Sugary Beverage and Liver Stiffness in Healthy Adults

CW Leung, EB Tapper. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol 2022; 20; 959-961. Sugar-sweetened Beverages Are Associated With Increased Liver Stiffness and Steatosis Among Apparently Healthy Adults in the United States

In this representative sample (2706 adults, median 37.9 years) from 2017-2018 NHANES, subjects without any known chronic disease had tow 24-hr dietary recalls collected and had liver stiffness measurements (LSM) and controlled attenuation parameters (CAP); LSM <7 kPa (using vibration-controlled transient elastography) was considered low risk for advanced fibrosis and CAP >248 dB/m were at risk for heaptosteatosis. Key findings:

  • 11% (n=305) had LSM >7.0 kPa and 46% (n=1254) had CAP >248 dB/m
  • Sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) >2/day was associated with greater LSM (OR 2.30)
  • In mutlivariate analysis, consuming >1-2 sugar-sweetened servings per day was associated with elevated CAP (OR 1.51 compared to adults with SSB consumption
  • Limitations: this cross-sectional study cannot prove causality

My take: Even in healthy adults, SSB consumption is associated with detrimental changes in the liver.

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Lessons Learned from Children In the Hepatitis B Virus Research Network

SJ Schwarzenberg et al. JPGN 2022. 74: 431-433. Lessons Learned from Children Enrolled into the Hepatitis B Virus Research Network Multi-Center Prospective Study

This NIDDK-funded Hepatitis B Research Network (HBRN) was established in 2009 and enrolled 362 patients. 97% of participants were born in countries where HBV is endemic or in North America to mothers born from these countries.

Key points:

  • Due to revised criteria for ALT values, most pediatric patients have elevated ALT and do not meet the definition of immune-tolerant
  • Spontaneous flares (ALT >400 in males and >350 in females) in untreated children…did not lead to hepatic decompensation
  • Hepatocellular carcinoma was not identified in this cohort, though HBRN centers reported historical experiences. Only one patient developed cirrhosis over 4 years of followup.

Clinical Recommendations from Authors:

  • Screen for HBV in children with unexplained serum aminotransferases regardless of immunization history
  • Screen for HBV in children with normal aminotransferases if they or their parents are from an area where HBV is endemic or other risk factors
  • In those with HBV, monitor aminotransferases and HBV levels every 6 months
  • Obtain genotype in children with HBV
  • Consider treatment if ALT >2 x ULN over 3-6 mo. Treatment should follow AASLD guideline
  • Recommend AGAINST treatment at the start of a flare
  • Recommend counseling to promote healthy weight and avoidance of at-risk alcohol use

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Disclaimer: This blog, gutsandgrowth, assumes no responsibility for any use or operation of any method, product, instruction, concept or idea contained in the material herein or for any injury or damage to persons or property (whether products liability, negligence or otherwise) resulting from such use or operation. These blog posts are for educational purposes only. Specific dosing of medications (along with potential adverse effects) should be confirmed by prescribing physician.  Because of rapid advances in the medical sciences, the gutsandgrowth blog cautions that independent verification should be made of diagnosis and drug dosages. The reader is solely responsible for the conduct of any suggested test or procedure.  This content is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment provided by a qualified healthcare provider. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a condition.

How Much Testing Is Needed In Children with Suspected Fatty Liver?

F Al-Harthy et al. JPGN Reports 2022; Volume 3 – Issue 2 – p e181. doi: 10.1097/PG9.0000000000000181. Open Access: Evaluation of Hepatitis in Pediatric Patients With Presumed Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

In this single-center retrospective study (2017–2020), the authors reviewed the extent of testing and yield in children with suspected NAFLD. Criteria:

  • BMI >85th percentile
  • Persistently (>3 months) elevated ALT more than twice the ULN for age
  • Radiographic (ultrasound, computed tomography, and MRI) features of hepatic steatosis.

Key findings:

  • Eleven (11.6%) patients were ultimately diagnosed with a condition resulting from their abnormal bloodwork: infectious hepatitis (3, 9.8%), thyroid disease (2, 3.4%), celiac disease (4, 7.7%), AIH (1, 1.7%; diagnosis based on liver biopsy), and A1AT deficiency (1, 2.0%). It is likely that the yield would have been higher if all patients had more extensive testing
  • Only 9.5% of patients had comprehensive, additional testing performed per the 2017 North American Society of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition guidelines: infectious hepatitis serologies (Hepatitis A virus IgM, Hepatitis B surface antigen, anti–Hepatitis C virus), thyroid studies (thyroid-stimulating hormone [TSH]), ceruloplasmin, A1AT, liver autoantibodies (antinuclear antibody; anti-smooth muscle antibody; liver kidney microsome type 1 antibody), tissue transglutaminase IgA (TTG-IgA), total IgA, total IgG, and LAL blood spot
  • The costs of performing the recommended testing was estimated as $397.30 Canadian dollars

My take: In those with persistently elevated liver enzymes, additional blood tests are important to evaluate for chronic liver diseases, even in those suspected of NAFLD.

Related blog posts on fatty liver disease:

Shem Creek, SC

Liver Transplant Outcomes in Children: Two Studies

Jean de Ville de Goyet et al. Hepatology 2022; 75: 634-645. European Liver Transplant Registry: Donor and transplant surgery aspects of 16,641 liver transplantations in children

This is an amazing study — “50-year period (1968–2017), clinical and laboratory data were collected from 133 transplant centers and analyzed retrospectively (16,641 liver transplants in 14,515 children).”

Key findings:

  • Overall, the 5-year graft survival rate has improved from 65% in group A (before 2000) to 75% in group B (2000-2009) (p < 0.0001) and to 79% in group C (since 2010) (B versus C, p < 0.0001).
  • Graft half-life was 31 years, overall; it was 41 years for children who survived the first year after transplant.
  •  The use of living donors steadily increased from A to C (A, n = 296 [7%]; B, n = 1131 [23%]; and C, n = 1985 [39%]; p = 0.0001)

My take: Liver transplantation provides a durable cure for most infants and children with severe liver disease.

A Shingina et al. Liver Transplantation 2022; 28: 437-453. Long-term Outcomes of Pediatric Living Versus Deceased Donor Liver Transplantation Recipients: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

Associated editorial: EM Dugan, AD Griesemer. Pediatric Living Donor Liver Transplantation: Optimizing Outcomes for Recipients, Donors, and the Waiting List

A total of 24 studies with 3677 patients who underwent living donor liver transplantation (LDLT) and 9098 patients who underwent deceased donor liver transplantation (DDLT) were included for analysis. Key findings:

Overall, this meta-analysis shows improved patient and graft survival at 1, 3, 5, and 10 years with LDLT compared to DDLT:

  • Patient survival: LDLT vs DDLT: 1-year (odds ratio [OR], 0.68), 3-year (OR, 0.73), 5-year (OR, 0.71), and 10-year (OR, 0.42)
  • Graft survival — LDLT vs DDLT: 1-year (OR, 0.50), 3-year (OR, 0.55), 5-year (OR, 0.5; 95), and 10-year (OR, 0.26)

While LDLT is often technically more challenging, it provides timely access (reducing wait-time deaths/deterioration) to a high-quality organ with minimal preservation time. In this cohort, LDLT patients had higher MELD and PELD scores at transplantation compared to the DDLT.

My take: Increasing use of LDLT, at centers with appropriate expertise, will lead to better outcomes in children with severe liver disease.

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Chattahoochee River in Sandy Springs, Ga

Incidental Liver Lesions -What to Do

B Karmazyn et al. JPGN 2022; 74: 320-327. Diagnosis and Follow-up of Incidental Liver Lesions in Children

This article summarizes the authors’ diagnostic approach to incidental liver lesions. Figure 1 provides provides an overview. The authors note that an MRI is preferred for multiple lesions, complex cysts, and solid cysts >3 cm in size. This algorithm recommends the following:

  • Consideration of liver biopsy for lesions 5 cm or greater (though imaging surveillance can be considered for some lesions with typical benign appearance). Most malignant lesions are >5 cm.
  • For those lesions less than 5 cm, in those with features of hepatocellular adenoma or lesions with atypical features, consider a biopsy if feasible
  • For those lesions less than 5 cm, in those with a typical appearance of a simple cyst, hemangioma or focal nodular hyperplasia, the algorithm recommends surveillance every 6-12 months. When a lesion is stable in size, surveillance can be changed to every 2-3 years. In those lesions that are increasing size, either a biopsy or more frequent surveillance (every 3-6 months) is recommended.
  • In terms of modality, if initial imaging is an ultrasound, the algorithm recommends an MRI if the lesion is a complex cyst, and for solid lesions >3 cm. No followup is recommended for “typical focal fatty infiltration or sparing.”

Related blog post: Liver Masses -Helpful Reference

Dawn in Sandy Springs (no filter)

Disclaimer: This blog, gutsandgrowth, assumes no responsibility for any use or operation of any method, product, instruction, concept or idea contained in the material herein or for any injury or damage to persons or property (whether products liability, negligence or otherwise) resulting from such use or operation. These blog posts are for educational purposes only. Specific dosing of medications (along with potential adverse effects) should be confirmed by prescribing physician.  Because of rapid advances in the medical sciences, the gutsandgrowth blog cautions that independent verification should be made of diagnosis and drug dosages. The reader is solely responsible for the conduct of any suggested test or procedure.  This content is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment provided by a qualified healthcare provider. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a condition.

IQ and Pediatric Chronic Liver Disease

DH Leung et al. JPGN2022 – Volume 74 – Issue 1 – p 96-103. Neurodevelopmental Outcomes in Children With Inherited Liver Disease and Native Liver

In this longitudinal study, the authors evaluated Full Scale Intelligence Quotient (FSIQ) in children with chronic liver disease (mean age 7.6 yrs). Key finding:

  • Patients with Alagille syndrome (ALGS) are at increased risk of lower FSIQ (with 29% <85), whereas our data suggest A1AT and PFIC are not

Related blog posts:

Bookmark This Article on Pediatric Acute Liver Failure

JE Squires et al. JPGN 2022 – Volume 74 – Issue 1 – p 138-158. doi: 10.1097/MPG.0000000000003268. Open Access: North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition Position Paper on the Diagnosis and Management of Pediatric Acute Liver Failure

This article provides a terrific summary of the most urgent issues with regard to caring for children with PALF; this article provides helpful information for diagnosis, and management, as well as information on pathophysiology, and associated outcomes.

PDF version: PALF in Children Position Paper

The article makes a number of recommendations for testing/treatment -here are a few of them:

  • While the initial testing does list ferritin, it does not list soluble IL2R as an early test (listed lower in Table 4 under section of hepatic encephalopathy). My colleagues at Emory who specialize in liver transplantation have frequently recommended this test early in the evaluation of severe liver disease/acute liver failure (ALF) as a potential marker of HLH and immune dysregulation.
  • With regard to coagulopathy: “Coagulopathy secondary to vitamin K deficiency should rapidly correct following appropriate repletion. Notably, if coagulopathy persists, efforts to “correct” abnormal coagulation profiles with fresh frozen plasma or other pro-coagulation products should generally be avoided” [in the absence of bleeding or need for invasive procedure].
  • Initial IV Fluids: ” In the absence of the need for volume resuscitation, total intravenous fluids should initially be restricted to around 90% of maintenance fluids to avoid overhydration. Initial fluids should be similar to hypertonic glucose (D10) one-half normal saline and supplemented with 15 mEq of potassium (K+)/L.”
  • Nutritional support: “Patients with PALF are likely catabolic and require more calories than basal needs. Enteral feeding is often preferred over total parenteral nutrition (TPN), and both naso-gastric or naso-jejunal feeds should be considered before TPN.”
  • Neonatal ALF: “GALD results from an intrauterine alloimmune liver injury and is suspected to be the single most common cause of neonatal acute liver failure… Characteristic clinical features of GALD include an ALF presentation usually at birth and almost always in the first days of life. The majority (70–90%) of affected infants are born premature and a history of maternal sibling death is common. Timely exchange transfusion and high-dose intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) is the preferred treatment to remove offending antibodies and block their action, including activation of complement (88,91). The mechanism of GALD places subsequent pregnancies at risk, and intrapartum IVIG should be used to prevent recurrences.”
  • Table 8 list common medications implicated in PALF. “Acetaminophen (APAP) …remains the most common cause of DILI, and is the most common identified cause of ALF in children.” 

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Figure 3: Etiology of acute liver failure in children.
(A) Etiology for 1144 children from the Pediatric Acute Liver Failure Study Group (PALFSG) 1999–2014. (B) Final diagnosis by age (note: figure B includes information on only 985 participants)

Disclaimer: This blog, gutsandgrowth, assumes no responsibility for any use or operation of any method, product, instruction, concept or idea contained in the material herein or for any injury or damage to persons or property (whether products liability, negligence or otherwise) resulting from such use or operation. These blog posts are for educational purposes only. Specific dosing of medications (along with potential adverse effects) should be confirmed by prescribing physician.  Because of rapid advances in the medical sciences, the gutsandgrowth blog cautions that independent verification should be made of diagnosis and drug dosages. The reader is solely responsible for the conduct of any suggested test or procedure.  This content is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment provided by a qualified healthcare provider. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a condition.

Food Allergy in Liver Transplant Recipients

F Mori et al. JPGN 2022; 74: 175-179. De Novo Food Allergy in Pediatric Recipients of Liver Transplant

This interesting review has several key points:

  • Reported prevalence of food allergy after liver transplant ranges from 5% to 40%
  • Younger age at transplantation is a risk factor for developing de novo post-transplant food allergy (dnPTFA)
  • Tacrolimus has been implicated as a risk factor for dnPTFA
  • Common dnPTFA are the same as in the general population: milk, egg, wheat, peanouts/nuts, fish, and soy

Management recommendations:

  • If the donor has a food allergy, the recipient should be tested within the first months of transplant for food-specific IgE and “it is advisable to introduce the suspected food in a controlled setting”
  • Elimination diet is mainstay of treatment. Some individuals may need modification of their immunosuppressive medications
  • Provide self-injectable epinephrine in those with food allergy
  • Monitoring of specific IgE/skin prick tests is advised

My take: There are increased allergy issues in kids who have had liver transplantation.

Related blog post: Lots of Allergy & Autoimmunity Issues Following Solid Organ Transplantation

Disclaimer: This blog, gutsandgrowth, assumes no responsibility for any use or operation of any method, product, instruction, concept or idea contained in the material herein or for any injury or damage to persons or property (whether products liability, negligence or otherwise) resulting from such use or operation. These blog posts are for educational purposes only. Specific dosing of medications (along with potential adverse effects) should be confirmed by prescribing physician.  Because of rapid advances in the medical sciences, the gutsandgrowth blog cautions that independent verification should be made of diagnosis and drug dosages. The reader is solely responsible for the conduct of any suggested test or procedure.  This content is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment provided by a qualified healthcare provider. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a condition.

Liver Shorts: Biliary Atresia Organoids, AIH Pregnancy Outcomes, ALT Levels in Primary Care, Polyreactive IgG for AIH

SP Amarachintha et al. Hepatology 2022; 75: 89-103. Open Access: Biliary organoids uncover delayed epithelial development and barrier function in biliary atresia

This is a super cool article documenting a new human model for studying biliary atresia. The authors “generated biliary organoids from liver biopsies of infants with biliary atresia and normal and diseased controls…Organoids from biliary atresia are viable and have evidence of halted epithelial development. The induction of developmental markers, improved cell-cell junction, and decreased epithelial permeability by EGF and FGF2 identifies potential strategies to promote epithelial maturation and function.”

The authors note that delayed development of cholangiocytes impair barrier function and leave the liver susceptible to various insults which can trigger an inflammatory response with potential progression to obliteration of the bile ducts.

CW Wang et al. Hepatology 2022; 75: 5-12. Open Access: Outcomes of pregnancy in autoimmune hepatitis: A population-based study

Among 18,595,345 pregnancies, 935 (<0.001%) had AIH (60 with cirrhosis) and 120,100 (0.006%) had other CLD (845 with cirrhosis). Key findings:

  • AIH was not associated with postpartum hemorrhage, maternal, or perinatal death
  • AIH was associated with preterm births when compared with women without CLD (OR: 2.0)
  • The odds of gestational diabetes (GDM) and hypertensive complications (pre-eclampsia, eclampsia, or hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes, low platelets) were significantly higher in AIH compared to other CLD (GDM: OR 2.2 and hypertensive complications: OR: 1.8) and also compared to no CLD in pregnancy (GDM: OR: 2.4 and  hypertensive complications: OR: 2.4)

SJ Wu et al. J Pediatr 2022; 240: 280-283. The Prevalence of Elevated Alanine Aminotransferase Levels Meeting Clinical Action Thresholds in Children with Obesity in Primary Care Practice

In this brief report, the authors identified 7.8% of children from a cross-sectional California cohort (n=12,945) with ALT >44 U/L and BMI in the 95% or higher (2012-2014). Males were twice as likely to have elevated ALT. Ethnicity rates were higher in hispanics, asians than white and black children (in males: 12%, 10.4%, 7.3% and 3.1%, respectively)

R Taubert et al. Hepatology 2022; 75: 13-27. Quantification of polyreactive immunoglobulin G facilitates the diagnosis of autoimmune hepatitis

Key findings: Polyreactive IgGs (pIgGs) are a common finding in untreated AIH and have “the highest overall accuracy for the distinction between AIH and non-AIH LD compared to the most common conventional autoantibodies.” In addition, in this study with 1568 adutls, pIgGs were present in “up to 88% of patients with seronegative AIH and in up to 71% of AIH patients with normal IgG levels. Under therapy, pIgG returns to background levels of non-AIH-LD.”

Autoantibodies Significance in Pediatric Fatty Liver Disease

A Khayat, B Vitola et al. J Pediatr 2021; 239: 155-160. Prevalence and Clinical Significance of Autoantibodies in Children with Overweight and Obesity with Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

When investigating elevated liver enzymes in teenagers, serology for autoimmune hepatitis (AIH) is frequently obtained. In the face of overweight/obesity, the majority will have nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFL). How many with elevated autoantibodies actually have autoimmune liver disease (ALD)? Some information regarding this issue is available in the article by Khayat et al.

Methods: A retrospective, cross-sectional study of 181 children with a biopsy-proven diagnosis of NAFL, NASH, autoimmune hepatitis (AIH), or primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) and a body mass index (BMI) >85th percentile treated between 2007 and 2016.

Key findings:

  • Antinuclear antibody (ANA), anti-actin antibody, and anti–liver kidney microsomal (LKM) antibody were positive in 16.1%, 13.8%, and 0%, respectively, of the patients with NAFL and in 32.8%, 15.5%, and 0%, respectively, of those with NASH
  • Total immunoglobulin G (IgG) was elevated in 27.3% of the patients with NAFL and in 47.7% of those with NASH, but in 100% of those with ALD. A normal IgG level was the “strongest negative predictor of ALD, followed by a negative ANA and actin.”
  • The positive predictive value of LKM was 100% for ALD but only 29% for ANA and 46% for anti-actin antibody. ANA positivity in this cohort was associated with more insulin resistance
  • ALD was present in 29/181 (16%).  12 (6.6%) with isolated ALD (AIH, PSC, or overlap), and 17 (9.4%) with combined ALD and NAFLD
  • BMI >98% “appears to be an important breakpoint above which ALD is less likely” even when IgG is high with a positive ANA
  • Limitations: Retrospective study, not every patient had all of the ALD serology tests

My take: Even heavy kids may have autoimmune liver disease. In those with abnormal serology, about 1 in 6 will have ALD, either in combination with NAFL or as the sole etiology of abnormal LFTs.

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