Good Results with Liver Transplantation Using Hepatitis C Livers

The advent of highly-effective therapy for hepatitis C has led to the use of hepatitis C-infected livers for organ transplantation.

H Bohorquez et al. Liver Transplantation 2021; 27: 548-557. Liver Transplantation Using Hepatitis C Virus–Viremic Donors Into Hepatitis C Virus–Aviremic Recipients as Standard of Care

Methods: The authors would utilize livers from donors with hepatitis C if they had a “normal gross appearance or, in cases in which a liver biopsy was indicated, acceptable histology less than grade 2 inflammation and less than stage 2 fibrosis (Batts-Ludwig classification)”

Key findings:

  • 292 patients, 61 rHCV− received DNAT+ livers (study group), and 231 rHCV− received DNAT− (aviremic donors [nuclear acid test‐negative donors]) (2018-2019)
  • 1‐year post‐LT patient and graft survival were similar between groups
  • In the study group, 4 patients died, and 1 patient required retransplantation within the first year post‐LT (all unrelated to HCV)
  • 51 patients completed DAA treatment, all achieving sustained virologic response for 12 or more weeks (SVR‐12) (one required re-treatment)

Given the limited organ availability, using livers from donors with hepatitis C has the potential to reduce waitlist times and waitlist mortality.

My take: Liver transplantation with hepatitis C has become bidirectional; livers are being received by those with liver failure due to hepatitis C and failed livers are being replaced by donors infected with hepatitis C.

Related blog posts:

Improvement in Liver Fibrosis with DAA Treatment of Hepatitis C in Adolescents

A recent study showed improvements in measures of liver fibrosis at 12 months after treatment of Hepatitis C in Egyptian adolescents (DM Fahmy et al. J Pediatr 2021; 231: 110-116. Changes in Liver Stiffness and Noninvasive Fibrosis Scores in Egyptian Adolescents Successfully Treated with Ledipasvir-Sofosbuvir for Chronic Hepatitis C Virus Infection).

Methods: N=85. Liver stiffness measurement (LSM), by vibration-controlled transient elastography and noninvasive fibrosis scores (Firbosis-4, aspartate aminotransferase-platelet ratio index), were obtained before and 12 months after eradication with ledipasvir-sofosbuvir.

Key findings:

  • Overall, median baseline LSM was 5.8 (IQR, 4.2-6.5) and at follow-up 5.1 kPa (IQR, 4-6 kPa) (P = .045)
  • 16 patients (19%) experienced regression, and 46 (54%) nonprogression of LSM
  • The median baseline FIB-4 and aspartate aminotransferase-platelet ratio index scores were 0.34 (IQR, 0.22-0.47) and 0.35 (0.24-0.57), and at follow-up 0.3 (IQR, 0.22-0.34) and 0.2 (0.18-2.8) (P < .001, <.001), respectively

Limitations: In Egypt, HCV genotype 4 is predominant; thus, findings could be different with other HCV genotypes. In addition, the ‘gold’ standard in assessing fibrosis remains a liver biopsy.

In many liver conditions, effective therapy has been associated with histologic improvement/regression. So, while the findings in this study are expected, it is still nice to see more evidence of this outcome.

My take: This study supports the notion that elimination of HCV is associated with either regression or non-progression of liver fibrosis. Treatment prior to extensive liver damage is likely both effective and cost-effective.

Related blog posts:

Gibbs Gardens, 4/3/21

The Best Time To Treat Children with Hepatitis C And Cost Considerations

E Greenaway et al. J Pediatr 2021; 230: 38-45. Treatment of Chronic Hepatitis C in Young Children Reduces Adverse Outcomes and Is Cost-Effective Compared with Deferring Treatment to Adulthood

Related editorial: N Rodriguez-Baez. J Pediatr 2021; 230: 9-10. Full text: Hepatitis C in Young Children: To Treat or Not to Treat – Is It Cost-Effective?

In this study, the authors used a state-transition model to assess cost-effectiveness of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection in children; the model treated a hypothetical cohort of 10,000 children with chronic HCV at age 6 years with combination therapy of sofosbuvir/ledipasvir for 12 weeks vs deferring treatment until 18 years of age.

Key findings:

  • The incremental cost effectiveness of early treatment of young children was $12 690 per QALY gained after 20 years, which is considered cost effective compared with deferred treatment.
  • The authors note that if the cost of DAA medications dropped by 60%, then early treatment would not be more cost effective.
  • However, early treatment of 10,000 children would prevent 330 cases of cirrhosis, 18 cases of hepatocellular carcinoma, and 48 liver-related deaths.
  • The investigators presented an additional scenario treating children as young as 3 years of age and using alternative treatment with the pan-genotypic combination of glecaprevir/pibrentasvir for 8 weeks; using glecaprevir/pibrentasvir resulted in an incremental cost effectiveness of $12 563 per QALY compared with deferring treatment to age 18 years.

All cost effective models have built in assumptions. This model, for example, presumes each patient is offered treatment only once and does not get reinfected before age 18 years.

Other aspects about early treatment that are difficult to quantitate:

  • Improved adherence at younger age which improves cost effectiveness
  • Reduction in transmission of HCV as a consequence of successful treatment
  • Detrimental effects of untreated/deferred treatment HCV on quality of life, psychosocial health, and cognitive functioning

My take: This study (& editorial) demonstrate that early treatment of HCV is a good value and delivers non-economic benefits as well. Every child (>3 years) with HCV should be treated and cured of HCV infection.

Related blog posts:

From Journal of Pediatrics twitter feed

Favorite Posts of 2020

These are some of my favorite posts of the past year.

Humor:

GI:

Endoscopy:

Liver:

Nutrition

COVID-19:

Other:

From Picnic Island, Tampa Bay

Liver Shorts -November 2020 and Georgia’s ACA Waiver

E Zuckerman et al. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol 2020; 18: 2544-53. Full text link: Eight Weeks of Treatment With Glecaprevir/Pibrentasvir Is Safe and Efficacious in an Integrated Analysis of Treatment-Naïve Patients With Hepatitis C Virus Infection

  • “We pooled data from 8 phase 2 or phase 3 trials of treatment-naïve patients with HCV genotype 1 to 6 infections, without cirrhosis or with compensated cirrhosis, who received 8 weeks of glecaprevir/pibrentasvir.” (n=1248) Key finding:  Overall rates of sustained virologic response at post-treatment week 12 were 97.6% (1218 of 1248) in the intention to treat (ITT) and 99.3% (1218 of 1226) in the modified ITT populations.

JA Silverman et al. JPGN 2020; 71: 283-287. Composite Lipid Emulsion for the Infant at Risk of Intestinal Failure–associated Liver Disease: The Canadian Perspective

This review discussed the use of SMOFlipid that includes soybean, medium-chain triglycerides, olive and fish oils. Key points:

  • “Lipid minimization strategies have also been shown to reverse IFALD [intestinal failure associated liver disease]. There are, however, considerable concerns regarding adequate weight gain, compromise to neurodevelopment, and EFAD [essential fatty acid deficiency]”
  • “Thee is actually considerable safety data for CLE [composite lipid emulsion] in neonates, albeit over the short term.”
  • “In Canada, CLE is currently the lipid emulsion of choice for all infants at risk of IFLAD.”

T Mitchell et al. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol 2020; 18: 1584-1591. Decreased Physical Working Capacity in Adolescents With Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease Associates With Reduced Iron Availability

  • Methods: “We collected information on weight-adjusted, submaximal physical work capacity (PWC), ultrasound-determined hepatic steatosis, iron indices, and hematologic and metabolic parameters from 390 female and 458 male participants of the Raine Study—a longitudinal study of disease development … in Western Australia”
  • Key finding: “Fourteen percent of the cohort had NAFLD. PWC was significantly reduced in adolescents with NAFLD compared to adolescents without NAFLD (reduction of 0.17 W/kg, P = .0003, adjusted for sex and body mass index [BMI])… we found NAFLD to be associated with decreased cardiorespiratory fitness, independent of BMI. The relationship between transferrin saturation and PWC in adolescents with NAFLD indicates that functional iron deficiency might contribute to reductions in cardiorespiratory fitness.”

In other news, Georgia has received approval for an affordable care act waiver. From the AJC (October 15, 2020): Kemp’s health care waivers win federal approval Two key points:

  • “Thousands of Georgia’s poor and uninsured adults who meet a work or activity requirement will soon be eligible for Medicaid, with perhaps 50,000 added to the rolls within two years…And more than 350,000 very poor, uninsured Georgia adults still won’t meet Georgia’s requirements for Medicaid”
  • “At the same time, the 400,000 Georgians who bought individual health insurance plans on the federal healthcare.gov Affordable Care Act shopping website will find they can’t do that anymore. Instead they will be directed to contact information for private brokers or insurance companies”
These tweets were posted on 11/2/20.

Hepatitis C in 2020: NASPGHAN Position Paper

DH Leung et al. JPGN 2020; 71: 407-17.  Full Text: Hepatitis C in 2020: A North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition Position Paper

This is a very useful summary and some important recommendations –here are a few:

  • Direct-acting antivirals (DAAs) which …[are] highly effective antiviral agents are now approved for use in children as young as 3 years of age and have demonstrated sustained virologic responses exceeding 90% in most genotypes
  • We recommend treatment be considered and offered to all children with chronic HCV as early as 3 years of age with currently approved and anticipated DAA combination therapies.
  • Currently, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends anti-HCV antibody screening of children with maternal HCV risk factors at 18 months of age, when detection of passively acquired transplacental immunoglobulin G should have waned … Waiting until 18 months of age or older is, however, frequently unpalatable for parents and physicians concerned about reliable follow-up. Therefore, after the infant is 2 months of age, the AASLD-IDSA HCV Guidance Panel suggests consideration of examining serum HCV RNA by polymerase chain reaction (PCR)
  • Interestingly, in the image below, the authors note that most children are asymptomatic; however, the figure suggests the possibility of thyroid disease.  In the text of the article: ” Extrahepatic manifestations of chronic hepatitis C, including membranoproliferative glomerulonephritis, thyroid dysfunction with or without thyroid autoimmune disease, and the development of nonorgan specific antibodies, are exceedingly rare

Recommended Resources for Pediatric Gastrointestinal and Liver Providers

Related blog posts:

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 -August 2020

V Cardenas et al. JPGN 2020; 71: 197-202.  Incidence and Sequelae of Liver Injury Among Children Treated for Solid Tumors: Analysis of a Large Single-Center Prospective Cohort

  • Of 1136 solid tumor patients, 160 (14%) experienced liver injury, and the overall frequency of DILI was 4%.
  • DILI was the leading identified cause of liver injury (31%), followed by infection (17%), metastatic/malignant biliary disease (13%), and perioperative liver injury (13%).
  • Most DILI cases (>90%) were mild acute hepatocellular injury episodes that did not result in modification to the chemotherapy plan, and all DILI eventually resolved.

N Kapila et al. Hepatology 2020; 72: 32-41. Full Text Link: Hepatitis C Virus NAT‐Positive Solid Organ Allografts Transplanted Into Hepatitis C Virus–Negative Recipients: A Real‐World Experience

Background: As of April 1, 2019, an estimated 103,000 kidney, 13,500 liver, and 3,800 heart transplant (HT) candidates are awaiting transplantation

Key findings:

  • Seventy‐seven patients who were HCV negative underwent solid organ transplantation from a donor who was HCV viremic. Only one has been a HCV-treatment nonresponder (though several have not completed SVR12).
  • “Our study is the largest to describe a real‐world experience of the transplantation of HCV‐viremic organs into recipients who are aviremic. In carefully selected patients, the use of HCV‐viremic grafts in the DAA era appears to be efficacious and well tolerated.”

M Martinello et al. Hepatology 2020; 72: 7-18Short‐Duration Pan‐Genotypic Therapy With Glecaprevir/Pibrentasvir for 6 Weeks Among People With Recent Hepatitis C Viral Infection

  • This was an  open‐label, single‐arm, multicenter, international pilot study; adults with recent HCV (duration of infection < 12 months) received glecaprevir/pibrentasvir 300/120 mg daily for 6 weeks.
  • At baseline, median estimated duration of infection was 29 weeks (range 13, 52) and median HCV RNA was 6.2 log10 IU/mL (range 0.9, 7.7). SVR12 in the intention‐to‐treat and per‐protocol populations was achieved in 90% (27/30) and 96% (27/28), respectively.

H Verkade et al. JPGN 2020; 71: 176-83. Systematic Review and Meta-analysis: Partial External Biliary Diversion in Progressive Familial Intrahepatic Cholestasis

  • With regard to  pruritus improvement, 104/155 (67%) were responders, 14/155 (9%) had partial response, and 37/155 (24%) were nonresponders.

K Patel et al. Hepatology 2020; 72: 58-71. Cilofexor, a Nonsteroidal FXR Agonist, in Patients With Noncirrhotic NASH: A Phase 2 Randomized Controlled Trial

  • “Cilofexor for 24 weeks was well‐tolerated and provided significant reductions in hepatic steatosis, liver biochemistry, and serum bile acids in patients with NASH.”

NOT Screening At-Risk Infants for Hepatitis C

A recent study (S Lopata et al. Pediatrics 2020; 145: e20192482. Link to Abstract/Video: Hepatitis C Testing Among Perinatally Exposed Infants) was well-summarized in a recent practical gastroenterology issue: Full link: Hepatitis C Screening of Infants

An excerpt:

  • During the study period, 384,837 mother-infant dyads were enrolled in the Tennessee Medicaid program, and 4072 of these mothers had HCV during pregnancy…
  • The prevalence of infants with exposure to HCV increased significantly throughout the study with 5.1 infants exposed to HCV per 1000 live births in 2005 and 22.7 infants exposed to HCV per 1000 live births in 2015 with 92.9% of the mothers of these children being white.
  • Only 946 infants (23%) exposed to HCV had HCV testing in the first 2 years of life, and 354 of these infants (41%) had testing per recommended national guidelines…
  • Infants who were exposed to HCV and who were African American or who lived in rural areas next to metropolitan areas were significantly less likely to have HCV testing.

My take: As with adults, this study shows that selective HCV testing is a messy proposition.  This study shows that more than 75% of at risk infants are not being tested for HCV.  Now that curative treatment is available, more needs to be done to address this public health failure.

Online Aspen Webinar (Part 4) -How to Treat Hepatitis C in Children

Below I’ve included a few slides and some notes; my notes may have errors of omission or transcription.

How I Treat Children with Hepatitis C  William Balistreri

Key points:

  • The recommendations for pediatric hepatitis C infection have been rapidly-changing due to a large number of recent studies/new direct-acting antivirals.  There are many new treatment options (see HCVguidelines.org); currently available treatment regimens noted below
  • All children >3 years of age with HCV should be treated –high cure rates (91-100% SVR) and this leads to long-term improvements in health outcomes
  • Test for Hepatitis B before instituting DAA therapy
  • Universal screening has been recommended for all adults >18 years.  This omits the pediatric age group; however, if all pregnant women are screened, the majority of pediatric HCV infections could be identified

Related blog posts:

Medical Progress: Toward Hepatitis C Elimination

JE Squires, WF Balistreri. J Pediatr 2020; 221: 12-22. Full text: Treatment of Hepatitis C: A New Paradigm toward Viral Eradication

This is a terrific article describing the improvements in treatment and challenges ahead for hepatitis C infection.

The authors note that widespread treatment has led to recommendations that primary health providers manage treatment in most adults.  Given the safety and effectiveness of these newer agents, the authors propose a similar algorithm for children (Figure 3).

The authors note the following:

“Just as has occurred in adults, the rate of discovery related to pediatric HCV therapy is outpacing traditional publication methods and many recommendations are no sooner published than they are “outdated” as newer data re-shapes the therapeutic landscape. To combat this challenge, the AASLD and IDSA have partnered to create an updated web experience resource to facilitate rapid access to treatment information (https://www.hcvguidelines.org/). A section of this document is dedicated to children, however, as of this writing, a similar comprehensive ‘living’ document is not available for pediatric populations, thus, care teams should be cognizant of the most current published data and increase their awareness of upcoming studies and DAA’s ‘in the pipeline’ that may soon be available.”

My take (borrowed from authors):

  • “Every child deserves equitable access to a cure for HCV.”
  • “Progress toward elimination of HCV infection in the US is at hand; however, both community/primary care practices and federal commitment will be required.”
  • “The role of the primary care practitioner will be enhanced [and needs to be incentivized]. It is likely that the new paradigm will be to screen and to initiate DAA treatment in patients with HCV infection.”
  • “Consultation with a hepatologist/infectious disease specialist would, thus, be reserved for selected patients (nonresponsive or those with advanced fibrosis).”

Related blog posts: