Online Aspen Webinar (Part 6) -NAFLD and NASH

Aspen Online Webinar July  14-16, 2020

Below I’ve included some of my notes and slides.  There may be errors of omission or transcription.

What’s Hot? NAFLD and NASH Stavra Xanthakos

  • Fatty liver disease burden of NAFLD and NASH is increasing.  This increases the rate of cirrhosis, liver cancer and liver transplantation; the latter is being needed at younger ages
  • Explained that “Lean” (normal BMI) NAFLD is common
  • Diabetes is strongest risk factor for severe fatty liver disease (NASH or fibrosis). PNPLA3 is genetic risk factor for NAFLD risk.
  • Discussed treatment, particularly diet  and bariatric surgery.  Stated that some emerging treatments look promising.
  • In those with suspected NAFLD, Dr. Xanthokos recommends liver biopsy, if lifestyle therapy is ineffective, under specific circumstances: prior to bariatric surgery, in some cases to determine severity, and prior to instituting therapy (eg Vitamin E)

              

Related blog posts:

Online Aspen Webinar (Part 2) -Abnormal Liver Enzymes in a Tween

What Do Abnormal Liver Enzymes Mean in a Tween William Balistreri

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

Key Points:

  • Provided updated normal reference data for ALT/AST along with patterns of abnormalities
  • Reviewed step-wise workup for teenagers with elevated ALT/AST, particularly fatty liver disease and drug-induced liver disease
  • Increasingly frequent cause of fatty liver disease: psychotropic medications
  • Discussed role/indications of liver biopsy. Liver biopsy is NOT practical option for all children with fatty liver disease and elevated liver enzymes
  • However, ALT values tend to underestimate severity of liver disease

 

 

Renal Disease Associated With Fatty Liver Disease & Dexamethasone-COVID-19 Data

Looking for and managing hypertension has been an important component of care in children and adults with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)/metabolic syndrome.  In addition, hypertension is frequently associated with renal impairment.

As such, it is perhaps not surprising that in both adults and children, there is a high rate of renal impairment.   The data in children is much more sparse than in adults.  A recent retrospective pediatric cohort study (T Yodoshi et al. J Pediatr 2020; 222: 127-33) adds more information to this problem.

More background information:

  • Chronic kidney disease is highly prevalent in adults with NAFLD: 20-55% (J Hepatol 2020; 72: 785-801; Am J Kidney Dis 2014; 64: 638-52)
  • NAFLD is currently the leading indication for concurrent liver and kidney transplantation
  • In adults, the severity of NAFLD histology is associated with renal impairment
  • The first stage of renal impairment is glomerular hyperfiltration. This is hypothesized to be a precursor of intraglomerular hypertension which leads to albuminuria and glomerular filtration rate (GFR) decline/progressive renal dysfunction
  • Early intervention in high risk patients with angiotensin receptor inhibitors may prevent or delay progressive renal disease

Key findings in 179 patients with biopsy-confirmed NAFLD:

  • 82% non-Hispanic, median age 14 yrs
  • 36 (20%) had glomerular hyperfiltration and 26 (15%) had low GFR (w/in 3 months of liver biopsy) based on Schwartz equation
  • Hyperfiltration was independently associated with higher NAFLD activity score (aOR 2.96)

Discussion:

  • Mechanism: The authors speculate that “it is possible that they [renal and liver disease] are both the end result of the same ‘hit.’ The renin-angiotensin system may play a key role….Notably, there is an ongoing…clinical trial investigating an ATI receptor blocker, losartan, for the treatment of NAFLD in children.” Other potential contributors include fructose and insulin resistance.
  • Limitations: This single center biopsy-confirmed population may not be representative of most children with NAFLD.  Also, as this was a retrospective study, more precise measures of renal function were not available.

My take: This study confirms a high rate of renal dysfunction (35%) in children with NAFLD. As such:

  • Children with NAFLD need to have their blood pressure monitored
  • Clinicians should have a low threshold for nephrology referral if suspected renal impairment.

NEJM Recovery Collaborative Group: July 17, 2020
DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa2021436: Full Link: Dexamethasone in Hospitalized Patients with Covid-19 — Preliminary Report

Form NEJM Journal blog:

In the open-label RECOVERY trial, some 2100 U.K. patients hospitalized with COVID-19 were randomized to usual care plus oral or intravenous dexamethasone (6 mg once daily for up to 10 days), and 4300 were randomized to usual care alone.

Among patients on invasive mechanical support at the time of randomization, the mortality rate within 28 days was significantly lower with dexamethasone than with usual care alone (29% vs. 41%). A benefit was also seen among those on oxygen without invasive ventilation (23% vs. 26%). However, among patients not receiving respiratory support, mortality rates did not differ significantly between treatment groups.


Liver Shorts July 2020

KA Strauss et al. Hepatology 2020; 71: 1923-39. Crigler-Najjar Syndrome Type 1: Pathophysiology, Natural History, and Therapeutic Frontier. This chart review  provides long-term data on phototherapy for  CN1 (n=28) over 30 years, bilirubin metabolism, and results from 17 who underwent liver transplantation at a median age of 16 years.  Background: “In 1952, John Crigler and Victor Najjar described 7 infants from 3 families who developed intractable nonhemolytic jaundice within the first week of life.”  Disorder is due to deficiency of uridine 5′-diphosphate glucuronyltransferase (UGT1A1, OMIM 218800). The report’s Table 1 provides management guidelines. 12 (43%) of patients developed cholelithiasis (pigmented stones) which exacerbated hyperbilirubinemia and resulted in cholecystectomy.

H Dang et al. Hepatology 2020; 71: 1910-22.  This multinational consortium retrospective study reviewed 1676 patients with HCV-related HCC.  They found that in patients who achieved a sustained virological response (SVR) after direct-acting antiviral (DAA) therapy had a significantly higher 5-year survival: 88% vs 66%, P<0.001; after regression analysis, SVR was independently associated with a 63% lower risk of 5-year all-cause mortality.  My take (borrowed from authors) Patients with HCV and HCC who are eligible for HCC therapy should also be considered for DAA therapy.

M Noureddin et al. Hepatology 2020; 71: 1940-52.  This study, a nested case-control analysis, examined a subset from a large prospective cohort of >215,000 adults in Hawaii and California for diet associations with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD); the subset consisted of 2974 patients with NAFLD and 29,474 matched controls.  Key findings: Red meat, processed read meat, poultry and cholesterol consumption were positively associated with NAFLD while dietary fiber was inversely associated with risk. My take: While sugar/fructose intake has been a dietary concern for NALFD, this study indicates that decreasing meat/cholesterol consumption and increasing fiber consumption would be beneficial to reduce risk of NALFD and advanced liver disease.

ACG Review (Zobair Younassi, MD): NAFLD and NASH

For PDF copy of slides: NAFLD and NASH

Dr. Zobair Younassi gave a recent virtual grand rounds –here are some of the slides:

Epidemiology:

Natural History:

  • Progression of disease is not linear
  • Fatty liver disease is a multisystem disorder.  Cardiovascular disease is leading cause of death in patients with fatty liver disease
  • Fatigue (~50%) is common with fatty liver disease

Main treatment:

  • Weight loss -Mediterranean diet may be helpful
  • Exercise
  • No FDA-approved treatments, though pioglitizone supported by AASLD for biopsy-proven NASH
  • Public health interventions are needed

Liver Shorts -February 2020

Caution with hemoglobin A1c interpretation: MM Kelsey et al. J Pediatr 2020; 216: 232-5. In the HEALTHY Study (n=8814), the authors note that a hemoglobin A1c was ≥5.7% in 2% of normal weight youth.  “This suggests need for cautious interpretation of prediabetes hemoglobin A1cs in youth”

Daily aspirin for NAFLD: TG Simon et al. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol 2019; 17: 2776-84.  In this prospective cohort of 361 adults with biopsy-proven NAFLD, the use of daily aspirin (in 151) was associated with lower odds of NASH (aOR.68) and reduced risk of  fibrosis (aOR 0.54).  “The greatest benefit found with at least 4 years or more of aspirin use” (aHR =0.50).  The associated editorial (pages 2651-3) recommends controlled studies to determine if potential benefits outweigh the known risks (eg. bleeding).

Glecaprevir/pibrentasvir for HCV Treatment Failure:  AS Lok et al. Gastroenterol 2019; 157: 1506-17.  This randomized study with 177 patients showed that 16 weeks of glecaprevir and pibrentasvir was effective in retreatment of patients with genotype 1 hepatitis C viral infection (after prior failure with sofosbuvir plus an NS5A inhibitor).  The sustained virologic response 12 weeks after treatment was >90%.

Liver transplantation for Niemann-Pick Disease, type B:  YLY Luo et al. Liver Transplantation 2019; 25: 1233-40. This report analyzed 7 children receiving liver transplantation for Niemann-Pick disease, type B.  The authors report survival in the entire cohort and with normalized liver function within 3 weeks.  In addition, they noted improvement in psychomotor ability ( 10 months after transplantation) and resolution of insterstitial lung disease.  They state that developmental delay still existed in 4 patients during follow-up.  The editorial (1140-1) notes that these findings need to be confirmed but open a new window in improving the phenotype.  “A similar experience occurred with LT in maple syrup urine disease (MSUD), in which the liver is considered to host only 12-15% of the defective  enzyme responsible for the disease…in MSUD, liver replacement is able to counteract 85% of extrahepatic expression of the disease and to completely correct the phenotype.”

Increased Abdominal-Surgery Risk in Patients with Idiopathic Noncirrhotic Portal Hypertension: L Elkrief et al. Hepatology 2019; 70: 911-24. Among 44 patients (median age 44 years) with noncirrhoitic portal hypertension, 16 (33%) had one or more portal hypertension-related complication within 3 months after surgery.  4 (9%) died within 6 months.  “An unfavorable outcome (i.e. either liver or surgical complication or death) occurred in 22 (50%) patients” and was more likely in those with ascites, creatinine >100 micromol/L, or other extrahepatic complications related to portal hypertension.

One of my blog readers shared this image of “Liver Shorts” that can be purchased online

Bad Fatty Liver Disease Can Get Worse Quickly

A recent study (AJ Sanyal et al. Hepatology 2019; 70: 1913-27) used prospectively collected data from two large randomized, placebo-controlled phase 2b studies of simtuzumab in patients with either bridging fibrosis (n=217) or compensated cirrhosis (n=258) due to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). The age range of participants were 48-61 years with median ages of 55 years and 57 years for the two cohorts.  All patients had liver biopsies at screening and at weeks 48 and 96.

Key findings:

  • Progression to cirrhosis occurred in 22% (48/217) of patients with bridging fibrosis (F3) over a median of 29 months
  • Liver-related adverse clinical events (eg. ascites, variceal bleeding, encephalopathy, MELD score ≥15, liver transplantation or death) occurred in 19% (50/258) with compensated cirrhosis over a median of 29 months. Only 1 patient in this cohort died.
  • Higher  baseline hepatic fibrosis or serum markers of fibrosis were associated with disease progression in patients with F3 disease

My take: Among those with advanced liver disease, this study indicates that disease progression/deterioration is rather rapid in about 20%.

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China Is Catching and Passing U.S. with NAFLD Plus Updates

F Zhou et al. Hepatology 2019; 70: 1119-33. The authors performed a systematic review (n=392 studies, more than 2 million subjects) and found that NAFLD in China increased from 25.4% in 2008-2010 to 32.3% in 2015-2018. The pooled prevalence across all studies was 29.2%. The associated editorial speculates that some of this increase is related to diet changes as well as PNPLA3 gene.  This allele “is more common among East Asians than Caucasians”  It is lower in African Americans in the U.S. which helps explain why this population is at reduced risk.

JB Schwimmer, JS Johnson et al Gastroenterol 2019; 157: 1109-22.  In this prospective study with 87 children (89% Hispanic), the authors associated fecal microbiomes with NAFLD and NASH.  Both NAFLD and NASH were associated with intestinal dysbiosis with lower diversity and high abundance of Prevotella copri. Full text link: Microbiome Signatures Associated With Steatohepatitis and Moderate to Severe Fibrosis in Children With Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

S Pelusi et al. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol 2019; 17: 2310-9.  This study analyzed data from 1738 subjects (45% with severe obesity) who had undergone liver biopsy.  132 of 389 (33.9%) with significant fibrosis did NOT have nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) and 39 patients (10%) had no inflammation. NASH diagnosis required steatosis (≥5% of hepatocytes), hepatocellular ballooning, and lobular inflammation. Factors associated with significant fibrosis in the absence of NASH, included fasting hyperglycemia, severe steatosis, mild inflammation or ballooning, and PNPLA3 1148M variant.  My take: this study shows that the finding of NASH on liver biopsy is NOT required for the development of severe liver disease related to NAFLD.

D Linden et al. Molecular Metabolism 2019; 22: 49-61. This study, summarized in Gastroenterol 2019; 157: 1156-9) showed that PNPLA3 silencing with antisense oligonucleotides ameliorates NASH in PNPLA3 1148M knock-in mice.  The summary notes that the mutated 1148 M PNPLA3 protein variant accumulates on lipid droplets altering clearance and affecting triglycerides and phospholipid turnover.

Liver Briefs -September 2019

P Rosenthal et al. Hepatology 2019; 69: 2326-37.  This study examined the efficacy and safety of combined entecavir and Peginterferon for immune-tolerant chronic hepatitis B-infected children (n=60). 48 weeks after completing treatment (week 96), 2 children (3%) achieved the primary outcome of undetectable HBeAg with HBV DNA levels <1000 IU/mL.  These two children were also HBsAg negative/anti-HBs positive. In the other children (55 completed study), the ALT and HBV DNA levels were similar to baseline.  37 children experienced adverse events.  My take: Entecavir/peginterferon is not very effective in immune-tolerant children infected with chronic HBV.

DL Thomas. NEJM 2019; 380: 2041-50. This article reviews the pathway to the global elimination of chronic hepatitis.  Currently, it is estimated that hepatitis C virus (HCV) and hepatitis B virus (HBV) kill more than 1 million persons each year. “In fact, by 2040, deaths from chronic hepatitis are projected to exceed the combined mortality associated with HIV infection, tuberculosis, and malaria.”

JR Dillman et al. J Pediatr 2019; 212: 60-5. This study with 41 patients and 13 patients with biliary atresia prospectively assessed ultrasound shear wave elastography (SWE). The authors found that SWE with a cut-off value of >1.84 m/s had 92% sensitivity and 79% specificity.  Also, in their cohort, GGT >320 had a sensitivity of 100% and specificity of 78%.

Z Younossi et al. Hepatology 2019; 69: 2672-82.  This review provides a global perspective of NAFLD.  25% of the world’s population is currently thought to have NAFLD with highest prevalence in South America at 30.45% and lowest in Africa at 13.5%. This article usggest North America to have 24.1% prevalence rate.