Lay Summaries - Volume 4 Issue 1

Lay Summary:  This study clearly demonstrates that the alterations of enterohepatic bile acids significantly contribute to the development of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis in relevant preclinical models. Indeed, experimental modulation of bile acid composition restored perturbed FXR and TGR5 signaling and prevented non-alcoholic steatohepatitis and associated metabolic disorders.
Lay Summary:  Gene correction restored ATP7B function in hepatocytes derived from induced pluripotent stem cells that originated from a patient with Wilson’s disease. These gene-corrected hepatocytes are potential cell sources for autologous cell therapy in patients with Wilson’s disease.
Lay Summary:  By using a clinic-ready small-molecule inhibitor, we demonstrate that selective ROCK2 inhibition prevents and reverses hepatic fibrosis through its pleiotropic effects on pro-inflammatory immune cell function. We show that ROCK2 mediates increased IL-17 production, antibody production, and macrophage dysregulation, which together drive fibrogenesis in a model of chemical-induced liver fibrosis. Therefore, in this study, we not only highlight the therapeutic potential of ROCK2 targeting in chronic liver disease but also provide previously undocumented insights into our understanding of cellular and molecular pathways driving the liver fibrosis pathology.
Lay Summary:  Liver biopsies from patients with chronic hepatitis B were submitted to RNA-Seq and multiplex immunofluorescence and identified two different liver immune microenvironments: immune high and immune low. Immune high patients showed elevated immune pathways, including interferon signaling pathways, and increase presence of immune cells. Longitudinal analysis of biopsies from treatment experienced patients showed that treatment correlates with a marked decrease in inflammation and these findings may have important implications for both safety and efficacy of immune modulator programs for HBV cure.
Lay Summary:  Pegbelfermin (PGBF) is a hormone that is currently being studied in clinical trials for the treatment of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. In this study, we show that PGBF treatment can reduce bile acids that have previously been shown to have toxic effects on the liver. Additional studies to understand how PGBF regulates bile acids may provide additional information about its potential use as a treatment for fatty liver.
Lay Summary:  Patients with liver cirrhosis who develop ascites have an increased risk of infection and mortality. Our study shows that in patients with infected ascites, the complement receptor VSIG4 is released by resident macrophages into the abdominal fluid where it can be measured. Patients with elevated levels of this protein in ascites are at high risk of dying within 90 days.
Lay Summary:  Although reference guidelines are available to guide the management of patients with NASH, these are not widely used and there is a lack of national guidelines. Our study shows how clinical practice in the EU, Canada, and Middle East differs from proposed standard of care, particularly relating to how patients are diagnosed and treated. Wider establishment of, awareness of, and reference to guidelines may improve how physicians identify and manage patients with NASH.
Lay Summary:  The early identification of hepatocellular carcinoma in patients with cirrhosis is important to improve patient outcomes. Magnetic resonance imaging could increase early tumour detection but is more expensive and less accessible than ultrasound (the standard modality for surveillance). Herein, using a simple score, we identified a subgroup of patients with cirrhosis (accounting for >one-third), who were at increased risk of hepatocellular carcinoma and for whom the increased expense of magnetic resonance imaging would be justified by the potential improvement in outcomes.