Lay Summaries - Volume 4 Issue 10

Lay Summary:  Hepatitis B infection is highly endemic in Senegal. Screening for infection can be done outside hospitals, in communities or workplaces. However, the hepatitis B continuum of care is suboptimal in Senegal and needs to be simplified to scale-up diagnosis and treatment coverage.
Lay Summary:  It was previously shown that patients with decompensated cirrhosis could be stratified into 3 groups based on their short-term clinical prognoses. Herein, we showed that this stratification applies to patients who develop cirrhosis as a result of hepatitis B virus infection. We also developed a precipitant-based model (i.e. a model that incorporated information about the exact cause of decompensation) that could predict the likelihood of these patients developing a very severe liver disease called acute-on-chronic liver failure (or ACLF).
Lay Summary:  Convenient small animal models are required for the study of chronic hepatitis E in humans. We developed an animal model of chronic hepatitis E by suppressing immune responses of rats with drugs commonly taken by humans as organ transplant rejection prophylaxis. This model closely mimicked features of chronic hepatitis E in humans.
Lay Summary:  Chronic hepatitis delta (CHD) is a viral disease caused by HDV, which requires the presence of HBV to propagate. HDV infection can cause rapid progression to cirrhosis, among other severe complications. The prevalence of CHD worldwide is controversial, and the infection often goes unrecognised, mainly because of unawareness among physicians. Use of reflex testing in other viral hepatitis has proven to increase detection and linking-to-care of infected patients. Implementation of anti-HDV testing in all HBsAg-positive patients has led to a 5-fold increase in the number of HDV diagnoses in an academic hospital and primary care centres.
Lay Summary:  Liver transplantation is a life-saving treatment for many patients with end-stage liver disease. However, it can be associated with complications involving the bile duct reconstruction. Herein, the placement of a specific stent called an intraductal removable stent was trialled as a way of reducing bile duct complications in patients undergoing liver transplantation. Unfortunately, it did not help preventing such complications.
Lay Summary:  Acetaminophen-induced acute liver injury is one of the major global health issues, owing to its high incidence, potential severity, and limited therapeutic options. Our current understanding of its pathogenesis is incomplete. Herein, we have shown that reduced NEK7 (a protein with a key role in the cell cycle) exacerbates acetaminophen-induced acute liver injury. Hence, NEK7 could be a possible therapeutic target for the prevention or treatment of this condition.
Lay Summary:  Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), often referred to as “forever chemicals” because they are difficult to break down and stay in the human body for years, are extremely common and can cause liver damage. In a first of its kind study, we found that exposure to high levels of perfluorooctanesulfonic acid, one of the most common PFAS chemicals, was linked to increased risk of hepatocellular carcinoma in humans. Hepatocellular carcinoma is difficult to treat and is one of the most common forms of liver cancer, and these findings may provide new avenues for helping to prevent this disease.
Lay Summary:  Current treatments for chronic hepatitis B are rarely able to induce a functional cure. This is partly because of the presence of a pool of circular viral DNA in the host nucleus, as well as viral DNA fragments that are integrated into the host genome. Herein, we show that a host biological pathway called neddylation could play a key role in infection and viral DNA integration. Inhibiting this pathway could hold therapeutic promise for patients with chronic hepatitis B.
Lay Summary:  Rising hepatitis B-related morbidity and mortality is a major public health concern. However, the development of highly effective medicines against hepatitis B virus (HBV) has brought renewed optimism for its elimination by 2030. This study shows a steady decline in HBV-related liver morbidity and mortality in New South Wales, Australia. Moreover, late hepatitis notification has also declined, allowing individuals with HBV to have access to timely antiviral treatment. Despite this, hepatitis C co-infection and alcohol use disorder are key modifiable risk factors associated with HBV disease burden. To attain the desired benefits from highly effective antiviral treatment, managing comorbidities, including hepatitis C and high alcohol use, must improve among individuals with hepatitis B.
Lay Summary:  Distinguishing between inflammatory liver diseases without multiple tests can be challenging due to their clinically similar characteristics. To lay the groundwork for the development of a non-invasive blood-based diagnostic across a range of liver diseases, we compared samples from participants with alcohol-associated hepatitis, alcohol-associated cirrhosis, chronic hepatitis C infection, and non-alcohol-associated fatty liver disease. We used a machine learning computational approach to demonstrate that gene expression data generated from either liver tissue or blood samples can be used to discover a small set of gene biomarkers for effective diagnosis of these liver diseases.