Impact and Implications - Volume 5 Issue 2
Lay Summary: This manuscript defines the clinical features and prognosis of individuals with BSEP deficiency involving the combination of one relatively mild and one very severe BSEP deficiency mutation. Until now, it had always been assumed that the mild mutation would be enough to ensure a relatively good prognosis. However, our manuscript shows that the prognosis of these patients is just as poor as that of patients with two severe mutations. They do not respond to biliary diversion surgery and will likely not respond to the new IBAT (ileal bile acid transporter) inhibitors, which have recently been approved for use in BSEP deficiency.
Lay Summary: When listing patients with liver cancer for transplantation, it is unclear whether a test-of-time or immediate transplantation offer better outcomes at the population level. In this study, we found that increased liver transplant waiting times are detrimental in patients with liver cancer. Furthermore, our simulation showed that a pre-operative observational period can be useful to ensure good donor liver allocation, but that its duration should not exceed 8 months.
Lay Summary: Advanced liver fibrosis is the main determinant of mortality in patients with NASH. This study showed using liver biopsies from 133 patients with NAFLD, that STAT3 activation in non-hepatocyte areas is strongly associated with fibrosis severity, inflammation, and progression to NASH. STAT3 activation was enriched in hepatic progenitor cells (HPCs) and sinusoidal endothelial cells (SECs), as determined by innovative technologies interrogating the spatial distribution of pSTAT3. Finally, STAT3 inhibition in mice resulted in reduced liver fibrosis and depletion of HPCs, suggesting that STAT3 activation in HPCs contributes to their expansion and fibrogenesis in NAFLD.
Lay Summary: The authors demonstrate that soluble egg products of the parasite S. mansoni induce hepatocellular reprogramming, causing metabolic exhaustion and a strong redox imbalance. Notably, eggs mobilize, incorporate, and store host lipids, while the metabolic reprogramming causes oxidative stress-induced DNA damage in hepatocytes, independent of the host's immune response. S. mansoni eggs take advantage of the host environment through metabolic reprogramming of hepatocytes and enterocytes. By inducing DNA damage, this neglected tropical disease might promote hepatocellular damage and thus influence international health efforts.
Lay Summary: Transarterial radioembolization (TARE) is a form of localised radiation therapy and is a potential treatment option for primary liver cancer. We observed how TARE was used in real-life clinical practice in various European countries and if any factors predict how well the treatment performs. We found that when a more complex but personalised method to calculate the applied radiation activity was used, the patient responded better than when a more generic method was used. Furthermore, we identified that general patient health, ascites and liver function can predict outcomes after TARE.
Lay Summary: Composite models were recently proposed for the selection of liver transplant (LT) candidates among individuals with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). We found that both the AFP score and Metroticket 2.0 predicted post-LT HCC recurrence and survival better than Milan criteria; the Metroticket 2.0 did not result in better reclassification for transplant selection compared to the AFP score, with predictive gaps and overlaps between the two models; patients who met low-risk thresholds for both models had the lowest 5-year recurrence rate. We propose prospectively testing the combination of both models, to further optimize the LT selection process for candidates with HCC.
Lay Summary: Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and its progressive form, non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), are the most common forms of chronic liver diseases. Currently, liver biopsies are the gold standard for diagnosing NAFLD. Blood-based biomarkers to complement liver biopsies for diagnosis of NAFLD are required. We found that activated hepatic stellate cells, a cell type central to NAFLD pathogenesis, upregulate expression of the secreted protein SPARC-related modular calcium-binding protein 2 (SMOC2). SMOC2 was elevated in blood samples from patients with NASH and may hold promise as a blood-based biomarker for the diagnosis of NAFLD.
Lay Summary: Therapeutic vaccination is a promising therapeutic option for chronic hepatitis B that may enable its cure. However, its application requires functional cooling chains during transport and storage that can hardly be guaranteed in many countries with high demand. In this study, the authors developed thermostable vaccine components that are well tolerated and that induce immune responses and control the virus in preclinical mouse models, even after long-term exposure to high surrounding temperatures. This will lower costs and ease application of a therapeutic vaccine and thus be beneficial for the many people affected by hepatitis B around the world.