Journals Supplanting Textbooks: Managing Liver Disease

Between Journals and online resources, textbooks are increasingly less useful.  Case in point -this past month, Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology published a special issue: The Art and Science of Managing Liver Disease.  Some of the articles are excellent reviews.

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With autoimmune hepatitis (AIH), the authors make a number of useful points and concisely summarized diagnosis and management.  A few points:

  • Anti-soluble liver antigen/liver-pancreas (SLA/LP) and Asialoglycoprotein receptor (ASGPR) useful in diagnosis of AIH type 1 or 2 and is prognostic for severe disease.
  • In U.S. current guidelines suggest an azathioprine dose of 50 mg (for adults) whereas in Europe the dose is typically 1-2 mg/kg/day.  The authors suggest that the U.S. guidelines could lead to undertreatment, particularly with increasing rates of obesity.
  • The authors state that routine “testing for TPMT deficiency before AZA treatment of AIH is unnecessary, because severe TPMT deficiency occurs in 0.3%-0.5% of the general population and does not invariably cause AZA-induced bone marrow toxicity.” [I will probably continue to check TPMT activity.] They do recommend TPMT testing in cirrhotic patients and those with cytopenias.
  • The authors note that successful long-term withdrawal can occur in 19-40% but recommend biochemical remission (>12-24 months) and histologic remission.  They caution against withdrawal in patients after a relapse due to increased risks of progression to cirrhosis and/or death.
  • When discussing alternative therapies, the authors note that mycophenolate mofetil (MMF) is typically effective for patients intolerant to AZA but not likely to work in AZA nonresponders.
  • Alternative agents reviewed included tacrolimus, cyclosporine, sirolimus/everolimus, rituximab, and infliximab.

Other topics in this issue included NAFLD, HCC, Varices, Hepatic encephalpathy, HBV, HCV, Acute-on-Chronic Liver Failure, PSC and Malignancy, DILI, and noninvasive imaging for liver fibrosis.