Lay Summaries - Volume 4 Issue 8

Lay Summary:  Patients with chronic obstruction of the portal vein and without cirrhosis or malignancy can develop complications related to the high pressure in the venous system. The present study reports long-term favourable outcome of patients in whom the obstruction was treated with stents.
Lay Summary:  The impact of hyperammonaemia, a common finding in patients with liver cirrhosis, on brain mitochondrial function was investigated in this study. The results show that ammonia in concentrations commonly seen in patients induces severe mitochondrial dysfunction, overproduction of damaging oxygen molecules, and profound injury and death of neurons in rat brain cells. These findings point towards a novel mechanism of ammonia-induced brain injury in liver failure and potential novel therapeutic targets.
Lay Summary:  Glycogen storage disease type Ia (GSDIa) is a rare, inherited metabolic disease that can be complicated by liver tumours (hepatocellular adenomas), which in turn may cause bleeding or progress to liver cancer. Risk factors associated with hepatocellular adenoma formation in patients with GSDIa are largely unknown. In our study, we found that high serum triglyceride concentrations during childhood, but not specific genetic variants, were associated with increased risk of hepatocellular adenoma diagnosis later in life.
Lay Summary:  Decompensation (the development of symptoms as a result of worsening liver function) marks a turning point in the disease course for patients with cirrhosis. Ascites (i.e., the accumulation of fluid in the abdomen) is the most common first decompensating event, yet little is known about the clinical course of patients who develop ascites as a single first decompensating event. Herein, we show that the severity of ascites is associated with mortality and that in patients with moderate ascites, the widely used prognostic MELD score can predict patient outcomes.
Lay Summary:  Brain dysfunction is a serious complication of cirrhosis and affects approximately 30% of these patients; however, its treatment continues to be an unmet clinical need. This study shows that oxygen concentration in the brain of an animal model of cirrhosis is markedly reduced. Low arterial blood pressure and increased ammonia (a neurotoxin that accumulates in patients with liver failure) are shown to be the main underlying causes. Experimental correction of these abnormalities restored oxygen concentration in the brain, suggesting potential therapeutic avenues to explore.