Publications by authors named "Sadahisa Ogasawara"

105 Publications

Effect of Atezolizumab plus Bevacizumab in Patients with Hepatocellular Carcinoma Harboring Mutation in Early Clinical Experience.

J Cancer 2022 16;13(8):2656-2661. Epub 2022 May 16.

Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Nihon University School of Medicine, 30-1 Oyaguchi-Kamicho, Itabashi-ku, Tokyo 173-8610, Japan.

Atezolizumab plus bevacizumab (ATZ/BV) treatment is a combined immunotherapy consisting of immune checkpoint inhibitor (ICI) and anti-vascular endothelial growth factor monoclonal antibody, which has brought a major paradigm shift in the treatment of unresectable hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Gain-of-function mutation of contributes to resistance of ICI monotherapy through the framework of non-T-cell-inflamed tumor microenvironment. However, whether mutation renders resistance to ATZ/BV similar to ICI monotherapy remains to be elucidated. In this study, a liquid biopsy sample in plasma of 33 patients with HCC treated with ATZ/BV was subjected to droplet digital PCR for detecting hotspot mutations at the exon 3 of locus. A total of eight patients (24.2%) exhibited at least one mutation. The objective response rate (ORR) in patients with wild-type (WT) and mutant (MT) was 8.0% and 12.5%, respectively, and the disease control rate (DCR) was 68.0% and 87.5%, respectively. No significant difference in both ORR and DCR has been observed between the two groups. The median progression-free survival in patients with WT and MT was 6.6 and 7.6 months, respectively (not statistically significant). Similarly, no significant difference in overall survival has been observed between patients with WT and MT (13.6 vs. 12.3 months). In conclusion, the treatment effect of ATZ/BV in patients with HCC with MT was comparable to those patients with WT . These results implicate that BV added to ATZ might improve immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment caused by mutation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.7150/jca.71494DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9174847PMC
May 2022

Liver biopsy technique in the era of genomic cancer therapies: a single-center retrospective analysis.

Int J Clin Oncol 2022 Jun 15. Epub 2022 Jun 15.

Department of Medical Oncology, Graduate School of Medicine, Chiba University, Chiba, Japan.

Background: With the evolution of personalized medicine in the field of oncology, which includes optimal treatment selection using next-generation sequencing-based companion diagnostic systems and tumor-agnostic treatments according to common biomarkers, a liver tumor biopsy technique that can obtain a sufficient specimen volume must be established. The current study aimed to evaluate the safety and availability of a liver tumor biopsy technique with multiple puncture sites made using a coaxial introducer needle and embolization with gelatin sponge particles.

Methods: Patients with primary or metastatic liver cancer who underwent liver tumor biopsies with puncture tract embolization using gelatin sponge (Spongel) from October 2019 to September 2020 were included in the study. The complication and diagnostic rates were evaluated, and whether the specimen volume was sufficient for Foundation CDx was investigated.

Results: In total, 96 patients were enrolled in this analysis. The median total number of puncture times per patient was 3 (range 1-8). The pathological diagnostic rate was 79.2%. Using the FoundationOne CDx, specimens with a sufficient volume required for genomic medicine were collected in 84.9% of patients. The incidence rate of bleeding was 4.2% (n = 4), and only one patient presented with major bleeding requiring transfusion.

Conclusions: Liver biopsy with puncture tract embolization using a gelatin sponge may be safe and effective for collecting specimens with a volume sufficient for modern cancer treatments.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10147-022-02195-9DOI Listing
June 2022

A diet-induced murine model for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease with obesity and insulin resistance that rapidly develops steatohepatitis and fibrosis.

Lab Invest 2022 May 28. Epub 2022 May 28.

Department of Gastroenterology, Chiba University, Graduate School of Medicine, Chiba, 260-8677, Japan.

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) has become the leading cause of chronic liver disease worldwide. Patients with NAFLD often suffer steatohepatitis, which can progress to cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. The presence of visceral obesity or type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) is a major risk factor and potential therapeutic target for NAFLD. The establishment of animal models with these metabolic comorbidities and with the rapid progression of the disease is needed for developing treatments for NAFLD but remains to be archived. In the present study, KK-A mice, widely used as T2DM models, or C57BL6 mice were fed a high-fat, high-fructose, and high-cholesterol diet supplemented with cholic acid (NAFLD diet). The KK-A mice fed a NAFLD diet exhibited remarkable obesity and insulin resistance. A prominent accumulation of triglycerides and cholesterol in the liver was observed at 4 weeks. These mice developed steatohepatitis at 4 weeks and fibrosis at 12 weeks. In contrast, C57BL6 mice fed a NAFLD diet remained lean, although they still developed steatohepatitis and fibrosis. In summary, we established a diet-induced murine NAFLD model with the rapid development of steatohepatitis and fibrosis, bearing obesity and insulin resistance. This model could be useful as preclinical models for drug development of NAFLD.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41374-022-00807-6DOI Listing
May 2022

Pembrolizumab Monotherapy for Previously Untreated Advanced Hepatocellular Carcinoma: Data from the Open-Label, Phase II KEYNOTE-224 Trial.

Clin Cancer Res 2022 Jun;28(12):2547-2554

Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center and Department of Medicine, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts.

Purpose: KEYNOTE-224 cohort 1 demonstrated that pembrolizumab was efficacious and tolerable in patients with advanced hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) previously treated with sorafenib. We report results from KEYNOTE-224 (NCT02702414) cohort 2, which enrolled patients with advanced HCC and no prior systemic therapy.

Patients And Methods: KEYNOTE-224 was an open-label, multicountry phase II trial. Eligible patients in cohort 2 had advanced HCC not amenable or refractory to locoregional therapy and not previously treated with systemic therapy. Patients received pembrolizumab 200 mg intravenously every 3 weeks for ≤2 years. Primary endpoint was objective response rate (ORR) by central imaging review per RECIST v1.1. Secondary endpoints included duration of response (DOR), disease control rate (DCR), time to progression (TTP), progression-free survival (PFS), overall survival (OS), and safety/tolerability.

Results: Between September 4, 2018, and February 20, 2019, 51 patients were allocated in cohort 2. The median time from the first dose to data cutoff (January 19, 2021) was 27 months (range, 23-29). ORR was 16% [95% confidence interval (CI), 7-29] and was similar across key subgroups. Median DOR was 16 months (range, 3-24+), and DCR was 57%. The median PFS was 4 months (95% CI, 2-8), and median TTP was 4 months (95% CI, 3-9). Median OS was 17 months (95% CI, 8-23). Grade ≥3 treatment-related adverse events occurred in 16% of patients.

Conclusions: In patients with advanced HCC with no prior systemic therapy, pembrolizumab provided durable antitumor activity, promising OS, and had a safety profile consistent with previous observations. These findings support further evaluation of pembrolizumab-based regimens for HCC.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-21-3807DOI Listing
June 2022

Durvalumab with or without tremelimumab combined with particle therapy for advanced hepatocellular carcinoma with macrovascular invasion: protocol for the DEPARTURE phase Ib trial.

BMJ Open 2022 04 8;12(4):e059779. Epub 2022 Apr 8.

National Institutes for Quantum and Radiological Science and Technology, Chiba, Japan.

Introduction: Advanced hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) with macrovascular invasion (MVI) has the worst prognosis among all phenotypes. This trial aims to evaluate whether treatment with durvalumab, alone or in combination with tremelimumab, plus particle therapy is a safe and synergistically effective treatment in patients with advanced HCC and MVI.

Methods And Analysis: This phase Ib, multicentre (two sites in Japan), open-label, single-arm, investigator-initiated clinical trial will assess durvalumab monotherapy in combination with particle therapy (cohort A) and that of durvalumab plus tremelimumab in combination with particle therapy (cohort B) for patients with advanced HCC with MVI. Cohort A will receive 1500 mg durvalumab every 4 weeks. Cohort B will receive 1500 mg durvalumab every 4 weeks in principle and 300 mg tremelimumab only on day 1 of the first cycle. Carbon-ion radiotherapy will be administered after day 8 of the first cycle. The primary endpoints are rates of any and severe adverse events, including dose-limiting toxicities (DLTs); secondary endpoints are overall survival, 6-month survival, objective response, 6-month progression-free survival and time to progression. Patients are initially enrolled into cohort A. If cohort A treatment is confirmed to be tolerated (ie, no DLT in three patients or one DLT in six patients), the trial proceeds to enrol more patients into cohort B. Similarly, if cohort B treatment is confirmed to be tolerated (ie, no DLT in three patients or one DLT in six patients), a total of 15 patients will be enrolled into cohort B.

Ethics And Dissemination: This study was approved by the ethics committees of the two participating institutions (Chiba University Hospital and National Institutes for Quantum (approval number: 2020040) and Radiological Science and Technology, QST Hospital (approval number: C20-001)). Participants will be required to provide written informed consent. Trial results will be reported in a peer-reviewed journal publication.

Trial Registration Number: jRCT2031210046.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2021-059779DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8995959PMC
April 2022

Updated efficacy and safety of KEYNOTE-224: a phase II study of pembrolizumab in patients with advanced hepatocellular carcinoma previously treated with sorafenib.

Eur J Cancer 2022 05 29;167:1-12. Epub 2022 Mar 29.

Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center and Harvard Medical School, 55 Fruit Street, Boston, MA, USA; Jiahui International Cancer Center, Jiahui Health, Shanghai, China. Electronic address:

Objective: Pembrolizumab, a PD-1 inhibitor, demonstrated anti-tumour activity and tolerability in patients treated with sorafenib and with advanced hepatocellular carcinoma in KEYNOTE-224. Longer-term efficacy and safety after ∼2.5 years of additional follow-up are reported.

Patients And Methods: Adults with confirmed hepatocellular carcinoma who experienced progression after or intolerance to sorafenib treatment received pembrolizumab 200 mg every 3 weeks for ≤35 cycles or until confirmed progression, unacceptable toxicity, withdrawal of consent or investigator decision. The primary end-point was objective response rate assessed by blinded independent central review per Response Evaluation Criteria in Solid Tumours v1.1. The secondary end-points included duration of response, disease control rate, time to progression, progression-free survival, overall survival and adverse events.

Results: Efficacy and safety were assessed in 104 patients. The median time from first dose to data cutoff was 45.1 months (range, 41.3-49.3). Objective response rate was 18.3% (95% CI: 11.4-27.1), and median duration of response was 21.0 months (range, 3.1 to 39.5+). Disease control rate was 61.5%, and median time to progression was 4.8 months (95% CI: 3.9-7.0). Median progression-free survival was 4.9 months (95% CI: 3.5-6.7) and median overall survival was 13.2 months (95% CI: 9.7-15.3). Of 104 patients, 76 (73.1%) patients reported treatment-related adverse events; most were low grade in severity (grade 3-4, n = 26 [25.0%]; grade 5, n = 1 [1.0%]). Immune-mediated hepatitis occurred in 3 patients (all grade 3). No viral-induced hepatitis flares occurred.

Conclusions: After ∼2.5 years of additional follow-up, pembrolizumab continued to provide durable anti-tumour activity and no new safety concerns were identified.

Clinicaltrials:

Gov Identifier: NCT02702414.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ejca.2022.02.009DOI Listing
May 2022

Liver cirrhosis is a risk factor for poor prognosis of acute cholangitis caused by choledocholithiasis.

Ann Hepatol 2022 May-Jun;27(3):100696. Epub 2022 Mar 5.

Department of Gastroenterology, Graduate School of Medicine, Chiba University, 1-8-1 Inohana, Chuo-ku, Chiba-shi, Chiba 260-8677, Japan. Electronic address:

Introduction And Objectives: Acute cholangitis, which is characterized by biliary infection and acute liver injury, may impact cirrhosis prognosis. However, the prognosis itself remains unclear.

Materials And Methods: This multicenter retrospective cohort study compared the mortality and liver function change between patients with and without cirrhosis who underwent endoscopic treatment for acute cholangitis caused by choledocholithiasis between January 2004 and December 2019.

Results: We analyzed 699 patients, 44 of whom had cirrhosis. The cirrhotic group had a significantly higher 30-day mortality rate than the noncirrhotic group (14% vs. 1%; P < 0.001). The cirrhotic group also had significantly lower total bilirubin and albumin recovery. However, all patients with cirrhosis who survived achieved total-bilirubin recovery, and 91% achieved albumin recovery within 90 days. In multivariable Cox regression analysis, the independent risk factors for total-bilirubin recovery included cirrhosis (hazard ratio, 0.37; 95%CI, 0.24‒0.58; P < 0.001) and high total-bilirubin level (0.46; 95%CI, 0.34‒0.60; P < 0.001), whereas those for albumin recovery were cirrhosis (0.51; 95%CI, 0.33‒0.79; P = 0.002), high age (0.62; 95%CI, 0.47‒0.82; P < 0.001), organ dysfunction (0.62; 95%CI, 0.39‒0.96; P = 0.03), low albumin level (0.57; 95%CI, 0.36‒0.91; P = 0.02), and high C-reactive protein level (0.73; 95%CI, 0.56‒0.95; P = 0.02).

Conclusions: Patients with cirrhosis complicated with acute cholangitis had poor prognosis. Recovery of liver function after endoscopic treatment was slow; nevertheless, most patients who survived could recover within 90 days.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.aohep.2022.100696DOI Listing
May 2022

Evolution of Survival Impact of Molecular Target Agents in Patients with Advanced Hepatocellular Carcinoma.

Liver Cancer 2022 Jan 6;11(1):48-60. Epub 2021 Dec 6.

Department of Gastroenterology, Graduate School of Medicine, Chiba University, Chiba, Japan.

Background And Aims: The prognosis of patients with advanced hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is expected to improve as multiple molecular target agents (MTAs) are now available. However, the impact of the availability of sequential MTAs has not been fully verified yet.

Approach And Results: We retrospectively collected the data on the whole clinical course of 877 patients who received any MTAs as first-line systemic therapy for advanced HCC between June 2009 and March 2019. The study population was divided into 3 groups according to the date of first-line MTA administration (period 1: 2009-2012, = 267; period 2: 2013-2016, = 352; period 3: 2017-2019, = 258). Then, we compared the number of MTAs used, overall survival (OS), and MTA treatment duration among the 3 groups. Analysis was also performed separately for advanced-stage and nonadvanced-stage HCC. The proportion of patients who received multiple MTAs was remarkably increased over time (1.1%, 10.2%, and 42.6% in periods 1, 2, and 3, respectively, < 0.001). The median OS times were prolonged to 10.4, 11.3, and 15.2 months in periods 1, 2, and 3, respectively ( = 0.016). Similarly, the MTA treatment durations were extended (2.7, 3.2, and 6.6 months in periods 1, 2, and 3, respectively; < 0.001). We confirmed that the correlation between OS and MTA treatment duration was strengthened (period 1: 0.395, period 2: 0.505, and period 3: 0.667). All these trends were pronounced in the patients with advanced-stage HCC but limited in the patients with nonadvanced-stage HCC.

Conclusions: The availability of multiple MTAs had steadily improved the prognosis of patients with advanced HCC patients, particularly advanced-stage HCC patients.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1159/000519868DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8820147PMC
January 2022

Randomized Phase 3 LEAP-012 Study: Transarterial Chemoembolization With or Without Lenvatinib Plus Pembrolizumab for Intermediate-Stage Hepatocellular Carcinoma Not Amenable to Curative Treatment.

Cardiovasc Intervent Radiol 2022 Apr 4;45(4):405-412. Epub 2022 Feb 4.

School of Medicine, Kindai University, Osaka, Japan.

Purpose: Transarterial chemoembolization (TACE) is the standard of care for patients with intermediate-stage hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Lenvatinib, a multikinase inhibitor, and pembrolizumab, a PD-1 inhibitor, have shown efficacy and tolerability in patients with HCC, and adding this combination to TACE may enhance clinical benefit.

Protocol: LEAP-012 is a prospective, double-blind randomized phase 3 study. Adults with confirmed HCC localized to the liver without portal vein thrombosis and not amenable to curative treatment, ≥ 1 measurable tumor per Response Evaluation Criteria in Solid Tumors 1.1 (RECIST 1.1), Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group performance status 0 or 1, Child-Pugh class A and no previous systemic treatment for HCC are eligible. Patients will be randomly assigned to lenvatinib once daily plus pembrolizumab every 6 weeks plus TACE or placebos plus TACE. Dual primary endpoints are overall survival and progression-free survival per RECIST 1.1 by blinded independent central review (BICR). Secondary endpoints are progression-free survival, objective response rate, disease control rate, duration of response and time to progression per modified RECIST by BICR; objective response rate, disease control rate, duration of response and time to progression per RECIST 1.1 by BICR; and safety.

Statistics: The planned sample size, 950 patients, was calculated to permit accumulation of sufficient overall survival events in 5 years to achieve 90% power for the overall survival primary endpoint.

Discussion: LEAP-012 will evaluate the clinical benefit of adding lenvatinib plus pembrolizumab to TACE in patients with intermediate-stage HCC not amenable to curative treatment.

Clinicaltrials: gov NCT04246177.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00270-021-03031-9DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8940827PMC
April 2022

Impact of acute decompensation on the prognosis of patients with hepatocellular carcinoma.

PLoS One 2022 27;17(1):e0261619. Epub 2022 Jan 27.

Department of Gastroenterology, Graduate School of Medicine, Chiba University, Chiba, Japan.

Background/aims: Organ failure in patients with acute decompensation (AD) is a defining characteristic of acute-on-chronic liver failure (ACLF). However, the clinical features of AD during the long-term clinical course of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) are still poorly understood. This study aimed to clarify features and impact of AD/ACLF on the prognosis of patients after treatment for HCC.

Methods: This retrospective study enrolled 556 consecutive patients who were initially diagnosed with HCC, and analyses were conducted taking into account HCC treatment type, HCC stage, and presence or absence of cirrhosis.

Results: During follow-up, 299 patients with AD were hospitalized. AD occurrence is closely related to prognosis, regardless of the presence or absence of cirrhosis and HCC stage, and early-onset AD (within 90 days after HCC treatment) has negative impact on prognosis. In the intermediate-advanced-stage group, surgical resection had a positive impact on AD incidence post-treatment. After systemic therapy for HCC, renal impairment was the predictive factors for AD development. The 28/90-day mortality rate was higher among 41 cases (13.7%) with AD who exhibited ACLF as compared with cases without ACLF. AD without cirrhosis had similar ACLF incidence and short-term mortality, compared to AD with cirrhosis. The prognostic model using a decision-tree-based approach, which includes ACLF, bilirubin level, HCC progression, and MELD score is useful for predicting 90- or 28-day mortality after AD diagnosis.

Conclusions: Careful management of patients with HCC who are hospitalized with AD is necessary, considering ACLF, HCC progression, and liver function.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0261619PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8794202PMC
February 2022

Hepatitis C virus eradication prolongs overall survival in hepatocellular carcinoma patients receiving molecular-targeted agents.

J Gastroenterol 2022 02 15;57(2):90-98. Epub 2022 Jan 15.

Department of Molecular Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Graduate School of Medical Science, Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine, 465 Kajii-cho, Kawaramachi-Hirokoji, Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto, 602-8566, Japan.

Background: The aim of this multicenter retrospective study was to evaluate the impact of the eradication of hepatitis C virus (HCV) on the clinical outcomes of patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) treated with molecular-targeted agents (MTAs).

Methods: Among 877 patients who received any MTA as first-line systemic therapy for HCC between June 2009 and March 2019, 569 patients with HCV-related HCC were enrolled in this retrospective study. Of these, 109 patients achieved sustained virological response (SVR) before starting MTA. After propensity score matching, the clinical outcomes of 109 patients in the SVR group and 109 patients in the non-SVR group were compared.

Results: The median time to progression in the SVR group (7.8 months) was similar to that in the non-SVR group (5.6 months) (p = 0.212). The median time to treatment failure in the SVR group (5.3 months) was longer than that in the non-SVR group (2.8 months) (p = 0.059), and post-progression survival and overall survival in the SVR group were significantly longer than those in the non-SVR group (12.0 months vs 7.2 months; p = 0.039, and 18.1 months vs 11.3 months; p = 0.019). At the end of first-line MTA therapy, the albumin-bilirubin (ALBI) score in the SVR group ( - 2.25) was significantly lower than that in the non-SVR group ( - 2.10) (p = 0.008).

Conclusions: The eradication of HCV before MTA therapy maintained liver function and led to a prolonged treatment period and improved overall survival of HCV-related HCC patients. We should not overlook the benefits of HCV eradication in HCC patients.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00535-021-01837-5DOI Listing
February 2022

Exploring microsatellite instability in patients with advanced hepatocellular carcinoma and its tumor microenvironment.

JGH Open 2021 Nov 1;5(11):1266-1274. Epub 2021 Oct 1.

Department of Diagnostic Pathology, Graduate School of Medicine Chiba University Chiba Japan.

Background And Aim: Immune checkpoint inhibitors and their combination with other agents have recently been available in advanced hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Hence, a thorough understanding of the tumor microenvironment based on tumor samples is yet to be achieved. This study aimed to explore the tumor microenvironment in advanced HCC in terms of microsatellite instability-high (MSI-H) by using tumor samples from advanced HCC patients eligible for systemic therapy.

Methods: MSI-H was assessed by polymerase chain reaction, and the expression of mismatch repair proteins, PD-L1, CD8, VEGF, and HLA-class1 was evaluated by immunohistochemistry. Whole-exome sequencing was performed for MSI-H tumor samples.

Results: Of 50 patients, one (2.0%) was confirmed with MSI-H. In the MSI-H advanced HCC tumor, a high tumor mutation burden, infiltration of CD8 lymphocytes, and low expression of VEGF were identified. Although PD-L1 expression was negative, there was shrinkage of tumor following pembrolizumab. However, another tumor nonresponsive to pembrolizumab was present simultaneously. Checking the Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) database, we found a similar case to this patient. The TCGA case had unique gene features of miR-21 and miR-155 overexpression and hypermethylation of the gene.

Conclusion: We identified a very small number of MSI-H cases in HCC using one tumor biopsy sample for each patient with advanced HCC. In addition, epigenetic aberrations possibly lead to MSI-H in HCC patients. Since different HCC clones might coexist in the liver, sampling from multiple tumors should be considered to clarify the true proportion of MSI-H in HCC and to analyze tumor microenvironments.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jgh3.12660DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8593775PMC
November 2021

Changes in therapeutic options for hepatocellular carcinoma in Asia.

Liver Int 2021 Nov 15. Epub 2021 Nov 15.

Department of Gastroenterology, Graduate School of Medicine, Chiba University, Chiba, Japan.

The incidence rate of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is expected to increase, with most cases occurring in Asia. In some parts of Asia, the occurrence of HCC developing from metabolic-related liver disease has markedly increased in recent years, whereas the occurrence of HCC developing from viral-hepatitis-related liver disease has decreased. Advancements in the treatment of HCC over the past few decades has been remarkable, with most treatment strategies to remove or control liver tumours (hepatic resection, local ablation, radiation therapy, transarterial chemoembolisation, hepatic arterial infusion chemotherapy) primarily developing in Asia. In addition, recent progress in systemic therapies has prolonged the prognosis of advanced HCC. Nowadays, six regimens of systemic therapies have become available in most countries, according to phase III trials (atezolizumab plus bevacizumab, sorafenib, lenvatinib, regorafenib, cabozantinib and ramucirumab). In a global randomised phase III trial (IMbrave 150 trial), the most effective of the latest drug designs was newly emerged combination immunotherapy (atezolizumab plus bevacizumab), which has shown significantly prolonged overall survival compared with sorafenib, which was the first-line systemic therapy for more than a decade. Now, the treatment dynamics for HCC are undergoing a major transition as a result of two important changes: the replacement of viral-related HCC by metabolic-related HCC and the emergence of combination immune therapy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/liv.15101DOI Listing
November 2021

EZH1/2 inhibition augments the anti-tumor effects of sorafenib in hepatocellular carcinoma.

Sci Rep 2021 11 1;11(1):21396. Epub 2021 Nov 1.

Department of General Surgery, Graduate School of Medicine, Chiba University, 1-8-1 Inohana, Chuo-ku, Chiba, 260-8670, Japan.

Both EZH2 and its homolog EZH1 function as histone H3 Lysine 27 (H3K27) methyltransferases and repress the transcription of target genes. Dysregulation of H3K27 trimethylation (H3K27me3) plays an important role in the development and progression of cancers such as hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). This study investigated the relationship between the expression of EZH1/2 and the level of H3K27me3 in HCC. Additionally, the role of EZH1/2 in cell growth, tumorigenicity, and resistance to sorafenib were also analyzed. Both the lentiviral knockdown and the pharmacological inhibition of EZH1/2 (UNC1999) diminished the level of H3K27me3 and suppressed cell growth in liver cancer cells, compared with EZH1 or EZH2 single knockdown. Although a significant association was observed between EZH2 expression and H3K27me3 levels in HCC samples, overexpression of EZH1 appeared to contribute to enhanced H3K27me3 levels in some EZH2H3K27me3 cases. Akt suppression following sorafenib treatment resulted in an increase of the H3K27me3 levels through a decrease in EZH2 phosphorylation at serine 21. The combined use of sorafenib and UNC1999 exhibited synergistic antitumor effects in vitro and in vivo. Combination treatment canceled the sorafenib-induced enhancement in H3K27me3 levels, indicating that activation of EZH2 function is one of the mechanisms of sorafenib-resistance in HCC. In conclusion, sorafenib plus EZH1/2 inhibitors may comprise a novel therapeutic approach in HCC.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-00889-0DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8560765PMC
November 2021

Posttreatment after Lenvatinib in Patients with Advanced Hepatocellular Carcinoma.

Liver Cancer 2021 Sep 20;10(5):473-484. Epub 2021 Apr 20.

Department of Gastroenterology, Graduate School of Medicine, Chiba University, Chiba, Japan.

Background: There is no standard posttreatment for patients with advanced hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in whom lenvatinib therapy has failed. This study aimed to investigate rates of migration to posttreatment after lenvatinib and to explore candidates for second-line agents in the patients with failed lenvatinib therapy.

Methods: We retrospectively collected data on patients with advanced HCC who received lenvatinib as the first-line agent in 7 institutions.

Results: Overall survival and progression-free survival (PFS) of 178 patients who received lenvatinib as the first-line agent were 13.3 months (95% confidence interval [CI], 11.5-15.2) and 6.7 months (95% CI, 5.6-7.8), respectively. Sixty-nine of 151 patients (45.7%) who discontinued lenvatinib moved on to posttreatment. The migration rates from lenvatinib to the second-line agent and from the second-line agent to the third-line agent were 41.7 and 44.4%, respectively. Based on multivariate analysis, response to lenvatinib (complete or partial response according to modified RECIST) and discontinuation of lenvatinib due to radiological progression, as well as male were associated with a significantly higher probability of migration to posttreatment after lenvatinib. On the other hand, alpha-fetoprotein levels of 400 ng/mL or higher was correlated with a significantly lower probability of migration to posttreatment after lenvatinib. Of 63 patients who received second-line systemic therapy, 53 (84.2%) were administered sorafenib. PFS, objective response rate (ORR), and disease control rate (DCR) for sorafenib treatment were 1.8 months (95% CI, 0.6-3.0), 1.8%, and 20.8%, respectively. According to the Cox regression hazard model, Child-Pugh class B significantly contributed to shorter PFS. PFS, ORR, and DCR of 22 patients who received regorafenib after lenvatinib in any lines were 3.2 months (range, 1.5-4.9 months), 13.6%, and 36.3%, respectively. Similarly, PFS, ORR, and DCR of 17 patients who received regorafenib after lenvatinib in the third-line (after sorafenib) were 3.8 months (range, 1.1-6.5 months), 17.6%, and 41.2%, respectively.

Conclusion: Sorafenib may not be a candidate for use as a posttreatment agent after lenvatinib, according to the results of the present study. Regorafenib has the potential to become an appropriate posttreatment agent after lenvatinib.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1159/000515552DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8527907PMC
September 2021

Diagnostic value of peroral cholangioscopy in addition to computed tomography for indeterminate biliary strictures.

Surg Endosc 2022 05 9;36(5):3408-3417. Epub 2021 Aug 9.

Department of Gastroenterology, Graduate School of Medicine, Chiba University, Inohana 1-8-1, Chiba-City, Chiba, 260-8670, Japan.

Background: Peroral cholangioscopy (POCS) has been used to overcome the difficulty in diagnosing indeterminate biliary stricture or tumor spread. However, the value of adding POCS to computed tomography (CT) remains unclear. Our aim was to evaluate the diagnostic value of adding POCS to CT for indeterminate biliary stricture and tumor spread by interpretation of images focusing on the high diagnostic accuracy of visual findings in POCS.

Methods: We retrospectively identified 52 patients with biliary stricture who underwent endoscopic retrograde cholangiography (ERC) at our institution between January 2013 and December 2018. Two teams, each composed of an expert endoscopist and surgeon, performed the interpretation independently, referring to the CT findings of the radiologist. The CT + ERC + POCS images (POCS group) were evaluated 4 weeks after the evaluation of CT + ERC images (CT group). A 5-point scale (1: definitely benign to 5: definitely malignant) was used to determine the confident diagnosis rate, which was defined as an evaluation value of 1 or 5. Tumor spread was also evaluated.

Results: In the evaluation of 45 malignant diagnoses, the score was significantly closer to 5 in the POCS group than in the CT group in both teams (P < 0.001). The confident diagnosis rate was significantly higher for the POCS group (92% and 73%) than for the CT group (25% and 12%) in teams 1 and 2, respectively (P < 0.001). We found no significant difference in diagnostic accuracy for tumor spread between the groups.

Conclusion: Visual POCS findings confirmed the diagnosis of biliary strictures. POCS was useful in cases of indefinite diagnosis of biliary strictures by CT.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00464-021-08661-1DOI Listing
May 2022

Pembrolizumab as Second-Line Therapy for Advanced Hepatocellular Carcinoma: A Subgroup Analysis of Asian Patients in the Phase 3 KEYNOTE-240 Trial.

Liver Cancer 2021 Jun 27;10(3):275-284. Epub 2021 Apr 27.

Department of Oncology, Asan Medical Center, University of Ulsan College of Medicine, Seoul, Republic of Korea.

Introduction: KEYNOTE-240 investigated the efficacy and safety of pembrolizumab plus best supportive care (BSC) in sorafenib-treated patients with advanced hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Results for the subgroup of patients from Asia are described.

Methods: Adults with advanced HCC previously treated with sorafenib were randomized 2:1 to pembrolizumab or placebo plus BSC. Here, the Asian subgroup comprised patients enrolled in Hong Kong, Japan, Korea, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Thailand. Primary endpoints were progression-free survival (PFS) per blinded central imaging review and overall survival (OS). Secondary endpoints included objective response rate (ORR) per blinded central imaging review, duration of response (DOR), and safety.

Results: The Asian subgroup included 157 patients. As of January 2, 2019, the median follow-up in this subgroup was 13.8 months for pembrolizumab and 8.3 months for placebo. The median PFS was 2.8 months for pembrolizumab (95% confidence interval [CI] 2.6-4.1) versus 1.4 months (95% CI 1.4-2.4) for placebo (hazard ratio [HR] 0.48; 95% CI 0.32-0.70). The median OS was 13.8 months (95% CI 10.1-16.9) for pembrolizumab versus 8.3 months (95% CI 6.3-11.8) for placebo (HR 0.55; 95% CI 0.37-0.80). ORR was 20.6% (95% CI 13.4-29.5) for pembrolizumab versus 2.0% (95% CI 0.1-10.6) for placebo (difference: 18.5%; 95% CI 8.3-27.6). The median DOR was 8.6 and 2.8 months for pembrolizumab and placebo, respectively. Any grade treatment-related adverse events (TRAEs) occurred in 63 patients (58.9%) receiving pembrolizumab and 24 patients (48.0%) receiving placebo; 14 (13.1%) and 2 (4.0%) patients experienced grade 3-5 TRAEs, respectively. No treatment-related deaths occurred.

Conclusion: Pembrolizumab demonstrated antitumor activity and was well tolerated in the Asian subgroup of KEYNOTE-240. A trend toward greater benefit with pembrolizumab in the Asian subgroup was observed compared with the overall cohort, supporting further evaluation of pembrolizumab treatment in this population.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1159/000515553DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8237794PMC
June 2021

Management of Hepatocellular Carcinoma in Japan: JSH Consensus Statements and Recommendations 2021 Update.

Liver Cancer 2021 Jun 19;10(3):181-223. Epub 2021 May 19.

Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Osaka University Graduate School of Medicine, Osaka, Japan.

The Clinical Practice Manual for Hepatocellular Carcinoma was published based on evidence confirmed by the Evidence-based Clinical Practice Guidelines for Hepatocellular Carcinoma along with consensus opinion among a Japan Society of Hepatology (JSH) expert panel on hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Since the JSH Clinical Practice Guidelines are based on original articles with extremely high levels of evidence, expert opinions on HCC management in clinical practice or consensus on newly developed treatments are not included. However, the practice manual incorporates the literature based on clinical data, expert opinion, and real-world clinical practice currently conducted in Japan to facilitate its use by clinicians. Alongside each revision of the JSH Guidelines, we issued an update to the manual, with the first edition of the manual published in 2007, the second edition in 2010, the third edition in 2015, and the fourth edition in 2020, which includes the 2017 edition of the JSH Guideline. This article is an excerpt from the fourth edition of the HCC Clinical Practice Manual focusing on pathology, diagnosis, and treatment of HCC. It is designed as a practical manual different from the latest version of the JSH Clinical Practice Guidelines. This practice manual was written by an expert panel from the JSH, with emphasis on the consensus statements and recommendations for the management of HCC proposed by the JSH expert panel. In this article, we included newly developed clinical practices that are relatively common among Japanese experts in this field, although all of their statements are not associated with a high level of evidence, but these practices are likely to be incorporated into guidelines in the future. To write this article, coauthors from different institutions drafted the content and then critically reviewed each other's work. The revised content was then critically reviewed by the Board of Directors and the Planning and Public Relations Committee of JSH before publication to confirm the consensus statements and recommendations. The consensus statements and recommendations presented in this report represent measures actually being conducted at the highest-level HCC treatment centers in Japan. We hope this article provides insight into the actual situation of HCC practice in Japan, thereby affecting the global practice pattern in the management of HCC.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1159/000514174DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8237791PMC
June 2021

Evolving Treatment of Advanced Hepatocellular Carcinoma in the Asia-Pacific Region: A Review and Multidisciplinary Expert Opinion.

Cancers (Basel) 2021 May 27;13(11). Epub 2021 May 27.

National Cancer Centre Singapore and Duke-NUS Medical School, 11 Hospital Crescent, Singapore 169610, Singapore.

Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is the fourth most common driver of cancer-related death globally, with an estimated 72% of cases in Asia. For more than a decade, first-line systemic treatments for advanced or unresectable HCC were limited to the multi-targeted kinase inhibitors sorafenib and, more recently, lenvatinib. Now, treatment options have expanded to include immunotherapy, as exemplified by the immune checkpoint inhibitor (ICI) atezolizumab combined with the antiangiogenic agent bevacizumab. Additional combinations of ICIs with kinase inhibitors, other ICIs, or antiangiogenic agents are under investigation, further supporting the new era of immunotherapy for first-line treatment of advanced or unresectable HCC. We describe this evolving landscape and provide expert opinion on therapeutic best practices in the Asia-Pacific region, where different costs of, and patient access to, treatment are a challenge. With the combination of atezolizumab plus bevacizumab likely to become the clinical standard of care, optimising treatment sequence and ensuring patient access to newer therapies remain priorities. Cost containment and treatment sequencing may be facilitated by characterisation of predictive positive and negative biomarkers. With these considerations in mind, this review and expert opinion focused on advanced HCC in the Asia-Pacific region offers perspectives of multiple stakeholders, including physicians, payer systems, and patients.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/cancers13112626DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8197840PMC
May 2021

Skeletal Muscle Volume Is an Independent Predictor of Survival after Sorafenib Treatment Failure for Hepatocellular Carcinoma.

Cancers (Basel) 2021 May 7;13(9). Epub 2021 May 7.

Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Yamaguchi University Graduate School of Medicine, Yamaguchi 755-8505, Japan.

Few studies exist on the relationship between post-progression survival (PPS) and skeletal muscle volume in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) patients receiving sorafenib. This study aimed to analyze the effects of muscle volume on clinical outcomes. We retrospectively enrolled 356 HCC patients. Various clinical parameters, including skeletal muscle index, were analyzed as predictors of overall survival (OS), progression-free survival (PFS), and PPS. Patients with high muscle volume showed longer survival or PPS than those with low muscle volume (median survival time: 12.8 vs. 9.5 months, = 0.005; median PPS: 8.2 vs. 6.3 months, = 0.015); however, no differences in PFS were found. Multivariate analysis indicated that muscle volume was an independent predictor of PPS and OS. Skeletal muscle volume was a PPS predictor in HCC patients receiving sorafenib. Therefore, survival can be prolonged by the upregulation of skeletal muscle volume, especially in HCC patients with skeletal muscle depletion.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3390/cancers13092247DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8124673PMC
May 2021

[Late line systemic therapy for advanced hepatocellular carcinoma].

Nihon Shokakibyo Gakkai Zasshi 2021 ;118(5):418-427

Department of Gastroenterology, Graduate School of Medicine, Chiba University.

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http://dx.doi.org/10.11405/nisshoshi.118.418DOI Listing
May 2021

Serum Angiopoietin 2 acts as a diagnostic and prognostic biomarker in hepatocellular carcinoma.

J Cancer 2021 5;12(9):2694-2701. Epub 2021 Mar 5.

Department of Gastroenterology, Graduate School of Medicine, Chiba University, 1-8-1 Inohana, Chuo-ku, Chiba 260-8670, Japan.

Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is typically accompanied by abundant arterial blood flow. Although angiogenic growth factors such as Angiopoietin 2 (Ang2) play a central role in tumor angiogenesis in HCC, the role of serum Ang2 as a biomarker in HCC remains unclear. In this study, we aimed to investigate the potential of Ang2 as a diagnostic and prognostic biomarker in HCC using a sandwich enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). The median Ang2 levels in controls (n=20), chronic liver disease patients (n=98), and HCC patients (n=275) were 1.58, 2.33, and 3.53 ng/mL, respectively. The optimal cut-off value of Ang2 was determined as 3.5 ng/mL by receiver operating curve analysis. The sensitivity, specificity, and accuracy of Ang2 for HCC detection were 50.9, 83.7, and 59.5%, respectively. Spearman's rank correlation coefficient analysis demonstrated only a weak correlation between Ang2 serum levels and alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) or des-gamma-carboxy prothrombin (DCP) serum levels. The diagnostic value of Ang2 was comparable to those of other existing markers. In addition, 24 out of 73 patients with normal AFP and DCP levels (32.9%) demonstrated abnormally high Ang2 levels (≥3.5 ng/mL). Although no significant difference in overall survival was found between Ang2 and Ang2 patients with curative ablation therapy, recurrence-free survival (RFS) in Ang2 patients was observed to be significantly shorter than those in Ang2 patients. Multivariate analysis demonstrated that high serum Ang2 levels (≥3.5 ng/mL) and the presence of multiple tumors were poor prognostic factors. In conclusion, our findings indicate that serum Ang2 is a potential novel biomarker for both diagnosis and prognosis in HCC.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.7150/jca.56436DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8040723PMC
March 2021

Acquisition of mesenchymal-like phenotypes and overproduction of angiogenic factors in lenvatinib-resistant hepatocellular carcinoma cells.

Biochem Biophys Res Commun 2021 04 3;549:171-178. Epub 2021 Mar 3.

Department of Gastroenterology, Graduate School of Medicine, Chiba University, Chiba, Japan.

Lenvatinib is one of the first-line drugs for patients with advanced hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and widely used around the world. However, the mechanisms underlying resistance to lenvatinib remain unclear. In this study, we conducted characteristic analyses of lenvatinib-resistant HCC cells. Lenvatinib-resistant HCC cell lines were established by exposure to serially escalated doses of lenvatinib over 2 months. The biological characteristics of these cells were examined by in vitro assays. To investigate the cytokine profile of lenvatinib-resistant HCC cells, the supernatant derived from lenvatinib-resistant Huh7 cells was subjected to nitrocellulose membrane-based sandwich immunoassay. Both activation of the MAPK/MEK/ERK signaling pathway and upregulation of epithelial mesenchymal transition markers were observed in lenvatinib-resistant cells. Concordant with these findings, proliferation and invasion abilities were enhanced in these cells compared with control cells. Screening of a cytokine array spotted with 105 different antibodies to human cytokines enabled us to identify 16 upregulated cytokines in lenvatinib-resistant cells. Among them, 3 angiogenic cytokines: vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF), platelet-derived growth factor-AA (PDGF-AA), and angiogenin, were increased significantly. Conditioned medium from lenvatinib-resistant cells accelerated tube formation of human umbilical vein cells. In conclusion, lenvatinib-resistant HCC cells were characterized by enhanced proliferation and invasion abilities. These findings might contribute to the establishment of new combination therapies with lenvatinib.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.bbrc.2021.02.097DOI Listing
April 2021

The impact of FGF19/FGFR4 signaling inhibition in antitumor activity of multi-kinase inhibitors in hepatocellular carcinoma.

Sci Rep 2021 03 5;11(1):5303. Epub 2021 Mar 5.

Division of Stem Cell and Molecular Medicine, Center for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine, The Institute of Medical Science, The University of Tokyo, 4-6-1 Shirokanedai, Minato-ku, Tokyo, 108-8639, Japan.

FGF19/FGFR4 autocrine signaling is one of the main targets for multi-kinase inhibitors (MKIs). However, the molecular mechanisms underlying FGF19/FGFR4 signaling in the antitumor effects to MKIs in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) remain unclear. In this study, the impact of FGFR4/ERK signaling inhibition on HCC following MKI treatment was analyzed in vitro and in vivo assays. Serum FGF19 in HCC patients treated using MKIs, such as sorafenib (n = 173) and lenvatinib (n = 40), was measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Lenvatinib strongly inhibited the phosphorylation of FRS2 and ERK, the downstream signaling molecules of FGFR4, compared with sorafenib and regorafenib. Additional use of a selective FGFR4 inhibitor with sorafenib further suppressed FGFR4/ERK signaling and synergistically inhibited HCC cell growth in culture and xenograft subcutaneous tumors. Although serum FGF19 (n = 68) patients treated using sorafenib exhibited a significantly shorter progression-free survival and overall survival than FGF19 (n = 105) patients, there were no significant differences between FGF19 (n = 21) and FGF19 (n = 19) patients treated using lenvatinib. In conclusion, robust inhibition of FGF19/FGFR4 is of importance for the exertion of antitumor effects of MKIs. Serum FGF19 levels may function as a predictive marker for drug response and survival in HCC patients treated using sorafenib.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-021-84117-9DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7935880PMC
March 2021

Propofol midazolam for sedation during radiofrequency ablation in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma.

JGH Open 2021 Feb 22;5(2):273-279. Epub 2020 Dec 22.

Departmetn of Anesthesiology, Graduate School of Medicine Chiba University Chiba Japan.

Background And Aim: Standardization of the sedation protocol during radiofrequency ablation (RFA) in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is needed. This randomized, single-blind, investigator-initiated trial compared clinical outcomes during and after RFA using propofol and midazolam, respectively, in patients with HCC.

Methods: Few- and small-nodule HCC patients (≤3 nodules and ≤3 cm) were randomly assigned to either propofol or midazolam. Patient satisfaction was assessed using a 100-mm visual analog scale (VAS) (1 mm = not at all satisfied, 100 mm = completely satisfied). Sedation recovery rates 1, 2, 3, and 4 h after RFA were evaluated based on Modified Observer's Assessment of Alertness/Sedation (MOAA/S) scores; full recovery was defined as a MOAA/S score of 5.

Results: Between July 2013 and September 2017, 143 patients with HCC were enrolled, and 135 patients were randomly assigned to the treatment group. Compared with midazolam, propofol exhibited similar median procedural satisfaction (propofol: 73.1 mm, midazolam: 76.9 mm, = 0.574). Recovery rates 1 and 2 h after RFA were higher in the propofol group than in the midazolam group. Meanwhile, recovery rates observed 3 and 4 h after RFA were similar in the two groups. The safety profiles during and after RFA were almost identical in the two groups.

Conclusion: Patient satisfaction was almost identical in patients receiving propofol and midazolam sedation during RFA. Propofol sedation resulted in reduced recovery time compared with midazolam sedation in patients with HCC. The safety profiles of both propofol and midazolam sedation during and after RFA were acceptable.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jgh3.12483DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7857294PMC
February 2021

Health-related quality-of-life impact of pembrolizumab versus best supportive care in previously systemically treated patients with advanced hepatocellular carcinoma: KEYNOTE-240.

Cancer 2021 03 24;127(6):865-874. Epub 2020 Nov 24.

Kindai University School of Medicine, Osaka, Japan.

Background: Health-related quality of life (HRQoL) is an important outcome measure and prognostic indicator in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). KEYNOTE-240 (NCT02702401) assessed the efficacy and safety of pembrolizumab plus best supportive care (BSC) versus placebo plus BSC in patients with HCC who previously received sorafenib. This study presents the results of a prespecified exploratory analysis of patient-reported outcomes.

Methods: Patients completed the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer Core Quality of Life Questionnaire (EORTC QLQ-C30) and its HCC supplement (EORTC QLQ-HCC18) electronically at baseline; at weeks 2, 3, 4, 6, 9, 12, and 18; and then every 9 weeks until 1 year or end of treatment, and at the 30-day safety follow-up visit.

Results: The HRQoL population included 271 and 127 patients randomly assigned to pembrolizumab and placebo, respectively. From baseline to week 12, changes in both scores were similar between pembrolizumab and placebo; global health status/QoL scores were stable. The proportions of patients who improved, remained stable, or deteriorated across all functional domain and symptom scores were generally similar between pembrolizumab and placebo. Time to deterioration was similar between the 2 arms based on the prespecified analysis of EORTC QLQ-HCC18 domains of abdominal swelling, fatigue, and pain.

Conclusion: Pembrolizumab preserved HRQoL during treatment for advanced HCC. Combined with efficacy and safety results from KEYNOTE-240, these findings support a positive benefit/risk profile for pembrolizumab in a second-line treatment setting for patients with HCC who previously received sorafenib.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/cncr.33317DOI Listing
March 2021

Analyses of Intermediate-Stage Hepatocellular Carcinoma Patients Receiving Transarterial Chemoembolization prior to Designing Clinical Trials.

Liver Cancer 2020 Sep 22;9(5):596-612. Epub 2020 Jul 22.

Department of Gastroenterology, Graduate School of Medicine, Chiba University, Chiba, Japan.

Background: Intermediate-stage hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) has a high frequency of recurrence and progression to advanced stage after transarterial chemoembolization (TACE), particularly in patients with high tumor burden. Promising new results from immune checkpoint inhibitors (ICIs) and ICI-based therapies are expected to replace TACE, especially in HCC patients with high tumor burden.

Aims: The present study aimed to evaluate the effectiveness of TACE with a view to design clinical trials comparing TACE and ICIs.

Methods: We retrospectively identified intermediate-stage HCC patients undergoing TACE from our database and subdivided patients into low- and high-burden groups based on three subclassification models using the diameter of the maximum tumor and the number of tumors. Clinical outcomes were compared between low- and high-burden intermediate-stage HCC.

Results: Of 1,161 newly diagnosed HCC patients, 316 were diagnosed with intermediate-stage disease and underwent TACE. The median overall survival from high-burden intermediate-stage disease was not significantly different by clinical course, reaching high tumor burden in all subclassification models. The prognosis of high-burden patients after initial TACE was poor compared with low-burden patients for two models (except for the up-to-seven criteria). In all three models, high-burden patients showed a poor durable response rate (DRR) both ≥3 months and ≥6 months and poor prognosis after TACE. Moreover, patients with confirmed durable response ≥3 months and ≥6 months showed better survival outcomes for high-burden intermediate-stage HCC.

Conclusions: Our results demonstrate the basis for selecting a population that would not benefit from TACE and setting DRR ≥3 months or ≥6 months as alternative endpoints when designing clinical trials comparing TACE and ICIs.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1159/000508809DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7548915PMC
September 2020

Hepatic Arterial Infusion Chemotherapy versus Sorafenib in Patients with Advanced Hepatocellular Carcinoma.

Liver Cancer 2020 Sep 24;9(5):583-595. Epub 2020 Jul 24.

Yamanashi Prefectural Central Hospital, Kofu, Japan.

Background: Prior to the approval of sorafenib, hepatic arterial infusion chemotherapy (HAIC) was offered to patients with advanced hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in East Asia, particularly Japan. According to the Japanese guidelines, HAIC is recommended as one of the treatment options in patients without extrahepatic metastasis (EHM).

Methods: The present cohort study compared the use of HAIC and sorafenib on outcomes of patients with advanced HCC. Consecutive patients with advanced HCC who received HAIC or sorafenib as a first-line systemic therapy were enrolled from 10 Japanese institutions. The primary outcomes were overall survival (OS) in patients with macrovascular invasion (MVI), but without EHM, and OS in patients without both MVI and EHM.

Results: Between 2009 and 2016, 2,006 patients were enrolled (541 HAIC patients, 1,465 sorafenib patients). After propensity score matching, the OS of patients with MVI but without EHM was significantly longer in the HAIC group compared with the sorafenib group (10.1 vs. 9.1 months for the HAIC and sorafenib groups, respectively; = 170 for each group; hazard ratio [HR] 0.668; 95% confidence interval [95% CI] 0.475-0.935; = 0.018). There was no significant difference in OS between patients without both MVI and EHM (12.2 vs. 15.4 months for the HAIC and sorafenib groups, respectively; = 76 in each cohort after propensity score matching; HR 1.227; 95% CI 0.699-2.155; = 0.475).

Conclusion: HAIC is a potential front-line treatment choice in a subpopulation of patients with advanced HCC with MVI but without EHM.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1159/000508724DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7548914PMC
September 2020

Potential of Lenvatinib for an Expanded Indication from the REFLECT Trial in Patients with Advanced Hepatocellular Carcinoma.

Liver Cancer 2020 Aug 5;9(4):382-396. Epub 2020 May 5.

Department of Gastroenterology, Graduate School of Medicine, Chiba University, Chiba, Japan.

Background: The present study aimed to assess the efficacy and safety of lenvatinib and verify the possibility of lenvatinib for the expanded indication from the REFLECT trial in patients with advanced hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in real-world practice, primarily focusing on the population that was excluded in the REFLECT trial.

Methods: We retrospectively collected data on patients with advanced HCC who were administered lenvatinib in 7 institutions in Japan.

Results: Of 152 advanced HCC patients, 95 and 57 patients received lenvatinib in first-line and second- or later-line systemic therapies, respectively. The median progression-free survival in Child-Pugh class A patients was nearly equal between first- and second- or later-line therapies (5.2 months; 95% CI 3.7-6.9 for first line, 4.8 months; 95% CI 3.8-5.9 for second or later line, = 0.933). According to the modified Response Evaluation Criteria in Solid Tumors, the objective response rate of 27 patients (18%) who showed a high burden of intrahepatic lesions (i.e., main portal vein and/or bile duct invasion or 50% or higher liver occupation) at baseline radiological assessment was 41% and similar with that of other population. The present study included 20 patients (13%) with Child-Pugh class B. These patients observed high frequency rates of liver function-related adverse events due to lenvatinib. The 8-week dose intensity of lenvatinib had a strong correlation with liver function according to both the Child-Pugh and albumin - bilirubin scores.

Conclusion: Lenvatinib had potential benefits for patients with advanced HCC with second- or later-line therapies and a high burden of intrahepatic lesions. Dose modification should be paid increased attention among patients with poor liver function, such as Child-Pugh class B patients.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1159/000507022DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7506220PMC
August 2020

Diverse transitions in diabetes status during the clinical course of patients with resectable pancreatic cancer.

Jpn J Clin Oncol 2020 Dec;50(12):1403-1411

Department of Gastroenterology, Graduate School of Medicine, Chiba University, Chiba, Japan.

Objective: Pancreatic cancer and diabetes status have complex bilateral interactions; therefore, understanding their clinical features is essential for the clinical management of pancreatic cancer patients. We aimed to evaluate the diabetes status before diagnosis, after resection and until the time of recurrence in patients with resectable pancreatic cancer and to clarify the correlations among the clinical course of pancreatic cancer, operative procedure and diabetes status.

Methods: Between 2011 and 2016, we retrospectively identified 189 pancreatic cancer patients who underwent pancreatoduodenectomy or distal pancreatectomy at our institution. The entire clinical course of each patient was retrieved from the medical records, and the diabetes status in the longest possible duration was assessed.

Results: Among 115 pancreatic cancer patients who had normal glucose tolerance at the time of resection, 22 (19.1%) developed type 2 diabetes after resection. In a multivariate analysis, distal pancreatectomy was strongly associated with the development of postoperative diabetes. On the other hand, 74 pancreatic cancer patients had already been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes at the time of resection. During the follow-up period, 15 patients were noted to have diabetes resolution after resection; interestingly, the majority of these patients had newly diagnosed diabetes, which was defined as the diagnosis of diabetes within 3 months before resection. Moreover, newly diagnosed diabetes was an independent factor for diabetes resolution after resection.

Conclusions: In pancreatic cancer patients who underwent pancreatectomy, distal pancreatectomy was correlated with postoperative diabetes, and newly diagnosed diabetes had a high probability of resolution after resection.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jjco/hyaa136DOI Listing
December 2020
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