Vol. 14 Issue 4
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
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) has a short replication time, high mutation rates and large population sizes, all of which make it an excellent experimental model for evolution studies, because evolution can be visualized in real-time. In this review, we discuss the implications to study HCV evolution at the interpatient and intrapatient levels of infection. The HCV interpatient dynamics is relatively slow, because the generation time is generally long. Then, at population level, the HCV diversity originated by the high mutation and replication rates is modulated by the bottleneck at transmission. Thus, when the virus is transmitted to other hosts, viral diversity is reduced as a result of the founder effect. On the other hand, during intrapatient infection, HCV evolves rapidly, resulting in quasispecies. Accumulated evidence suggests that this quasispecies composition of the HCV population within the same individual may allow the virus to evade the immune response or escape treatment, leading to chronic infection. Thus, a better understanding of the complexities underlying the molecular evolution of HCV in natural populations is needed before accurate predictions of viral evolution can be made. In summary, HCV evolves both within and among patients. Consequently, HCV evolution should be studied at both levels in order to better understand the natural history of the virus and its potential implications in epidemiology, outcome of infection and progression of liver disease.
MicroRNAs represent a class of non-coding RNA molecules that negatively regulate gene expression either by repressing translation or by inducing degradation of messenger RNA. Studies have shown that, as regulators of gene expression, microRNAs are widely involved in various human diseases, including hepatitis B virus-related liver diseases. By modulating hepatitis B virus replication, regulating extracellular matrix formation, as well as silencing tumor suppressor genes, these small molecules are implicated in the development of chronic hepatitis, liver fibrosis/cirrhosis, and hepatocellular carcinoma caused by hepatitis B virus infection. In addition, current researches indicated a potential role of microRNA as diagnostic markers and therapeutic targets. In conclusion, microRNAs are promising tools in the diagnosis and treatment of hepatitis B virus -related liver diseases.
Background. The relationship between 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] serum levels and response to antiviral therapy and laboratory data in HCV infection remains unclear. The aim of this study was to determine pre-treatment 25(OH)D serum level among HCV infected individuals and to evaluate the association between vitamin D status, virological response, and laboratory data. Material and methods. Baseline serum 25(OH)D levels were measured in 237 chronic HCV infected patients (139 female, age 53.7 ± 11.2 years) using chemiluminescence immunoassay. Correlations between serum 25(OH)D levels, virological and laboratory data regarding HCV infection as well as sustained virological response (SVR) to antiviral therapy were evaluated. Results. Mean serum values of 25(OH)D was 26.2 ± 12 ng/mL and prevalence of vitamin D deficiency (< 30 ng/mL) was 66.2%. Advanced age (> 55 years), high mean values of LDL, total cholesterol, HDL and low mean values of alkaline phosphatase and hemoglobin were statistically associated to vitamin D deficiency. Antiviral treatment was underwent by 133 HCV patients and 44.3% of them achieved SVR. Most of individuals that presented SVR also presented 25(OH)D level higher than 30ng/mL (55.9%). SVR was associated to low mean values of LDL, total cholesterol and platelets; high mean values of ALT, AST and low fibrosis grade. Conclusions: In conclusion, low vitamin D levels were observed among HCV infected patients and was associated to laboratory findings, however baseline 25(OH)D level is not independently associated with SVR.
Background and rationale for the study. We assessed the association of CD4+ T-cell counts and HIV-RNA on sustained viral response (SVR) after therapy with pegylated interferon and ribavirin (PR) in HIV/HCV coinfected patients. We examined two large cohorts of coinfected patients treated with PR in Spain between 2000 and 2008. SVR was defined as undetectable HCV-RNA at 24 weeks after the end of PR. Results. We studied 1682 patients, of whom 38% achieved SVR. Baseline factors independently associated with reduced odds of SVR included genotype 1 or 4, HCV-RNA > 500,000 IU/mL, advanced liver fibrosis, CDC clinical category C, and detectable HIV-RNA. By multivariate logistic regression analysis, we found that, in comparison with patients with combination antiretroviral therapy (cART) and undetectable HIV-RNA, the odds ratio [95% confidence interval (CI)] of SVR was 0.56 (0.41-0.78) for cART and detectable HIV-RNA, 0.86 (0.56-2.57) for no-cART and detectable HIV-RNA, and 1.38 (0.74-2.57) for no-cART and undetectable HIV-RNA. Conclusions. Detectable HIV-RNA, but not CD4+ T-cell count, was associated with reduced odds of SVR. However, this finding was only confirmed for cART and detectable HIV-RNA, raising the question as whether this represents a true association of HIV-RNA on response to PR or a spurious association due to poor adherence to treatment.
Background and rationale for the study. Hepatitis B virus (HBV) chronic infection may follow a benign course with low risk of cirrhosis or liver cancer. As differentiation of inactive status from HBeAg-negative chronic hepatitis B is often challenging, monitoring of inactive HBV carriers is important to detect viral relapse or formerly undetected activity. The incidence of hepatitis activity in HBeAg-negative carriers with normal aminotransferases was examined by retrospective analysis of a cohort of carriers who had been followed-up at a hospital in Central Brazil. All patients had remained free of evidence of liver disease and maintained normal aminotransferase levels throughout the first year of follow-up. The incidence density of chronic HBV activity was determined and an incidence curve was constructed using the Kaplan-Meier method. Cox regression models were developed to identify for surrogate markers of activity. Results. Among the 224 patients who comprised the cohort, chronic HBV activity was detected in 30 during followup. The incidence density of activity was 11.8 per 100 person-years (95% confidence interval: 8.3-16.9). The results of Cox regression analysis indicated that chronic HBV activity was associated with entrance in the latter years of the period examined (p = 0.001) and initial normal aspartate aminotransferase (AST) levels close to the upper-normal value (p = 0.022). Conclusion. Normal AST levels near the upper-normal value may be an indicator of relapse or previously undetected activity, and should thus be monitored closely in HBeAg-negative HBV carriers, in whom risk of relapse should remain an important managing consideration.
Background and rational. Telaprevir-based therapy (TBT) has been extensively evaluated in clinical trials. So we designed a study to compare the efficacy and safety of TBT between patients with moderate fibrosis and those suffering from advanced fibrosis in clinical practice. A multicenter observational and ambispective study was conducted. It included 582 patients with chronic hepatitis C genotype 1, 214 with fibrosis F2, and 368 with F3/F4 (F3: 148; F4: 220). Results. The mean patient age was 55 years, 67% male. Type of prior response was 22% naïve, 57% relapsers, and 21% partial/null responders, 69% had high viral load (> 800,000 IU/mL). HCV genotypes were 1a (19%), 1b (69%), and 1 (12%), respectively. Sixty-five percent were non-CC IL28B genotype. Week-12 sustained virologic response (SVR12) was significantly higher among F2-naïve patients (78%) compared with F3/F4-naïve patients (60%; p = 0.039) and among F2 non-responders (67%) compared with F3/F4 non-responders (42%; p = 0.014). SVR12 among relapsers was remarkably high in both groups (F2:89% vs. F3/F4:78%). Severe anemia and thrombocytopenia were more frequent among patients with F3/F4 than those with F2 (p < 0.01). Overall, 132 patients (22%) discontinued treatment: 58 due to adverse effects, 42 due to the stopping-rule, and 32 due to breakthrough. Premature discontinuation was more frequent among patients with F3/F4 (p = 0.028), especially due to breakthrough (p < 0.001). Conclusions. This multicenter study demonstrates high efficacy and an acceptable safety profile with regard to TBT in F2-patients in clinical practice.
Background. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is the most common cause of chronic liver disease. Patients with non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) have increased plasmatic and hepatic concentrations of bile acids (BA), suggesting that they can be associated with the progression of the disease. Hepatic nuclear receptors are known to modulate genes controlling BA metabolism; thus, in this work we aimed to compare the expression of liver nuclear receptors farnesoid X (FXR), small heterodimer partner (SHP) and liver X alpha (LXRα) receptors and BA transporters sodium+/taurocholate cotransporting polypeptide (NTCP) and bile salt export pump (BSEP) in liver biopsy samples of patients with simple steatosis (SS) and NASH. Material and methods. Forty patients with biopsy-proven NALFD were enrolled between 2009 and 2012; liver biopsies were classified as SS (N = 20) or NASH (N = 20) according to the NAFLD activity score. Gene expression of nuclear FXR, LXRα, SHP, NTCP and BSEP was analyzed by real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction and protein level was quantified by western blot. Results. Gene expression of FXR, SHP, NTCP and BSEP was significantly up-regulated in the NASH group in comparison with SS patients (P < 0.05). In contrast, protein level for FXR, SHP and NTCP was decreased in the NASH patients vs. the SS group (P < 0.05). Gene and protein profile of LXRα did not show differences between groups. Conclusions. The results suggest that liver nuclear receptors (FXR and SHP) and BA transporters (NTCP and BSEP) are associated with the progression of NAFLD.
Introduction. Hypermethylation of relevant genes may affect the prognosis of patients with cancer. The purpose of this study was to analyze whether methylation of the promoter regions of cell cycle regulators as well as elevated alpha-Fetoprotein (AFP) levels are useful prognostic factors for patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Material and methods. Nested methylation-specific PCR (nested-MSP) was used to analyze methylation status of the promoter regions of p15, p16, p21, p27, and ras-association domain family 1 (RASSF1A) genes in tumor specimens from 50 patients with HCC. Results. Promoter methylation was most common in the RASSF1A gene (96%), followed by the p16 gene (56%), the p21 gene (44%), the p15 gene (28%), and the p27 gene (2%). Patients with a serum AFP level < 400 ng/mL and an unmethylated p21 promoter had a better prognosis than patients with a serum AFP level ? 400 ng/mL and a methylated p21 promoter (overall survival, p = 0.076; disease-free survival, p = 0.016). In addition, patients with full methylation of the promoter region of RASSF1A had a better prognosis than patients with a partially methylated or unmethylated RASSF1A promoter region if their serum AFP level was ? 400 ng/mL (overall survival, p = 0.028; disease-free survival, p = 0.078). Conclusion. A partially methylated or unmethylated RASSF1A promoter as well as elevated serum AFP level or methylation of p21 in addition to elevated serum AFP level might be associated with poor prognosis in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma.
Background. Improving estimation of long-term survival of patients with end-stage liver disease after orthotopic liver transplantation (OLT) would optimize decisions on eligibility for transplant. We aimed to externally validate previously derived Charlson Comorbity Index for OLT (CCI-OLT); subsequently, we developed a new model to predict 5-year mortality after transplant. Material and methods. This single center retrospective cohort study included 524 consecutive adult cirrhotic patients who underwent OLT in 2002-2012. External validation of CCI-OLT used Kaplan-Meier method. Derivation of the new predictive model used Cox proportional hazards regression. Results. One-, 3-, and 5-year cumulative survival after OLT was 89%, 80%, and 73%, respectively. CCI-OLT was not associated with 5-year mortality after transplant (P = 0.34). We derived and internally validated a new predictive model of 5-year mortality after OLT based on six pre-transplant characteristics of patients: age, body mass index, hepatitis C, hepatic encephalopathy, intensive care unit stay at transplant, and live donor (C-index = 0.64). We further developed a nomogram to estimate individual probability of 1-, 3-, and 5-year survival after OLT. Conclusions. In our cohort, CCI-OLT was not associated with survival following transplant. The new predictive model discriminative capacity was only modest, suggesting that pre-transplant characteristics are of limited value in predicting post-transplant outcomes in thoroughly selected patients.
Background. Gallstone disease (GSD) is a common chronic disease in the Western hemisphere, yet environmental and genetic factors may be responsible for the variations in the prevalence of GSD among populations. Aim. To analyze the relationship of the ApoE and FABP2 polymorphisms with diet, physical activity and emotional health in patients with GSD from West Mexico. Material and methods. A total of 120 patients with GSD and 370 healthy subjects were enrolled. Anthropometric, biochemical, nutritional, clinical and physical activity parameters were measured. ApoE and FABP2 genotypes were assesed by PCR-RFLPs assays. Results: ApoE E3/E4 genotype and the ApoE E4 allele was highly prevalent among the GSD patients compared to the controls (32% vs. 12.0% and 22% vs. 8.4% respectively p < 0.01). Patients with the Apo E4 allele showed an upward trend of cholesterol levels compared to non-Apo E4 allele carriers (E4 186 ± 30 mg/dL; E3 143 ± 37 mg/dL; E2 129 ± 34 mg/dL). High triglyceride levels were associated with patients that were FABP2 Thr54 allele carriers (p < 0.05) but lacked association with GSD. This may be due to changes in dietary fats after GSD diagnosis, masking the clinical course of the disease. Sedentary lifestyle and negative emotions were detected in 83% and 63% of patients, respectively. Conclusion. These data suggest that the Apo E4 allele could confer genetic susceptibility for the development of GSD among the Mexican population. The Ala54Thr polymorphism of FABP2 was associated with high triglycerides levels, but not to GSD; suggesting that environmental factors modulate such susceptibility.
Background. Transient elastography (TE) is a useful tool for the assessment of hepatic fibrosis as an alternative to liver biopsy, but it has not been validated as a screening procedure in apparently healthy people. Aim. To determine the prevalence of advanced liver fibrosis diagnosed by TE in a socioeconomically challenged rural population. Material and methods. We enrolled 299 participants aged over 18 years old from a vulnerable population in Mexico who responded to an open invitation. All participants had their history recorded and underwent a general clinical examination and a liver stiffness measurement, performed by a single operator according to international standards. Results. Overall, 7.35% participants were found to be at high risk for cirrhosis. Three variables correlated with a risk for a TE measure ? 9 kPa and significant fibrosis: history of alcohol intake [7.95 vs. 92.04%, odds ratio (OR) 4.47, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.45-13.78, P = 0.0167], body mass index (BMI) ? 30 kg/m2 (30.87 vs. 69.12%, OR 4.25, 95%CI 1.04-6.10, P = 0.049), and history of diabetes mellitus (14.87 vs. 85.12%, OR 2.76, 95%CI 1.002-7.63, P = 0.0419). In the multivariate analyses BMI ? 30 kg/m2 was the only significant risk factor for advanced liver fibrosis or cirrhosis (OR 2.54, 95%CI 1.02-6.3, P = 0.0460). Conclusion. TE could be useful as a screening process to identify advanced liver fibrosis in the general and apparently healthy population.
Introduction. Liver metastases (LM) are crucial prognostic manifestation of gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GIST). With the advent of tyrosine kinase inhibitors (TKI), management of metastatic GIST has radically changed. Long clinical follow-up provides an increased proportion of GIST patients with LM who are candidates for potentially curative therapy. Material and methods. Patients who underwent treatment for liver metastases of GIST between 2000-2009 in our department were included in the study. Mean follow-up was 84 months (range 40-145) months. In retrospective analysis we investigated clinical, macro-/microscopic and immunohistochemical criteria, surgical, interventional and TKI therapy as well. Results. In 87 GIST-patients we identified 25 (29%) patients with metastatic disease. Of these, 12 patients (14%) suffered from LM with a mean age of 60.5 (range, 35-75) years. Primary GIST were located at stomach (n = 4, 33%) or small intestine (n = 8, 67%); all of them expressed CD117 and/or CD34. LM were multiple (83%), distributed in both lobes (67%). They were detected synchronously with primary tumor in 33% and metachronously in 77%. All patients with liver involvement were considered to treatment with TKI. LM were resected (R0) in 4 patients (33%). In recurrent (2/4) and TKI resistant cases, interventional treatment (radiofrequency ablation) and TKI escalation were carried out. During a median follow-up of 84 months (range 30-152), 2 patients died (16.5%) for progressive disease and one patient for other reasons. Nine patients (75%) were alive. Conclusion. Treatment of LM from GIST needs a multimodal approach. TKI-therapy is required at any case. In case of respectability, surgery must be carried out. In unresectable cases or recurrent/progressive disease, interventional treatment or TKI escalation should be considered. Therefore, these patients need to be treated in experienced centres, where multimodal approaches are established.
Background. The study of NAFLD in humans has several limitations. Using murine models helps to understand disease pathogenesis. Aim. Evaluate the impact of 4 different diets in the production of NAFLD with emphasis on a combined high-fat plus sustained high sucrose consumption. Material and methods. Eight week-old male Wistar rats were divided in four groups and fed for 90 days with the following diets: 1) Control chow diet (C); 2) High-fat cholesterol diet (HFC) + 5% sucrose in drinking water. 3) High-fat cornstarch diet (HFCO) + 5% sucrose in drinking water. 4) Chow diet + 20% sucrose in drinking water (HSD). Metabolic changes, leptin levels, liver histology, hepatic and plasma lipid composition, fasting plasma glucose and insulin and liver gene expression of FAS, SREBP-1 and PPAR-α were evaluated. Results. The HFC diet had the highest grade of steatosis (grade 2 of 3) and HSD showed also steatosis (grade 1). Liver weight TG and cholesterol concentrations in liver were greater in the HFC diet. There were no increased levels of iron in the liver. Rats in HFC gained significantly more weight (P < 0.001). All experimental groups showed fasting hyperglycemia. HFC had the highest glucose level (158.5 ± 7 mg/dL) (P < 0.005). The HSD and the HFCO diets developed also hyperglycemia. HSD had significantly higher fasting hyperinsulinemia. Serum leptin was higher in the HFC diet (p = 0.001). In conclusion, the HFC diet with combination of high fat and high sucrose is more effective in producing NAFLD compared with a high sucrose diet only.
Focal nodular hyperplasia and nodular regenerative hyperplasia are occasionally seen in patients with hepatic venous outflow obstruction as a consequence of circulatory stress in the liver. In addition, neoplastic processes such as hepatic adenoma, hepatocellular carcinoma, and metastatic disease may arise in these patients. Histologic evaluation is necessary when imaging modalities are unable to distinguish these lesions. We present a case of multiple hepatic lesions, suspicious for metastases, in a patient with Budd-Chiari syndrome secondary to polycythemia vera. However, the biopsy findings were consistent with focal nodular hyperplasia. Budd-Chiari syndrome may be associated with multiple nodules of focal nodular hyperplasia, which may be difficult to diagnose radiologically.
Progressive familial intrahepatic cholestasis type 2 (PFIC 2) results from mutations in ABCB11 gene coding bile salt export pump (BSEP). Medical treatment is usually unsuccessful and surgery intervention is necessary. Partial external biliary diversion (PEBD) is regarded as the first choice of surgical treatment. Ileal exclusion (IE) is an alternative operation if external stoma is not tolerated; however, a favorable outcome is uncertain. In chronic liver diseases pregnancy brings additional risk of deterioration of liver function and generally is not recommended. We present the first case report of successful pregnancy in a genetically confirmed PFIC 2 patient after surgical conversion from PEBD to IE.
Spontaneous hepatic rupture (SHR) during pregnancy is a rare but well known complication and it usually occurs alongside eclampsia or HELLP syndrome. SHR in uncomplicated pregnancy is extremely rare and can be associated to different undiagnosed pathological conditions. We report the case of a nulliparous woman, 27 weeks pregnant, with a peliosis hepatis, previously unknown, who was admitted to our unit due to SHR and massive hemoperitoneum. The conception was obtained by embryo transfer after multiple attempts of hormone-supported cycles using estrogens and progesterone. After emergency laparotomy the patient was submitted to deliver of the dead foetus and damage control of the hepatic bleeding source. At relaparotomy a right posterior sectionectomy (segments VI and VII) and segmentectomy of segment V were performed. The patient was discharged in good physical conditions after 18 days from admission. If hepatic rupture is suspected in a pregnant patient a collaborative multidisciplinary approach is mandatory. The cornerstones of medical and surgical management are highlighted. At the best of our knowledge this is the first case of SHR in a pregnant woman with peliosis hepatis. A possible correlation of an increased risk for SHR in a pregnant patient who was submitted to several attempts for embryo transfer is discussed. The relevant scientific literature of the possible causative role of the estrogen therapy in inducing politic liver damage is also reviewed.
Hepatocellular adenoma is an uncommon neoplasm, especially in the childhood age group. We describe a previously obese 13-year-old male with a giant hepatocellular adenoma requiring an extensive hepatic resection. The related pediatric tumor literature, diagnosis and clinical management is discussed.