Vol. 12 Issue 6
On the cover: A. The hepatic lobectomy specimen showed dilated bile ducts with fibrosis of their walls and intraluminal brow and dark-green stones (arrow). B. An intraluminal calcium bilirrubinate stone is shown (Hete stain, 200x).
Hepatitis E virus is one of the most common causes of acute hepatitis worldwide, with the majority of cases occurring in Asia. In recent years, however, an increasing number of acute and chronic hepatitis E virus infections have been reported in industrialized countries. The importance of this infection resides in the associated morbidity and mortality. In acute cases, a high mortality rate has been reported in patients with previously undiagnosed alcoholic liver disease. Hepatitis E infection can become chronic in immunocompromised patients, such as solid organ transplant recipients, patients receiving chemotherapy, and HIV-infected patients, and lead to the development of hepatic fibrosis and cirrhosis. Hence, treatment strategies involving reductions in immunosuppressive regimens and therapy with ribavirin or peg-interferon have been evaluated. In terms of prevention, a promising new vaccine was recently licensed in China, although its efficacy is uncertain and potential adverse effects in risk groups such as chronic liver disease patients and pregnant women require investigation. In conclusion, physicians should be aware of hepatitis E as a cause of both acute and chronic hepatitis in immunocompromised patients. The best treatment option for HEV infection remains to be defined, but both ribavirin and peg-interferon may have a role in therapy for this condition.
Background and rationale. Chronic infection with the hepatitis C virus (HCV) is associated with a higher prevalence of insulin resistance compared to the general population. This finding is associated with hepatic steatosis, increased liver fibrosis and lower rates of sustained virological response to interferon based therapy. The relationship of insulin resistance and HCV genotype is controversial. Our aim was to compare the prevalence of insulin resistance between patients with HCV genotype 1 and 3. The association of insulin resistance, hepatic steatosis and liver fibrosis was also investigated. Results. Forty four consecutive treatment naïve patients with HCV genotypes 1 or 3, without cirrhosis and without risk factors for metabolic syndrome were prospectively included. Insulin resistance was defined as a homeostasis model assessment for insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) above 2.0. Steatosis and fibrosis were assessed histologically. Insulin resistance was found in 27 (61%) patients and significant steatosis in 37 (84%) patients. Comparison between patients with HCV genotype 1 and 3 showed insulin resistance in 15 (65%) vs. 12 (57%), respectively (P = 0.81) and steatosis in 19 (83%) vs. 18 (86%), respectively (P = 0.93). Comparison between patients with and without insulin resistance showed, respectively, a higher prevalence of significant fibrosis (56% vs. 6%; P = 0.0001), and a higher mean degree of steatosis (1.3 ± 0.72 vs. 0.76 ± 0.56; P = 0.01). Conclusions. Prevalence of insulin resistance was not different between HCV infected patients with genotype 1 vs. 3. Nevertheless, independent of HCV genotype, there was a statistically significant relationship between insulin resistance and a higher amount of liver fibrosis and steatosis.
Introduction. Liver biopsy is a complementary method for diagnosis, staging and therapeutic guidance in liver diseases, where chronic viral hepatitis are the most acknowledged causes for the indication of histopathological study. The objective is to assess the patients' profile as well as the indication and results of percutaneous liver biopsies in a tertiary hospital. Material and methods. A descriptive, cross-section study was carried out through the review of medical charts (retrospective cohort) of patients submitted to blind percutaneous liver biopsies (PLB) at a hospital in Porto Alegre, South Brazil, from October 1993 to December 2011. Results. 1,955 PLB were carried out, the mean patients' age was 44.8 years old, and 1,127 (57.65%) were men. Chronic hepatitis C was the main indication (60.5%), followed by HCV-HIV coinfection (12.2%) and chronic hepatitis B (3.5%). Seven cases (0.3%) had complications, without deaths. Conclusion. PLB is a safe method and continues to be an important option to assist patients with chronic liver disease.
Introduction. The treatment of brain dead donors with combined hormonal resuscitation protocols, including methylprednisolone (MP) and triiodothyronine (T3), among others, was developed to increase the viability and function of transplanted organs, primarily heart and lung. Even when it has regarded successful results in term of donors and organs recovery, its effects over specific parameters in organs like the liver are unknown. Material and methods. Male Sprague-Dawley rats were pretreated with MP (0.34 mg/kg) and/or T3 (0.05 mg/kg) or their vehicles, and then subjected to partial hepatectomy of 70%. Three experimental groups and their respective controls were conformed: a. T3; b. NaOH; c. MP; d. vMP; e. MP+T3 and f. vMP+NaOH. The groups were evaluated at 0, 16, 24, 72 and 120 h post surgery. The effects of this protocol on regeneration, liver mass recovery, liver injury, oxidative stress and liver function were analyzed. Results. MP+T3 pretreatment does not deleteriously affect liver regeneration after partial hepatectomy, as shown in the curve of total mass recovery, Ki67 staining and mitosis counting, and does not alter liver function. In addition, the treatment modestly decreases oxidative stress and liver injury, as evidenced by transaminases levels, histological analysis and oxidized proteins content. Conclusion. These preclinical results indicate that MP+T3 is harmless for liver tissue regeneration post hepatectomy and additionally exhibits anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects; therefore, it would not be contraindicated for the treatment of multiorgan donors in brain death and particularly, if the occurrence of small for size syndrome is suspected.
Objective. Angiotensin II, one component of renin-angiotensin system (RAS), is formed from Ang I by the catalysing of angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE). Angiotensin II plays an important role in the development of insulin resistance. ACE2, a homologue of ACE, couterregulate the actions of angiotensin II by facilitating its breakdown to angiotensin-(1-7). RAS has been implicated in the pathogenesis of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). Earlier demonstration that thiazolidinediones (TZDs) improve steatohepatitis promoted us to evaluate the change of hepatic ACE2 expression in rats with high fat diet (HFD)-induced NASH and the effects of TZDs on the hepatic ACE2 expression. Material and methods. Rats were divided into normal control group, high fat diet (HFD) group, and pioglitazone group. After 24 weeks of treatment with pioglitazone, a TZD, we evaluated changes in liver histology, insulin sensitivity, lipid metabolism, circulating RAS levels and hepatic ACE2 expression. Results. Compared with normal controls, the concentrations of serum lipid, aminotransaminase, glucose, insulin, ACE, angiotensin II, ACE2, angiotensin-(1-7) and the degree of hepatic ACE2 expression were significantly higher in rats with HFD-induced NASH. Pioglitazone significantly reduced the concentrations of serum lipid, aminotransaminase, glucose, insulin, ACE, angiotensin II while markedly raised the concentrations of serum ACE2, angiotensin-(1-7) and the degree of hepatic ACE2 expression. Conclusion. Hepatic ACE2 expression markedly increased in rats with HFD-induced NASH and was further upregulated by pioglitazone. Hepatic ACE2 may be a new target of pioglitazone treatment for NASH.
Introduction. Indians are more likely to develop alcoholic cirrhosis compared to Caucasians, though the cause remains obscure. North Indians tend to consume more alcohol than other parts of the country. Genetic factors are likely to play a major role in these observations. This study investigated whether 10 different polymorphisms were associated with alcohol dependence and/or cirrhosis in North Indians. These were in ADH2*2 (rs1229984), ADH3*2 (rs698), CYP2E1*1D, CYP2E1*5 (rs3813867 and rs2031920), TNF-α (rs1800629), TNF-α (rs361525), IL-1β (rs3087258), CD-14 (rs2569190), IL-10 (rs1800872) and PNPLA3 (rs738409). Material and methods. Hundred healthy controls and 120 chronic alcoholics (60 alcoholic noncirrhotics and 60 alcoholic cirrhotics) attending various departments of PGIMER, Chandigarh were genotyped using PCR-RFLP methods. Results. Alcoholic cirrhotics compared to healthy individuals demonstrated a statistically significant increase in PNPLA3 (10109G) allele (p = 0.037, OR = 2.12, 95% CI 1.29-3.4). Rest of the associations were not significant after correction for multiple testing. Conclusion. PNPLA3 10109G predisposed North Indian subjects to alcoholic cirrhosis.
Background. Endothelial dysfunction has been previously described in metabolic syndrome patients. The levels of circulating endothelial progenitor cells (EPCs) inversely correlates with the incidence of cardiovascular disease. The aim of this study was to investigate the association between NAFLD, metabolic syndrome and EPC levels. Material and methods. A cross-sectional pilot study was performed at a university hospital in Mexico. Two groups of patients without previously known chronic diseases were studied and classified according to the presence of NAFLD. Anthropometric, dietary, and biochemical variables, and circulating EPC number were measured and compared between the groups. Results. Forty subjects were included and classified into two groups: patients with NAFLD (n = 20) and a control group (n = 20). The overall prevalence of insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome was 25% and 17.5%, respectively. EPC levels were found to be higher in the NAFLD group (p < 0.05) as in the patients with insulin resistance (p < 0.01) and metabolic syndrome (p < 0.01). These levels showed correlation with the severity of steatosis. Conclusions. Patients with NAFLD have increased levels of EPC, such levels are associated with the severity of NAFLD. These findings may suggest that these cells may play a role in the early natural history of NAFLD. EPC might be increased in an attempt to repair the endothelial damage resulting from metabolic alterations accompanying NAFLD. Further studies are needed to establish the dynamics of these cells in NAFLD.
Background. Staging systems have considerable impact on hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) treatment approaches and outcomes. There is an unmet need to improve their stratification ability. We have evaluated four commonly used staging systems and assessed whether angiogenic biomarker vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) could improve their prognostic stratification. Material and methods. Four staging systems; Okuda, Cancer of the Liver Italian Program (CLIP), Barcelona Clinic Liver Cancer (BCLC), and Child- Pugh were evaluated in 78 HCC patients; their stratification abilities were detected by Kaplan-Meier curves and log-rank test; their accuracies of predicting survival were compared with the concordance index. Serum VEGF levels were measured using ELISA method. Recursive partitioning was used to determine the optimal VEGF cutoff. The prognostic significance of VEGF cutoff and other parameters were analyzed using univariate and multivariate models. Results. None of the staging systems demonstrated better discriminatory ability in predicting survival. The four staging systems did not reveal significant differences in probability of survival across their intermediate-advanced stages. Optimal cutoff identified for VEGF was 445 pg/mL. In advanced HCC, VEGF level (p = 0.004) and in early HCC, bilirubin level (p = 0.009) were identified as the independent prognostic factors. Survival comparison with high and low VEGF levels was significant for advanced HCC, while insignificant for early disease. Conclusion. Staging systems with conventional parameters did not provide good prognostic stratification for survival in advanced HCC population. Serum VEGF level was an independent predictor of survival in advanced HCC, and provided more survival homogeneity within the advanced stages of conventional staging systems.
Introduction. Gadoxetate-disodium is a liver-specific MR contrast agent absorbed by hepatocytes via organic anion transporting polypeptide 1B3 and is excreted into the biliary system by multidrug resistance-associated protein 2. It has been suggested that relative parenchymal enhancement on hepatocyte phase image is associated with hepatic function. However, it is not clear whether gadoxetate-disodium-enhanced MRI can be used as a noninvasive fibrosis marker. Thus, the purpose of our study was to evaluate the diagnostic performance of gadoxetate-disodium-enhanced MRI in predicting the hepatic fibrosis stage. Materials and methods. A total of 113 patients who had fibrosis staged according to the Batts and Ludwig score were enrolled: F0 (n = 13), F1 (n = 18), F2 (n = 15), F3 (n = 32), and F4 (n = 35). All patients underwent gadoxetate- disodium-enhanced MRI before confirmation by biopsy (n = 67) or surgery (n = 46). For quantitative analysis, the contrast enhancement index (CEI) was calculated by measuring the signal intensity (SI) in liver and paraspinal muscle using a region of interest, as follows: CEI = (liver SI/paraspinal muscle SI) 20 min hepatocyte phase image/(liver SI/paraspinal muscle SI) pre-contrast T1-weighted image. The diagnostic performance was evaluated by the ROC curve, adjusted for the prevalence of each fibrosis stage. Results. A significant negative correlation was observed between CEI and fibrosis stage (r = -0.545, P < 0.0001). The adjusted AUROC for CEI in the prediction of mild (≥ F1), moderate (≥ F2), or severe fibrosis (≥ F3) and liver cirrhosis (F4) was 0.668, 0.703, 0.73, and 0.84, respectively. In conclusion, our results demonstrate that quantitative analysis of relative hepatic enhancement using gadoxetate-disodium-enhanced MRI can predict the hepatic fibrosis stage.
Background. Acoustic radiation force impulse (ARFI) elastometry quantifies hepatic stiffness, and thus degree of fibrosis, non-invasively. Our aim was to analyse the diagnostic accuracy of ARFI cut-off values, and the significance of a defined limit of standard deviation (SD) as a potential quality parameter for liver fibrosis staging in patients with chronic liver diseases (CLD). Material and methods. 153 patients with CLD (various aetiologies) undergoing liver biopsy, and an additional 25 patients with known liver cirrhosis, were investigated. ARFI measurements were performed in the right hepatic lobe, and correlated with the histopathological Ludwig fibrosis score (inclusion criteria: at least 6 portal tracts). The diagnostic accuracy of cut-off values was analysed with respect to an SD limit of 30% of the mean ARFI value. Results. The mean ARFI elastometry showed 1.95 ± 0.87 m/s (range 0.79-4.40) in 178 patients (80 female, 98 male, mean age: 52 years). The cut-offs were 1.25 m/s for F ≥ 2, 1.72 m/s for F ≥ 3 and 1.75 m/s for F = 4, and the corresponding AUROC 80.7%, 86.2% and 88.7%, respectively. Exclusion of 31 patients (17.4%) with an SD higher than 30% of the mean ARFI improved the diagnostic accuracy: The AUROC for F ≥ 2, F ≥ 3 and F = 4 were 86.1%, 91.2% and 91.5%, respectively. Conclusion. The diagnostic accuracy of ARFI can be improved by applying a maximum SD of 30% of the mean ARFI as a quality parameter – which however leads to an exclusion of a relevant number of patients. ARFI results with a high SD should be interpreted with caution.
Introduction. Liver retransplantation (LReTx) is the therapeutic option for hepatic graft failure. Survival after LReTx is poorer than after primary liver transplantation. Given the organ shortage, it is essential to optimize the use of this resource. Objective. To evaluate rates, indications and patient survival after LReTx and identify factors associated with mortality following LReTx. Material and methods. We conducted a retrospective cohort study of all adults undergoing LReTx based on registry data from the Liver Transplantation Group (Complexo Hospitalar Santa Casa de Porto Alegre), southern Brazil. Results. Between June 16, 1991 and July 19, 2011, 824 patients underwent 866 liver transplants. Forty-two procedures corresponded to LReTx (4.8% of all liver transplants performed). Thirty-eight patients who underwent a single LReTx procedure were included in this study. The leading indication for LReTx was hepatic artery thrombosis (HAT) (31.6%), followed by primary nonfunction (PNF) (18.4%). The main indication for early LReTx was PNF (58.3%) and for late LReTx was HAT (38.5%). During the follow-up period, 26 patients (68.4%) died after LReTx. Patient survival at 1 and 3 years after LReTx was 44.7% and 44.7%, respectively. Patients infected with hepatitis C virus, serum albumin < 2.5 g/dL and receiving mechanical ventilation immediately before LReTx had a significantly lower survival rate than the other patients. Conclusion. Considering the increased mortality when the graft loss is delayed, it is necessary to define the minimum acceptable results to indicate LReTx and identify the patients who would most benefit from this treatment.
Background and aims. Most portal vein thromboses (PVT) in cirrhotics are discovered incidentally. While case series demonstrate improved portal vein patency with anti-coagulation, there is little information on impact of PVT on morbidity and mortality. This study aimed to compare morbidity and mortality in cirrhotics with untreated PVT with those without PVT. Material and methods. Cirrhotics evaluated for orthotopic liver transplant in a single large transplant center were prospectively followed. Subjects had contrast CT or MRI at initial evaluation and serial imaging every 6 months until transplantation, removal from the list or death. Univariate and multivariate Cox regression analysis were used to assess associations between new PVT and factors of interest. Results. Of the 290 prospectively followed cirrhotics who met inclusion criteria, PVT was detected in 70 (24.1%)-47 had PVT at the time of initial evaluation and 23 developed one during the pre-transplant study period. A third of the patients with PVT had re-canalization or spontaneous resolution of thrombus while awaiting transplantation. There was no difference in the pre or posttransplant mortality between cirrhotics with and without PVT. Conclusion. Cirrhotics with untreated PVT fared equally well as those without PVT before and after transplantation. Further studies with larger numbers of patients are needed to determine if anticoagulation therapy truly improves outcomes in cirrhotics with portal vein thrombosis.
Background. The first line anti-tubercular (anti-TB) treatment normally involves isoniazid, rifampicin, pyrazinamide, and ethambutol. Clearance of these drugs depends on the activity of several enzymes such as N-acetyl transferase 2, cytochrome P450 oxidase and glutathione S-transferase (GST). Some of these enzymes are highly polymorphic leading to significant inter-individual variation in their activity thereby increasing the risk of drug induced hepatotoxicity (DIH). Aim. To investigate the possible association of anti-TB DIH with genetic polymorphism of GST genes in Western Indian population. Material and methods. A prospective case-control study was undertaken on patients who received anti-TB treatment. Cases (n = 50) were distinguished from controls (n = 246) based on occurrence of DIH during anti-tubercular treatment. A multiplex polymerase chain reaction was employed to identify homozygous null mutation at GSTM1 and GSTT1 loci. Results. Homozygous null mutation in GSTM1 gene alone or in both GSTM1 and T1 genes was found to be significantly associated with anti-TB DIH at p < 0.02 and p < 0.007, respectively, in our study population. Conclusions. This is the first study to report GSTM1 null and combined GSTM1 and T1 null genotypes to be risk factors of anti-TB DIH in Western Indian population. Screening of patients for these genotypes prior to anti-TB regimen would provide better control of hepatotoxicity. Key words. Drug induced hepatotoxicity.
We report the case of a 31-year old woman with recurrent cholangitis secondary to hepatolithiasis. The stones were composed of calcium bilirrubinate. The patient also had a supernumerary hepatic lobe connected to the inferior aspect of the segment III of the liver. The role of the supernumerary hepatic lobe in the development of hepatolithiasis is unclear and may be coincidental.
The patient was a 43-year-old man with chronic hepatitis B without history of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), who was first diagnosed with thrombosis in right portal vein trunk and portal vein branches and ruptured esophageal varices in October 2011. He underwent endoscopic variceal ligation, but ruptured repeatedly. Despite anti-coagulant therapy, the thrombosis expanded from right portal vein trunk to upper mesenteric vein in March 2012. Computed tomography (CT) scan showed that portal vein thrombosis had low density from early to late phase. No focal liver lesions were identified by CT scan or ultrasound, and alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) was within normal range. He died by intractable esophageal variceal bleeding in April 2012. Pathological examination of autopsy specimen showed that portal vein thrombosis was consistent with poorly-differentiated HCC. The portal vein tumor thrombosis (PVTT) had only a few tumor vessels, which were compressed by fibromatous change originating from HCC formation, so were represented as low-density lesions from arterial to portal phase of CT. In addition, PVTT was negative for AFP, so representing serum value of AFP within normal range. PVTT had positive staining for c-kit, which is a liver stem cell marker. Liver tumors in the whole liver parenchyma were not found pathologically. PVTT might have the characteristics of presumed liver cancer stem cells. We experienced the first case of HCC only in portal vein without liver parenchyma tumor nodules, with difficult differential diagnosis from a non-malignant portal
Haemophagocytic syndrome (HS) is a rare disease that is often fatal despite treatment. HS is characterized by fevers, lymphadenopathy, hepatosplenomegaly, cytopenias and hyperferritinaemia due to deregulated activation and proliferation of macrophages, leading to uncontrolled phagocytosis of platelets, erythrocytes, lymphocytes, and their hematopoietic precursors throughout the reticuloendothelial system. Mycobacterium tuberculosis-associated HS is a rare and underdiagnosed association with only 39 cases reported. We describe a case of HS associated with disseminated Mycobacterium tuberculosis in the setting of post-liver transplantation anti-hepatitis C therapy with pegylated interferon (pegIFN), ribavirin (RBV) and telaprevir (TVR). Despite the delay in the etiologic diagnosis, the patient was treated properly with corticosteroids, cyclosporine and tuberculostatic agents. It is unknown whether telaprevir, a drug that only recently has been started off-label in liver transplant recipients, may have contributed to the development of the HS. Unfortunately, as in many reported cases of HS, the outcome was unfavourable resulting in the death of the patient.
Biliary mucinous cystadenomas (BMC) of the liver are rare benign cystic tumors, however an estimated 20% undergo malignant transformation. They have recently been redefined as mucinous cystic neoplasms in the 2010 WHO classification. The preferred treatment is through radical resection, as there are high recurrence rates with other treatment modalities; however this is often not possible in patients with bilobar or giant cysts, and liver transplantation may be indicated. We present a patient with a giant biliary mucinous cystadenoma of the liver and discuss the management with reference to the literature. A 47 year-old woman presented with a 6-week history of moderate epigastric discomfort on a background of 12 months of symptom-free abdominal distension. A giant cystic bilobar tumor of the liver measuring 22 x 23 x 17 cm was diagnosed and characterised by ultrasound scan and magnetic resonance imaging. Serum bilirubin, alkaline phosphatase and gamma-glutamyl transpeptidase were elevated, though other laboratory data including tumor markers (CEA, aFP, CA19-9) were within normal limits. Total excision of the cyst was not possible due to its size and position, and the patient underwent cyst drainage, a sub-total cyst excision and omentoplasty. Histology confirmed a benign biliary mucinous cystadenoma with an ovarian stroma. Though the patient remained clinically well, routine post-operative computed tomography (CT) surveillance showed an 11 cm recurrent cyst at 6 months. A partial cyst resection with close follow-up, regular CA19-9 serology and ultrasound/CT imaging, may be a reasonable alternative for bilobar or giant cysts. However should any features pathognomonic of malignancy develop, then a liver transplantation is indicated.