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.

#NASPGHAN19 Selected Abstracts (Part 1)

Link to full NASPGHAN 2019 Abstracts.

Here are some abstracts that I found interesting at this year’s NASPGHAN meeting:

NAFLD:

  1. Off-label use of topiramate may be helpful in stabilizing weight and improving NAFLD
  2. Socioeconomic barriers are frequent in NAFLD patients (the 2nd poster did not appear to show a control population):

Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis -Use of Vedolizumab for PSC did not appear to help

Eosinophilic Esophagitis

  1. EoE is four times more likely in this cohort with inflammatory bowel disease
  2. 2nd poster describes very early-onset EoE

Inflammatory Bowel Disease:

  1. Use of infliximab in VEO IBD.  Used in 46/122 (38% of patients) and 50% had persistent use 3 years later

Enteral nutrition –poster from our group describing good tolerance of plant-based formula (with Ana Ramirez).

Celiac disease.  This poster indicates low yield of additional serology for celiac disease besides TTG IgA and serum IgA. This includes testing in young patients (< 2 years) with celiac disease.

#NASPGHAN19 Postgraduate Course (Part 4)

Here are some selected slides and notes from this year’s NASPGHAN’s postrgraduate course. With my notes, there could be errors of omission and transcription on my part.

Link to the full NASPGHAN PG Syllabus 2019 (Borrowed with permission)

Liver/Pancreas Session

150 Miriam Vos, MD, MSPH, Emory University New news in NAFLD

Dr. Vos gave a terrific lecture. Key points:

  • NAFLD screening: recommended around age 10 years (in children with obesity) based on increasing prevalence with age
  • PNPLA3 encodes adiponutrin –> important for clearing stored triglycerides. Common polymorphism PNPLA3 rs738409‐is associated with NAFLD
  • Who to screen –all obese children >10 years. Overweight children  with risk factors: Type II diabetes,  Hispanic,  Family history,  Pituitary  disorders (GH),  Right sided  abdominal pain
  • ALT and ultrasound are imperfect screens
  • Alcohol worsens NAFLD.  Sugar/juice boxes are also culprits
  • #1 Recommendation: Sugar reduction in diet

Related blog post: “The Paramount Health Challenger for Humans in the 21st Century”

161 Saul J. Karpen, MD, PhD, Emory University School of Medicine/Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta New therapies for chronic cholestatic diseases

  • Limited therapies currently available.  A number of treatments appear promising:  Obeticholic acid, Norursodeoxycholic acid
  • For ABCB4, some drugs used for cystic fibrosis may help as well
  • ASBT inhibitor appears promising for Alagille (see ITCH study)

171 Sohail Husain, MD, Stanford Children’s Hospital Diagnosing drug-induced pancreatitis

  • In patients with IBD, thiopurines and mesalamine/ sulfasalazine (mesalamine have greater risk than sulfasalazine) are associated with pancreatitis
  • ~1/3rd of patients with drug-induced pancreatitis have other risk factors

179 Jaimie D. Nathan, MD, FACS, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center Pediatric pancreatic masses: Steroids, surgery or surveillance?

Disclaimer: NASPGHAN/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. The discussion, views, and recommendations as to medical procedures, choice of drugs and drug dosages herein are the sole responsibility of the authors. Because of rapid advances in the medical sciences, the Society 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. Some of the slides reproduced in this syllabus contain animation in the power point version. This cannot be seen in the printed version.

 

#NASPGHAN19 Liver Symposium (Part 2)

Although I was unable to attend this year’s liver symposium at NASPGHAN19, I reviewed the lecture notes.  There is some terrific content.  Here are some of the slides (borrowed with permission from NASPGHAN).

Link to complete NASPGHAN Chronic Liver Disease Symposium 2019

SESSION II – FRONTIERS IN LIVER THERAPEUTICS

Keynote Speaker: Outcomes for the future: How do we improve on the status quo? Ronald J. Sokol, MD, FAASLD, Children’s Hospital Colorado  (SLIDES NOT AVAILABLE in onliine handout)

Recognition and stabilization of the pediatric patient with acute liver failure Robert Squires MD Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh at UPMC

Should I offer treatment for my patients with Hepatitis B or Hepatitis C? Regino P. Gonzalez-Peralta MD, AdventHealth for Children

Are there any medical therapies for NASH?   Marialena Mouzaki, MD, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center

This lecture describes a lot of the emerging pharmacologic treatments; none of these are currently recommended.

Improving Fatty Liver Disease Nomenclature

Those who follow this blog regularly know that I have frequently agreed with articles suggesting improving/updating nomenclature for many conditions including the following:

A recent commentary (M Eslam et al. Gastroenterol 2019; 157: 590-3) suggests that fatty liver diseases could use a nomenclature makeover as well.

In pediatrics, the issue of alcoholic and nonalcholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) overlap is fairly minor in many ways.  In fact, when I am seeing a young teen with NAFLD, parents will often chuckle when I tell them that ‘Johnny’ needs to lay off the booze (now and in the future).  However, it is difficult to fully differentiate nonalcoholic fatty liver disease from alcoholic fatty liver disease, especially in adults.

Full Text: Toward More Accurate Nomenclature for Fatty Liver Diseases

Key points:

  • “Light (1.0-9.9 g/d) or moderate (10.0–29.9 g/d; 10.0–19.9 g/d for women) alcohol consumption in patients with NAFLD is not uncommon…The negative impact of alcohol intake also extends to nonalcoholic steatohepatitis resolution.”
  • “it is time for clinicians to recognize that, within the spectrum of fatty liver disease, there will be patients with true alcohol-related liver disease (AFLD), those with predominant AFLD compounded by metabolic cofactors, those with true NAFLD in whom alcohol consumption is near zero and disease progression is due to metabolic factors, and perhaps a majority with fatty liver disease owing to an abnormal metabolic milieu but with alcohol intake of ≤30 g/d.”
  • ” An updated and more appropriate nomenclature and classification system is required to reflect the nuances of disease etiology within the spectrum of fatty liver disease…”
    • MPFL: metabolic dysfunction predominant fatty liver;
    • APFL, alcohol predominant fatty liver;
    • MPFL/A and MPFL/N: metabolic dysfunction predominant fatty liver with, and without alcohol intake that is anything more than ceremonial
    • APFL/M and APFL/N: alcoholic predominant fatty liver with metabolic dysfunction or with no metabolic dysfunction.

My take: The authors present a good rationale for updating fatty liver disease –will this be adopted?

Related blog posts:

 

NAFLD Outcomes After Bariatric Surgery

A recent systematic review and meta-analysis (Y Lee, et al. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol 2019; 17: 1040-60) included 32 cohort studies with 3093 liver biopsy specimens from patients with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).

Key findings:

  • Bariatric surgery resulted in a biopsy-confirmed resolution of steatosis in 66%, inflammation in 50%, ballooning degeneration in 76%, and fibrosis in 40%.
  • Bariatric surgery resulted in worsening features of NAFLD in 12%.
  • The authors note that Roux-en-Y Gastric Bypass (RYGB) “showed greater reduction of liver side effects and higher: resolution of NAFLD.”
  • Jejejnoileal bypass (JIB) and biliopancreatic diversion (BPD) “both have been associated with higher liver function morbidity.”
  • The overall GRADE quality of evidence was considered very low.

My take: Though better studies are needed, the majority of patients’ livers appear to benefit from bariatric surgery.

Related blog posts:

How Often Do Children with Obesity Have a Fatty Liver?

According to a recent study (EL Yu et al. J Pediatr 2019; 207: 64-70), about one-third of boys and one-fourth of girls with obesity have nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).

This study from San Diego with 408 children aged 9-17 years (mean 13.2 years) with obesity evaluated for NAFLD with laboratories (to exclude other etiologies) and with liver MRI proton density fat fraction (PDFF), with ≥5% considered the threshold for NAFLD.

Key findings:

  • Prevalence of NAFLD was 26% in this population, with 29.4% in males and 22.6% in females
  • The optimal cut offs of ALT for detecting NAFLD in this study were ≥30 U/L for females and ≥42 U/L for males. These are much lower than NASPGHAN guidelines which proposed ≥80 U/L or twice the ULN as thresholds for further investigation.  (The NASPGHAN recommendations are likely to have higher specificity in identifying children at greater risk for nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH).)

Limitations:

  • 77% of this cohort were hispanic, thus prevalence may vary significantly in other populations.
  • MRI-PDFF -the exact cut off is unclear.  The authors note that if 3.5% were chosen, the NAFLD prevalence jumped to 49.3% (according to Table II –though the discussion stated 53.2%)

My take: Understanding the likelihood of NAFLD in children at risk is a helpful first step.  This study points to the growing use of non-invasive diagnosis with MRI.

On a related topic, briefly noted: “Obesity in Adolescents and Youth: The Case for and against Bariatric Surgery” (A Khattab, MA Sperling. J Pediatr 2019; 207: 18-22). In this review, the authors refer frequently to endocrine society guidelines (J Clin Endocrinol Metab 2017; 102: 709-57).    These guidelines generally recommend bariatric surgery only under specific conditions (eg. completion of Tanner 4 or 5 along with a BMI of 40 kg/m-squared or BMI of 35 with significant extreme comorbidities after failure of lifestyle modifications & without untreated psychiatric illness).  This review predicts increasing use of bariatric surgery in adolescents “as more data on long-term outcomes in larger cohorts become known.”

Related blog posts on fatty liver disease:

Related blog posts on bariatric surgery: