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Concept: Cirrhosis

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Recent studies showed that telbivudine in patients with hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection improved their glomerular filtration rate (GFR), but data regarding its impact on renal function in liver transplant (LT) recipients are very limited. We evaluated 17 consecutive recipients who received at baseline nucleos(t)ide analogue(s) (NAs) other than telbivudine for 12 months, and then they were switched to telbivudine prophylaxis for another 12 months. In each patient, laboratory data including evaluation of GFR (using MDRD and CKD-EPI) were prospectively recorded. The changes in GFR (ΔGFR) between baseline and after 12 months (1st period) and between telbivudine initiation and 24 months (2nd period) were evaluated. All patients remained serum HBsAg and HBV-DNA negative. GFR-MDRD at baseline, 12 months and 24 months were 72 ± 18, 67.8 ± 16 and 70.3 ± 12mL/min, respectively, (P = 0.025 for comparison between 12 months and 24 months). ΔGFR at the 1st period was significantly lower, compared with ΔGFR at the 2nd period [mean ΔGFR-MDRD: -4.2 (range: -24-9) vs 2.5 (range: -7-22) mL/min, P = 0.013; mean ΔGFR-CKD-EPI: -4.2 (range: -19-10) vs 4.0 (range: -7-23) mL/min, P = 0.004], although the serum levels of calcineurin inhibitors were similar between the two periods. A second group of recipients (n = 17) who remained under the same nontelbivudine NA(s) for 24 months had a decline in the mean eGFR during the total follow-up period. In conclusion, we showed that telbivudine administration in LT recipients for HBV cirrhosis was effective and it was associated with significant improvement in renal function, but this remains to be confirmed in larger well-designed studies.

Concepts: Renal failure, Nephrology, Renal function, Cirrhosis, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis B virus

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Adiponectin (AdipoQ) is an adipose-derived plasma protein that plays an important role in hepatic lipoprotein-lipid metabolism. Emerging evidence have shown that two common polymorphisms (T45 G and G276 T) in the AdipoQ gene may contribute to increasing susceptibility to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD); however individually published studies show inconclusive results. This meta-analysis aimed to derive a more precise estimation of the association of AdipoQ T45 G (rs2241766 T>G) and G276 T (rs1501299 G>T) polymorphisms with NAFLD risk.

Concepts: Protein, Obesity, Cirrhosis, Metabolic syndrome, Digestion, Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, Fatty liver, Steatosis

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In the current issue of the Journal, Nornan et al describe two new autoantibodies - anti-kelch-like 12 (KLHL12) and hexokinase-1 (HK1) - which are specific for primary biliary cirrhosis, and are especially important for patients who are seronegative for anti-mitochondrial antibody (AMA). But let’s put the newly described specificities in the wider context of the serological diagnosis of PBC. The autoimmune nature of PBC, a disease first recognized by Addison and Gull in 1851, became clear when its unequivocal association (1), with antimitochondrial antibody was described (Figure). This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Concepts: Immunology, Cirrhosis, Hepatology, Autoimmune disease, Primary biliary cirrhosis, All rights reserved, Primary sclerosing cholangitis, Copyright

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We aimed to evaluate the efficacy of liver stiffness measurement (LSM) in predicting the presence and severity of esophgeal varices (EV) and its association with liver function in patients with liver cirrhosis.

Concepts: Cirrhosis, Liver, Gastroenterology, Bilirubin, Esophageal varices, Hepatitis C, Hepatic portal vein, Liver transplantation

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Nuclear factor-erythroid 2-related factor-2 (Nrf2) acts as a defense system in the development of nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). Curcumin is a phenolic compound with lipid regulatory, anti-oxidative, anti-inflammatory and anti-tumorigenic properties that is beneficial in defending against NASH and was recently proved to be an Nrf2 activator. The aim of this study was to evaluate whether Nrf2 activation could be involved in NASH mitigation by curcumin.

Concepts: Cirrhosis, Liver disease, Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, Phenols

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Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is an aggressive tumor that often occurs in the setting of chronic liver disease. Many patients do not initially manifest any symptoms of HCC and present late when cure with surgical resection or transplantation is no longer possible. For this reason, patients at high risk for developing HCC are subjected to frequent screening processes. The surgical management of HCC is complex and requires an inter-disciplinary approach. Hepatic resection is the treatment of choice for HCC in patients without cirrhosis and is indicated in some patients with early cirrhosis (Child-Pugh A). Liver transplantation has emerged in the past decade as the standard of care for patients with cirrhosis and HCC meeting Milan criteria and in select patients with HCC beyond Milan criteria. Loco-regional therapy with transarterial chemoembolization, transarterial embolization, radiofrequency ablation and other similar local treatments can be used as neo-adjuvant therapy to downstage HCC to within Milan criteria or as a bridge to transplantation in patients on transplant wait list.

Concepts: Cancer, Medical terms, Cirrhosis, Liver, Hepatocellular carcinoma, Hepatology, Organ transplant, Liver transplantation

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Epidemiological and clinical data point to a close association between chronic hepatitis B virus infection or chronic hepatitis C virus infection and development of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). HCC develops over several decades and is associated with fibrosis. This sequence suggests that persistent viral infection and chronic inflammation can synergistically induce liver fibrosis and hepatocarcinogenesis. The transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β) signaling pathway plays a pivotal role in diverse cellular processes and contributes to hepatic fibro-carcinogenesis under inflammatory microenvironments during chronic liver diseases. The biological activities of TGF-β are initiated by the binding of the ligand to TGF-β receptors, which phosphorylate Smad proteins. TGF-β type I receptor activates Smad3 to create COOH-terminally phosphorylated Smad3 (pSmad3C), while pro-inflammatory cytokine-activated kinases phosphorylates Smad3 to create the linker phosphorylated Smad3 (pSmad3L). During chronic liver disease progression, virus components, together with pro-inflammatory cytokines and somatic mutations, convert the Smad3 signal from tumor-suppressive pSmad3C to fibro-carcinogenic pSmad3L pathways, accelerating liver fibrosis and increasing the risk of HCC. The understanding of Smad3 phosphorylation profiles may provide new opportunities for effective chemoprevention and personalized therapy for patients with hepatitis virus-related HCC in the future.

Concepts: Signal transduction, Cirrhosis, Hepatitis, Hepatocellular carcinoma, Phosphorylation, Hepatitis C, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis A

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The number of elderly patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) has been increasing. Characteristics of elderly HCC patients are a higher proportion of females, a lower rate of positive hepatitis B surface antigen, and a higher rate of positive hepatitis C antibodies. Careful patient selection is vital for performing hepatectomy safely in elderly HCC patients. Treatment strategy should be decided by not only considering tumor stage and hepatic functional reserve, but also physiological status, including comorbid disease. Various assessment tools have been applied to predict the risk of hepatectomy. The reported mortality and morbidity rates after hepatectomy in elderly HCC patients ranged from 0% to 42.9% and from 9% to 51%, respectively. Overall survival rate after hepatectomy in elderly HCC patients at 5 years ranged from 26% to 75.9%. Both short-term and long-term results after hepatectomy for strictly selected elderly HCC patients are almost the same as those for younger patients. However, considering physiological characteristics and the high prevalence of comorbid disease in elderly patients, it is important to assess patients more meticulously and to select them strictly if scheduled to undergo major hepatectomy.

Concepts: Cancer, Cirrhosis, Hepatitis, Hepatocellular carcinoma, Interferon, Hepatitis C, Hepatitis B, Hepatitis A

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Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a progressive disease of increasing public health concern. In western populations the disease has an estimated prevalence of 20%-40%, rising to 70%-90% in obese and type II diabetic individuals. Simplistically, NAFLD is the macroscopic accumulation of lipid in the liver, and is viewed as the hepatic manifestation of the metabolic syndrome. However, the molecular mechanisms mediating both the initial development of steatosis and its progression through non-alcoholic steatohepatitis to debilitating and potentially fatal fibrosis and cirrhosis are only partially understood. Despite increased research in this field, the development of non-invasive clinical diagnostic tools and the discovery of novel therapeutic targets has been frustratingly slow. We note that, to date, NAFLD research has been dominated by in vivo experiments in animal models and human clinical studies. Systems biology tools and novel computational simulation techniques allow the study of large-scale metabolic networks and the impact of their dysregulation on health. Here we review current systems biology tools and discuss the benefits to their application to the study of NAFLD. We propose that a systems approach utilising novel in silico modelling and simulation techniques is key to a more comprehensive, better targeted NAFLD research strategy. Such an approach will accelerate the progress of research and vital translation into clinic.

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

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Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a multi-faceted condition including simple steatosis alone or associated with inflammation and ballooning (non-alcoholic steatohepatitis) and eventually fibrosis. The NAFLD incidence has increased over the last twenty years becoming the most frequent chronic liver disease in industrialized countries. Obesity, visceral adiposity, insulin resistance, and many other disorders that characterize metabolic syndrome are the major predisposing risk factors for NAFLD. Furthermore, different factors, including genetic background, epigenetic mechanisms and environmental factors, such as diet and physical exercise, contribute to NAFLD development and progression. Several lines of evidence demonstrate that specific microRNAs expression profiles are strongly associated with several pathological conditions including NAFLD. In NAFLD, microRNA deregulation in response to intrinsic genetic or epigenetic factors or environmental factors contributes to metabolic dysfunction. In this review we focused on microRNAs role both as controlled and controllers molecules in NAFLD development and/or their eventual value as non-invasive biomarkers of disease.

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