Gastroenterology 2010 Sep 9;139(3):828-35, 835.e1-3. Epub 2010 Jun 9.
Department of Internal Medicine I, University Medical Center Ulm, Ulm, Germany.
Background & Aims: Keratins 8 and 18 (K8/K18) provide anti-apoptotic functions upon liver injury. The cytoprotective function of keratins explains the overrepresentation of K8/K18 variants in patients with cirrhosis. However, K8/K18 variant-associated susceptibility to acute liver injury, which is well-described in animal models, has not been studied in humans.
Methods: We analyzed the entire coding regions of KRT8 and KRT18 genes (15 total exons and their exon-intron boundaries) to determine the frequency of K8/K18 variants in 344 acute liver failure (ALF) patients (49% acetaminophen-related) and 2 control groups (African-American [n = 245] and previously analyzed white [n = 727] subjects).
Results: Forty-five ALF patients had significant amino-acid-altering K8/K18 variants, including 23 with K8 R341H and 11 with K8 G434S. K8 variants were significantly more common (total of 42 patients) than K18 variants (3 patients) (P < .001). We found increased frequency of variants in white ALF patients (9.1%) versus controls (3.7%) (P = .01). K8 R341H was more common in white (P = .01) and G434S was more common in African-American (P = .02) ALF patients versus controls. White patients with K8/K18 variants were less likely to survive ALF without transplantation (P = .02). K8 A333A and G434S variants associated exclusively with African Americans (23% combined frequency in African American but none in white controls; P < .0001), while overall, K18 variants were more common in non-white liver-disease subjects compared to whites (2.8% vs 0.6%, respectively; P = .008).
Conclusions: KRT8 and KRT18 are important susceptibility genes for ALF development. Presence of K8/K18 variants predisposes to adverse ALF outcome, and some variants segregate with unique ethnic and race backgrounds.