develop a model that predicts survival in ACLF and we show that the newly developed model performs better than the currently used model for ranking patients on the liver transplant waiting list.
Lay Summary:  In this study, the prevalence of Fontan-associated liver disease (FALD) in the young adult population and clinical variables that may be predictive of fibrosis severity or adverse outcomes were explored. Several lab-based, non-invasive markers of bridging fibrosis in FALD were identified, suggesting that these values may be followed as a prognostic biomarker for FALD progression in the adolescent population.
Lay Summary:  Patients with chronic liver disease or cirrhosis and enlarged veins (varices) of the esophagus that can potentially bleed commonly need an endoscopy to treat these varices with elastic rubber bands (endoscopic band ligation). Some patients have low platelet counts or prolonged coagulation tests. This analysis of 4 centers evaluated the use of prophylactic administration of blood products in outpatients with cirrhosis undergoing endoscopic band ligation. The results showed that bleeding after band ligation is uncommon and that if bleeding occurs it does not seem to be related with coagulation tests or the administration of blood products to prevent bleeding after band ligation of esophageal varices.
Lay Summary:  Patients with cirrhosis and cured HCV are at high risk of developing liver cancer, although the risk varies substantially from one patient to the next. Risk calculator tools can alert clinicians to patients at high risk and thereby influence decision-making. In this study, we tested the performance of 6 risk calculators in more than 2,500 patients with cirrhosis and cured HCV. We show that some risk calculators are considerably better than others. Overall, we found that the ‘aMAP’ calculator worked the best, but more work is needed to convert predictions into clinical decisions.
Lay Summary:  Regardless of aetiology, patients with liver diseases have impaired quality of life. This is associated with disease progression, the presence of symptoms, treatment response, and mental, physical, and social factors such as anxiety, confusion, comorbidities, and fatigue, as well as limitations in daily living, including loneliness, low income, stigmatisation, and treatment costs. Patients highlighted the need for information to understand and manage liver disease, and awareness and support from healthcare professionals to better cope with the disease. In addition, there is a need to raise awareness of liver diseases in the general population to reduce negative preconceptions and stigmatisation.
Lay Summary:  In the setting of grade 3 acute-on-chronic liver failure (ACLF-3), questions remain regarding the timing of transplantation in terms of whether to proceed with liver transplantation with a marginal donor organ or to wait for an optimal liver, and whether to transplant a patient with ACLF-3 or wait until improvement to ACLF-2. In this study, we used a Markov decision process model to demonstrate that earlier transplantation of patients listed with ACLF-3 maximizes overall survival, as opposed to waiting for an optimal donor organ or for improvement in the number of organ failures.
Lay Summary:  Non-invasive tests for detecting fatty liver and steatohepatitis, the active form of the disease, have not been well studied in obese patients who are candidates for bariatric surgery. The most popular tests for this purpose are Fibroscan, which can be used to measure the controlled attenuation parameter (CAP), and magnetic resonance imaging, which can be used to measure the proton density fat fraction (MRI-PDFF). We found that, when taking liver biopsy as a reference, MRI-PDFF performed better than CAP for detecting and grading fatty liver as well as excluding steatohepatitis in morbidly obese patients undergoing bariatric surgery.
Lay Summary:  Immunoglobulin G4-related disease (IgG4-RD) causes tumor-like lesions and typically affects middle-aged to elderly men. The background and cause of this disease remain relatively unknown. In this study, we identified blue-collar work as a risk factor for developing IgG4-RD of the biliary tract and pancreas, which may explain the striking male predominance among patients. Furthermore, these results suggest that toxic exposure to occupational contaminants may drive autoimmunity in IgG4-RD of the biliary tract and pancreas.
Lay Summary:  Patients with decompensated cirrhosis (jaundice, fluid build-up, confusion, and vomiting blood) have high infection rates that lead to high mortality rates. A white blood cell subset, monocytes, function poorly in these patients, which is a key factor underlying their sensitivity to infection. We show that monocyte dysfunction in decompensated cirrhosis is mediated by a lipid hormone in the blood, prostaglandin E2, which is present at elevated levels, via its EP4 pathway. This dysfunction worsens when patients are hospitalised with complications of cirrhosis compared with those in the outpatients setting, which supports the EP4 pathway as a potential therapeutic target for patients to prevent infection and hospitalisation.
Lay Summary:  Ascites marks the transition from the compensated to decompensated stage in cirrhosis and indicates a worsening in prognosis. There are currently no easily accessible tools to identify patients with compensated cirrhosis at risk of developing ascites. We evaluated the levels of novel molecules termed microRNAs in the blood of patients with compensated cirrhosis and observed that miR-181b-5p can predict which patients are going to develop ascites.
Lay Summary:  The hepatitis delta virus (HDV) causes a severe form of inflammation in the liver. We developed a tool for molecular diagnostics, a polymerase chain reaction HDV assay that showed great performance. It can be used to improve diagnosis of HDV, as well as for monitoring treatment responses. The assay allows for quantification of the virus in the tested samples and is performed on a fully automated platform (cobas6800), which provides various benefits including less hands-on time and excellent comparability of test results.