SciCombinator

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Concept: Cirrhosis

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Alcohol-related hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) develops with advanced alcoholic liver disease and liver fibrosis. Using adult mice, we evaluate the effect of alcoholic steatohepatitis on early hepatobiliary carcinoma after initiation by diethyl-nitrosamine (DEN). Here we show that alcohol-fed DEN-injected mice have higher ALT and liver-to-body weight ratio compared to pair-fed DEN-injected mice. Alcohol feeding results in steatohepatitis indicated by increased pro-inflammatory cytokines and fibrotic genes. MRI and liver histology of alcohol+DEN mice shows hepatobiliary cysts, early hepatic neoplasia and increase in serum alpha-fetoprotein. Proliferation makers (BrdU, cyclin D1, p53) and cancer stem cell markers (CD133 and nanog) are significantly up-regulated in livers of alcohol-fed DEN-injected mice compared to controls. In livers with tumors, loss of miR-122 expression with a significant up-regulation of miR-122 target HIF-1α is seen. We conclude that alcoholic steatohepatitis accelerates hepatobiliary tumors with characteristic molecular features of HCC by up-regulating inflammation, cell proliferation, stemness, and miR-122 loss.

Concepts: Cancer, Oncology, Cirrhosis, Hepatitis, Liver, Hepatocellular carcinoma, Hepatitis C, Liver transplantation

2

Globally, a chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection remains the leading cause of primary liver cancer. The mechanisms leading to the development of HBV-associated liver cancer remain incompletely understood. In part, this is because studies have been limited by the lack of effective model systems that are both readily available and mimic the cellular environment of a normal hepatocyte. Additionally, many studies have focused on single, specific factors or pathways that may be affected by HBV, without addressing cell physiology as a whole. Here, we apply RNA-seq technology to investigate transcriptome-wide, HBV-mediated changes in gene expression to identify single factors and pathways as well as networks of genes and pathways that are affected in the context of HBV replication. Importantly, these studies were conducted in an ex vivo model of cultured primary hepatocytes, allowing for the transcriptomic characterization of this model system and an investigation of early HBV-mediated effects in a biologically relevant context. We analyzed differential gene expression within the context of time-mediated gene-expression changes and show that in the context of HBV replication a number of genes and cellular pathways are altered, including those associated with metabolism, cell cycle regulation, and lipid biosynthesis. Multiple analysis pipelines, as well as qRT-PCR and an independent, replicate RNA-seq analysis, were used to identify and confirm differentially expressed genes. HBV-mediated alterations to the transcriptome that we identified likely represent early changes to hepatocytes following an HBV infection, suggesting potential targets for early therapeutic intervention. Overall, these studies have produced a valuable resource that can be used to expand our understanding of the complex network of host-virus interactions and the impact of HBV-mediated changes to normal hepatocyte physiology on viral replication.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Genetics, Gene expression, Organism, Cirrhosis, Hepatitis, Hepatitis B

2

Mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) transplantation was shown to be effective for the treatment of liver fibrosis, but the mechanisms of action are not yet fully understood. We transplanted encapsulated human MSCs in two mouse models of liver fibrosis to determine the mechanisms behind the protective effect.

Concepts: Gene, Cell, Cell division, Stem cell, Mesenchymal stem cell, Bone marrow, Stem cells, Cirrhosis

2

There is a high medical need for an interferon-free, all-oral, short-duration therapy for hepatitis C virus (HCV) that is highly effective across diverse patient populations, including patients with cirrhosis or previous null response to pegylated interferon (peginterferon) plus ribavirin (PR-null responders). We aimed to assess the efficacy, safety, and effective treatment duration of grazoprevir (an HCV NS3/4A protease inhibitor) combined with elbasvir (an HCV NS5A inhibitor) with or without ribavirin in patients with HCV genotype 1 infection with baseline characteristics of poor response.

Concepts: Virus, Cirrhosis, Hepatocellular carcinoma, Interferon, Hepatitis C, Ribavirin, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C virus

2

Bile acids are ligands for the nuclear hormone receptor, farnesoid X receptor (FXR). The bile acid-FXR interaction regulates bile acid synthesis, transport, and cholesterol metabolism. Recently, bile acid-FXR regulation has been reported to play an integral role in both hepatic and intestinal inflammation, and in atherosclerosis. In this study, we found that FXR knockout mice had more disease severity in experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), an animal model of multiple sclerosis (MS). Obeticholic acid (6α-ethyl-chenodeoxycholic acid, 6-ECDCA), a synthetic FXR agonist, is an orally available drug that is currently in clinical trials for the treatment of inflammatory diseases such as alcoholic hepatitis, nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, and primary biliary cirrhosis. When we treated mice exhibiting established EAE with 6-ECDCA, or the natural FXR ligand chenodeoxycholic acid (CDCA), clinical disease was ameliorated by (i) suppressing lymphocyte activation and proinflammatory cytokine production; (ii) reducing CD4(+) T cells and CD19(+) B cell populations and their expression of negative checkpoint regulators programmed cell death protein 1 (PD1), programmed death-ligand 1 (PD-L1), and B and T lymphocyte attenuator (BTLA); (iii) increasing CD8(+) T cells and PD1, PDl-1, and BTLA expression; and (iv) reducing VLA-4 expression in both the T- and B-cell populations. Moreover, adoptive transfer of 6-ECDCA- or CDCA-treated donor cells failed to transfer disease in naive recipients. Thus, we show that FXR functions as a negative regulator in neuroinflammation and we highlight that FXR agonists represent a potential previously unidentified therapy for MS.

Concepts: Cholesterol, Immune system, Inflammation, Protein, Cirrhosis, Hepatitis, B cell, Bile acid

2

Although radiologic size criteria (Milan/University of California, San Francisco [UCSF]) have led to improved outcomes after liver transplantation (LT) for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), recurrence remains a significant challenge. We analyzed our 30-year experience with LT for HCC to identify predictors of recurrence.

Concepts: Cancer, Cirrhosis, Liver, Hepatocellular carcinoma, Organ transplant, Liver transplantation, Liver dialysis, Milan criteria

2

TGF-β1 is a major player in chronic liver diseases promoting fibrogenesis and tumorigenesis through various mechanisms. The expression and function of TGF-β2 have not been investigated thoroughly in liver disease to date. In this paper, we provide evidence that TGF-β2 expression correlates with fibrogenesis and liver cancer development.Using quantitative realtime PCR and ELISA, we show that TGF-β2 mRNA expression and secretion increased in murine HSCs and hepatocytes over time in culture and were found in the human-derived HSC cell line LX-2. TGF-β2 stimulation of the LX-2 cells led to upregulation of the TGF-β receptors 1, 2, and 3, whereas TGF-β1 treatment did not alter or decrease their expression. In liver regeneration and fibrosis upon CCl4 challenge, the transient increase of TGF-β2 expression was accompanied by TGF-β1 and collagen expression. In bile duct ligation-induced fibrosis, TGF-β2 upregulation correlated with fibrotic markers and was more prominent than TGF-β1 expression. Accordingly, MDR2-KO mice showed significant TGF-β2 upregulation within 3 to 15 months but minor TGF-β1 expression changes. In 5 of 8 hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC)/hepatoblastoma cell lines, relatively high TGF-β2 expression and secretion were observed, with some cell lines even secreting more TGF-β2 than TGF-β1. TGF-β2 was also upregulated in tumors of TGFα/cMyc and DEN-treated mice. The analysis of publically available microarray data of 13 human HCC collectives revealed considerable upregulation of TGF-β2 as compared to normal liver.Our study demonstrates upregulation of TGF-β2 in liver disease and suggests TGF-β2 as a promising therapeutic target for tackling fibrosis and HCC.

Concepts: Gene expression, Cell, Cancer, Cell biology, Cirrhosis, Liver, Hepatology, Bile

2

Greater adiposity is an important risk factor for nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Thus, it is likely that dietary intake is involved in the development of the disease. Prospective studies assessing the relation between childhood dietary intake and risk of NAFLD are lacking.

Concepts: Nutrition, Obesity, Cirrhosis, Metabolic syndrome, Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, Fatty liver, Steatosis, Steatohepatitis

2

In HCV infected individuals graft infection occurs shortly after orthotopic liver transplantation (OLT). We aimed to describe the composition of the inflammatory response at this time, how it affects the HCV replication cycle and identify novel proviral and antiviral factors.

Concepts: Immune system, Inflammation, Infection, Cirrhosis, Liver, Organ transplant, Liver transplantation, Liver dialysis

2

Liver transplantation is an optimal radical therapy for selected patients with hepatocellular carcinoma. The stringent organ allocation system driven by the Milan criteria has been challenged by alternative sets of expanded criteria. Careful analysis is needed to prove that the Milan criteria can be expanded safely and effectively.

Concepts: Cancer, Cirrhosis, Liver, Hepatocellular carcinoma, Hepatology, Organ transplant, Liver transplantation, Milan criteria