Liver Shorts April 2019

CL Mack et al. JPGN 2019; 68: 495-501. This multicenter prospective open-label phase I/III trial of IVIG in biliary atresia patients status-post Kasai indicated that the infusions were tolerated.  However, though this study was not powered to detect efficacy, survival with native liver was LOWER among patients who had received IVIG (n=29): 58.6% compared to the comparison placebo group 70.5% (n=64).  Thus, despite the theoretical advantages of IVIG which targets aspects of the immune system and improvement in a murine model, in practice IVIG does not appear promising for biliary atresia.

D Kim et al. Hepatology 2019; 69: 1064-74. This study shows that despite improvements in hepatitis C mortality rates associated with newer treatments, there is an overall increase in mortality rates from cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma.  This increase is driven by increasing prevalence and severity of both alcoholic liver disease and nonalchoholic fatty liver disease. The overall cirrhosis-related mortality increased from 19.77/100,000 persons in 2007 to 23.67 in 2016 with an annual increase of 2.3%. Similarly, the overall HCC-related mortality increased from 3.48/100,000 persons in 2007 to 4.41 in 2016 at annual increase of 2%. The editorial on page 931 (TG Cotter and MR Charlton) notes that each year there are more than 40,000 deaaths associated with chronic liver disease.

H Park et al. Hepatology 2019; 69: 1032-45. This study, using Truven Health MarketScan Cata, examined the outcomes of more than 26,000 patients with newly-diagnosed hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection.  Among the 30% who received oral direct-acting antiviral (DAA) therapy, there were improved outcomes in those with and without cirrhosis. In those with cirrhosis (n=2157), DAA was associated with a 72% and 62% lower incidences of HCC and DCC [decompensated cirrhosis] respectively. In noncirrhotic HCV patients (n=23,948), DAA was associated with a 57% and 58% lower incidence of HCC and DCC respectively.  In addition to improved health outcomes, DAA treatment resulted in decrease health care costs, especially for patients with cirrhosis.

Z Kuloglu et al. JPGN 2019; 68: 371-6.  In this multicenter Turkish study, the authors identified 810 children (median age 5.6 years) with unexplained transaminase elevation (62%),unexplained organomegaly (45%), obesity-unrelated liver steatosis (26%) and cryptogenic fibrosis or cirrhosis (6%).  LAL-D [lysosomal acid lipase deficiency] activity was deficient in 2 siblings (0.2%); both had LDL ~155.  Overall, even in at risk groups, LAL-D is rare.

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Better Diet -Less Fatty Liver

A recent study (J Ma et al. Gastroenterol 2018; 155: 107-17) shows that a “better diet” was associated with less liver fat.

Among the 1521 participants form a Framingham Heart Study cohort (Mean age 51 years at start of study), the authors assessed diet with a 125-item Harvard food frequency questionnaire and liver fat using liver-phantom ratio (LPR) on CT images between 2002-2005 and then again 2008-2011.  They specifically looked at 2 diet scores:

  • Mediterranean-style diet score (MDS)
  • Alternative Healthy Eating Index (AHEI)

Key findings:

  • For each 1 standard deviation increase in MDS, the LPR increased (less liver fat) by 0.57 and the odds for incident fatty liver decreased by 26% (P=.002)
  • Similarly, for each 1 standard deviation increase in AHEI, LPR increased by 0.56 and the odds for incident fatty liver decreased by 21% (P=.02)

My take: This study shows that Improved diet quality over 6 years was associated with reduced liver fat accumulation

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Liver Shorts August 2018

M Yakoot et al. JPGN 2018; 67: 86-89. This prospective, open-label, unblinded study from Egypt indicated that 29 of 30 (96.7%) pediatric (12-17 yr) patients with HCV (genotype 4) attained an SVR12 with sofusbuvir/daclatasvir.  No serious adverse effects were evident.  The one patient who did not achieve SVR12 was lost to followup but had viral negativity after completing treatment.

Related blog post: New HCV Treatment Effective in Adolescents –Important Study Now Published Online

O El-Sherif, ZG Jiang et al. Gastroenterol 2018; 154: 2111-21. This study showed that a “BE3A Score” based on BMI <25, no Encephalopathy, no Ascites, Albumin >3.5 and ALT >60 IU/L could be used to discriminate the likelihood of reducing the Child-Pugh-Turcotte (CPT) score to class A in patients with hepatitis C virus-associated decompensated cirrhosis who received DAA therapy.  This retrospective  analysis was based on 4 trials of a sofusbuvir-therapy with 502 CPT class B and 120 CPT class C patients.

AH Ali et al. Hepatology 2018; 67: 2338-51.  This study convincingly shows that surveillance for hepatobiliary cancers improves outcomes in patients with primary sclerosing cholangitis.  Among their cohort of 830 patients (Mayo clinic), 79 developed malignancies.  Of those under surveillance (n=40), the 5-year survival was 68% compared to 20% for those who had not been under surveillance.  While the true cynic might ascribe some of the difference to ‘lead-time’ bias, this is unlikely to account for this difference at 5 years.

F Aberg et al. Hepatology 2018; 67: 2141-49.  This Finish-population prospective study, over an 11 year follow-up, using a nationally-representative cohort (n=6771) showed that even moderate alcohol consumption worsened outcomes (eg hepatic decompensation, hepatocellular carcinoma) in patients with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.  In addition, the authors showed that diabetes the most significant predictor of poor outcome (HR 6.79). In a related commentary, pg 2072-73, the authors state that this article “put an end to the ongoing ddebate whether moderate alcohol drinking (less than 20 g of alcohol/day or 2 drinks per day) could be helpful.”

NASH: What Helps Beyond Weight Loss?

Full text from ACG article: NASH: What Helps Beyond Weight Loss?

The article reinforces the value of weight loss and exercise for nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH).  It suggests that Vitamin E and/or pioglitazone may be helpful. Many more medications are being evaluated.

My take: As of now, losing weight and exercise remain the cornerstone for NASH treatment.

Pediatric NAFLD Guidelines 2017

The concise recommendations (M Vos et al. JPGN 2017; 64: 319-34) from the Expert Committee on NAFLD (ECON)/NASPGHAN provide helpful advice on this increasingly common disorder. Link to full text: NASPGHAN Clinical Practice Guideline for NAFLD

The recommendations are graded on strength of recommendation and quality of the evidence.

Some key points:

  • Use ALT as a screening tool (despite its imperfections). Persistently elevations (>2xULN) should be evaluated for liver disease, including NAFLD.  (Norms: 22 U/L for girls, 26 U/L for boys). Values above 80 U/L “warrants increased clinical concern.”
  • Screening should be considered between ages 9 and 11 years for all obese children and for overweight children with additional risk factors.
  • Ultrasound and CT scans are NOT recommended.
  • Liver biopsy should be considered for the assessment of NAFLD in children who have increased risk of NASH and/or advanced fibrosis.  This could include those with splenomegaly, AST/ALT>1, higher ALT (>80 U/L), panhypopituitarism, and type 2 diabetes.
  • Treatment: Lifestyle modifications recommended.  No currently avaiable medications or supplements are recommended.
  • Look for & avoid comorbidities: dyslipidemias, hypertension, and diabetes. Assure vaccinations against Hep A/Hep B and counsel against binge drinking and against smoking.

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Prevalence of Diabetes with Pediatric NAFLD

Prevalence of Prediabetes and Type 2 Diabetes in Children With Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease  (JAMA Pediatr. Published online August 01, 2016. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2016.1971)

According to a a multicenter, cross-sectional study at 12 pediatric clinical centers across the United States participating in the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases NASH Clinical Research Network and with 675 participants (mean age 12.6 yrs):

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More on Anti-TNF Drug Levels (part 2) and a Few Mentions

Another study (K Papamichael et al. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol 2016; 14: 543-9) examined therapeutic drug levels with regard to infliximab induction and mucosal healing.

In this retrospective study with 101 patients with ulcerative colitis, 54 (53.4%) achieved mucosal healing between weeks 10-14, defined by a Mayo endoscopic score of 0 or 1.  97% of patients were treated with 5 mg/kg infusions.

Key finding:

  • Infliximab threshold concentrations of 28.3 mcg/mL at week 2, 15 mcg/mL at week 6, and 2.1 mcg/mL at week 14 were associated with mucosal healing.

My take: While this study provides information on what type of levels to expect at 2, 6, and 14 weeks, what is really important is figuring out which patients need higher doses of infusions from the start.

Unrelated, briefly noted:

R Yadlapati et al. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol 2016; 14: 535-42. In this prospective blinded cohort study of 59 subjects, oropharyngeal pH testing (Restech Dx-pH) and salivary pepsin analysis was not able to distinguish between healthy volunteers and subjects with a combination of laryngeal and reflux symptoms.

M Moris et al. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol 2016; 14: 585-93. This study reports increasing findings of small pancreatic cysts with more (and better) MRI imaging.

Y Kawamura et al. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol 2016; 14: 597-605. This retrospective study shows, among almost 10,000 patients with fatty liver disease, that alcohol consumption of ≥40 g/day is an independent risk factor for hepatocellular carcinoma.

Strongloides