Publications by authors named "Janett Fischer"

49 Publications

Copy number variation and expression of exportin-4 associates with severity of fibrosis in metabolic associated fatty liver disease.

EBioMedicine 2021 Aug 11;70:103521. Epub 2021 Aug 11.

Storr Liver Centre, Westmead Institute for Medical Research, Westmead Hospital and University of Sydney, NSW, Australia. Electronic address:

Background: Liver fibrosis risk is a heritable trait, the outcome of which is the net deposition of extracellular matrix by hepatic stellate cell-derived myofibroblasts. Whereas nucleotide sequence variations have been extensively studied in liver fibrosis, the role of copy number variations (CNV) in which genes exist in abnormal numbers of copies (mostly due to duplication or deletion) has had limited exploration.

Methods: The impact of the XPO4 CNV on histological liver damage was examined in a cohort comprised 646 Caucasian patients with biopsy-proven MAFLD and 170 healthy controls. XPO4 expression was modulated and function was examined in human and animal models.

Findings: Here we demonstrate in a cohort of 816 subjects, 646 with biopsy-proven metabolic associated liver disease (MAFLD) and 170 controls, that duplication in the exportin 4 (XPO4) CNV is associated with the severity of liver fibrosis. Functionally, this occurs via reduced expression of hepatic XPO4 that maintains sustained activation of SMAD3/SMAD4 and promotes TGF-β1-mediated HSC activation and fibrosis. This effect was mediated through termination of nuclear SMAD3 signalling. XPO4 demonstrated preferential binding to SMAD3 compared to other SMADs and led to reduced SMAD3-mediated responses as shown by attenuation of TGFβ1 induced SMAD transcriptional activity, reductions in the recruitment of SMAD3 to target gene promoters following TGF-β1, as well as attenuation of SMAD3 phosphorylation and disturbed SMAD3/SMAD4 complex formation.

Interpretation: We conclude that a CNV in XPO4 is a critical mediator of fibrosis severity and can be exploited as a therapeutic target for liver fibrosis.

Funding: ME and JG are supported by the Robert W. Storr Bequest to the Sydney Medical Foundation, University of Sydney; a National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia (NHMRC) Program Grant (APP1053206) and Project and ideas grants (APP2001692, APP1107178 and APP1108422). AB is supported by an Australian Government Research Training Program (RTP) scholarship. EB is supported by Horizon 2020 under grant 634413 for the project EPoS.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ebiom.2021.103521DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8365315PMC
August 2021

Mistranslation Drives Alterations in Protein Levels and the Effects of a Synonymous Variant at the Fibroblast Growth Factor 21 Locus.

Adv Sci (Weinh) 2021 06 1;8(11):2004168. Epub 2021 May 1.

Storr Liver Centre Westmead Institute for Medical Research Westmead Hospital and University of Sydney Westmead NSW 2145 Australia.

Fibroblast growth factor 21 (FGF21) is a liver-derived hormone with pleiotropic beneficial effects on metabolism. Paradoxically, FGF21 levels are elevated in metabolic diseases. Interventions that restore metabolic homeostasis reduce FGF21. Whether abnormalities in FGF21 secretion or resistance in peripheral tissues is the initiating factor in altering FGF21 levels and function in humans is unknown. A genetic approach is used to help resolve this paradox. The authors demonstrate that the primary event in dysmetabolic phenotypes is the elevation of FGF21 secretion. The latter is regulated by translational reprogramming in a genotype- and context-dependent manner. To relate the findings to tissues outcomes, the minor (A) allele of rs838133 is shown to be associated with increased hepatic inflammation in patients with metabolic associated fatty liver disease. The results here highlight a dominant role for translation of the FGF21 protein to explain variations in blood levels that is at least partially inherited. These results provide a framework for translational reprogramming of FGF21 to treat metabolic diseases.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/advs.202004168DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8188187PMC
June 2021

A genetic variant in toll-like receptor 5 is linked to chemokine levels and hepatocellular carcinoma in steatohepatitis.

Liver Int 2021 09 27;41(9):2139-2148. Epub 2021 Jun 27.

Department of Internal Medicine I, University Hospital, University of Bonn, Bonn, Germany.

Background & Aims: Bacterial translocation drives liver disease progression. We investigated whether functional genetic variants in toll-like receptor 5 (TLR5), the receptor for bacterial flagellin, affect the risk for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).

Methods: Healthy controls (n = 212), patients with alcohol abuse without liver disease (n = 382), and patients from a discovery cohort of alcohol-associated cirrhosis (n = 372 including 79 HCC cases), a validation cohort of alcohol-associated cirrhosis (n = 355 including 132 HCC cases), and a cohort of cirrhosis due to nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) (n = 145 including 62 HCC cases) were genotyped for the TLR5 rs5744174 and rs5744168 polymorphisms. Chemokine levels were measured by ELISA in patients' sera and supernatants of flagellin-stimulated healthy monocytes.

Results: Frequency of the TLR5 rs5744174 TT genotype was similar in healthy controls (33%), controls with alcohol abuse (34%), and patients with alcohol-associated cirrhosis in the discovery (28%), validation (33%), and NASH cohort (31%). The TT genotype was enriched in patients with versus without HCC in the discovery, validation, and NASH cohort (41% vs 25%; 39% vs 29%; 40% vs 24%; p < .05 each). This genotype remained a risk factor for HCC (OR = 1.9; p = .01) after multivariate correction for age, gender, diabetes, and carriage of the PNPLA3 148M variant. Interleukin-8 induction in monocytes from healthy controls and serum levels of interleukin-8 and CXCL1 from cirrhotic patients with the TT genotype were significantly increased versus C allele carriers.

Conclusion: The TLR5 rs5744174 polymorphism, affecting immune response to flagellin, is linked to occurrence of HCC in cirrhosis caused by steatohepatitis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/liv.14980DOI Listing
September 2021

Variants in PCSK7, PNPLA3 and TM6SF2 are risk factors for the development of cirrhosis in hereditary haemochromatosis.

Aliment Pharmacol Ther 2021 04 10;53(7):830-843. Epub 2021 Feb 10.

London, UK.

Background: Cirrhosis develops in <10% of individuals homozygous for the C282Y variant in the homeostatic iron regulator (HFE) gene. Carriage of PCSK7:rs236918 is associated with an increased risk of cirrhosis in this population.

Aim: To determine if genetic variants significantly associated with the risk of alcohol- and NAFLD-related cirrhosis also modulate the cirrhosis risk in C282Y homozygotes.

Methods: Variants in PCSK7, PNPLA3, TM6SF2, MBOAT7 and HSD17B13 were genotyped in 1319 C282Y homozygotes, from six European countries, of whom 171 (13.0%) had cirrhosis. Genotypic and allelic associations with the risk for developing cirrhosis were assessed, adjusting for age and sex. Fixed effects meta-analyses of the adjusted summary data for each country were performed. Post hoc association testing was undertaken in the 131 (76.6%) cases and 299 (26.0%) controls with available liver histology.

Results: Significant associations were observed between PCSK7:rs236918 (OR = 1.52 [95% CI 1.06-2.19]; P = 0.022; I  = 0%); PNPLA3:rs738409 (OR = 1.60 [95% CI 1.22-2.11]; P = 7.37 × 10 ; I  = 45.5%) and TM6SF2:rs58542926 (OR = 1.94 [95% CI 1.28-2.95]; P = 1.86 × 10 ; I  = 0%) and the cirrhosis risk in C282Y homozygotes. These findings remained significant in the subpopulation with available liver histology. The population-attributable fractions were 5.6% for PCSK7:rs236918, 13.8% for PNPLA3:rs738409, 6.5% for TM6SF2:rs58542926 and 24.0% for carriage of all three variants combined.

Conclusions: The risk of cirrhosis associated with carriage of PCSK7:rs236918 was confirmed in this much larger population of C282Y homozygotes. In addition, PNPLA3:rs738409 and TM6SF2:rs58542926 were established as significant additional risk factors. More detailed genetic testing of C282Y homozygotes would allow risk stratification and help guide future management.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/apt.16252DOI Listing
April 2021

Genetic variation in the TLL1 gene is not associated with fibrosis in patients with metabolic associated fatty liver disease.

PLoS One 2020 11;15(12):e0243590. Epub 2020 Dec 11.

Storr Liver Centre, Westmead Institute for Medical Research, Westmead Hospital and University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia.

Metabolic associated fatty liver disease (MAFLD) is the most prevalent liver disease in Western nations, with high heritability. A recent study of Japanese patients with the disease suggested that TLL1 rs17047200 is associated with fibrosis; whether a similar association is observed in Caucasian patients with MAFLD is unknown. We investigated the association of the TLL1 rs17047200 polymorphism with liver fibrosis in a cohort of Caucasian patients with MAFLD (n = 728). We also investigated whether TLL1 expression is altered during liver injury in humans, in murine models of fibrosis, and in in-vitro. While TLL1 expression is upregulated in the liver of humans with MAFLD and in mice, the rs17047200 variant was not associated with fibrosis or any other histological features, or with hepatic TLL1 expression. In conclusion, the TLL1 rs17047200 variant is not a risk variant for fibrosis in Caucasian patients with MAFLD. However, TLL1 could be involved in the pathogenesis of liver fibrosis.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0243590PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7732106PMC
January 2021

Non-invasive stratification of hepatocellular carcinoma risk in non-alcoholic fatty liver using polygenic risk scores.

J Hepatol 2021 04 25;74(4):775-782. Epub 2020 Nov 25.

Translational Medicine - Department of Transfusion Medicine and Hematology, Fondazione IRCCS Ca' Granda Ospedale Maggiore Policlinico, Milan, Italy; Department of Pathophysiology and Transplantation, Università degli Studi di Milano, Milan, Italy. Electronic address:

Background & Aims: Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) risk stratification in individuals with dysmetabolism is a major unmet need. Genetic predisposition contributes to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). We aimed to exploit robust polygenic risk scores (PRS) that can be evaluated in the clinic to gain insight into the causal relationship between NAFLD and HCC, and to improve HCC risk stratification.

Methods: We examined at-risk individuals (NAFLD cohort, n = 2,566; 226 with HCC; and a replication cohort of 427 German patients with NAFLD) and the general population (UK Biobank [UKBB] cohort, n = 364,048; 202 with HCC). Variants in PNPLA3-TM6SF2-GCKR-MBOAT7 were combined in a hepatic fat PRS (PRS-HFC), and then adjusted for HSD17B13 (PRS-5).

Results: In the NAFLD cohort, the adjusted impact of genetic risk variants on HCC was proportional to the predisposition to fatty liver (p = 0.002) with some heterogeneity in the effect. PRS predicted HCC more robustly than single variants (p <10). The association between PRS and HCC was mainly mediated through severe fibrosis, but was independent of fibrosis in clinically relevant subgroups, and was also observed in those without severe fibrosis (p <0.05). In the UKBB cohort, PRS predicted HCC independently of classical risk factors and cirrhosis (p <10). In the NAFLD cohort, we identified high PRS cut-offs (≥0.532/0.495 for PRS-HFC/PRS-5) that in the UKBB cohort detected HCC with ~90% specificity but limited sensitivity; PRS predicted HCC both in individuals with (p <10) and without cirrhosis (p <0.05).

Conclusions: Our results are consistent with a causal relationship between hepatic fat and HCC. PRS improved the accuracy of HCC detection and may help stratify HCC risk in individuals with dysmetabolism, including those without severe liver fibrosis. Further studies are needed to validate our findings.

Lay Summary: By analyzing variations in genes that contribute to fatty liver disease, we developed two risk scores to help predict liver cancer in individuals with obesity-related metabolic complications. These risk scores can be easily tested in the clinic. We showed that the risk scores helped to identify the risk of liver cancer both in high-risk individuals and in the general population.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jhep.2020.11.024DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7987554PMC
April 2021

Extrahepatic autoimmune diseases in primary biliary cholangitis: Prevalence and significance for clinical presentation and disease outcome.

J Gastroenterol Hepatol 2021 Apr 23;36(4):936-942. Epub 2020 Aug 23.

Hepatology Division, Centre for Digestive Diseases, Karolinska Institutet and Karolinska University Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden.

Background And Aim: The prevalence and clinical significance of extrahepatic autoimmune diseases (EHAIDs) have not been evaluated in a large cohort of primary biliary cholangitis (PBC).

Methods: The medical records of 1554 patients with PBC from 20 international centers were retrospectively reviewed. Development of decompensated cirrhosis (ascites, variceal bleeding, and/or hepatic encephalopathy) and hepatocellular carcinoma were considered clinical endpoints.

Results: A total of 35 different EHAIDs were diagnosed in 440 (28.3%) patients with PBC. Patients with EHAIDs were more often female (92.5% vs 86.1%, P < 0.001) and seropositive for anti-mitochondrial antibodies (88% vs 84%, P = 0.05) and antinuclear antibodies and/or smooth muscle antibodies (53.8% vs 43.6%, P = 0.005). At presentation, patients with EHAIDs had significantly lower levels of alkaline phosphatase (1.76 vs 1.98 × upper limit of normal [ULN], P = 0.006), aspartate aminotransferase (1.29 vs 1.50 × ULN, P < 0.001), and total bilirubin (0.53 vs 0.58 × ULN, P = 0.002). Patients with EHAIDs and without EHAIDs had similar rates of GLOBE high-risk status (12.3% vs 16.1%, P = 0.07) and Paris II response (71.4% vs 69.4%, P = 0.59). Overall, event-free survival was not different in patients with and without EHAIDs (90.8% vs 90.7%, P = 0.53, log rank). Coexistence of each autoimmune thyroid diseases (10.6%), Sjögren disease (8.3%), systemic sclerosis (2.9%), rheumatoid arthritis (2.7%), systemic lupus erythematosus (1.7%), celiac disease (1.7%), psoriasis (1.5%), and inflammatory bowel diseases (1.3%) did not influence the outcome.

Conclusions: Our study confirms that EHAIDs are frequently diagnosed in patients with PBC. The presence of EHAIDs may influence the clinical phenotype of PBC at presentation but has no impact on PBC outcome.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/jgh.15214DOI Listing
April 2021

Genome-Wide Association Study for Alcohol-Related Cirrhosis Identifies Risk Loci in MARC1 and HNRNPUL1.

Gastroenterology 2020 10 16;159(4):1276-1289.e7. Epub 2020 Jun 16.

Medical Department 1, University Hospital Dresden, Technische Universität Dresden, Germany.

Background And Aims: Little is known about genetic factors that affect development of alcohol-related cirrhosis. We performed a genome-wide association study (GWAS) of samples from the United Kingdom Biobank (UKB) to identify polymorphisms associated with risk of alcohol-related liver disease.

Methods: We performed a GWAS of 35,839 participants in the UKB with high intake of alcohol against markers of hepatic fibrosis (FIB-4, APRI, and Forns index scores) and hepatocellular injury (levels of aminotransferases). Loci identified in the discovery analysis were tested for their association with alcohol-related cirrhosis in 3 separate European cohorts (phase 1 validation cohort; n=2545). Variants associated with alcohol-related cirrhosis in the validation at a false discovery rate of less than 20% were then directly genotyped in 2 additional European validation cohorts (phase 2 validation, n=2068).

Results: In the GWAS of the discovery cohort, we identified 50 independent risk loci with genome-wide significance (P < 5 × 10). Nine of these loci were significantly associated with alcohol-related cirrhosis in the phase 1 validation cohort; 6 of these 9 loci were significantly associated with alcohol-related cirrhosis in phase 2 validation cohort, at a false discovery rate below 5%. The loci included variants in the mitochondrial amidoxime reducing component 1 gene (MARC1) and the heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoprotein U like 1 gene (HNRNPUL1). After we adjusted for age, sex, body mass index, and type-2 diabetes in the phase 2 validation cohort, the minor A allele of MARC1:rs2642438 was associated with reduced risk of alcohol-related cirrhosis (adjusted odds ratio, 0.76; P=.0027); conversely, the minor C allele of HNRNPUL1:rs15052 was associated with an increased risk of alcohol-related cirrhosis (adjusted odds ratio, 1.30; P=.020).

Conclusions: In a GWAS of samples from the UKB, we identified and validated (in 5 European cohorts) single-nucleotide polymorphisms that affect risk of alcohol-related cirrhosis in opposite directions: the minor A allele in MARC1:rs2642438 decreases risk, whereas the minor C allele in HNRNPUL1:rs15052 increases risk.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1053/j.gastro.2020.06.014DOI Listing
October 2020

Serum hepatitis B virus RNA predicts response to peginterferon treatment in HBeAg-positive chronic hepatitis B.

J Viral Hepat 2020 06 17;27(6):610-619. Epub 2020 Mar 17.

Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Erasmus MC University Medical Center, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

Hepatitis B virus (HBV) RNA in serum is a novel biomarker that reflects cccDNA activity. We investigated whether HBV RNA can predict serological response to peginterferon (PEG-IFN) treatment. Serum HBV RNA levels were retrospectively measured at weeks 0, 12, 24 and 52 of therapy and after treatment discontinuation (week 78) in 266 HBeAg-positive chronic HBV patients who had participated in a global randomized controlled trial (HBV99-01 study). Patients received 52 weeks PEG-IFN monotherapy (n = 136) or PEG-IFN and lamivudine (n = 130). The primary end point was HBeAg loss 24 weeks after PEG-IFN discontinuation. At baseline, the mean serum level of HBV RNA was 6.8 (SD 1.2) log c/mL. HBV RNA levels declined to 4.7 (1.7) log c/mL after one year of PEG-IFN therapy alone and to 3.3 (1.2)log c/mL after combination therapy. From week 12 onward, HBV RNA level was significantly lower in patients who achieved HBeAg loss at the end of follow-up as compared to those who did not, regardless of treatment allocation (week 12:4.4 vs 5.1 log c/mL, P = .01; week 24:3.7 vs 4.9 log c/mL, P < .001). The performance of a multivariable model based on HBV RNA level was comparable at week 12 (AUC 0.68) and 24 (AUC 0.72) of therapy. HBV RNA level above 5.5 log c/mL at week 12 showed negative predictive values of 93/67/90/64% for HBV genotypes A/B/C/D for the prediction of HBeAg loss. In conclusion, HBV RNA in serum declines profoundly during PEG-IFN treatment. Early on-treatment HBV RNA level may be used to predict nonresponse.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/jvh.13272DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7383601PMC
June 2020

Hepatitis B Virus RNA as Early Predictor for Response to Pegylated Interferon Alpha in HBeAg-Negative Chronic Hepatitis B.

Clin Infect Dis 2021 01;72(2):202-211

Toronto Centre for Liver Disease, Toronto General Hospital, University Health Network, Toronto, Canada.

Background: Hepatitis B virus RNA (HBV-RNA) is a novel serum biomarker that correlates with transcription of intrahepatic covalently closed circular (cccDNA), which is an important target for pegylated interferon (PEG-IFN) and novel therapies for functional cure. We studied HBV-RNA kinetics following PEG-IFN treatment and its potential role as a predictor to response in HBeAg-negative chronic hepatitis B (CHB) patients.

Methods: HBV-RNA levels were measured in 133 HBeAg-negative CHB patients treated in an international randomized controlled trial (PARC study). Patients received PEG-IFN α-2a for 48 weeks. HBV-RNA was measured from baseline through week 144. Response was defined as HBV-DNA <2000 IU/mL and ALT normalization at week 72. Kinetics of HBV-RNA were compared with HBV-DNA, HBsAg, and HBcrAg.

Results: Mean HBV-RNA at baseline was 4.4 (standard deviation [SD] 1.2) log10 c/mL. At week 12, HBV-RNA declined by -1.6 (1.1) log10 c/mL. HBV-RNA showed a greater decline in responders compared to nonresponders early at week 12 (-2.0 [1.2] vs -1.5 [1.1] log10 c/mL, P = .04). HBV-RNA level above 1700 c/mL (3.2 log10 c/mL) had a negative predictive value of 91% at week 12 and 93% at week 24 (P = .01) for response. Overall, HBV-RNA showed a stronger correlation with HBV-DNA and HBcrAg (.82 and .80, P < .001) and a weak correlation with HBsAg (.25). At week 12, HBV-RNA was significantly lower among patients with lower HBsAg (<100 IU/mL) or HBsAg loss at week 144.

Conclusions: During PEG-IFN treatment for HBeAg-negative CHB, HBV-RNA showed a fast and significant decline that correlates with treatment response and HBsAg loss at long-term follow-up.

Clinical Trials Registration: NCT00114361.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/cid/ciaa013DOI Listing
January 2021

Evaluation of muscarinic acetylcholine receptor type 3 gene polymorphisms in patients with primary biliary cholangitis and primary sclerosing cholangitis.

Hepatol Res 2020 Mar 3;50(3):321-329. Epub 2019 Dec 3.

Medizinische Klinik mit Schwerpunkt Hepatologie und Gastroenterologie, Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Campus Virchow Klinikum, Berlin, Germany.

Aim: Muscarinic acetylcholine receptor type 3-mediated signaling might be involved in the pathogenesis of chronic inflammatory biliary diseases, such as primary biliary cholangitis (PBC) and primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC). The aim of the present study was to investigate the prevalence of five well-characterized specific single-nucleotide polymorphisms within the muscarinic acetylcholine receptor type 3 gene, CHRM3 (rs11578320, rs6690809, rs6429157, rs7548522, and rs4620530), in patients with PBC and PSC. Patients with chronic hepatitis C (CHC) and healthy individuals served as control cohorts. In the PBC cohort, baseline characteristics and response to ursodeoxycholic acid therapy applying established response criteria at 12 months after the initiation of treatment were evaluated according to the underlying CHRM3 genotype.

Methods: CHRM3 genotyping was carried out in 306 PBC patients, 205 PSC patients, 208 CHC patients, and 240 healthy controls from two independent German tertiary care university centers in Berlin and Leipzig, Germany.

Results: CHRM3 rs4620530 proportions in patients with PBC significantly differed from patients with PSC (P = 0.005), CHC (P = 0.009), and healthy controls (P = 0.008), primarily due to a substantial overrepresentation of the T allele in PBC (49.3% in PBC vs. 39.8% in PSC, 35.7% in CHC, and 40% in healthy controls), indicating a potential association of the rs4620530 T allele with PBC (OR 1.461, 95% CI 1.147-1.861, P = 0.002). Further analysis showed no association of CHRM3 single-nucleotide polymorphism rs4620530 with baseline characteristics and ursodeoxycholic acid treatment response in PBC.

Conclusion: CHRM3 single-nucleotide polymorphism rs4620530 might confer an increased genetic risk for the development of PBC.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/hepr.13455DOI Listing
March 2020

GALAD Score Detects Early Hepatocellular Carcinoma in an International Cohort of Patients With Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis.

Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol 2020 03 8;18(3):728-735.e4. Epub 2019 Nov 8.

Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, Philipps-University Marburg, Marburg, Germany.

Background & Aims: The prevalence of nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) associated hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is increasing. However, strategies for detection of early-stage HCC in patients with NASH have limitations. We assessed the ability of the GALAD score, which determines risk of HCC based on patient sex; age; and serum levels of α-fetoprotein (AFP), AFP isoform L3 (AFP-L3), and des-gamma-carboxy prothrombin (DCP), to detect HCC in patients with NASH.

Methods: We performed a case-control study of 125 patients with HCC (20% within Milan Criteria) and 231 patients without HCC (NASH controls) from 8 centers in Germany. We compared the performance of serum AFP, AFP-L3, or DCP vs GALAD score to identify patients with HCC using receiver operating characteristic curves and corresponding area under the curve (AUC) analyses. We also analyzed data from 389 patients with NASH under surveillance for HCC in Japan, followed for a median of 167 months. During the 5-year screening period, 26 patients developed HCC. To compensate for irregular intervals of data points, we performed locally weighted scatterplot smoothing, linear regression, and a non-linear curve fit to assess development of GALAD before HCC development.

Results: The GALAD score identified patients with any stage HCC with an AUC of 0.96 - significantly greater than values for serum levels of AFP (AUC, 0.88), AFP-L3 (AUC, 0.86) or DCP (AUC, 0.87). AUC values for the GALAD score were consistent in patients with cirrhosis (AUC, 0.93) and without cirrhosis (AUC, 0.98). For detection of HCC within Milan Criteria, the GALAD score achieved an AUC of 0.91, with a sensitivity of 68% and specificity of 95% at a cutoff of -0.63. In a pilot Japanese cohort study, the mean GALAD score was higher in patients with NASH who developed HCC than in those who did not develop HCC as early as 1.5 years before HCC diagnosis. GALAD scores were above -0.63 approximately 200 days before the diagnosis of HCC.

Conclusions: In a case-control study performed in Germany and a pilot cohort study in Japan, we found the GALAD score may detect HCC with high levels of accuracy in patients with NASH, with and without cirrhosis. The GALAD score can detect patients with early-stage HCC, and might facilitate surveillance of patients with NASH, who are often obese, which limits the sensitivity of detection of liver cancer by ultrasound.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cgh.2019.11.012DOI Listing
March 2020

Genetic Variation in HSD17B13 Reduces the Risk of Developing Cirrhosis and Hepatocellular Carcinoma in Alcohol Misusers.

Hepatology 2020 07 20;72(1):88-102. Epub 2020 May 20.

Departments of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, University Hospitals of Geneva and Faculty of Medicine, Geneva, Switzerland.

Background And Aims: Carriage of rs738409:G in patatin-like phospholipase domain containing 3 (PNPLA3) is associated with an increased risk for developing alcohol-related cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Recently, rs72613567:TA in hydroxysteroid 17-beta dehydrogenase 13 (HSD17B13) was shown to be associated with a reduced risk for developing alcohol-related liver disease and to attenuate the risk associated with carriage of PNPLA3 rs738409:G. This study explores the risk associations between these two genetic variants and the development of alcohol-related cirrhosis and HCC.

Approach And Results: Variants in HSD17B13 and PNPLA3 were genotyped in 6,171 participants, including 1,031 with alcohol-related cirrhosis and HCC, 1,653 with alcohol-related cirrhosis without HCC, 2,588 alcohol misusers with no liver disease, and 899 healthy controls. Genetic associations with the risks for developing alcohol-related cirrhosis and HCC were determined using logistic regression analysis. Carriage of HSD17B13 rs72613567:TA was associated with a lower risk for developing both cirrhosis (odds ratio [OR], 0.79; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.72-0.88; P = 8.13 × 10 ) and HCC (OR, 0.77; 95% CI, 0.68-0.89; P = 2.27 × 10 ), whereas carriage of PNPLA3 rs738409:G was associated with an increased risk for developing cirrhosis (OR, 1.70; 95% CI, 1.54-1.88; P = 1.52 × 10 ) and HCC (OR, 1.77; 95% CI, 1.58-1.98; P = 2.31 × 10 ). These associations remained significant after adjusting for age, sex, body mass index, type 2 diabetes, and country. Carriage of HSD17B13 rs72613567:TA attenuated the risk for developing cirrhosis associated with PNPLA3 rs738409:G in both men and women, but the protective effect against the subsequent development of HCC was only observed in men (OR , 0.75; 95% CI, 0.64-0.87; P = 1.72 × 10 ).

Conclusions: Carriage of variants in PNPLA3 and HSD17B13 differentially affect the risk for developing advanced alcohol-related liver disease. A genotypic/phenotypic risk score might facilitate earlier diagnosis of HCC in this population.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/hep.30996DOI Listing
July 2020

Genetic Variants in the Promoter Region of the Macrophage Migration Inhibitory Factor are Associated with the Severity of Hepatitis C Virus-Induced Liver Fibrosis.

Int J Mol Sci 2019 Jul 31;20(15). Epub 2019 Jul 31.

Department of Internal Medicine III, RWTH Aachen University Hospital, 52074 Aachen, Germany.

Two polymorphisms in the promoter region of macrophage migration inhibitory factor (MIF) - rs755622 and rs5844572 - exhibit prognostic relevance in inflammatory diseases. The aim of this study was to investigate a correlation between these MIF promoter polymorphisms and the severity of hepatitis C virus (HCV)-induced liver fibrosis. Our analysis included two independent patient cohorts with HCV-induced liver fibrosis (504 and 443 patients, respectively). The genotype of the single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) -173 G/C and the repeat number of the microsatellite polymorphism -794 CATT were determined in DNA samples and correlated with fibrosis severity. In the first cohort, homozygous carriers of the C allele in the rs755622 had lower fibrosis stages compared to heterozygous carriers or wild types (1.25 vs. 2.0 vs. 2.0; = 0.03). Additionally, ≥7 microsatellite repeats were associated with lower fibrosis stages (
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/ijms20153753DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6696142PMC
July 2019

Validation of Risk Scoring Systems in Ursodeoxycholic Acid-Treated Patients With Primary Biliary Cholangitis.

Am J Gastroenterol 2019 07;114(7):1101-1108

Division of Liver Diseases, the Mount Sinai Medical Center, New York, NY, USA.

Introduction: Risk stratification based on biochemical variables is a useful tool for monitoring ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA)-treated patients with primary biliary cholangitis (PBC). Several UDCA response criteria and scoring systems have been proposed for risk prediction in PBC, but these have not been validated in large external cohorts.

Methods: We performed a study on data of 1746 UDCA-treated patients with PBC from 25 centers in Europe, United States, and Canada. The prognostic performance of the risk scoring systems (GLOBE and UK-PBC) and the UDCA response criteria (Barcelona, Paris I, Paris II, Rotterdam, and Toronto) were evaluated. We regarded cirrhosis-related complications (ascites, variceal bleeding, and/or hepatic encephalopathy) as clinical end points.

Results: A total of 171 patients reached a clinical end point during a median 7 years (range 1-16 years) of follow-up. The 5-, 10- and 15-year adverse outcome-free survivals were 95%, 85%, and 77%. The GLOBE and UK-PBC scores predicted cirrhosis-related complications better than the UDCA response criteria. The hazard ratio (HR) for a 1 standard deviation increase was HR 5.05 (95% confidence interval (CI): 4.43-5.74, P < 0.001) for the GLOBE score and HR 3.39 (95% CI: 3.10-3.72, P < 0.001) for the UK-PBC score. Overall, the GLOBE and UK-PBC risk scores showed similar and excellent prognostic performance (C-statistic, 0.93; 95% CI: 0.91%-95% vs 0.94; 95% CI: 0.91%-0.96%).

Discussion: In our international, multicenter PBC cohort, the GLOBE and UK-PBC risk scoring systems were good predictors of future cirrhosis-related complications.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.14309/ajg.0000000000000290DOI Listing
July 2019

Author Correction: Predicting hepatic complications of allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation using liver stiffness measurement.

Bone Marrow Transplant 2019 Nov;54(11):1920

Division of Hematology and Oncology, University Hospital Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany.

In the original article, the affiliations were presented incorrectly. David Petroff is in fact the only author at affiliation 2. All other authors listed as being at affiliation 2 (Tina Weiße, Sebastian Beer, Franziska Gnatzy, Joachim Mössner, Michael Tröltzsch, Johannes Wiegand and Volker Keim) are in fact just at affiliation 1. These have now been corrected in the original article.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41409-019-0512-6DOI Listing
November 2019

Predicting hepatic complications of allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation using liver stiffness measurement.

Bone Marrow Transplant 2019 11 26;54(11):1738-1746. Epub 2019 Feb 26.

Division of Hematology and Oncology, University Hospital Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany.

Allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation is the only curative option for a variety of diseases. Despite advances, it is associated with considerable morbidity and mortality, often involving liver complications. Liver disease can be characterized using ultrasound-based liver stiffness measurement. To assess its prognostic value, consecutive patients undergoing allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation were prospectively evaluated in a single-center study. Endpoints included liver event-free survival and all-cause mortality at 1 year. Competing risk and Cox-regression were used for analysis. We evaluated 106 patients (42 female, age 57) and observed 33 life-threatening events (14 died) including 16 liver complications at 100 days. At 1 year, 36 patients had died, 20 with disease relapse. The hazard ratios for liver-related complications at 100 days were 3.2 (95% CI: 1.8-14.6, p = 0.0022) and 4.4 (95% CI: 1.6-11.9, p = 0.0042) for elevated transient elastography (n = 11) and shear-wave velocity (n = 31), respectively. Results were analogous for all-cause mortality at 1 year. Prior stem cell therapy and elevated gamma glutamyltransferase were also associated with outcome. This demonstrates that elastography is a promising and viable tool for risk prediction and should be included in upcoming multi-center trials to establish new means of guiding treatment and prophylaxis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41409-019-0464-xDOI Listing
November 2019

A variant in the MICA gene is associated with liver fibrosis progression in chronic hepatitis C through TGF-β1 dependent mechanisms.

Sci Rep 2019 02 5;9(1):1439. Epub 2019 Feb 5.

Storr Liver Centre, The Westmead Institute for Medical Research and Westmead Hospital, University of Sydney, and Westmead Hospital NSW, Sydney, Australia.

Hepatocarcinogenesis is tightly linked to liver fibrosis. Recently, two GWAS variants, MICA rs2596542 and DEPDC5 rs1012068 were identified as being associated with the development of HCV-induced hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in Japanese patients. The role of these variants on hepatic inflammation and fibrosis that are closely associated with HCC development is not known, nor are the biological mechanisms underlying their impact on the liver. Here, we demonstrate in 1689 patients with chronic hepatitis C (CHC) (1,501 with CHC and 188 with HCV-related HCC), that the MICA (T) allele, despite not being associated with HCC susceptibility, is associated with increased fibrosis stage (OR: 1.47, 95% CI: 1.05-2.06, p = 0.02) and fibrosis progression rate (hazards ratio: 1.41, 95% CI: 1.04-1.90, p = 0.02). The DEPDC5 variant was not associated with any of these phenotypes. MICA expression was down-regulated in advanced fibrosis stages. Further, (T) allele carriage was associated with lower MICA expression in liver and serum. Transforming growth factor-β1 (TGF-β1) expression suppresses MICA expression in hepatic stellate cells. Our findings suggest a novel mechanism linking susceptibility to advanced fibrosis and subsequently indirectly to HCC, to the level of MICA expression through TGF-β1-dependent mechanisms.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-018-35736-2DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6363805PMC
February 2019

Association of HLA-DPA1 and HLA-DPB1 polymorphisms with spontaneous HBsAg seroclearance in Caucasians.

Liver Int 2019 04 28;39(4):646-654. Epub 2019 Jan 28.

Department of Gastroenterology and Rheumatology, Section of Hepatology, University Hospital Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany.

Background & Aims: Acute hepatitis B virus (HBV) infections may clear spontaneously or become chronic and run through different phases. The single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) rs3077, rs9277535 and rs9277534 within the human leucocyte antigen (HLA)-DP gene have been found to be associated with HBV susceptibility and persistence in Asians. However, evidence for the influence of these variants in Caucasians has been limited so far. The aim of our study was to investigate the impact of these polymorphisms on the outcome of HBV infections in a large Caucasian population.

Methods: In this case-control study, we retrospectively analysed 1111 Caucasian individuals, including 618 with chronic HBV infections (CHB), 239 with spontaneous HBsAg seroclearance (SC) and 254 healthy controls (HC). The rs3077, rs9277535 and rs9277534 SNPs were genotyped by a polymerase chain reaction from blood samples and melting curve analysis.

Results: A significant difference in the allele distributions was observed only for the rs3077 SNP between the HC and the CHB group as well as between the SC and CHB groups. The rs3077-C allele was associated with a lower probability for spontaneous HBsAg seroclearance in comparison with the rs3077-T allele (OR 0.704, 95% CI 0.509-0.974; P = 0.033). No association of the three SNPs with the stages of chronic HBV infection was found.

Conclusion: This is the first study demonstrating an association of the rs3077-T allele with spontaneous HBsAg seroclearance in Caucasians. Further studies are needed to elucidate the role of HLA-DP variants in disease pathogenesis and their potential role for individualized disease management.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/liv.14008DOI Listing
April 2019

A polymorphism in the Irisin-encoding gene (FNDC5) associates with hepatic steatosis by differential miRNA binding to the 3'UTR.

J Hepatol 2019 03 31;70(3):494-500. Epub 2018 Oct 31.

Storr Liver Centre, Westmead Institute for Medical Research, Westmead Hospital and University of Sydney, NSW, Australia.

Background & Aims: Irisin, the cleaved extra-cellular fragment of the Fibronectin type III domain-containing protein 5 (FNDC5) is a myokine that is proposed to have favorable metabolic activity. We aimed to elucidate the currently undefined role of variants in the FNDC5 gene in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).

Methods: We prioritized single nucleotide polymorphisms in FNDC5 on the basis of their putative biological function and identified rs3480 in the 3' untranslated region (3'UTR). We studied the association of rs3480 with liver disease severity and the metabolic profile of 987 Caucasian patients with NAFLD. Functional investigations were undertaken using luciferase reporter assays of the 3'UTR of human FNDC5, pyrosequencing for allele-specific expression of FNDC5 in liver, measurement of serum irisin, and bioinformatics analysis.

Results: The rs3480 (G) allele was associated with advanced steatosis (OR 1.29; 95% CI 1.08-1.55; p = 0.004), but not with other histological features. This effect was independent but additive to PNPLA3 and TM6SF2. The rs3480 polymorphism influenced FNDC5 mRNA stability and the binding of miR-135a-5P. Compared with controls, hepatic expression of this microRNA was upregulated while FNDC5 expression was downregulated. Elevated serum irisin was associated with reduced steatosis, and an improved metabolic profile.

Conclusions: Carriage of the FNDC5 rs3480 minor (G) allele is associated with more severe steatosis in NAFLD through a microRNA-mediated mechanism controlling FNDC5 mRNA stability. Irisin is likely to have a favorable metabolic impact on NAFLD.

Lay Summary: Irisin is a novel protein produced mainly by muscle, which is known to be released into the circulation, with an unclear role in liver fat deposition. This study demonstrates that genetic variants in the gene encoding the irisin protein modulate the risk of liver fat in patients with fatty liver disease. Interestingly, these effects are independent of, but additive to those of other recently described genetic variants that contribute to liver fat. In functional studies, we have deciphered the detailed molecular mechanisms by which this genetic variant mediates its effects.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jhep.2018.10.021DOI Listing
March 2019

Polymorphisms in the Toll-like receptor 3 (TLR3) gene are associated with the natural course of hepatitis B virus infection in Caucasian population.

Sci Rep 2018 08 24;8(1):12737. Epub 2018 Aug 24.

Department of Gastroenterology and Rheumatology, Section of Hepatology, University Hospital Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany.

Innate immunity can induce spontaneous hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) seroclearance (SC) of hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection or transition towards an inactive carrier state. Toll-like receptor (TLR) 3 signalling has been linked to these processes. Alterations in the TLR3 gene might impair immune responses against HBV. In our study, we analysed the impact of the TLR3 polymorphisms rs3775291 and rs5743305 on the natural course of HBV infection. In this retrospective study, a Caucasian cohort of 621 patients with chronic HBV infection (CHB), 239 individuals with spontaneous HBsAg SC, and 254 healthy controls were enrolled. In the CHB group, 49% of patients were inactive carriers, and 17% were HBeAg-positive. The TLR3 rs3775291 A allele was associated with a reduced likelihood of spontaneous HBsAg SC and HBeAg SC, and an increased risk of developing chronic hepatitis B. In haplotype analysis, the haplotype including both risk variants rs3775291A and rs5743305A had the lowest likelihood of HBsAg SC. Further research in larger cohorts and functional analyses are needed to shed light on the impact of TLR3 signalling.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-018-31065-6DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6109130PMC
August 2018

Heterozygous carriage of the alpha1-antitrypsin Pi*Z variant increases the risk to develop liver cirrhosis.

Gut 2019 06 1;68(6):1099-1107. Epub 2018 Aug 1.

Department of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Endocrinology, Hannover Medical School, Hannover, Germany.

Objective: Homozygous alpha1-antitrypsin (AAT) deficiency increases the risk for developing cirrhosis, whereas the relevance of heterozygous carriage remains unclear. Hence, we evaluated the impact of the two most relevant AAT variants ('Pi*Z' and 'Pi*S'), present in up to 10% of Caucasians, on subjects with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) or alcohol misuse.

Design: We analysed multicentric case-control cohorts consisting of 1184 people with biopsy-proven NAFLD and of 2462 people with chronic alcohol misuse, both cohorts comprising cases with cirrhosis and controls without cirrhosis. Genotyping for the Pi*Z and Pi*S variants was performed.

Results: The Pi*Z variant presented in 13.8% of patients with cirrhotic NAFLD but only in 2.4% of counterparts without liver fibrosis (p<0.0001). Accordingly, the Pi*Z variant increased the risk of NAFLD subjects to develop cirrhosis (adjusted OR=7.3 (95% CI 2.2 to 24.8)). Likewise, the Pi*Z variant presented in 6.2% of alcohol misusers with cirrhosis but only in 2.2% of alcohol misusers without significant liver injury (p<0.0001). Correspondingly, alcohol misusers carrying the Pi*Z variant were prone to develop cirrhosis (adjusted OR=5.8 (95% CI 2.9 to 11.7)). In contrast, the Pi*S variant was not associated with NAFLD-related cirrhosis and only borderline with alcohol-related cirrhosis (adjusted OR=1.47 (95% CI 0.99 to 2.19)).

Conclusion: The Pi*Z variant is the hitherto strongest single nucleotide polymorphism-based risk factor for cirrhosis in NAFLD and alcohol misuse, whereas the Pi*S variant confers only a weak risk in alcohol misusers. As 2%-4% of Caucasians are Pi*Z carriers, this finding should be considered in genetic counselling of affected individuals.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/gutjnl-2018-316228DOI Listing
June 2019

Genetic variants in PNPLA3 and TM6SF2 predispose to the development of hepatocellular carcinoma in individuals with alcohol-related cirrhosis.

Am J Gastroenterol 2018 10 13;113(10):1475-1483. Epub 2018 Mar 13.

Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, University Hospital of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland. Medical Department 1, University Hospital Dresden, TU Dresden, Dresden, Germany. Department of Internal Medicine I, University of Bonn, Bonn, Germany. Department of Internal Medicine IV, University Hospital Heidelberg, Heidelberg, Germany. Hepatology Section, Division of Gastroenterology and Rheumatology, University Hospital Leipzig, Leipzig, Germany. Department of Gastroenterology, University Hospital Halle/Saale, Halle, Germany. Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois, University of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland. Department of Medicine II, Saarland University Medical Center, Homburg, Germany. Molecular Psychiatry Laboratory, Division of Psychiatry, University College London, London, UK. Medical Department 1, University of Erlangen, Nuremberg, Bavaria, Germany. Department of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Endocrinology, Hannover Medical School, Hanover, Germany. Department of Clinical Toxicology, Klinikum rechts der Isar, Technical University of Munich, Munich, Germany. First Department of Medicine, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, Hamburg, Germany. Institute of Laboratory Animal Science, University of Zurich, Schlieren, Switzerland. Department of General and Thoracic Surgery, University Hospital Schleswig-Holstein, Campus Kiel, Kiel, Germany. UCL Institute for Liver & Digestive Health, Division of Medicine, Royal Free Campus, University College London, London, United Kingdom. These authors have contributed equally to the presented work and share premier authorship: Felix Stickel, Stephan Buch. These authors have contributed equally to the presented work and share senior authorship: Pierre Deltenre, Thomas Berg, Marsha Y. Morgan, and Jochen Hampe.

Objectives: Variants in patatin-like phospholipase domain-containing 3 (PNPLA3; rs738409), transmembrane 6 superfamily member 2 (TM6SF2; rs58542926), and membrane bound O-acyltransferase domain containing 7 (MBOAT7; rs641738) are risk factors for the development of alcohol-related cirrhosis. Within this population, PNPLA3 rs738409 is also an established risk factor for the development of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). The aim of this study was to explore possible risk associations of TM6SF2 rs58542926 and MBOAT7 rs641738 with HCC.

Methods: Risk variants in PNPLA3, TM6SF2, and MBOAT7 were genotyped in 751 cases with alcohol-related cirrhosis and HCC and in 1165 controls with alcohol-related cirrhosis without HCC. Association with the risk of developing HCC was analyzed using multivariate logistic regression.

Results: The development of HCC was independently associated with PNPLA3 rs738409 (OR 1.84 [95% CI 1.55-2.18], p = 1.85 × 10) and TM6SF2 rs58542926 (OR 1.66 [1.30-2.13], p = 5.13 × 10), using an additive model, and controlling the sex, age, body mass index, and type 2 diabetes mellitus; the risk associated with carriage of MBOAT7 rs641738 (OR 1.04 [0.88-1.24], p = 0.61) was not significant. The population-attributable fractions were 43.5% for PNPLA3 rs738409, 11.5% for TM6SF2 rs58542926, and 49.9% for the carriage of both the variants combined.

Conclusions: Carriage of TM6SF2 rs58542926 is an additional risk factor for the development of HCC in people with alcohol-related cirrhosis. Carriage of both PNPLA3 rs738409 and TM6SF2 rs58542926 accounts for half of the attributable risk for HCC in this population. Genotyping will allow for more precise HCC risk-stratification of patients with alcohol-related cirrhosis, and genotype-guided screening algorithms would optimize patient care.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41395-018-0041-8DOI Listing
October 2018

Host and viral factors associated with serum hepatitis B virus RNA levels among patients in need for treatment.

Hepatology 2018 09 27;68(3):839-847. Epub 2018 Apr 27.

Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Erasmus MC University Medical Center, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

Hepatitis B virus (HBV) RNA in serum is a novel biomarker for intrahepatic HBV replication and treatment response. For its proper use, it is essential to identify factors influencing serum HBV RNA level. Using a rapid amplification of complimentary DNA (cDNA) ends (RACE) PCR technique (lower limit of detection [LLD], 800 copies/mL [c/mL]), serum HBV RNA levels were measured in samples of 488 untreated individuals with chronic HBV infection who were eligible to treatment according to currently used recommendations. We explored the association of serum levels of HBV RNA with patient- and virus-associated factors. HBV genotype distribution was 21/10/20/46/3% for A/B/C/D/other. Mean HBV RNA serum level was 5.9 (1.6) log c/mL (hepatitis B e antigen [HBeAg]-positive chronic hepatitis B [CHB], 6.5 [1.2] log c/mL; HBeAg-negative CHB, 4.1 [1.2] log c/mL; P < 0.001). By multivariable linear regression, factors associated with lower HBV RNA level were HBeAg negativity (β = -0.69; P < 0.001), HBV genotypes A (β = -0.13; P = 0.002), B (β = -0.07; P = 0.049), and C (β = -0.61; P < 0.001) in comparison to D, and presence of HBV basal core promoter mutation either alone (β = -0.14; P = 0.001) or in combination with precore mutation (β = -0.22; P < 0.001). Higher serum alanine aminotransferase (ALT) was associated with higher HBV RNA (β = 0.23; P < 0.001). HBV RNA correlated strongly with HBV DNA (HBeAg-pos, r = 0.72; P < 0.001; HBeAg-neg, r = 0.78; P < 0.001) and moderately with quantitative hepatitis B surface antigen (qHBsAg; HBeAg-pos, r = 0.54; P < 0.001; HBeAg-neg, r = 0.19; P = 0.04) and quantitative hepatitis B surface antigen (qHBeAg; r = 0.41; P < 0.001).

Conclusion: In this multiethnic cohort of 488 untreated individuals with CHB, factors associated with serum HBV RNA level were HBeAg status, serum ALT, HBV genotype, and presence of basal core promotor mutations. For the future use of serum HBV RNA as a clinical marker, it seems mandatory to take these factors into consideration. (Hepatology 2018).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/hep.29872DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6175227PMC
September 2018

IFN-λ3, not IFN-λ4, likely mediates IFNL3-IFNL4 haplotype-dependent hepatic inflammation and fibrosis.

Nat Genet 2017 May 10;49(5):795-800. Epub 2017 Apr 10.

Storr Liver Centre, Westmead Institute for Medical Research, Westmead Hospital and University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.

Genetic variation in the IFNL3-IFNL4 (interferon-λ3-interferon-λ4) region is associated with hepatic inflammation and fibrosis. Whether IFN-λ3 or IFN-λ4 protein drives this association is not known. We demonstrate that hepatic inflammation, fibrosis stage, fibrosis progression rate, hepatic infiltration of immune cells, IFN-λ3 expression, and serum sCD163 levels (a marker of activated macrophages) are greater in individuals with the IFNL3-IFNL4 risk haplotype that does not produce IFN-λ4, but produces IFN-λ3. No difference in these features was observed according to genotype at rs117648444, which encodes a substitution at position 70 of the IFN-λ4 protein and reduces IFN-λ4 activity, or between patients encoding functionally defective IFN-λ4 (IFN-λ4-Ser70) and those encoding fully active IFN-λ4-Pro70. The two proposed functional variants (rs368234815 and rs4803217) were not superior to the discovery SNP rs12979860 with respect to liver inflammation or fibrosis phenotype. IFN-λ3 rather than IFN-λ4 likely mediates IFNL3-IFNL4 haplotype-dependent hepatic inflammation and fibrosis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/ng.3836DOI Listing
May 2017

The membrane-bound O-acyltransferase domain-containing 7 variant rs641738 increases inflammation and fibrosis in chronic hepatitis B.

Hepatology 2017 06 28;65(6):1840-1850. Epub 2017 Apr 28.

Storr Liver Centre, Westmead Institute for Medical Research, Westmead Hospital and University of Sydney, NSW, Australia.

Chronic hepatitis B (CHB) is characterized by hepatic inflammation that promotes progression to cirrhosis and predisposes to the development of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Subtle interindividual genetic variation as well as viral and environmental factors interact to determine disease progression between individuals. Recently, the rs641738 membrane-bound O-acyltransferase domain-containing 7 (MBOAT7) polymorphism was demonstrated to influence histological liver damage in alcoholic liver disease, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, and hepatitis C, but no data are available for CHB. We evaluated rs641738 influence on disease severity in a cohort of 1,101 patients with CHB. Forty-two patients underwent gene expression analysis to assess the functional consequences of rs641738 on hepatic MBOAT7 expression. The minor allele (T) of rs641738 was associated with greater inflammation (odds ratio [OR], 1.45; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.06-1.95; P = 0.001) and fibrosis (OR = 1.31; 95% CI, 1.19-1.92; P = 0.01). Risk allele frequency in whites (0.43) was greater than in Chinese (0.24), translating to a larger size effect in the former. The rs641738 (T) allele was associated with lower hepatic MBOAT7 expression (P = 0.008), and the latter was associated with serum liver enzymes and inflammation. Neither patatin-like phospholipase domain-containing protein 3 rs738409 nor transmembrane 6 superfamily member 2 rs58542926 polymorphisms influenced disease severity.

Conclusion: In patients with CHB, MBOAT7 rs641738 influences hepatic inflammation and fibrosis stage. (Hepatology 2017;65:1840-1850).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/hep.29064DOI Listing
June 2017

MBOAT7 rs641738 increases risk of liver inflammation and transition to fibrosis in chronic hepatitis C.

Nat Commun 2016 09 15;7:12757. Epub 2016 Sep 15.

Storr Liver Centre, Westmead Institute for Medical Research and Westmead Hospital, University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales 2145, Australia.

Cirrhosis likely shares common pathophysiological pathways despite arising from a variety of liver diseases. A recent GWAS identified rs641738, a polymorphism in the MBOAT7 locus, as being associated with the development of alcoholic cirrhosis. Here we explore the role of this variant on liver inflammation and fibrosis in two cohorts of patients with chronic hepatitis C. In 2,051 patients, rs641738 associated with severe hepatic inflammation and increased risk of fibrosis, as well as fast fibrosis progression. At functional level, rs641738 associated with MBOAT7 transcript and protein levels in liver and blood, and with serum inflammatory, oxidative stress and macrophage activation markers. MBOAT7 was expressed in immune cell subsets, implying a role in hepatic inflammation. We conclude that the MBOAT7 rs641738 polymorphism is a novel risk variant for liver inflammation in hepatitis C, and thereby for liver fibrosis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/ncomms12757DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5027609PMC
September 2016

Sex-specific effects of TLR9 promoter variants on spontaneous clearance of HCV infection.

Gut 2017 10 21;66(10):1829-1837. Epub 2016 Apr 21.

Department of Gastroenterology and Rheumatology, Section of Hepatology, University Hospital, Leipzig, Germany.

Objective: As pathogen sensors, Toll-like receptors (TLR) play a role in the first defence line during HCV infection. However, the impact of the DNA sensor TLR9 on the natural course of HCV infection is unknown. To address this, promoter polymorphisms (single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs)) rs187084 and rs5743836 were investigated for their effect on disease progression.

Design: Therefore, the SNPs and the () rs12979860 were genotyped in chronically HCV type 1 infected (n=333), in patients who spontaneously cleared the infection (n=161), in the Swiss HCV cohort (n=1057) and the well-characterised German (n=305) and Irish (n=198) 'anti-D' cohorts. Functional analyses were done with promoter reporter constructs of human in B cells and assessing mRNA levels in whole blood of healthy volunteers.

Results: The rs187084 C allele was associated with spontaneous virus clearance in women of the study cohort (OR=2.15 (95% CI 1.18 to 3.90) p=0.012), of the Swiss HCV cohort (OR=2.06 (95% CI 1.02 to 4.18) p=0.044) and in both 'anti-D' cohorts (German: OR=2.01 (95% CI 1.14 to 3.55) p=0.016; Irish: OR=1.93 (95% CI 1.10 to 3.68) p=0.047). Multivariate analysis in the combined study and Swiss HCV cohorts supported the results (OR=1.99 (95% CI 1.30 to 3.05) p=0.002). Functional analyses revealed higher transcriptional activities for both variants and an association of the C allele of rs5743836 with allele-specific mRNA regulation by oestrogens in women.

Conclusions: promoter SNPs are associated with the natural course of HCV infection and show higher transcriptional activities. Our results imply the DNA sensor TLR9 in natural immunity against the RNA virus, HCV.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/gutjnl-2015-310239DOI Listing
October 2017
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