Ursodeoxycholic Acid in Pediatric Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis

A large retrospective study (M Deneau, M Perito, A Ricciuto, N Gupta et al. J Pediatr 2019; 209: 92-6) examined the outcomes/response of ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA) for pediatric primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC).

Background:

  • “Within 10 years of diagnosis, 30% of children with PSC will require liver transplantation and 50% of children will develop complications, including biliary strictures and hypertension.”
  • Because UDCA has not been shown to improve survival (& may worsen outcomes), it is not recommended in adults by the AASLD.
  • In pediatrics, UDCA remains the most common treatment, used in more that 80% on long-term treatment

Study population/methods:

  • 263 patients at 46 centers
  • Median age 12.1 years
  • UDCA median dose: 15 mg/kg/day

Key findings:

  • Normalization of GGT (<50 IU/L) occurred in 46% of patients in the first year after diagnosis
  • Patients with normalization was less likely among patients with Crohn’s disease and those with laboratory profiles indicative of more advanced hepatobiliary fibrosis (eg. lower platelet count, lower albumin, hyperbilirubinemia)
  • The 5-year survival with native liver was 99% in those who achieved normalization vs 77% in those who did not
  • Even in those without normalization, improvement in GGT was associated with better outcomes. “Those who had a reduction in GGT of >75% had nearly the same long-term survival as those with GGT<50 IU/L at 1 year.”
  • It has previously been shown that nearly “one-third of children who are UDCA-naive have spontaneous GGT normalization by 1 year.”  Thus, the number to treat with UDCA to have one additional case of GGT normalization is four.
  • In a previous study, one-third of patients with GGT normalization on UDCA therapy for 1 year, maintained GGT <29 after withdrawal of UDCA for 12 weeks.

The authors note that “patients who do not achieve normalization could reasonably stop UDCA as they are likely not receiving clinical benefit.”

My take: This study shows that patients who have improvement/normalization of GGT with UDCA therapy have improved outcomes.  The retrospective design of the study limits conclusions about whether UDCA therapy actually improves long-term outcomes, particularly since UDCA at higher doses has been associated with detrimental affects in adults with PSC.

Related blog posts:

Pablo Picasso, Le Compotier (Fruit Bowl) at Sofia Reina
https://www.museoreinasofia.es/en/collection/artwork/compotier-fruit-bowl

Disclaimer: These blog posts are for educational purposes only. Specific dosing of medications/diets (along with potential adverse effects) should be confirmed by prescribing physician/nutritionist.  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.

Mortality Risk from Childhood Inflammatory Bowel Disease

A recent study (O Olen et al. Gastroenterol 2019; 156: 614-22) was summarized quite succinctly by NEJM journal watch:

Using the Swedish National Patient Registry data, investigators identified 9442 incident cases of IBD diagnosed in patients under age 18 years from 1964 through 2014. Based on 139,000 person-years of follow-up, results were as follows:

  • There were 259 deaths among people with IBD (133 were from cancer and 54 from digestive disease).
  • The all-cause mortality rate in these patients was 2.1/1000 person-years, compared with 0.7 in matched reference individuals from the general population.
  • The average age at death was 61.7 compared with 63.9 years in the reference group.
  • The hazard ratio for death was 3.2 and was higher in those with ulcerative colitis (HR, 4.0), especially if they had concomitant primary sclerosing cholangitis (HR, 12.2), a first-degree relative with ulcerative colitis (HR, 8.3), or a history of surgery (HR, 4.6).
  • Mortality risks were similar when limited to the period after the introduction of biologics (2002–2014).

My take: This study found that having IBD diagnosed in childhood increased the risk of mortality (~1 extra death for every 700 patients followed for 1 year) especially in patients with concomitant PSC and in patients with severe ulcerative colitis.  The study did not see an effect of the newest therapies but was underpowered to directly assess this effect.

Related blog post:

 

Chattahoochee River, near Azalea Drive

 

Active Colitis More Likely in Children in Clinical Remission Who Have PSC and IBD

A recent study (A Ricciuto et al. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol 2018; 16: 1098-1105) provides more data regarding the lack of symptom correlation and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) activity in children with primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC).

In a prospective study of children with colonic IBD with and without PSC, the authors followed clinical features (eg. PUCAI), fecal calprotectin and endoscopy severity.

Key findings:

  • Patients with PSC-IBD (n=37) in clinical remission had higher endoscopic scores and greater odd of active endoscopic disease than IBD-only controls (n=50) (odds ratio 5.9, with CI 1.6-21.5)
  • Fecal calprotectin level <93 mcg/g were identified mucosal healing with 100% sensitivity and 92% specificity when compared with UC Endoscopic Index of Severity (UCEIS)

Overall, this study is in agreement with a prior adult study showing higher levels of active disease in those with PSC-IBD compared to those with IBD alone, despite clinical remission (Why does PSC increase the risk of colorectal cancer in UC?).

My take: Particularly in individuals with the combination of IBD-PSC, objective biomarkers (eg. Calprotectin) are needed to identify the accuracy of clinical remission; though, even in patients with IBD without PSC, objective biomarkers are needed as well due to the limitations of clinical symptom indices.

Related blog posts:

Moraine Lake, Banff

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.”

Liver Articles -Spring 2018

C Sikavi et al. Hepatology 2018; 67: 847-57.  This systematic review highlights that the combination of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection and HIV infection is no longer a difficult-to-treat population with the implementation of direct-acting antivirals (DAAs). There are similar sustained virologic responses (SVRs) among those with and those without HIV.  In clinical trials, patients with combined HCV-HIV had SVRs of 93.5-98% with DAA treatment; “real-world cohorts” had SVRs of 90.9%-98%.

MS Middleton et al. Hepatology 2018; 67: 858-72.  Using data from the prospective CyNCh trial (cysteamine for NAFLD), the authors examined MRIs for diagnostic accuracy among 169 enrolled children.  In this group, 110 (65%) and 83 (49%) had MRI and liver biopsy at baseline. MRI-PDFF (proton density fat fraction) was able to classify grade 1 steatosis from grade 2-3 steatosis with area under receiving operator characteristic curve of 0.87.  Thus, this study shows MRI-estimated PDFF has high diagnostic accuracy.

G Mieli-Vergani et al. JPGN 2018; 66: 345-60.  Position paper for Pediatric Autoimmune Liver Disease (AIH, ASC, de novo AIH after liver transplantation). This is a very useful review.  A couple of pointers from the authors:

  • “Present experience with budesonide as the first-line treatment is limited and does not appear to offer clear clinical advantage over the standard treatment”[prednisone]
  • Fecal calprotectin should be obtained to evaluate for IBD in patients with autoimmune liver disease, “even in asymptomatic children.”

JM Cotter et al. JPGN 2018; 66: 227-33. This retrospective study with 39 patients with primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) showed a lack of correlation between liver tests and fibrosis at presentation.  Average age of PSC diagnosis was 11.2 years, 74% had inflammatory bowel disease and 51% had autoimmune hepatitis. Related blog post: Big Pediatric PSC Study (with 781 children)

Why Does Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis Increase the Risk of Colorectal Cancer in Ulcerative Colitis?

A recent retrospective study (Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol 2018; 16: 68-74) compared adult patients who had ulcerative colitis (UC) with (n=23) and without primary sclerosing cholangitis (n=120) (PSC). All patients had pancolitis and were in clinical remission.

Key finding:

  • Patients with UC-PSC had more subclinical endoscopic activity (odds ratio (OR) 4.21) and histologic activity (OR 5.13) in the right colon compared with patients without PSC

It is known that the presence of PSC is a risk factor for colorectal cancer (CRC).  A previous meta-analysis (RM Soetiknno et al. Gastrointest Endosc 2002; 56: 48-54) described a OR of CRC of 4.09.

My take: This study shows that UC patients with PSC who are in clinical remission have a greater degree of endoscopic and histologic inflammation in the proximal colon compared to patients without PSC.  This increased inflammation is a likely factor in the increased risk for CRC.

Related blog posts:

#NASPGHAN17 Presentations at Annual Meeting: GGT in PSC, Nutrition for Intestinal Failure

This blog entry has abbreviated/summarized this presentation. Though not intentional, some important material is likely to have been omitted; in addition, transcription errors are possible as well.

Improvement in GGT Predicts Event-free Survival in Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis Regardless of Ursodeoxycholic Acic Treatment. 

Mark Deneau et al. (Grand Watkins Prize).

Key points:

  • PSC is difficult to study due to its rarity and due to its slow progression; thus surrogate biomarkers are needed.
  • Alkaline phosphatase is not a good biomarker in children
  • GGT level at one year after diagnosis was predictive of prognosis
  • Ursodeoxycholic acid does not appear to be effective

Optimizing Nutrition in Intestinal Failure

Justine Turner, University of Alberta

Key points:

  • Human milk is an ideal “formula” for infants, including those with intestinal failure
  • Oral feedings are important
  • Combination of bolus feeds and continuous feeds is reasonable
  • SMOFlipid allows higher lipid dose administration without hepatoxicity; this may improve cognitive outcomes
  • Amino acid based formulas have higher osmolality which can contribute to diarrhea

Patients with >50% of small bowel and >50% of colon were most likely to achieve enteral autonomy (GIFT registry)