Lay Summaries - Volume 4 Issue 5

Lay Summary:  Considering discrepancies between pre-LT tumour assessment and explant are frequent, reassessing the risk of recurrence after LT is critical to further refine the management of patients with HCC. In a large and international cohort of patients who underwent transplantation for HCC, we designed and validated the R3-AFP model based on variables independently associated with recurrence post-LT (number of nodules, size of largest nodule, presence of MVI, nuclear grade, and last pre-LT AFP value). The R3-AFP model including last available pre-LT AFP value outperformed the original R3 model only based on explant features. The final R3-AFP scoring system provides a robust framework to design post-LT surveillance strategies, protocols, or adjuvant therapy trials, irrespective of criteria used to select patients with HCC for LT.
Lay Summary:  Alterations in the gut microbiota after transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt (TIPS) and the relationship between such alterations and post-TIPS hepatic encephalopathy (HE) remain unclear. We therefore performed this study and found that after TIPS, restoration of the gut microbiota, mainly characterised by expansion of autochthonous taxa, depletion of harmful taxa, and weakening of synergism among harmful bacteria, was inversely related to the occurrence and severity of post-TIPS HE.
Lay Summary:  In patients with untreated autoimmune hepatitis (AIH), circulating B-cell activating factor of the tumour necrosis family (BAFF), IL-21, and B-cell populations were determined. Three subgroups were identified: with (1) normal BAFF and IL-21, (2) elevated BAFF and normal IL-21, and (3) elevated IL-21. Remission after 1-year treatment occurred in 54, 34, and 0% in Groups 1, 2, and 3, respectively. Group 2 had higher bilirubin, indicating more liver dysfunction. In 25% of patients with high IL-21, AIH-PSC variant syndrome developed, but none in the other groups. Autoimmune-associated B cells were elevated and BAFF levels correlated with certain B cells.
Lay Summary:  Evidence of HDV infection was observed in approximately 5% of Canadians who were infected with HBV referred to medical specialists. HDV-positive patients were more likely to be male, born in Canada, or White or Black/African/Caribbean compared to Asian, and to have reported high-risk activities such as injection or intranasal drug use or high-risk sexual contact compared with patients infected with only HBV. Patients infected with HDV were also more likely to suffer severe liver disease, including liver cancer, compared with HBV mono-infected patients.
Lay Summary:  Although direct-acting antiviral medications effectively cure hepatitis C in most patients, sometimes treatment selects for resistant viruses, causing antiviral drugs to be either ineffective or only partially effective. Multidrug resistance is common in patients for whom DAA treatment fails. Older patients and patients with advanced liver diseases are more likely to select drug-resistant viruses. Collective efforts from international communities and governments are needed to develop an optimal approach to managing drug resistance and preventing the transmission of resistant viruses.
Lay Summary:  Autoimmune hepatitis can reduce quality of life and mental health, while stress may impact autoimmune hepatitis itself. We piloted mindfulness-based stress reduction as a strategy to reduce stress in adult patients with autoimmune hepatitis and found that the intervention reduced perceived stress and may have also impacted the disease by improving inflammation and medication needs. Stress reduction should be further studied to improve quality of life and possibly to impact disease activity in autoimmune hepatitis.
Lay Summary:  Organic solute transporter (OST) subunits OSTα and OSTβ together facilitate the efflux of conjugated bile acids into the portal circulation. Ostα knockout mice have longer and thicker small intestines and are largely protected against experimental cholestatic liver injury. Herein, we generated and characterized Ostβ knockout mice for the first time. Ostα and Ostβ knockout mice shared a similar phenotype under normal conditions. However, in cholestasis, Ostβ knockout mice had a worsened overall phenotype which indicates a separate and specific role of OSTβ, possibly as an interacting partner of other intestinal proteins.
Lay Summary:  Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is characterised by the build-up of fat in the liver, which progresses to liver dysfunction, scarring, and irreversible liver failure, and is markedly increasing in its prevalence worldwide. Here, we measured lipids and other small molecules (metabolites) in the blood with the aim of providing a comprehensive molecular overview of fat build-up, liver fibrosis, and diagnosed severity. We identify a key metabolic ‘watershed’ in the progression of liver damage, separating severe disease from mild, and show that specific lipid and metabolite profiles can help distinguish and/or define these cases.
Lay Summary:  Virus-infected hepatocytes in vivo show an increased sensitivity towards induction of cell death signaling through the TNF receptor. Studying this hepatocyte-intrinsic antiviral immune surveillance mechanism has been hampered by the absence of model systems that reciprocate the in vivo finding of increased apoptosis of virus-infected hepatocytes challenged with TNF. Herein, we report that an optimized protocol for generation of precision-cut liver slices can be used to study this hepatocyte-intrinsic surveillance mechanism ex vivo.