Liver Shorts: Autoimmune Liver Disease/HLA profiles, Saroglitazar for fatty liver, and Liver Transplantation Survivorship

Y Ma et al. Hepatology 2021; 74: 2032-2046. Open Access: Human Leukocyte Antigen Profile Predicts Severity of Autoimmune Liver Disease in Children of European Ancestry

The main reason I had to highlight this article is the study period was 42 years!!! (1977-2019, n=236 children). Key findings: “Unique HLA profiles are seen in each subgroup of juvenile AILD:  DRB1*03 for AIH-1, DRB1*03 plus DRB1*07 for AIH-2, and DRB1*13 for ASC. DRB1*03 and the A1-B8-DR3 haplotype are disease-predisposing genes for all three subgroups. The influence of HLA class II genes on disease severity is strong, DRB1*03 homozygosity and possession of DRB1*13 being associated to histologically more advanced disease from onset, while DRB1*07 is linked to the least optimal response to immunosuppression”

S Gawrieh et al. Hepatology 2021; 74 1809-1824. Saroglitazar, a PPAR-α/γ Agonist, for Treatment of NAFLD: A Randomized Controlled Double-Blind Phase 2 Trial

The “EVIDENCES IV study was a multicenter, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled phase 2 study to evaluate the safety and efficacy of saroglitazar.” n=106. Key findings:

  • For ALT: mean percent change from baseline at week 16 was −25.5% (5.8), −27.7% (5.9), and −45.8% (5.7), with saroglitazar 1 mg, 2 mg, and 4 mg, respectively, versus 3.4% (5.6) in placebo (P < 0.001 for all)
  • Compared with placebo, saroglitazar 4 mg improved liver fat content on MRI PDFF (4.1% [5.9] vs. −19.7% [5.6]), adiponectin (−0.3 μg/mL [0.3] vs. 1.3 μg/mL [0.3]), homeostatic model assessment–insulin resistance (−1.3 [1.8] vs. −6.3 [1.7]), and triglycerides (−5.3 mg/dL [10.7] vs. −68.7 mg/dL [10.3]) (P < 0.05 for all)
  • Saroglitazar was well-tolerated. A mean weight gain of 1.5 kg was observed with saroglitazar 4 mg versus 0.3 kg with placebo (P = 0.27)

My take: This study shows the potential of one agent for pharmacologic therapy for NAFLD/MAFLD.

SR Lieber et al. Liver Transplantation 2021; 27: 1454-1467. What Survivorship Means to Liver Transplant Recipients: Qualitative Groundwork for a Survivorship Conceptual Model

“A majority of LT recipients (75%) identified themselves as survivors. Integral to the definition of survivorship was overcoming hardship (including experiences on the waiting list) and the unique experience of being given a “second chance” at life. Motivations to survive included a new chance at life (55%), family (40%), spirituality/faith (30%), and fear of rejection (15%)”

Aspen Webinar 2021 Part 5 -Autoimmune Liver Disease & PSC

More from Aspen Webinars. This blog entry has abbreviated/summarized several presentations. Though not intentional, some important material is likely to have been omitted; in addition, transcription errors are possible as well.

Dr. Mieli-Vergani presented case report of a boy with autoimmune sclerosing cholangitis and associated colitis who presented with minimal symptoms. 

This case report highlights the evaluation and management of autoimmune liver disease hepatitis. Workup included autoimmune serology, GGT, celiac serology, calprotectin, and ultrasonography.   EGD-Colonoscopy was prompted by elevated calprotectin.  MRCP was prompted by elevated GGT (GGT were normal at the time of biopsy and MRCP) and liver biopsy findings.  

“My message is that MRCP and colonoscopy should be done in all cases of autoimmune liver disease in children and adolescents, irrespective of calprotectin levels or elevated GGT and biliary changes on histology, as both IBD and sclerosing cholangitis can be present without any of the classical symptoms and signs. Only by doing this it is possible to reach an early diagnosis which is essential for early treatment and for a good outcome.” 

Outcome data indicate that 11 of 83 (13%, 5 AIH, 6 ASC)) required transplantation. “I have shown our long-term outcome data not to stress the number of patients who have required transplantation, but the number of patients who are well and have a normal life after over 14 years of follow-up. This can be only achieved if one thinks of autoimmune liver disease even if the child appears to have something non-specific, initiating correct treatment for the liver, and the gut if there is bowel disease, as soon as possible. At the beginning, treatment should be monitored very closely (at least weekly), to be able to decrease the dose of steroids swiftly, introduce azathioprine if needed, and avoid side affects.”

Key points:

  • Budesonide is not a good substitute for prednisone in autoimmune hepatitis
  • Mycophenolate is frequently used as a 2nd line agent
  • Consider calprotectin in patients with autoimmune liver disease to screen for IBD  (though calprotectin can be falsely-negative)
  • Consider followup liver biopsy after normalization of liver enzymes for ~3 yrs (when consideration of stopping medications)
  • Recommends MRCP for all patients with AIH

Some slides:

Key points:

  • Better understanding of immune basis of PSC is developing
  • MMP-7 appears to help differentiate PSC/ASC from AIH
  • Small duct PSC is more common in children
  • SCOPE index can help predict outcomes
  • Treatment: no clear benefit of vancomycin, ursodeoxycholic acid compared to placebo but need for randomized controlled study
  • Several studies of new agents for PSC in adults are ongoing, including nor-UDCA, cilofexor, bezafibrate
  • Vedolizumab does not appear to be effective for PSC
  • Related blog post: Online Aspen Webinar (Part 3) -2020 lots of links to other related blog posts

Some of the slides:

Milo Rezvani -case report

Child with FTT, elevated LFTs, sporadic mild hypoglycemia, and neurologic symptoms. DDx: congenital disorders of glycosylation (CDG), mitochondrial d/o, peroxisomal d/o, urea cycle d/o and lysosomal d/o.  Diagnosis was made after liver biopsy and whole exome sequencing (which showed PMM2 mutations).  Diagnosis of most CDG can be made by serum transferrin isoforms. Discussion among many participants noted that liver biopsy often not needed in age of genetic testing.