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Current Issue

March - April, 2017

Vol. 16 Issue 2

On the cover: The Official Journal of the Mexican Association of Hepatology, the Latin-American Association for Study of the Liver and the Canadian Association for the Study of the Liver

EDITORIALS

OPINIONS

VIEWPOINTS

  • Hepatitis B and NAFLD: Lives Crossed María L. Morales, Carmen Sendra, Manuel Romero-Gomez Page 185-187

    Hepatitis B virus infection seems to protect against steatosis and insulin resistance decreasing NAFLD. Metabolic syndrome has been associated with increased risk of disease progression to cirrhosis and liver cancer in hepatitis B. HBsAg seroclearance increased over time and it could be a confounding factor when analysing NAFLD and hepatitis B prevalence.

CONCISE REVIEW

  • Combination of Ledipasvir and Sofosbuvir for Treatment of Hepatitis C Virus Genotype 1 Infection: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis Mohammad S. Rezaee-Zavareh, Khashayar Hesamizadeh, Bita Behnava, Seyed M. Alavian, Mohammad Gholami-Fesharaki, Heidar Sharafi Page 188-197

    Background and aim. The combination of Sofosbuvir (SOF) and Ledipasvir (LDV) has been lead to considerable enhancement of treatment of hepatitis C virus (HCV) genotype 1 infection. A meta-analysis of the currently available studies was undertaken with the aim to evaluate the antiviral efficacy of SOF/LDV therapy for 12 or 24 weeks with or without Ribavirin (RBV) in patients with HCV genotype 1 infection. Material and methods. In this meta-analysis, we searched databases including PubMed, Scopus, Science Direct and Web of Science using appropriate keywords. All papers which evaluated the efficacy of combination therapy of SOF/LDV with or without RBV for 12 or 24 weeks among patients with HCV genotype 1 infection were included. Results. The 20 published articles were assessed for eligibility and finally 10 articles pooling 2248 participants were included in this meta-analysis. Pooled SVR12 for four SOF/LDV regimens were 95% (95%CI = 93%-97%) for 12 weeks of treatment with SOF/LDV, 97% (95%CI = 95%-98%) for 24 weeks of treatment with SOF/LDV, 96% (95%CI = 94%-97%) for 12 weeks of treatment with SOF/ LDV/RBV and 98% (95%CI = 97%-99%) for 24 weeks of treatment with SOF/LDV/RBV. Only in treatment regimen of SOF/LDV for 12 weeks, cirrhosis had a significant effect on the SVR12 (OR = 0.21, 95%CI = 0.07-0.66). Furthermore, NS5A resistance-associated substitutions at baseline were associated with decrease in the rate of SVR (OR = 0.31, 95%CI = 0.2-0.5). Conclusions. The Interferon-free regimen of SOF/LDV for 12 or 24 weeks with or without RBV is highly effective for treatment of patients with HCV genotype 1 infection.

ORIGINAL ARTICLES

Clinical Studies

Viral Hepatitis
  • Viral Outcome in Patients with Occult HBV Infection or HCV-Ab Positivity Treated for Lymphoma Maria Guarino, Marco Picardi, Anna Vitiello, Novella Pugliese, Matilde Rea, Valentina Cossiga, Fabrizio Pane, Nicola Caporaso, Filomena Morisco Page 198-206

    HBV and HCV reactivation has been widely reported in patients undergoing immunosuppressive therapy for oncohaematological diseases. We aimed to evaluate the HBV and HCV reactivation events in patients with non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) or Hodgkin lymphoma (HL) underwent cytotoxic chemotherapy containing or not rituximab. This is a retrospective observational study, including all patients with NHL and HL attending an Italian tertiary referral hospital, the University of Naples �Federico II�. A total of 322 patients were enrolled. We evaluated serum HBV and HCV markers. A total of 47 (38%) patients with occult HBV infection were enrolled. Seven/47 were treated with therapeutic cytotoxic schedule containing rituximab. Of them, 6/7 received prophylaxis with lamivudine. HBV reactivation was observed in two patients treated with rituximab. A reactivation was observed in the only patient (HBcAb+/HBsAb+) not receiving lamivudine prophylaxis, and the other one was observed in 1 patient with isolated HBcAb positivity during lamivudine prophylaxis. Moreover, 8 patients with HCV-Ab positivity were enrolled. No viral reactivation was observed in these patients. In conclusion, patients with occult HBV infection receiving chemotherapy containing rituximab for lymphoma without antiviral prophylaxis are at risk of viral reactivation. On the contrary, there is no risk of reactivation in patients undergoing rituximab-free schedule. Our findings suggest that there is also very low risk of HCV reactivation. This preliminary report underlines the concept that HBV reactivation is strongly related to the type of immunosuppressive therapy administered and that antiviral prophylaxis needs to be tailored.

  • Lamivudine, Entecavir, or Tenofovir Treatment of Hepatitis B Infection: Effects on Calcium, Phosphate, FGF23 and Indicators of Bone Metabolism Ramesh Saeedi, Ali Mojebi-Mogharar, Supna K. Sandhu, Joshua A. Dubland, Jo-Ann Ford, Masoud Yousefi, Morris Pudek, Daniel T. Holmes, Siegfried R. Erb, Wing C. Peter Kwan, David L. Kendler, Eric M. Yoshida Page 207-214

    Background. Patients with chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) are often treated with nucleoside/nucleotide antiviral agents and metabolic bone toxicity is a possible concern. Objective. To determine the relationships between fibroblast growth factor 23 (FGF23), a phosphaturic hormone, bone mineral density (BMD), and bone biochemical abnormalities in these patients. Material and methods. This is a cross-sectional observational study comparing HBV-infected subjects treated for at least one year with tenofovir (TDF), lamuvidine (LVD), entacavir (ETV), or not treated (CON). Patients with abnormalities in either calcium (Ca), phosphate (PO4), intact parathyroid hormone (iPTH) or FGF23 were further evaluated with BMD by DXA. Results. No difference in liver enzymes or renal function seen among groups, but hypophosphatemia was seen in all groups with the highest incidence with TDF-treatment (14%). FGF 23 levels were found to be elevated in 11.1% of TDF patients, 2.77% amongst controls. No elevations were found in the LVD or ETV groups. Among a subset of subjects (FGF23, PO4, and/or Ca abnormalities) who underwent further evaluation, 67% had insufficient 25-OH vitamin D, and 30% had elevated 24 h urinary Ca or PO4 excretion. No patients with FGF23 abnormalities had urine abnormalities. 40% had low DXA Z-score (<-2) at spine or hip but there was no difference between control and antiviral treatment groups and the mean FRAX score was 2.33% for major osteoporotic fractures and 0.29% for hip fracture. Conclusion. Abnormalities in bone metabolism, particularly involving vitamin D insufficiency, in HBV-treated subjects were observed with a small increased likelihood in TDF treated patients.

  • Effect of Treatment with Direct Acting Antiviral on Glycemic Control in Patients with Diabetes Mellitus and Chronic Hepatitis C Jonathan G. Stine, Javelle A. Wynter, Blake Niccum, Virginia Kelly, Stephen H. Caldwell, Neeral L. Shah Page 215-220

    Introduction and aim. The effect of the new direct acting antiviral drugs (DAAs) for chronic hepatitis C (HCV) on glycemic control is unknown. Materials and methods. We conducted a retrospective cohort study of patients who were treated for chronic HCV with direct-acting antiviral medications at a single academic institution between May 2013 and April 2016. Univariate analysis was performed comparing subjects pre- and post-treatment. Results. One hundred seventy-five consecutive adult patients were treated for chronic HCV and met enrollment criteria. The majority (80.8%) were genotype 1 and overall cohort sustained virologic response at week 12 (SVR12) was 97.8%. Thirty-one (18.5%) had diabetes mellitus (DM); twenty-six had pre- and post-treatment HbA1c values. Of these, 76.9% were male and 61.5% had cirrhosis. Ninety-six percent were prescribed sofosbuvir-based therapy and all but one (96.8%) achieved SVR12. Three patients were started on treatment despite meeting the definition for poorly controlled DM (HbA1c > 9 mg/dL). There was no significant difference when comparing pre-treatment (7.36 mg/dL, 95% CI 6.55-8.16) to post-treatment HbA1c (7.11 mg/dL, 95% CI 6.34-7.88, p = 0.268). Thirty-one percent of subjects required dose escalation or the initiation of insulin based therapy during treatment. Discussion. Although chronic HCV is associated with exacerbation of insulin resistance, our results showed HbA1c to be unaffected by eradication of chronic HCV with DAA in diabetic patients with and without cirrhosis. Paradoxically, almost 1/3 of patients required escalation of anti-diabetic therapy during treatment. Long-term studies are warranted to understand the relationship between HCV viral eradication and insulin metabolism.

  • High Prevalence of ITPA Alleles Associated with Ribavirin-Induced Hemolytic Anemia Among Mexican Population Karina González-Aldaco, Arturo Panduro, João R. Rebello Pinho, Erika Martínez-López, Ketti Gleyzer, Nora A. Fierro, Sonia Roman Page 221-229

    Background. The prevalence of two functional polymorphisms (rs1127354 and rs7270101) of the inosine triphosphatase (ITPA) gene associated with ribavirin-induced hemolytic anemia (RIHA) during antiviral therapy for hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection varies by ethnicity. In Mexico, the distribution of these polymorphisms among Native Amerindians (NA) and admixed population (Mestizos) is unknown. This study aimed to determine the prevalence of the ITPA polymorphisms among healthy NA and Mestizos, as well as in HCV patients from West Mexico. Material and methods. In a cross-sectional study, 600 unrelated subjects (322 Mestizos, 100 NA, and 178 treatment-na�ve, HCV-infected Mestizos patients) were enrolled. A medical history was registered. ITPA genotype was determined by Real-Time PCR. Fst-values and genetic relatedness between study and reference populations were assessed. Results. The frequency of the risk genotypes rs1127354CC and rs7270101AA was higher among NA (98-100%) than in Mestizos (87-92.9%), (p < 0.05). The NA presented the highest prevalence of the rs1127354CC genotype reported worldwide. The Fst-values revealed a genetic relatedness among Mexican NA, South Americans and African populations (p > 0.05). The frequency of the predicted risk for RIHA was higher among NA (98%) than in Mestizos (80.5%) and HCV-infected patients (81.5%) (p < 0 .01). The CC/AA alleles were associated with lower values of total bilirubin, aspartate/alanine aminotransferases, and aspartate-to-platelet-ratio-index score among HCV-patients. Conclusion. A high prevalence of the ITPA polymorphisms associated with RIHA was found in Mexican NA. These polymorphisms could be a useful tool for evaluating potential adverse effects and the risk or benefit of antiviral therapy in Mexicans and other admixed populations.

Liver transplantation
  • Interaction of Gender and Hepatitis C in Risk of Chronic Renal Failure After Liver Transplantation Stephen Ip, Trana Hussaini, Aliya Daulat, Nilufar Partovi, Siegfried R. Erb, Eric M. Yoshida, Vladimir Marquez Page 230-235

    Background. Chronic renal failure (CRF) is a significant cause of morbidity and mortality in post-liver transplantation (LT) recipients. The risk factors associated with the development of renal dysfunction are not clearly elucidated. Objectives. To examine the risk factors in the development of CRF in these patients. Material and methods. Retrospective case-cohort of liver transplant patients without baseline kidney dysfunction who developed chronic renal failure during their follow-up. Results. Of 370 patients, 254 met the inclusion criteria. 30% (76) of these patients had CRF of which 57% (43) were male. Age, estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) at discharge, and HCV infection were found to be risk factors for CRF post-LT. The odds ratio of developing CRF was 1.4 (0.6-3.3) in males with HCV, 1.6 (0.7-3.9) in females without HCV and 4.4 (1.5-13.2) among females with HCV when compared to men without HCV. Conclusions. In this cohort of LT receipients of a major Canadian city, age, eGFR, and HCV infection were risk factors for CRF. Female gender and HCV increased this odds by a factor of more than 4.

  • Clinical Impact of Portal Vein Thrombosis Prior to Liver Transplantation: A Retrospective Cohort Study Constantine J. Karvellas, Filipe S. Cardoso, Marco Senzolo, Malcolm Wells, Mansour G. Alghanem, Fayaz Handou, Lukasz Kwapisz, Norman M. Kneteman, Paul J. Marotta, Bandar Al-Judaibi Page 236-246

    Introduction. To identify the impact of portal vein thrombosis (PVT) and associated medical and surgical factors on outcomes post liver transplant (LT). Material and methods. Two analyses were performed. Analysis One: cohort study of 505 consecutive patients who underwent LT (Alberta) between 01/2002-12/2012. PVT was identified in 61 (14%) patients. Analysis Two: cohort study of 144 consecutive PVT patients from two sites (Alberta and London) during the same period. Cox multivariable survival analysis was used to identify independent associations with post-LT mortality. Results. In Analysis One (Alberta), PVT was not associated with post-LT mortality (log rank p = 0.99). On adjusted analysis, complete/occlusive PVT was associated with increased mortality (Hazard Ratio (HR) 8.4, p < 0.001). In Analysis Two (Alberta and London), complete/occlusive PVT was associated with increased mortality only on unadjusted analysis (HR 3.7, p = 0.02). On adjusted analysis, Hepatitis C (HR 2.1, p = 0.03) and post-LT portal vein re-occlusion (HR 3.2, p = 0.01) were independently associated with increased mortality. Conclusion: Well-selected LT patients who had PVT prior to LT had similar post-LT outcomes to non-PVT LT recipients. Subgroups of PVT patients who did worse post-LT (complete/occlusive thrombosis pre-LT, Hepatitis C or post-LT portal vein re-occlusion) warrant closer evaluation in listing and management post-LT.

Hepatocellular Carcinoma (HCC)
  • Combination of TACE and Sorafenib Improves Outcomes in BCLC Stages B/C of Hepatocellular Carcinoma: A Single Centre Experience Joy Varghese, Chandan K. Kedarisetty, Jayanthi Venkataraman, Vijaya Srinivasan, Thiruchunapalli Deepashree, Mangerira Chinnappa Uthappa, Kaliamurthy Ilankumaran, Sanjay Govil, Mettu S. Reddy, Mohamed Rela Page 247-254

    Background & Aim. Transarterial chemoembolization (TACE) or sorafenib is recommended for hepatocellular carcinoma BCLC stages B and C respectively. We studied the role of combination of TACE and sorafenib in BCLC stages B/C. Material and methods. We undertook an observational study on a cohort of cirrhotics with HCC from August 2010 through October 2014. Patients in BCLC stages B/C who had received TACE and/or sorafenib were included. mRECIST criteria were used to assess tumor response. The primary end point was overall survival. Results. Out of 124 patients, 47.6% were in BCLC-B and 52.4% in BCLCC. Baseline characteristics were comparable. The predominant etiology was cryptogenic (37.2% and 38.5%, p = NS). 49.1% in BCLC-B and 56.9% in BCLC-C had received TACE+sorafenib. In BCLC-B, the overall survival improved from 9 months (95% CI 6.3-11.7) using TACE only to 16 months (95% CI 12.9-19.1) using TACE+sorafenib (p < 0.05). In BCLC-C, addition of TACE to sorafenib improved the overall survival from 4 months (95%CI 3-5) to 9 months (95%CI 6.8-11.2) (p < 0.0001). As per mRECIST criteria, patients on TACE+sorafenib had reduced progressive disease (37.8% vs. 83.3%), improved partial response (43.2% vs. 3.3%) and one had complete response compared to those on sorafenib alone (p < 0.0001) in BCLC-C but not in BCLC-B group. Hand foot syndrome was noted in 27.7% patients on sorafenib and post TACE syndrome in 80.2% patients, but both were reversible. No major adverse events were noted. Conclusion. TACE+sorafenib was more effective than TACE or sorafenib alone in HCC BCLC stages B or C with a significant survival benefit and improved tumour regression especially in BCLC-C patients.

  • Practical Considerations of Real Life of Hepatocellular Carcinoma in a Tertiary Center of Brazil Sandra R. Almeida-Carvalho, Maria L. Gomes-Ferraz, Carla A. Loureiro-Matos, Antônio E. Benedito-Silva, Roberto J. Carvalho-Filho, Rogério Renato-Perez, Adriano Miziara-Gonzalez, Alcides A. Salzedas-Netto, Denis Szejnfeld, Giuseppe D'Ippolito, Valéria Pereira-Lanzoni, Ivonete S. Souza-Silva Page 255-262

    Background. Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the most common malignancy that develops in cirrhotic livers. Its clinical and epidemiological characteristics and mortality rates vary according to geographical region. The objective of this study was to evaluate the clinical profile, epidemiological characteristics, laboratory parameters, treatment and survival of patients with HCC. Material and methods. Patients with HCC seen between 2000 and 2012 were studied. The Kaplan-Meier method was used for survival analysis according to variables in question. Results. The study included 247 patients with a mean age of 60 ± 10 years. There was a predominance of males (74%). The main etiologies of HCC were HCV infection (55%), excessive alcohol consumption (12%), and HBV infection (8%). Liver cirrhosis was present in 92% of cases. The mean tumor number and diameter were 2 and 5 cm, respectively. Patients meeting the Milan criteria corresponded to 43% of the sample. Liver transplantation was performed in 22.4% of patients of the Milan subset and in 10% of the whole sample. The overall mean survival was 60 months, with a 1-, 3- and 5-year survival probability of 74%, 40% and 29%, respectively. Lower survival was observed among patients with alcoholic etiology. Survival was higher among patients submitted to liver transplantation (P < 0.001), TACE (P < 0.001), or any kind of treatment (P < 0.001). However, no difference was found for surgical resection (P = 0.1) or sorafenib (P = 0.1). Conclusion. Patients with HCC were mainly older men diagnosed at an advanced stage. Treatment was associated with better overall survival, but few patients survived to be treated.

  • The Impact of Early Dermatologic Events in the Survival of Patients with Hepatocellular Carcinoma Treated with Sorafenib Fernanda Branco, Regiane S.M. Alencar, Fernanda Volt, Giovana Sartori, Andressa Dode, Luciana Kikuchi, Claudia M. Tani, Aline L. Chagas, Tulio Pfiffer, Paulo Hoff, Flair J. Carrilho, Angelo Alves de Mattos Page 263-268

    Background and Aims. The presence of dermatologic reaction as an adverse event to sorafenib treatment in patients with unresectable hepatocellular carcinoma has been indicated as a prognostic factor for survival in a recent prospective analysis. To date, this is the only clinical predictor of treatment response, which can be evaluated earlier in the treatment and, therefore, contribute to a better and more individualized patient management. Material and methods. This retrospective study included 127 patients treated with sorafenib under real-life practice conditions in two hepatology reference centers in Brazil. Demographic data, disease/medical history and time of sorafenib administration as well as adverse events related to the medication were recorded in a database. Results. Cirrhosis was present in 94% of patients, 85.6% were Child-Pugh A, 80.3%BCLC-C, 81% had vascular invasion and/or extrahepatic spread and 95% had a performance status 0 to 1.The median duration of treatment was 10.1 months (range: 0.1-47 months).The most common adverse event within the first 60 days of treatment were diarrhea (62.2%) and dermatological reaction (42%).The median overall survival for the cohort was 20 months, and it was higher for patients who developed dermatological reactions within the first 60 days compared to those who did not present this adverse event. Conclusion. This retrospective analysis showed the use of sorafenib in patients selected according to BCLC staging, and it is the first external validation of early dermatologic adverse events as a predictor of overall survival in patients with advanced hepatocellular carcinoma.

Cirrhosis
  • Age-Standardized Mortality Rates Related to Cirrhosis in Brazil from 2000 to 2012: A nationwide Analysis Hugo Perazzo, Antonio G. Pacheco, Raquel De Boni, Paula M. Luz, Juliana Fittipaldi, Sandra W. Cardoso, Beatriz Grinsztejn, Valdiléa G. Veloso Page 269-278

    Background. Cirrhosis remains the most frequent liver-related cause of death worldwide and we aimed to evaluate its burden in Brazil from 2000 to 2012. Material and methods. The Brazilian National Death Registry was analyzed from 2000 to 2012. Death by cirrhosis was defined by the presence of I85, K73 and/or K74 ICD-10 codes in contributing or underlying causes of death on the death certificate (DC). Crude mortality rates were calculated as the ratio of the absolute number of deaths and the estimated population. Mortality rates were age-adjusted by the direct standardization method using the WHO standard population. Results. A total of 265,180 deaths where cirrhosis was mentioned on the DC [77% male, aged 56 years] occurred from 2000 to 2012. Cirrhosis codes were present in 46% of liver-related deaths and 2% of all deaths in this period. Despite an increase in the absolute number of deaths (n = 18,245 to 22,340), the age-standardized mortality rates (95%CI) decreased from 13.32 (13.16-13.48) to 11.71 (11.59-11.83) per 100,000 inhabitants from 2000 to 2012 (p < 0.001). This trend was not uniform across the country, with decreases in death rates in the South [14.46 (14.07-14.87) to 10.89 (10.59-11.19)] and Southeast [15.85 (15.6-16.09) to 12.52 (12.34-12.70)] and increases in the North [8.84 (8.24-9.43) to 11.53 (11.08-11.99)] and Northeast [9.41 (9.13-9.69) to 10.93 (10.68-11.17)] (p < 0.001 for all). Conclusion. Cirrhosis remains a major public health issue, despite the reduction in mortality rates in the last decade.

  • A Randomized Controlled Trial of Procedural Techniques for Large Volume Paracentesis Amy R. Shriver, Sean R. Rudnick, Nicolas M. Intagliata, Amanda M. Wang, Stephen H. Caldwell, Patrick G. Northup Page 279-284

    Introduction. The aim of this study is to investigate large volume therapeutic paracentesis using either a z-tract or axial (coxial) technique in a randomized controlled trial. Materials and methods. In this randomized, single blind study, patients with cirrhosis undergoing outpatient therapeutic paracentesis were randomized to the z-tract or the modified angular (coaxial) needle insertion technique. Subject and procedure characteristics were compared between the groups with ascites leakage as quantified by need for dressing changes with standardized sized gauze pads as a primary endpoint and subject procedural discomfort, operator preference, and procedure complications as secondary endpoints. Results. 72 paracenteses were performed during the study period: 34 to the z-tract and 38 to the coaxial insertion technique. Following exclusions, a total of 61 paracenteses were analyzed: 30 using the z-tract technique and 31 using the coaxial technique. There were equal rates of post-procedural leakage of ascites between groups (13% in both groups, p = 1.00). Using the visual analog scale (0 - 100), there was a statistically significant increase in the subject reported pain score with the z-tract compared with the coaxial method [26.4 (95% CI 18.7 - 34.1) vs. 17.2 (95% CI 10.6 - 23.8), p = 0.04]. Mean physician rated procedure difficulty (1 - 5) was significantly higher for the z-tract versus the coaxial technique [2.1 (95% CI 1.6 - 2.6) vs. 1.5 (95% CI 1.2 - 1.8), p = 0.04]. Conclusion. When compared to the z-tract technique, the coaxial insertion technique is superior during large volume paracentesis in cirrhosis patients.

Miscellaneous
  • A New Paradigm in Gallstones Diseases and Marked Elevation of Transaminases: An Observational Study Sara Campos, Nuno Silva, Armando Carvalho Page 285-290

    Background. In clinical practice, it is assumed that a severe rise in transaminases is caused by ischemic, viral or toxic hepatitis. Nevertheless, cases of biliary obstruction have increasingly been associated with significant hypertransaminemia. With this study, we sought to determine the true etiology of marked rise in transaminases levels, in the context of an emergency department. Material and methods. We retrospectively identified all patients admitted to the emergency unit at Centro Hospitalar e Universitário de Coimbra between 1st January 2010 and 31st December 2010, displaying an increase of at least one of the transaminases by more than 15 times. All patient records were analyzed in order to determine the cause of hypertransaminemia. Results. We analyzed 273 patients – 146 males, mean age 65.1 ± 19.4 years. The most frequently etiology found for marked hypertransaminemia was pancreaticobiliary acute disease (n = 142;39.4%), mostly lithiasic (n = 113;79.6%), followed by malignancy (n = 74;20.6%), ischemic hepatitis (n = 61;17.0%), acute primary hepatocellular disease (n = 50;13.9%) and muscle damage (n = 23;6.4%). We were not able to determine a diagnosis for 10 cases. There were 27 cases of recurrence in the lithiasic pancreaticobiliary pathology group. Recurrence was more frequent in the group of patients who had not been submitted to early cholecystectomy after the first episode of biliary obstruction (p = 0.014). The etiology of hypertransaminemia varied according to age, cholestasis and glutamic-pyruvic transaminase values. Conclusion. Pancreaticobiliary lithiasis is the main cause of marked hypertransaminemia. Hence, it must be considered when dealing with such situations. Not performing cholecystectomy early on, after the first episode of biliary obstruction, may lead to recurrence.

  • Identification of Matrix Metalloproteinase-2 and 9 as Biomarker of Intrahepatic Cholestasis of Pregnancy Zhong Chen, Zongji Shen, Lingqing Hu, Mudan Lu, Yizhong Feng Page 291-296

    Intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy (ICP) is a severe liver disease uniquely occurring during pregnancy. In this study we aimed to identify novel biomarker for the diagnosis of ICP in Chinese population. 50 healthy pregnant women, 50 mild ICP patients and 48 severe ICP patients were enrolled for this study. Liver function tests, including serum total bilirubin, direct bilirubin, alanine transaminase, aspartate aminotransferase and cholyglycine, were performed in all participants. After an overnight fast serum levels of total bile acids (TBA), matrix metalloproteinase (MMP)-2 and MMP-9 were measured, and their correlation with liver function tests were analyzed. The observed increase in serum TBA in ICP patients was not statistically significant which made it unreliable for diagnosis of ICP in Chinese population. On the other hand, both MMP-2 and MMP-9 serum levels exhibited a progressive and significant elevation in mild and severe ICP patients compared with healthy pregnant women, which also positively correlated with liver function tests. Serum levels of both MMP-2 and MMP-9 could be reliably used as laboratory abnormalities for accurate diagnosis and sensitive grading of ICP in Chinese population.

Basic studies

  • Cancer Stem Cells are Depolarized Relative to Normal Stem Cells Derived from Human Livers Wendy Bautista, Jeremy Lipschitz, Andrew McKay, Gerald Y. Minuk Page 297-303

    Introduction and aim. The inability to distinguish cancer (CSCs) from normal stem cells (NSCs) has hindered attempts to identify safer, more effective therapies for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). The aim of this study was to document and compare cell membrane potential differences (PDs) of CSCs and NSCs derived from human HCC and healthy livers respectively and determine whether altered GABAergic innervation could explain the differences. Material and methods. Epithelial cell adhesion molecule (EpCAM) positive stem cells were isolated from human liver tissues by magnetic bead separations. Cellular PDs were recorded by microelectrode impalement of freshly isolated cells. GABAA receptor subunit expression was documented by reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and immunofluorescence. Results. CSCs were significantly depolarized (-7.0 ± 1.3 mV) relative to NSCs (-23.0 ± 1.4 mV, p < 0.01). The depolarized state was associated with different GABAA receptor subunit expression profiles wherein phasic transmission, represented by GAGAA α3 subunit expression, was prevalent in CSCs while tonic transmission, represented by GABAA α6 subunit expression, prevailed in NSCs. In addition, GABAA subunits α3, β3, ϒ3 and δ were strongly expressed in CSCs while GABAA π expression was dominant in NSCs. CSCs and NSCs responded similarly to GABAA receptor agonists (ΔPD: 12.5 ± 1.2 mV and 11.0 ± 3.5 mV respectively). Conclusion. The results of this study indicate that CSCs are significantly depolarized relative to NSCs and these differences are associated with differences in GABAA receptor subunit expression. Together they provide new insights into the pathogenesis and possible treatment of human HCC.

IMAGES IN HEPATOLOGY

CASE REPORTS

  • Drug-induced Liver injury Caused by Ipragliflozin Administration with Causality Established by a Positive Lymphocyte Transformation Test (LTT) and the Roussel Uclaf Causality Assessment Method (RUCAM): A Case Report Katsura Niijima, Yawara Niijima, Shuichi Okada, Masanobu Yamada Page 308-311

    A 75-year old male patient had been regularly visiting our hospital for the management of his type 2 diabetes mellitus since he was diagnosed at age 64 years. When he developed hypoglycemic episodes with sulfonylurea, ipragliflozin (50 mg/day) was started to replace the sulfonylurea therapy. However, 49 days after starting ipragliflozin, his AST increased from 13 to 622 U/L, ALT increased from 9 to 266 U/L, ALP increased from 239 to 752 U/L, and γ-GTP increased from 19 to 176 U/L. ZTT was 3.5 U, TTT was 0.4 U, and total bilirubin was 0.7 mg/dL. IgM hepatitis A antibody, hepatitis B antigen, hepatitis C virus antibody, IgM CMV antibody, and IgM EB VCA antibody were negative, whereas a lymphocyte transformation test for ipragliflozin was positive. Abdominal CT scan showed mild fatty liver but no sign of nodular lesions. Following admission to our hospital, he received liver supportive therapy with the discontinuation of ipragliflozin therapy. He was discharged from the hospital 18 days later with AST and ALT levels reduced to 20 U/L and 13 U/L, respectively. Based on the clinical presentation of this patient, it is highly important to monitor liver function along with other possible clinical complications (e.g., dehydration, ketosis, and urinary tract infection) associated with SGLT2 inhibitor therapy.

  • Aplastic Anemia and Severe Myelosuppression with Boceprevir or Simeprevir-Containing Hepatitis C Virus Treatment Alicia Senín, Teresa Broquetas, Sabela Lens, Nuria Cañete, María-Carlota Londoño, Mariana Ferraro, Xavier Forns, Antonio Salar, Jose A. Carrión Page 312-317

    The addition of the new protease inhibitors (PIs) to peg-interferon (IFN) and ribavirin (RBV), approved for chronic hepatitis C, has clearly improved sustained virological response (SVR) rates although several adverse events have been reported with this regimens, including mild hematological toxicity. Moreover, severe pancytopenia and aplastic anemia during triple therapy with telaprevir has recently been described in seven patients. We report here two cases of severe agranulocytosis/aplastic anemia using boceprevir or simeprevir in interferon-based combination and 2 additional cases of severe myelosupression in IFN-free therapy with sofosbuvir and simeprevir plus RBV. Our observations suggest that PIs could have a sort of class-effect in developing severe hematologic toxicity or, at least, an additive interaction with other potentially myelotoxic agents such as IFN or RBV that are used in the classical regimens against HCV. Unfortunately, the mechanisms behind this phenomenon are currently unknown. In conclusion, given the lifethreatening character of these complications, close monitoring is mandatory in patients under PIs based therapy to promptly detect serious hematological toxicities and to carefully evaluate treatment discontinuation. Prospective studies assessing the usefulness of RBV in the era of new IFN-free combinations are needed.

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