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Cytotoxic effect of 7alpha-hydroxy-4-cholesten-3-one on HepG2 cells: hypothetical role of acetaldehyde-modified delta4-3-ketosteroid-5beta-reductase (the 37-kd-liver protein) in the pathogenesis of alcoholic liver injury in the rat.

Lin RC. Fillenwarth MJ. Du X.
Department of Medicine, Indiana University School of Medicine, and Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Indianapolis 46202, USA.
We recently identified delta4-3-ketosteroid-5beta-reductase as the 37 kd liver protein which is highly susceptible to acetaldehyde modification in rats continuously fed alcohol. The 5beta-reductase is a key enzyme involved in bile acid synthesis. We report here that the ability to degrade 7alpha-hydroxy-4-cholesten-3-one (HCO) was lower in the liver cytosol of alcohol-fed rats than in control animals, suggesting an inhibition of the 5beta-reductase enzyme activity by acetaldehyde modification. We also showed that HCO exhibited a time- and concentration-dependent cytotoxicity to HepG2 cells. HCO cytotoxicity was noticeable at a concentration of 2.5 microg/mL. When 10 microg/mL of HCO was added to confluent cell monolayers, 57% and 37% of cells remained viable after 24 and 48 hours of treatment. The decrease in cell viability was accompanied by an increased lactic dehydrogenase activity in the culture medium. DNA extracted from HCO-treated cells showed no evidence of DNA fragmentation when analyzed by agarose gel electrophoresis. Staining with propidium iodide showed no nuclear condensation in cells. Thus, cell death by HCO treatment was caused by necrosis and not by apoptosis. Various agents, including, serum proteins, hormones, bile acids, antioxidants, Ca++-chelators, Fe++-chelator, CYP450 inhibitor, adenylate cyclase inhibitor, protease inhibitors, and nitric oxide synthase inhibitor, did not protect against HCO cytotoxicity. We speculate that HCO concentrations may be elevated around the pericentral area in the liver after chronic alcohol ingestion, causing local cell necrosis. The release of cellular contents and protein-acetaldehyde adducts (PAAs) may activate nonparenchymal cells and provoke autoimmune reaction. Thus, the formation of the 37 kd-PAA may play an important role in the initiation of alcoholic liver injury.

High prevalence of the His63Asp HFE mutation in Italian patients with porphyria cutanea tarda.

Sampietro M. Piperno A. Lupica L. Arosio C. Vergani A. Corbetta N. Malosio I. Mattioli M. Fracanzani AL. Cappellini MD. Fiorelli G. Fargion S.
Istituto di Medicina Interna e Fisiopatologia Medica, Universita di Milano and IRCCS Ospedale Maggiore, Italy.
Sporadic porphyria cutanea tarda (PCT) is caused by a reduced activity of uroporphyrinogen decarboxylase (URO-D) in the liver. Mild to moderate iron overload is common in PCT, as iron is one of the factors which trigger the clinical manifestations of the disease through the inactivation of URO-D. A role for genetic hemochromatosis in the development of iron overload in sporadic PCT has been hypothesized in the past. The aim of this work was to investigate whether mutations of HFE, which is a candidate gene for hemochromatosis, play the role of genetic susceptibility factors for PCT in Italian patients, who have a high prevalence of acquired triggering factors, such as hepatitis C virus (HCV) chronic infection and alcohol. We determined HFE genotypes of 68 male patients with PCT. Our data do not confirm an association of PCT with the Cys282Tyr HFE mutation, strongly associated with hemochromatosis in Northern European countries. A second mutation of HFE, His63Asp, however, had a significantly increased frequency as it was present in half of the patients. Surprisingly, the presence of the His63Asp mutation was not related to the iron status of patients, suggesting that a subtle abnormality of iron metabolism induced by this mutation could escape detection by the standard parameters of iron status. In PCT patients with liver disease, the presence of the mutation could contribute to the inactivation of URO-D, either directly or through a synergistic action with other factors that cause liver damage.

A two-year prospective study of the effect of ursodeoxycholic acid on urinary bile acid excretion and liver morphology in cystic fibrosis-associated liver disease.

Lindblad A. Glaumann H. Strandvik B.
Department of Pediatrics, Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Goteborg University, Sweden.
The efficacy of 2 years of treatment with ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA) in cystic fibrosis (CF)-associated liver disease was evaluated by liver biopsies and liver function tests in 10 patients aged 8 to 28 years. The metabolism of UDCA was investigated by analysis of urinary bile acids with fast atom bombardment mass spectrometry (FABMS) and gas-liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry. Eight patients responded with normalization of liver function tests (LFT) and all with decreased serum levels of immunoglobulin G (IgG). Blind evaluation of liver biopsies indicated improved liver morphology with less inflammation and/or bile duct proliferation than before treatment with UDCA in 7 patients. Only 1 patient had signs of progression of clinical liver disease. The proportion of UDCA and isoUDCA in urine varied, but increased during treatment from a mean (median) of approximately 4% (3%) to 40% (40%) of total bile acids. The increase was not related to LFT. The secondary bile acids, such as lithocholic acid (LCA) and deoxycholic acid (DCA), did not increase significantly. The excretion pattern of glycosidic conjugates of UDCA and its metabolites was similar to that found in healthy individuals, UDCA and isoUDCA being mainly excreted in conjugation with N-acetylglucosamine. This study shows that UDCA modulates inflammation in CF-associated liver disease and indicates improvement of liver morphology during 2 years of treatment.

Hepatic cytochrome P450 2E1 is increased in patients with nonalcoholic steatohepatitis.

Weltman MD. Farrell GC. Hall P. Ingelman-Sundberg M. Liddle C.
Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, University of Sydney at Westmead Hospital, NSW, Australia.
Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) has multiple etiologic associations, but the pathogenesis is poorly understood. Cytochrome P450 (CYP) 2E1 is induced in the liver of patients who drink alcohol to excess and is important in the pathogenesis of alcoholic liver disease (ALD). We have previously shown that hepatic CYP2E1 is also increased in a rat dietary model of steatohepatitis. The aim of the present study was to test the hypothesis that hepatic CYP2E1 is induced in the liver of patients with NASH, defined on the basis of compatible liver histology and the exclusion of excessive alcohol intake. Sections of paraffin-embedded liver biopsy material from 31 subjects with NASH were evaluated and compared with sections from 10 histologically normal livers and 6 patients with ALD. Hepatic CYP2E1 and CYP3A were detected in liver sections by immunohistochemistry using specific anti-human CYP2E1 and CYP3A antibodies. As expected, normal livers showed CYP2E1 immunostaining confined to a rim, two to three cells thick, around terminal hepatic venule, while livers from alcoholic hepatitis patients showed increased CYP2E1 staining. CYP2E1 immunostaining was also increased in livers from patients with NASH, irrespective of the etiologic association. Further, the pattern of CYP2E1 distribution was similar to ALD, with increased perivenular intensity and more extensive acinar distribution of staining. As in the rat model, the hepatic distribution of CYP2E1 corresponded to that of steatosis. In contrast to CYP2E1, CYP3A immunostaining was decreased in patients with NASH. We conclude that hepatic CYP2E1 is increased in patients with NASH compared with normal livers. Thus, despite many possible etiologic factors for NASH, the pathogenetic mechanisms may be similar and, like alcoholic steatohepatitis, may involve induction of CYP2E1.

Right-sided pedunculated hepatocellular carcinoma: a form of adrenal metastasis.

Okuda K. Arakawa M. Kubo Y. Sakata K. Kage M. Iwamoto S. Takeda S. Sonoda K. Sanefuji H.
Department of Medicine, Chiba University School of Medicine, Japan.
Pedunculated hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) or extrahepatic growth of HC C is an uncommon but not rare pathological form, but its genesis is unknown. Right-sided adrenal metastases of HCC that were abutting on or about to fuse with the right hepatic lobe were resected in three patients. The masses seemed to have originated in the para-adrenal tissue, leaving the adrenal gland intact. They were partially supplied by the hepatic artery as well as by the suprarenal artery. Four cases of autopsied pedunculated HCC of the right lobe were also studied. The mass was protruding caudad from the noncancerous parenchyma of the right lobe. Postmortem angiography carried out on one liver showed that only a small portion of the mass toward the liver was supplied from the hepatic artery. These observations suggest that some, perhaps most, of the right-sided pedunculated HCCs represent fusion of the right lobe and para-adrenal or adrenal metastatic HCC. This phenomenon may be explained by possible transport of cancer cells toward the right adrenal gland through the so-called adrenohepatic fusion, a relatively common anatomical change in advanced age.

Q-T interval prolongation in cirrhosis: prevalence, relationship with severity, and etiology of the disease and possible pathogenetic factors.

Bernardi M. Calandra S. Colantoni A. Trevisani F. Raimondo ML. Sica G. Schepis F. Mandini M. Simoni P. Contin M. Raimondo G.
Dipartimento di Medicina Interna, Cardioangiologia, Epatologia, University of Bologna, Italy.
Prolonged Q-T interval predicts severe arrhythmias and sudden death, and has been shown to occur in alcoholic liver disease and cirrhotic patients who are candidates for liver transplantation. This study first evaluated the prevalence of prolonged Q-T interval in a large population of unselected patients with cirrhosis, and assessed the relationship between abnormal Q-T, etiology, and severity of liver disease and mortality of patients. Possible causes of Q-T abnormality were also explored. Ninety-four patients with cirrhosis without overt heart disease and 37 control subjects with mild chronic active hepatitis were enrolled. Rate-corrected Q-T interval (Q-Tc) was assessed along with routine liver tests, Child-Pugh score, serum bile salts, electrolytes and creatinine, plasma renin activity, aldosterone, norepinephrine, atrial natriuretic factor and, gonadal hormones. Q-Tc was longer in patients with cirrhosis than in controls (440.3 +/- 3.2 vs. 393.6 +/- 3.7 ms; P < .001) and prolonged (> 440 ms) in 44 patients (46.8%) and 2 controls (5.4%; P < .001). Q-Tc length was not influenced by the etiology of cirrhosis and correlated with Child-Pugh score (r = .53; P < .001), liver tests such as prothrombin activity, and serum concentrations of albumin and bilirubin, plasma bile salts, and plasma norepinephrine. Multivariate analysis showed that only Child-Pugh score and plasma norepinephrine were independently correlated with Q-Tc duration. Over a median follow-up period of 19 months (range, 2-33 months), patients with Q-Tc longer than 440 ms had a significantly lower survival rate than those with normal Q-Tc. Q-T interval is frequently prolonged in patients with cirrhosis, regardless the etiology of the disease, worsens in parallel with the severity of the disease, and may have an important prognostic meaning. In addition to other undefined factors related to the severity of cirrhosis, sympathoadrenergic hyperactivity may play a pathogenetic role.

Variceal pressure is a factor predicting the risk of a first variceal bleeding: a prospective cohort study in cirrhotic patients.

Nevens F. Bustami R. Scheys I. Lesaffre E. Fevery J.
Department of Liver and Pancreas Diseases, University Hospital Gasthuisberg, Leuven, Belgium.
Predictive criteria for a first variceal hemorrhage lack substantial accuracy. Cross-sectional studies suggest a close relationship between variceal pressure (VP) and the occurrence of variceal bleeding. In the present prospective cohort study, the significance of VP measurement for prediction of a first variceal bleed was assessed. Eighty-seven patients with cirrhosis and large esophageal varices who had never developed variceal bleeding were followed for 12 months. The endpoint of the study was the presentation or not of a variceal hemorrhage. Thirty-four patients (39%) were in Child's class A, 37 in class B (43%), and 16 in class C (18%). The median interval between endoscopic diagnosis of varices and the beginning of the study was 15 months. Twenty-eight patients (32%) developed a variceal hemorrhage with a bleeding-related mortality of 18% (n=5). The 1-year mortality overall was 16% (n=14). Variables predictive of a first bleed identified by Cox proportional hazards regression model were: the level of VP, the North Italian Endoscopic Club (NIEC) score, and the interval between the diagnosis of varices and the start of the study. By adding VP to NIEC, a significant gain in prognostic accuracy was obtained (P = .003). In conclusion, the present study provides evidence that the level of VP is a major predictive factor for variceal hemorrhage, and that it provides further prognostic information in addition to the NIEC index.

Expression of apomucins in the intrahepatic biliary tree in hepatolithiasis differs from that in normal liver and extrahepatic biliary obstruction.

Sasaki M. Nakanuma Y. Kim YS.
Department of Pathology (II), Kanazawa University School of Medicine, Kanazawa, Japan.
Mucin plays an important role in the development of hepatoliths, which are formed within the intrahepatic large bile ducts. To date, eight apomucins, components of mucin, have been identified. The purpose of this study is to characterize the expression of MUC1, MUC2, MUC3, MUC5, and MUC6 apomucins at both the protein and messenger RNA (mRNA) levels in the intrahepatic large bile ducts and peribiliary glands in 36 livers from patients with hepatolithiasis, in 25 livers from the patients with extrahepatic biliary obstruction, and in 23 histologically-normal livers. MUC3 and MUC6 were constantly and focally expressed, respectively, in the biliary epithelial cells in the intrahepatic large bile ducts in normal livers, extrahepatic biliary obstruction, and, also, hepatolithiasis. In hepatolithiasis, MUC1, MUC2, and MUC5 apomucins were also focally expressed in 33%, 64%, and 89%, respectively, of the large intrahepatic bile ducts examined, whereas such expression was infrequent in normal livers and in extrahepatic biliary obstruction. The markedly proliferated intramural and extramural peribiliary glands in hepatolithiasis frequently expressed MUC3 and MUC6 apomucins and focally expressed MUC2 and MUC5 apomucins. All of the apomucins mRNA expression, except that of MUC1, resembled each protein expression. In conclusion, the characteristics of apomucins in the intrahepatic biliary tree in hepatolithiasis differs from those in normal livers and extrahepatic biliary obstructrion. Increased expression of gel-forming mucins, such as MUC5 and MUC2, could be involved in the formation and development of hepatolithiasis.

Hepatitis B virus S mutants in liver transplant recipients who were reinfected despite hepatitis B immune globulin prophylaxis.

Ghany MG. Ayola B. Villamil FG. Gish RG. Rojter S. Vierling JM. Lok AS.
University of Michigan and VA Medical Center, Ann Arbor 48109, USA.
Long-term hepatitis B immune globulin (HBIG) has been shown to reduce hepatitis B virus (HBV) reinfection in patients transplanted for hepatitis B. The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence of HBV S gene mutations in liver transplant recipients who developed recurrent hepatitis B despite HBIG prophylaxis, and to determine if these mutations can revert after withdrawal of HBIG. The entire S gene sequences in pre- and posttransplant sera from 20 patients who developed recurrent hepatitis B despite HBIG prophylaxis were compared. Ten (50%) patients had 18 amino acid substitutions involving the 'a' determinant in the posttransplant samples. These mutations were absent in 93% of the pretransplantation clones analyzed. There was a significant correlation between the development of mutations in the 'a' determinant region and the duration of HBIG therapy. Most of the mutations result in changes in predicted antigenicity of the S protein. During follow-up, mutations in 14 (78%) of 18 affected codons in the 'a' determinant region reverted back to the pretransplantation sequences; only 1 codon had a de novo change after the withdrawal of HBIG. Two control patients who did not receive HBIG had no change in the 'a' determinant in their posttransplantation samples. These data support the hypothesis that mutations in the S gene were induced or selected by immune pressure exerted by HBIG. HBV S mutants may play a role in HBV reinfection in liver transplant recipients who received HBIG prophylaxis.

Chronic hepatitis C virus infection causes a significant reduction in quality of life in the absence of cirrhosis.

Foster GR. Goldin RD. Thomas HC.
Liver Unit, Imperial College School of Medicine at St Mary's, St Mary's Hospital, London, England, UK.
The effects of chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection, in the absence of cirrhosis, on patients' quality of life was assessed using the short form 36 (SF36) symptomatology questionnaire. Patients with chronic hepatitis C were polysymptomatic and had significant reductions in their SF36 scores for all of the modalities tested. Patients with chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection showed a reduction in the SF36 scores that assessed mental functions, but they had no decrease in the scores that measured physical symptoms, indicating that the symptoms associated with chronic HCV infection are qualitatively different from those associated with chronic HBV infection. Patients with chronic HCV infection who had used intravenous drugs in the past had the greatest impairment in quality-of-life scores, but the reduction in quality-of-life scores was still found in patients who had never used drugs. The reduction in quality of life could not be attributed to the degree of liver inflammation or to the mode of acquisition of the infection. Hence, chronic infection with HCV per se gives rise to physical symptoms that reduce the quality of life of infected patients.

Dysregulation of proteoglycan production by intrahepatic biliary epithelial cells bearing defective (delta-f508) cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator.

Bhaskar KR. Turner BS. Grubman SA. Jefferson DM. LaMont JT.
Department of Medicine, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02215, USA.
Hepatic dysfunction in cystic fibrosis (CF) has been attributed to accumulation of viscous mucoid secretions in intrahepatic bile ducts. The purpose of our study was to compare glycoconjugate secretion by intrahepatic biliary epithelial (IBE) cells derived from normal livers and livers of CF patients with the delta F508 mutation of the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR). Confluent cells were incubated with 3H-glucosamine (GlcN) for 16 hours, and radiolabeled macromolecules were analyzed for the amount and type of glycoconjugates. Incorporation of 3H-GlcN into macromolecular glycoconjugates was two- to threefold higher in CF cells versus normals, as was uptake of 3H-Glcn into the cytoplasm of CF cells. Gel exclusion chromatography on Sepharose Cl 4B revealed that the secreted glycoconjugates from CF cells eluted entirely in the excluded fraction (molecular weight > 2 x 10(6)), while, in the normal cells, 60% of the glycoconjugates eluted as lower-molecular-weight species. The high-molecular-weight glycoconjugates in both CF and normal cells were identified as chondroitin sulfates, as evidenced by susceptibility to beta elimination, chondroitinase digestion, and amino acid composition. Western blotting of IBE cell secretions with a polyclonal antibody to chondroitin sulfate revealed proteoglycan bands at 100 and 210 kd. Our results indicate that secretion of chondroitin sulfate is markedly increased in CF biliary epithelium in vitro compared with non-CF cells. Increased uptake of precursor 3H-GlcN may contribute to enhanced glycosylation of chondroitin sulfate in CF cells.

Influence of HLA haplotypes on the clinical courses of individuals infected with hepatitis C virus.

Kuzushita N. Hayashi N. Moribe T. Katayama K. Kanto T. Nakatani S. Kaneshige T. Tatsumi T. Ito A. Mochizuki K. Sasaki Y. Kasahara A. Hori M.
First Department of Medicine, Osaka University School of Medicine, Suita, Japan.
The human leukocyte antigen is a crucial genetic factor that initiates or regulates immune response by presenting foreign or self antigens to T lymphocytes. The aim of this study was to investigate whether HLA polymorphism is associated with the onset or progression of liver injury in chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. We determined HLA class I antigens and class II alleles in 130 hepatitis C virus (HCV)-infected patients (33 carriers with persistently normal alanine transaminase [ALT] values and 97 patients with chronic liver disease [CLD]). HLA class I (A, B) was typed serologically, and class II (DRB1, DQB1) was typed by means of polymerase chain reaction-restriction fragment length polymorphism methods. The frequencies of DRB1*0405 and DQB1*0401 were higher in HCV-infected patients than in uninfected subjects. Among HCV-infected patients, the frequencies of B54, DRB1*0405, and DQB1*0401 were significantly higher in patients with CLD than in those carriers with persistently normal ALT values, whereas DRB1*1302, DRB1*1101, and DQB1*0604 were more frequently found in carriers with persistently normal ALT values than in patients with CLD. From extended haplotype analyses, in carriers with B54-DRB1*0405-DQB1*0401 haplotype, the risk of having liver injury was 13.2 times greater than in carriers with DRB1*0405-DQB1*0401 but without B54 [P = 0.0015, Haldane odds ratio = 13.2 (95% confidence interval, 1.7-103.8)]. In contrast, carriers with B44-DRB1*1302-DQB1*0604 had a 12.7-fold lower relative risk of developing liver injury compared to those with the haplotype containing B44 but not DRB1*1302-DQB1*0604 [P = 0.0076, Haldane odds ratio = 0.079 (0.009-0.695)]. Our findings show that extended haplotypes including class I B54 are closely associated with the progression of liver injury, whereas extended haplotypes including class II DRB1*1302-DQB1*0604 are associated with low hepatitis activity in chronic HCV infection.

Precore wild-type DNA and immune complexes persist in chronic hepatitis B after seroconversion: no association between genome conversion and seroconversion.

Maruyama T. Kuwata S. Koike K. Iino S. Yasuda K. Yotsuyanagi H. Moriya K. Maekawa H. Yamada H. Shibata Y. Milich DR.
First Department of Internal Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Tokyo, Japan.
Precore hepatitis B virus (HBV) mutants may gradually prevail during or after seroconversion (SC) from hepatitis B e antigen (HBeAg) to hepatitis B e antigen antibody (anti-HBe) status in many chronic hepatitis B (CH-B) patients. However, patients with CH-B still produce anti-HBe more than several years after SC, and the relationship between SC and genome conversion in the precore region has not been clarified. Therefore, in patients with CH-B who had a sustained loss of HBeAg and complete remission of hepatitis after SC, the precore region was sequenced in paired serum samples from 1 year before SC to 3 years after SC. Mutant precore defective HBV DNA was found in only 6 (19%) of 31 CH-B patients who had a complete remission of hepatitis after SC. Mixed-type HBV DNA (precore wild-type and mutant-type) was found in 4 (13%) patients. Wild-type HBV DNA was found in 21 (68%) CH-B patients after SC. Longer-term follow-up of 11 CH-B patients indicated that 3 of 11 patients experienced precore genome conversion 2 to 3 years after SC. E-plus DNA or e-minus DNA was semiquantitated by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) and restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) assays before and after SC. E-plus DNA levels decreased from 10(5.56+/-1.58) to 10(2.45+/-1.61). Similarly, e-minus DNA levels declined from 10(4.25+/-1.56) to 10(1.86+/-1.37). By dot-blot assay, serum HBV DNA became negative soon after SC, as did serum HBeAg. In contrast, HBeAg-containing immune complexes were still detected after SC. Anti-HBe antibody was produced throughout SC and thereafter, as determined by a sensitive experimental assay. Therefore, we conclude that genome-conversion in the precore region is a separate event from HBeAg/anti-HBe seroconversion.

Hepatitis B virus with antigenically altered hepatitis B surface antigen is selected by high-dose hepatitis B immune globulin after liver transplantation.

Protzer-Knolle U. Naumann U. Bartenschlager R. Berg T. Hopf U. Meyer zum Buschenfelde KH. Neuhaus P. Gerken G.
First Medical Department, Johannes Gutenberg-University, Mainz, Germany.
"Escape" variants of hepatitis B virus (HBV) can cause infection despite previous immunization. These viruses show alterations of the immunogenic major hydrophilic loop of the HBV small surface protein (s-protein). We studied whether HBV "escape" variants were selected in patients with graft infection after liver transplantation for HBV-related diseases who received passive immunoprophylaxis with high-dose polyclonal hepatitis B hyperimmune globulin (HBIG). For that, pre- and posttransplantation sera of 34 patients were analyzed for the occurence of HBV S-gene variants. In addition, binding of in vitro-translated variant s-proteins to HBIG was studied. Variants with exchanges of amino acid (aa) 144 (s144) in HBV genotype A and 145 in genotype D (s145) were found to emerge, persist, and predominate during HBIG, and thus fulfilled criteria of "escape" variants selected. In addition to already-known variants sG145R/K/E, we could demonstrate that newly described variants sX144G and sG145A were antigenically altered and showed impaired recognition by polyclonal HBIG in vitro. Diminished recognition of variant s-proteins correlated with the failure of HBIG to prevent infection of the liver graft with antigenically altered variant HBV Patients infected with "escape" variants s144 or s145 showed a worse clinical outcome compared with the other patients on high-dose, long-term HBIG prophylaxis (44% vs. 23% graft failure caused by HBV infection). Our results suggest that antigenically altered HBV variants s144 and s145 can be selected by HBIG and can influence clinical outcome after liver transplantation.

Management of adult patients with ascites caused by cirrhosis.

Runyon BA.
Loma Linda Transplantation Institute, CA 92354, USA.
Ascites is the most common of the major complications of cirrhosis. The development of ascites is an important landmark in the natural history of cirrhosis and has been proposed as an indication for liver transplantation. The initial evaluation of a patient with ascites should include a history, physical evaluation, and abdominal paracentesis with ascitic fluid analysis. Treatment should consist of abstinence from alcohol, sodium restricted diet, and diuretics. This regimen is effective in approximately 90% of patients. The treatment options for the diuretic-resistant patients include serial therapeutic paracenteses, liver transplantation, and peritoneovenous shunting.

Reversibility of hepatorenal syndrome by prolonged administration of ornipressin and plasma volume expansion.

Guevara M. Gines P. Fernandez-Esparrach G. Sort P. Salmeron JM. Jimenez W. Arroyo V. Rodes J.
Liver Unit, Hospital Clinic i Provincial, University of Barcelona, Catalunya, Spain.
Hepatorenal syndrome is caused by a marked vasoconstriction of the renal circulation. It is suggested that the renal vasoconstriction is related to an overactivity of vasoconstrictor systems secondary to a vasodilation of the arterial circulation that causes a reduction in effective arterial blood volume. To test this hypothesis, 16 cirrhotic patients with hepatorenal syndrome were treated with a combination of ornipressin, a potent vasoconstrictor agent, and plasma volume expansion with albumin to improve effective arterial blood volume. The combined treatment was administered either for 3 or 15 days (8 patients each), and the effects on renal function, vasoactive systems, and systemic hemodynamics were assessed. The 3-day treatment with ornipressin and albumin was associated with a normalization of the overactivity of renin-angiotensin and sympathetic nervous systems, a marked increase in atrial-natriuretic peptide levels, and only a slight improvement in renal function. However, when ornipressin and albumin were administered for 15 days, a remarkable improvement in renal function was observed, with normalization of serum-creatinine concentration, a marked increase in renal plasma flow and glomerular filtration rate, and a persistent suppression in the activity of vasoconstrictor systems. However, 3 of 8 patients on 15-day therapy treatment had to be discontinued because of ischemic complications. In conclusion, the decrease in effective arterial blood volume and the activation of vasoconstrictor systems play a crucial role in the pathogenesis of hepatorenal syndrome. Although the prolonged administration of ornipressin combined with plasma volume expansion reverses hepatorenal syndrome, this treatment should be used with great caution in clinical practice because of the risk of ischemic complications.

Transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt versus endoscopic sclerotherapy for the prevention of variceal bleeding in cirrhosis: a randomized multicenter trial. Gruppo Italiano Studio TIPS (G.I.S.T.).

Merli M. Salerno F. Riggio O. de Franchis R. Fiaccadori F. Meddi P. Primignani M. Pedretti G. Maggi A. Capocaccia L. Lovaria A. Ugolotti U. Salvatori F. Bezzi M. Rossi P.
Institute of II Gastroenterology, La Sapienza University, Rome, Italy.
Transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt (TIPS), a new technique for the treatment of portal hypertension, has been successful in preliminary studies to treat acute variceal hemorrhage and to prevent variceal rebleeding. The purpose of this multicenter, randomized controlled trial is to compare the efficacy of TIPS with that of endoscopic sclerotherapy in the prevention of variceal rebleeding in cirrhosis. Eighty-one cirrhotic patients, with endoscopically proven variceal bleeding, were randomized to either TIPS (38 patients) or endoscopic sclerotherapy (43 patients). Randomization was stratified according to the following: if bleeding occurred < 1 week (stratum I); if bleeding occurred 1 to 6 weeks (stratum II); and if bleeding occurred 6 weeks to 6 months (stratum III) before enrollment. Follow-up included clinical, biochemical, Doppler Ultrasound, and endoscopic examinations every 6 months. During a mean follow-up of 17.7 months, 51% of the patients treated with sclerotherapy and 24% of those treated with TIPS rebled (P = .011). Mortality was 19% in sclerotherapy patients and 24% in TIPS patients (P = .50). Hepatic encephalopathy (HE) developed in 26% and 55%, respectively (P = .006). A separate analysis of the three strata showed that TIPS was significantly more effective than sclerotherapy (P = .026) in preventing rebleeding only in stratum I patients. TIPS is significantly better than sclerotherapy in preventing rebleeding only when it is performed shortly after a variceal bleed; however, TIPS does not improve survival and is associated with a significantly higher incidence of HE. The overall performance of TIPS does not seem to justify the adoption of this technique as a first-choice treatment to prevent rebleeding from esophageal varices in cirrhotic patients.

Prospective randomized controlled trial comparing percutaneous acetic acid injection and percutaneous ethanol injection for small hepatocellular carcinoma.

Ohnishi K. Yoshioka H. Ito S. Fujiwara K.
Third Department of Medicine, Saitama Medical School, Japan.
To assess whether ultrasound-guided percutaneous acetic acid injection is superior to percutaneous ethanol injection in the treatment of small hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), 60 patients with one to four HCCs smaller than 3 cm were entered onto a randomized controlled trial. Thirty-one and 29 patients, respectively, were treated by percutaneous acetic acid injection using 50% acetic acid or by percutaneous ethanol injection using absolute ethanol. There were no significant differences in age, sex ratio, Child-Pugh class, size of tumors, or number of tumors between the two groups. When there was no evidence of viable HCC from biopsy, plain and helical dynamic computed tomography, or angiography, the treatment was considered successful and was discontinued. All original tumors were treated successfully by either therapy. However, 8% of 38 tumors treated with percutaneous acetic acid injection and 37% of 35 tumors treated with percutaneous ethanol injection developed a local recurrence (P < .001) during the follow-up periods of 29 +/- 8 months and 23 +/- 10 months, respectively. The 1- and 2-year survival rates were 100% and 92% in percutaneous acetic acid injection and 83% and 63% in percutaneous ethanol injection (P = .0017). A multivariate analysis of prognostic factors revealed that treatment was an independent predictor of survival. The risk ratio of percutaneous acetic acid injection versus percutaneous ethanol injection was 0.120 (range, 0.027-0.528; P = .0050). In conclusion, percutaneous acetic acid injection is superior to percutaneous ethanol injection in the treatment of small HCC.

Risk factors and clinical presentation of hepatobiliary carcinoma in patients with primary sclerosing cholangitis: a case-control study.

Bergquist A. Glaumann H. Persson B. Broome U.
Department of Gastroenterology, Huddinge University Hospital, Karolinska Institute, Sweden.
The reason why 10% to 20% of all patients with primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) develop cholangiocarcinoma (CC) remains unknown. The aim of this study was to compare the clinical and biochemical presentation in PSC patients with and without hepatobiliary malignancy and to look for risk factors for developing hepatobiliary carcinoma in PSC. All PSC patients (n = 20) with hepatobiliary carcinoma treated at Huddinge Hospital between 1984 and 1995 were age- and sex-matched to 20 PSC patients with end-stage disease without carcinoma. Clinical and biochemical data from four different occasions (time of onset of PSC, 12 and 6 months before and at the time of cancer diagnosis or liver transplantation [Ltx]) were registered. Seventeen patients had CC, 2 had hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), and 1 had gallbladder carcinoma (GBC). Eighteen of the cancer patients and 19 controls had inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The number of patients who smoked or were former smokers was significantly higher in the cancer group (P < .0004). The duration of IBD and PSC, extra- and intrahepatic distribution of PSC, surgical and medical treatments did not differ between the two groups. Abdominal pain was the only symptom that was more frequent among cancer patients at the time of cancer diagnosis/Ltx compared with controls. Evaluation of biochemical data did not indicate a more rapid deterioration among cancer patients. The mean value of the tumor marker, CA 19-9, in the cancer group was 700 kU/L; in the control group, it was 46 kU/L (P < .05), although data were only available in 10 cancer patients and 7 controls. Bile duct dysplasia was found in over 60% of patients with PSC and CC in nontumorous liver tissue apart from the tumor. Clinical and biochemical presentation of PSC patients with and without hepatobiliary carcinoma did not differ during the year before cancer diagnosis/Ltx. Smoking seems to be a risk factor for developing hepatobiliary carcinoma in patients with PSC.

Comparison of liver progenitor cells in human atypical ductular reactions with those seen in experimental models of liver injury.

Sell S.
Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Albany Medical College, NY 12209-3479, USA.
The ultrastructural characteristics of liver progenitor cell types of human atypical ductular reactions seen in chronic cholestasis, in regenerating human liver after submassive necrosis, in alcoholic liver disease, and in focal nodular hyperplasia are compared with liver progenitor cell types seen during experimental cholangiocarcinogenesis in hamsters; during hepatocarcinogenesis in rats; and in response to periportal liver injury induced by allyl alcohol in rats. Three types of progenitor cells have been identified in human atypical ductular reactions: type I: primitive, has an oval shape, marginal chromatin, few cellular organelles, rare tonofilaments, and forms desmosomal junctions with adjacent liver cells; type II: bile duct-like, is located within ducts, has few organelles, and forms lateral membrane interdigitations with other duct-like cells; and type III: hepatocyte-like, is located in hepatic cords, forms a bile canaliculus, has tight junctions with other hepatocyte-like cells, prominent mitochondria and rough endoplasmic reticulum, and some have lysosomes and a poorly developed Golgi apparatus. Each type is seen during cholangiocarcinogenesis in hamsters, but the most prominent cell type is type II, duct-like. A more primitive cell type ("type 0 cell"), as well as type I cells, are seen in the intraportal zone of the liver within 1 to 2 days after carcinogen exposure or periportal injury in the rat, but both type II and type III are seen later as the progenitor cells expand into the liver lobule. After allyl alcohol injury, type 0 cells precede the appearance of type I and type III cells, but most of the cells that span the periportal necrotic zone are type III hepatocyte-like cells showing different degrees of hepatocytic differentiation. Some type II cells are also seen, but these are essentially limited to ducts. It is concluded that there is a primitive stem cell type in the liver (type 0) that may differentiate directly into type I and then into type II, duct-like or or type III hepatocyte-like cells. The terms oval cell, transitional hepatocyte, biliary hepatocyte, hepatocyte-like cell, atypical ductular cell, neocholangiole, etc., are used to describe these cells. Although these terms are useful as general descriptive terms for liver precursor cells at the light microscopic level, the cells included in these descriptive categories may be very different from one another biologically and ultrastructurally.

High prevalence of sleep disturbance in cirrhosis.

Cordoba J. Cabrera J. Lataif L. Penev P. Zee P. Blei AT.
Northwestern University, and Department of Medicine, Sleep Laboratory at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and Lakeside VA Medical Center, Chicago, IL 60611, USA.
Sleep disturbance is a classic sign of hepatic encephalopathy. However, there are limited data regarding its prevalence in cirrhotic patients without overt hepatic encephalopathy. We assessed the characteristics of sleep in cirrhosis using a sleep questionnaire (n = 44) and actigraphy (n = 20). The results were compared with those of subjects with chronic renal failure and those of healthy controls. Presence of subclinical hepatic encephalopathy, chronotypology profile, and individual's affective state were also analyzed. The questionnaire indicated an elevated number of cirrhotic patients (47.7%) and patients with chronic renal failure (38.6%) who complained of unsatisfactory sleep compared with healthy controls (4.5%, P < .01). Actigraphy corroborated the deterioration of sleep parameters in cirrhotic patients with unsatisfactory sleep. The sleep disturbance in cirrhosis was not associated with clinical parameters nor with cognitive impairment. Cirrhotic subjects and patients with chronic renal failure with unsatisfactory sleep showed higher scores for depression and anxiety, raising the possibility that the effects of chronic disease may underlie the pathogenesis of sleep disturbance. However, in contrast to chronic renal failure, unsatisfactory sleep in cirrhosis was associated with delayed bedtime, delayed wake-up time, and evening chronotypology. In conclusion, a sleep disturbance is frequent in cirrhotic patients without hepatic encephalopathy and may be related to abnormalities of the circadian timekeeping system.

Daily energy and substrate metabolism in patients with cirrhosis.

Greco AV. Mingrone G. Benedetti G. Capristo E. Tataranni PA. Gasbarrini G.
Istituto di Medicina Interna e Geriatria, Universita Cattolica S. Cuore, Roma, Italy.
Twenty-four-hour energy expenditure (EE) and substrate oxidation (respiratory chamber), and whole-body glucose uptake and oxidation rates (euglycemic hyperinsulinemic clamp [EHC] and indirect calorimetry) were measured in 10 male patients with posthepatitis, Child B cirrhosis, and 8 healthy male controls matched for age, body size, and body composition. Twenty-four-hour EE was higher in cirrhotic patients than in controls (8,567 +/- 764 vs. 6,825 +/- 507 kJ/d; P < .001). Resting energy expenditure (REE) was also higher in cirrhotic patients than in controls (7,881 +/- 1,125 vs. 5,868 +/- 489 kJ/d; P < .01). Twenty-four-hour respiratory quotient (RQ) (trend) and fasting RQ (0.76 +/- 0.05 vs. 0.82 +/- 0.04; P < .05) were lower in cirrhotic patients than in controls, reflecting higher lipid oxidation rates in the former group. Whole-body glucose uptake was markedly reduced in cirrhotic patients when compared with controls (22.4 +/- 3.2 vs. 44.5 +/- 7.6 mmol/kg/min; P < .001). Carbohydrate oxidation rates, computed during the last 40 minutes of the clamp, were 8.5 +/- 1.1 mmol/kg/min in cirrhotic patients and 22.6 +/- 6.1 mmol/kg/min in controls (P < .001). Nonoxidative glucose disposal was 13.9 +/- 2.5 mmol/kg/min in cirrhotic patients and 22.0 +/- 5.5 mmol/kg/min in normal controls (P < .01). In conclusion, our data indicate that patients with Child B cirrhosis who still maintain a nutritional status (i.e., body composition) comparable with healthy controls are characterized by a cluster of metabolic defects that include hypermetabolism, increased lipid utilization, and insulin resistance. This suggests that the above metabolic syndrome precedes and probably leads to malnutrition in the natural history of the liver disease. In fact, in spite of the absence of a significant difference in caloric intake between cirrhotic patients and normal controls, the elevated 24-hour EE might allow for a relevant weight loss in cirrhotic patients, because, with time, the differences may be cumulative. However, whether this hypermetabolism can lead to a real weight loss remains to be evaluated in a longitudinal study.

Somatosensory evoked potentials in subclinical portosystemic encephalopathy: a comparison with psychometric tests.

Yang SS. Wu CH. Chiang TR. Chen DS.
Division of Gastroenterology, Cathay General Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan.
We prospectively studied the role of somatosensory evoked potentials (SEPs) and psychometric tests in the assessment of subclinical portosystemic encephalopathy (PSE) in 61 cirrhotic patients with grade 0 PSE and 20 controls. Six additional uneducated controls underwent only psychometric tests. Median nerve-evoked cortical responses were recorded for N20-N65 interpeak latencies (IPLs). Psychometric tests were conducted within 4 hours of SEP testing. Seven (26.9%) controls and 30 (49.2%) cirrhotic patients had abnormal psychometric test results (writing sample tests, 20; five-point star tests, 17; number-connection tests, 19; and following-a-track tests, 18); seven controls and 25 cirrhotic patients had 6 or fewer years of education; 7 controls and 28 cirrhotics were older than 50 years of age. Cirrhotic patients (47.6 +/- 8.3 milliseconds) had higher N20-N65 IPLs than controls (40.2 +/- 3.0 milliseconds; P < .001). Twenty-nine (47.5%) cirrhotic patients had abnormal N20-N65 IPLs. Of the 26 cirrhotic patients with more than 6 years of education, 15 (57.7%) had abnormal N20-N65 IPLs and 5 (19.2%) had abnormal psychometric test results (P = .005). Our data show that N20-N65 IPLs of SEPs are helpful in the assessment of subclinical PSE; 47.5% of cirrhotic patients had subclinical PSE. Poorly educated and older subjects tended to have abnormal psychometric test results. SEPs were not affected by education and age and were more sensitive than psychometric tests in the assessment of subclinical PSE in better-educated cirrhotic patients.

Cerebral blood flow and metabolism in patients with chronic liver disease undergoing orthotopic liver transplantation.

Philips BJ. Armstrong IR. Pollock A. Lee A.
Intensive Care Unit, Scottish Liver Transplantation Unit, Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, Scotland.
Changes in cerebral hemodynamics and metabolism associated with anesthesia and liver transplantation may present particular hazards for patients with cirrhosis. Fifteen patients undergoing liver transplantation were studied, 7 of whom had encephalopathy. Cerebral blood flow (CBF) was measured at the start of surgery, during veno-venous bypass and post reperfusion, using a method based on the Kety-Schmidt method. Cerebral metabolism was assessed by measuring the cerebral metabolic rate for oxygen (CMRO2) and the lactate oxygen index (LOI). The cerebral vascular reactivity to carbon dioxide (CO2) was studied during the preanhepatic and post reperfusion phases. During the preanhepatic period, the median CBF was 44 mL/100 g/min at an arterial carbon dioxide tension (PaCO2) of 3.8 kPa. After reperfusion the CBF increased (P < .02) to 102 mL/100 g/min, the arterial hydrogen ion concentration increased from 39 nmol/L to 53 nmol/L (P < .02) and the jugular venous oxygen saturation from 74% to 89% (P < .02). CBF was similar in patients with and without encephalopathy. The cerebral vascular reactivity to CO2 remained intact, although after reperfusion, the CBF for a given PaCO2 was greater, and the slope of the CBF/CO2 response curve diminished. The CMRO2 was normal in patients without encephalopathy. In the encephalopathic patients, the CMRO2 was low during all stages of transplantation (0.54, 0.86, 1.24 mL/100 g/min, respectively). Patients with encephalopathy may be at increased risk of hypoxemic brain injury during transplantation. To minimize this possibility, more detailed neurological monitoring may be useful.

Effects of L-arginine on the systemic, mesenteric, and hepatic circulation in patients with cirrhosis.

Kakumitsu S. Shijo H. Yokoyama M. Kim T. Akiyoshi N. Ota K. Kubara K. Okumura M. Inoue K.
First Department of Internal Medicine, School of Medicine, Fukuoka University, Japan.
Nitric oxide (NO) is known to play an important role in modulating both the hepatic and mesenteric circulation under physiological and pathological conditions. We investigated how L-arginine, a precursor of NO, modifies the hepatic and mesenteric circulation in patients with cirrhosis. The study design was a single-blind controlled study. We measured the systemic and portal hemodynamics before and following intravenous L-arginine and saline infusion using pulsed Doppler ultrasonography in 20 patients with cirrhosis, and then the effects were compared with those found in 20 healthy subjects. In these patients, the effects of L-arginine on hepatic circulation were investigated using hepatic catheterization. L-Arginine infusion induced systemic vasodilation in both the healthy controls and the cirrhotic patients in a similar hemodynamic manner. In these patients, the L-arginine-induced increase in the portal flow was significantly higher than that of cardiac output (CO); however, the relation was the inverse in healthy subjects. Moreover, the L-arginine-induced increase in the portal flow was greater in the cirrhotic patients than that seen in healthy subjects. As a result, L-arginine infusion was thus found to selectively augment the hepatopetal portal blood flow in the cirrhotic liver. In patients, L-arginine infusion induced marked hepatic vasodilation as demonstrated by the reduced hepatic sinusoidal resistance (HSR) and increased estimated hepatic blood flow (EHBF) associated with the ameliorated intrinsic clearance of indocyanine green. Despite the fall in HSR, the hepatic venous pressure gradient (HVPG) increased following L-arginine infusion. The mesenteric and hepatic vascular areas of cirrhosis exhibited an increased susceptibility to the dilator action of L-arginine. These findings suggest that the enhanced NO production in the splanchnic vascular area has an important role in the hepatic circulation in patients with cirrhosis.

Lack of C/EBP alpha gene expression results in increased DNA synthesis and an increased frequency of immortalization of freshly isolated mice [correction of rat] hepatocytes.

Soriano HE. Kang DC. Finegold MJ. Hicks MJ. Wang ND. Harrison W. Darlington GJ.
Department of Pediatrics, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX 77030-2399, USA.
The CCAAT/enhancer binding protein alpha (C/EBP alpha) binds to specific promoter sequences and directs transcription of many genes expressed in the liver. Overexpression of C/EBP alpha in established cell lines inhibits cell proliferation. Primary hepatocytes from newborn C/EBP alpha(-/-) mice and normal littermates were used to determine whether the absence of C/EBP alpha increased proliferation and/or transformation of these cells in vitro. DNA synthesis, as measured by bromodeoxyuridine (BrdU) incorporation 24 hours postharvest, was fourfold higher in cells from C/EBP alpha(-/-) pups. Established cell lines were derived from 7 of 8 hepatocyte cultures initiated from null mutants, 4 of 23 cultures from heterozygotes, and 0 of 12 cultures from wild-type animals. C/EBP alpha(-/-) cultures had epithelial morphology, showed bile canaliculi, and expressed albumin messenger RNA (mRNA). When cultured on Matrigel, which promotes differentiation, cell lines derived from C/EBP alpha(-/-) mice formed cords and increased albumin mRNA expression by 1.7- to 3.8-fold. C/EBP alpha(-/-) cell lines exhibited rapid growth and rapid accumulation of chromosomal abnormalities, and were capable of forming nodules when inoculated into the abdominal subcutaneous tissue of nude mice. Our data show that C/EBP alpha is an important regulator of hepatocyte proliferation and participates in the maintenance of the nontransformed hepatic phenotype in vitro.

Quantitation of telomerase activity in hepatocellular carcinoma: a possible aid for a prediction of recurrent diseases in the remnant liver.

Suda T. Isokawa O. Aoyagi Y. Nomoto M. Tsukada K. Shimizu T. Suzuki Y. Naito A. Igarashi H. Yanagi M. Takahashi T. Asakura H.
Third Department of Internal Medicine, Niigata University School of Medicine, Japan.
Because telomerase activity is necessary for cell immortality and probably associated with tumor progression, we have evaluated a possible aid for quantitation of the activity to predict intrahepatic recurrences after surgery in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). HCC tissues obtained by surgical resection from 20 patients were studied. Telomerase activity was expressed as peaks with a periodicity through a fluorescence-based telomeric repeat amplification protocol using an autosequencer, and the quantity of activity was calculated from peak areas. A ratio of fluorescence intensity depending on telomerase to that of an internal standard was used as a value of relative telomerase activity (RTA). RTA in serially diluted S100 extracts from HepG2 cells was well correlated with the amount of the extracts. The mean RTA value of 36.4 +/- 27.8 (mean +/- SD, 3.21 to 105) in 9 patients suffering from early recurrences after surgery was significantly higher than that (9.84 +/- 7.65; mean +/- SD, 3.00 to 29.0) in 11 patients without intrahepatic recurrences during the early period (P = .004). These results indicate that RTA value can be a useful predictor for intrahepatic recurrences during the early period after surgical resection of HCC.

Clinicopathological study on hepatocellular carcinoma with lymphocytic infiltration.

Wada Y. Nakashima O. Kutami R. Yamamoto O. Kojiro M.
First Department of Pathology, Kurume University School of Medicine, Japan.
We examined the clinicopathologic features of 11 surgically resected hepatocellular carcinomas (HCCs) less than 3 cm in diameter with marked inflammatory cell infiltration (LHCCs). In comparison with the other 152 HCCs without such an infiltration (controls), there were no significant differences in male/female ratio, age, serum alpha-fetoprotein levels, and laboratory and imaging findings. All the 11 LHCC cases were hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) negative and hepatitis C virus antibody positive. Among the 152 controls, 116 cases were also HBsAg negative and HCVAb positive and were referred to as HCV-only controls. The clinical features were not significantly different between the LHCC and the HCV-only controls. The LHCC group tended to have higher numbers of lymphocytes and monocytes in pre- and post-operative peripheral blood, but there were no significant group differences. Recurrence rate was 9.1% in the LHCC group, 47.7% in the controls and 47.5% in the HCV-only controls (P < .01). Five-year survival rate was 100% in the LHCC group, 65.1% in the controls and 68.1% in the HCV-only controls (P < .01). Histologically, remarkable inflammatory cell infiltration, mostly lymphocytic, was observed in the cancerous tissue of the LHCC group. Varying degrees of piecemeal necrosis of cancer nests produced by infiltrating lymphocytes were observed in all the 11 cases. Lymph follicle formation was also found in 10 of 11 cases (90.9%). Liver cirrhosis was associated in 6 LHCC cases (54.5%), in 117 control cases (77.0%), and in 91 HCV-only controls (78.4%). Tumor invasion into the portal vein in the vicinity of the tumor was found in 1 LHCC case (9.1%), in 54 controls (35.5%), and in 34 HCV-only controls (29.3%). Immunohistochemically, most of the infiltrating lymphocytes, other than those in the lymph follicle, were identified as T lymphocyte, and CD8+ T lymphocyte was more predominant than CD4+ T lymphocyte. Better prognosis of the LHCC group could attribute to the anti-tumor effect induced by cellular immunity of CD8+ and CD4+ T lymphocytes, and partly by humoral immunity of B cells which formed lymph follicles.

Cytochrome P4502A6 (CYP2A6) expression in human hepatocellular carcinoma.

Raunio H. Juvonen R. Pasanen M. Pelkonen O. Paakko P. Soini Y.
Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of Oulu, Finland.
The hepatic cytochrome P4502A6 (CYP2A6) enzyme mediates the oxidative metabolism of several procarcinogens that have liver as their primary target. Mouse models indicate that liver tumors invariably overexpress CYP2A forms, and that inflammation and cirrhosis may regulate the CYP2A expression pattern. In this study, the distribution of the CYP2A6 protein was investigated in a series of 24 human hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) samples by immunohistochemical analysis. A polyclonal antibody was raised in chicken against CYP2A5, the mouse orthologue of CYP2A6. The antibody was characterized and found to be specific for CYP2A members. In DBA/2 mouse liver, a strong increase of CYP2A5 protein amount, localized in the perivenous region, occurred in response to treatment with pyrazole. In human HCC samples, overexpression of CYP2A6 protein was associated with the presence of chronic inflammation and cirrhosis. CYP2A6 protein was observed in 9 of 16 (56%) of samples with non-neoplastic hepatocytes and in 10 of 24 (42%) HCC samples. The staining for CYP2A6 protein was very heterogeneous in tumor cells, suggesting that increased expression of CYP2A6 occurred in a distinct subpopulation of neoplastic cells. In Kaplan-Meyer survival analysis, there was a tendency toward a more favorable prognosis in patients with CYP2A6-positive tumors in comparison with patients with CYP2A6-negative tumors. These data suggest that, in human HCC, in contrast to mouse liver tumors, CYP2A6 overexpression is not an invariable phenotype.

Expression of the thrombin receptor in human liver: up-regulation during acute and chronic injury.

Marra F. DeFranco R. Grappone C. Milani S. Pinzani M. Pellegrini G. Laffi G. Gentilini P.
Istituto di Medicina Interna, Universita di Firenze, Florence, Italy.
Thrombin is generated during tissue damage in several organs, including the liver, and participates in the process of tissue repair through proteolytic activation of a specific thrombin receptor (TR). The aim of this study was to investigate TR expression in human liver by immunohistochemistry and in situ hybridization. In normal liver, immunostaining for TR was present in the endothelial lining of the hepatic sinusoids. During chronic hepatitis, several cells expressing the TR were detected in the inflammatory infiltrate of portal tracts. In cirrhosis with chronic active hepatitis, expression of the TR was also present in mesenchymal cells of fibrous septa. TR expression was markedly up-regulated during fulminant hepatitis, with the highest expression in mesenchymal cells in areas of regeneration. Up-regulation of TR expression was associated with increased levels of TR messenger RNA (mRNA), as assessed by in situ hybridization and RNAse protection assay of liver RNA. Immunostaining of serial sections using specific cellular markers showed that different nonparenchymal cells contribute to TR expression during liver injury. TR expression was also shown in cultured human hepatic stellate cells, with increasing signal comparing activated versus quiescent cells. Because thrombin is rapidly generated after tissue damage, regulated TR expression may be involved in tissue remodeling and/or scarring during liver damage.

Pathology of the liver in Budd-Chiari syndrome: portal vein thrombosis and the histogenesis of veno-centric cirrhosis, veno-portal cirrhosis, and large regenerative nodules.

Tanaka M. Wanless IR.
Department of Pathology, The Toronto Hospital, Canadian Liver Pathology Reference Centre, and University of Toronto, Ontario.
Hepatic vein (HV) thrombosis causes ascites, hepatomegaly, and severe congestion of the liver (Budd-Chiari syndrome [BCS]). Severe hepatic fibrosis develops in this syndrome with a variety of histological patterns. Some livers have a pattern of cirrhosis in which there is fibrous bridging between HVs and portal tracts (veno-portal cirrhosis). Other livers have a pattern of "reversed-lobulation cirrhosis" (veno-centric cirrhosis), in which fibrous bridging between HVs and portal tracts is minimal. The prevalence and pathogenesis of these forms of cirrhosis and the effect of portal vein (PV) thrombosis in this disease have not been studied. We examined 15 resected livers from patients with BCS to determine the distribution of vascular obstruction and the character of the parenchymal response. Six livers had veno-portal cirrhosis, and all of these had severe PV obliteration caused by thrombosis. Three livers had veno-centric cirrhosis and had normal medium and large PVs. The remaining six livers had mixed veno-centric/veno-portal cirrhosis and had moderate PV obliteration. The nodules in veno-centric cirrhosis had evidence of an unusual circulation with small arteries supplying a midzonal venous plexus that appeared to drain retrogradely into patent small PVs. Nine livers had large regenerative nodules histologically similar to focal nodular hyperplasia. PV thrombosis is a frequent occurrence in BCS. The correlation between PV thrombosis and the pattern of cirrhosis suggests a role for PV obliteration in the genesis of veno-portal bridging fibrosis in this disease and possibly in other diseases leading to cirrhosis.

Extrahepatic deposition and cytotoxicity of lithocholic acid: studies in two hamster models of hepatic failure and in cultured human fibroblasts.

Ceryak S. Bouscarel B. Malavolti M. Fromm H.
Department of Medicine, The George Washington University Medical Center, Washington, DC 20037, USA.
Effects of bile acids on tissues outside of the enterohepatic circulation may be of major pathophysiological significance under conditions of elevated serum bile acid concentrations, such as in hepatobiliary disease. Two hamster models of hepatic failure, namely functional hepatectomy (HepX), and 2-day bile duct ligation (BDL), as well as cultured human fibroblasts, were used to study the comparative tissue uptake, distribution, and cytotoxicity of lithocholic acid (LCA) in relation to various experimental conditions, such as binding of LCA to low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or albumin as protein carriers. Fifteen minutes after i.v. infusion of [24-(14)C]LCA, the majority of LCA in sham-operated control animals was recovered in liver, bile, and small intestine. After hepatectomy, a significant increase in LCA was found in blood, muscle, heart, brain, adrenals, and thymus. In bile duct-ligated animals, significantly more LCA was associated with blood and skin, and a greater than twofold increase in LCA was observed in the colon. In the hepatectomized model, the administration of LCA bound to LDL resulted in a significantly higher uptake in the kidneys and skin. The comparative time- and concentration-dependent uptake of [14C]LCA, [14C]chenodeoxycholic acid (CDCA), and [14C]cholic acid (CA) in cultured human fibroblasts was nonsaturable and remained a function of concentration. Initial rates of uptake were significantly increased by approximately tenfold, with decreasing hydroxylation of the respective bile acid. After 1 hour of exposure of fibroblasts to LCA, there was a significant, dose-dependent decrease in mitochondrial dehydrogenase activity from 18% to 34% of the control, at LCA concentrations ranging from 1 to 20 micromol/L. At a respective concentration of 100 and 700 micromol/L, CDCA caused a 35% and 99% inhibition of mitochondrial dehydrogenase activity. None of the bile acids tested, with the exception of 700 micromol/L CDCA, caused a significant release of cytosolic lactate dehydrogenase into the medium. In conclusion, we show that bile acids selectively accumulate in nonhepatic tissues under two conditions of impaired liver function. Furthermore, the extrahepatic tissue distribution of bile acids during cholestasis may be affected by serum lipoprotein composition. At a respective concentration of 1 and 100 micromol/L, LCA and CDCA induced mitochondrial damage in human fibroblasts, after just 1 hour of exposure. Therefore, enhanced extrahepatic uptake of hydrophobic bile acids during liver dysfunction, or disorders of lipoprotein metabolism, may have important implications for bile-acid induced cytotoxic effects in tissues of the systemic circulation.

Hepatic uroporphyrinogen decarboxylase activity in porphyria cutanea tarda patients: the influence of virus C infection.

Moran MJ. Fontanellas A. Brudieux E. Hombrados I. de Ledinghen V. Couzigou P. de Verneuil H. De Salamanca RE.
Laboratoire de Pathologie Moleculaire et Therapie Genique, Universite de Bordeaux II, France.
Porphyria cutanea tarda (PCT) is caused by a decreased activity of the hepatic enzyme uroporphyrinogen decarboxylase (URO-D). This deficiency causes overproduction, hepatic deposition, and increased excretion of uroporphyrin. Iron overload and hepatic viral infections are considered aggravating factors of the disease. Two forms of PCT have been described, as follows: a familial one with an inherited decrease of URO-D activity in all tissues and a sporadic one with a decreased activity of URO-D restricted to the liver. To assess whether the hepatic URO-D returns to normal during a remission of the disease, this activity was measured in liver biopsy samples in 24 sporadic PCT patients. The hepatic and urinary porphyrin concentrations were also measured. Viral status and histopathological findings were analyzed to assess their involvement in PCT. Six patients treated by phlebotomy to reduce hepatic iron and who were considered to be in clinical remission, characterized by a disappearance of cutaneous lesions, showed higher hepatic URO-D activities and lower hepatic porphyrin concentrations than did patients with overt PCT. The medians of these variables, however, did not achieve normal values. The hepatic URO-D activity showed a significant inverse relationship with both hepatic porphyrins and urinary uroporphyrin excretion. Hepatic URO-D activity was not reduced by hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection and liver damage. We conclude that the achievement of remission in PCT largely depends on the transient normalization of hepatic URO-D activity. A small increase in hepatic coproporphyrin in nonporphyric patients could reflect hepatic injury/iron/alcohol-induced oxidative stress oxidizing the accumulated heme precursors rather than a direct effect on hepatic URO-D enzyme.

Expression of alpha-fetoprotein and albumin genes in human hepatocellular carcinomas: limitations in the application of the genes for targeting human hepatocellular carcinoma in gene therapy.

Ohguchi S. Nakatsukasa H. Higashi T. Ashida K. Nouso K. Ishizaki M. Hino N. Kobayashi Y. Uematsu S. Tsuji T.
First Department of Internal Medicine, Okayama University Medical School, Japan.
For an approach of gene therapy for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), transcriptional regulatory sequence (TRS) of either alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) or albumin has been used for targeting cancer cells. To examine the feasibility of using TRSs of these genes for possible gene therapy of HCCs, the cellular distribution of AFP and albumin gene transcripts was studied in 25 cases of surgically removed human HCCs. AFP gene expression was observed in HCC nodules of 13 cases. The expression in HCC was heterogeneous, and the distribution of the transcripts was mostly sparse and spotty. The higher the serum AFP levels, the larger population of the AFP-expressing HCC cells tended to reflect. In noncancerous liver, a slight AFP expression was found by Northern blot analysis, but the transcripts were not detected in the liver sections. In contrast, albumin expression was found in all HCCs as well as in noncancerous hepatocytes. In HCC, the transcripts for albumin were distributed in cancer cells, and the expression varied with nodules. There were more albumin-expressing cancer cells than the AFP-expressing cells. Albumin expression was retained even in poorly differentiated HCC, although the intensity of the signal was not as strong as in more-differentiated HCCs. Metastatic HCC nodules revealed transcripts for both AFP and albumin genes, and those were clearly recognized in the lung tissue. These results suggest that, for gene therapy for HCCs, neither AFP nor albumin are ideal options for targeting HCC cells. AFP-TRS may be used as a transcriptional regulator in selected cases in which AFP gene expression is observed in the cancer nodules. The serum AFP level appears to be an important indicator in selecting cases. Albumin-TRS in conjunction with retroviral vector might be used in limited cases such as HCCs with no AFP expression. However, careful consideration must be taken, because albumin is constitutively expressed in normal hepatocytes, and AFP-expressing nonmalignant progenitor cells possibly exist.

Full-length complementary DNA of hepatitis C virus genome from an infectious blood sample.

Aizaki H. Aoki Y. Harada T. Ishii K. Suzuki T. Nagamori S. Toda G. Matsuura Y. Miyamura T.
Department of Virology II, National Institute of Infectious Diseases, Tokyo, Japan.
We constructed a full-length complementary DNA (cDNA) clone of hepatitis C virus (HCV) from a blood sample of an HCV carrier. The blood from the carrier was eventually transfused to a patient who later developed typical posttransfusion hepatitis C. It was also shown to be infectious to chimpanzees. We obtained 12 overlapping cDNA fragments altogether, covering the entire HCV genome. By subcloning and sequencing, clones considered to constitute the major population were selected. We could also detect 98 base pairs of extra sequences at the 3' end of the genome. After confirming the overlapping sequences, we combined the fragments to make a full-length cDNA. The HCV population in the donor was heterogeneous, as determined by their nucleotide sequences of the hypervariable region in envelope protein, but a few virus clones were selected in the recipient after transmission. The similar convergence of the virus population was previously observed when the same blood sample was injected into a chimpanzee. Interestingly, virus clones isolated during the acute phase in the recipient and the chimpanzee had sequences in the hypervariable region identical to that of the full-length cDNA clone. The full-length cDNA clone of HCV constructed in this study may originate from infectious virus clones.

Hepatitis B virus mutants associated with 3TC and famciclovir administration are replication defective.

Melegari M. Scaglioni PP. Wands JR.
Molecular Hepatology Laboratory, Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center, and Harvard Medical School, Charlestown 02129, USA.
Hepatitis B virus (HBV) variant strains may develop during therapy for chronic infection with the nucleoside analog 2',3'-dideoxy-3'-thiacytidine (3TC). HBV mutants result from isoleucine (I) or valine (V) substitutions in the methionine (M) of the YMDD motif in the viral reverse-transcriptase catalytic domain. In addition, other mutations in the reverse-transcriptase "B domain" involving either a phenylalanine (F)-to-leucine (L) at amino acid 501 (F501L) or an L-to-M substitution at amino acid 515 (L515M) have been observed during 3TC and Famciclovir therapy as well. To determine the biologic consequences of these mutations on viral replication, variant viral genomes were constructed and transiently transfected into hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and HEK 293 human embryo kidney-derived cell lines. In transiently transfected HCC cells, the viruses bearing the YI/VDD or F501L mutations had greatly impaired replication as compared to wild-type virus, whereas the virus carrying the L515M substitution showed the least defect. Double mutants with the L515M substitution showed intermediate defect between the YI/VDD or F501L and the L515M single-mutant strains. In contrast, when transfected into HEK 293 cells, the viruses bearing the YI/VDD or L515M mutation replicated as wild-type. However, under conditions of deoxynucleotide depletion produced by hydroxyurea treatment of HEK 293 cells, all mutants but not the wild-type virus exhibited a reduced replication phenotype similar to that observed in HCC cells. In both HCC and HEK 293 cells, the mutant viruses carrying the F501L substitution showed a decreased pregenomic RNA encapsidation level, suggesting that the defect in HBV DNA synthesis occurs at the RNA packaging level. These findings show that 3TC and Famciclovir selected mutations alter the properties of the HBV reverse transcriptase, resulting in impaired viral replication within the cell.

Cholesterol metabolism and serum and biliary noncholesterol sterols in gallstone patients during simvastatin and ursodeoxycholic acid treatments.

Year 1998
Miettinen TE. Kiviluoto T. Taavitsainen M. Vuoristo M. Miettinen TA.
Department of Medicine, University of Helsinki, Finland.
Effects of long-term high-dose ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA) and simvastatin treatments on cholesterol metabolism and biliary lipid compositions were compared in patients with cholesterol gallstones. Absorption and synthesis of cholesterol, serum and biliary noncholesterol sterols and lipids were determined in 14 patients randomized to UDCA (23-25 mg/kg/d) or simvastatin (40 mg/d) for 1 year. Simvastatin reduced serum low-density lipoprotein cholesterol by 55%, and UDCA, by 9%. Cholesterol absorption was decreased (35%) by UDCA, but nonsignificantly increased by simvastatin (P < .05 for difference of changes caused by the two drugs). Whole-body synthesis and biliary output of cholesterol were both significantly decreased only by UDCA. In addition, UDCA inconsistently increased the proportions of serum and biliary precursor sterols of cholesterol, known to reflect cholesterol synthesis, but did not affect their biliary secretions. Simvastatin, however, dramatically reduced serum and also biliary cholesterol precursor sterol proportions and their biliary secretions and increased proportions of serum and biliary plant sterols and cholestanol, known to reflect cholesterol absorption, but had no effect on their biliary secretion. Only UDCA significantly decreased the molar percentage of cholesterol, the lithogenic index, and the cholesterol/phospholipid (CH/ PL) ratio in bile, whereas both treatments inconsistently decreased the vesicular CH/PL ratio (P < .07 in both groups). It is concluded that both drugs decreased serum cholesterol and inhibited cholesterol synthesis, but had a differing influence on precursor sterols and the absorption of cholesterol. UDCA had more beneficial effects than simvastatin on the antilithogenic properties of bile.

Characterization of antimitochondrial antibodies in health adults.

Year 1998
Mattalia A. Quaranta S. Leung PS. Bauducci M. Van de Water J. Calvo PL. Danielle F. Rizzetto M. Ansari A. Coppel RL. Rosina F. Gershwin ME.
Division of Rheumatology/Allergy and Clinical Immunology, University of California Davis, 95616, USA.
The detection of antimitochondrial antibodies (AMAs) is an important criterion for the diagnosis of primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC). During the last decade, the mitochondrial autoantigens have been cloned, sequenced, and identified as members of the 2-oxo-acid dehydrogenase pathway, including the E2 subunits of pyruvate dehydrogenase (PDC-E2), branched-chain 2-oxo-acid dehydrogenase (BCOADC-E2), and 2-oxo-glutarate dehydrogenase (OGDC-E2). We have developed a rapid and sensitive diagnostic test for use in PBC based on a triple hybrid recombinant molecule (r-MIT3) that contains the autoepitopes of PDC-E2, BCOADC-E2, and OGDC-E2. To help understand the frequency and antigen specificity of AMAs in an asymptomatic population and to identify patients with early disease, we investigated the prevalence of AMA, by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), in a cohort of 1,530 people from northern Italy. Positive sera were further analyzed for immunoglobulin (Ig) isotypes, subclasses, and epitopes of AMA by a combination of ELISA and immunoblotting. In this cohort of 1,530 people, 9 (0.5%) reacted to r-MIT3 by ELISA. Of the 9 reactive sera, 2 recognized PDC-E2, 2 of 9 recognized BCOADC-E2, 1 of 9 recognized OGDC-E2, 2 of 9 recognized both PDC-E2 and BCOADC-E2, and 1 of 9 recognized PDC-E2 and OGDC-E2. AMA reactivity was primarily IgM and IgA. Epitope mapping revealed an AMA pattern of reactivity to PDC-E2 that differed from that found in patients with histologically proven PBC in most of the sera. However, 1 sera of a 72-year-old female with a normal alkaline phosphatase had an AMA profile identical to typical PBC. After a variable follow-up period (8-14 months), sera from 8 of 9 of these people were re-obtained for AMA and relative epitope mapping. Interestingly, the reactivity had a wider AMA pattern than before.

Time dependent changes in the concentration and type of bacterial sequences found in cholesterol gallstones.

Year 1998
Swidsinski A. Khilkin M. Pahlig H. Swidsinski S. Priem F.
Molekulargenetisches Labor, Charite, Humboldt, Universitat zu Berlin, Deutschland, Germany.
The role of bacteria in gallstone formation could not be conclusively evaluated until bacterial presence or absence in a stone was consistently shown. Cultural bacteriologic investigations at the time of cholecystectomy, however, led to the assumption that cholesterol gallstones were free of bacteria. In this study, we used a culture independent, molecular genetic approach to detect, quantify, and identify bacteria in cholesterol gallstones from 100 patients at the time of cholecystectomy and 6 months following. Bacterial growth was recorded in the culture in 9 of 100 gallstones; bacterial DNA, however, was detected in 82 of 91 sterile gallstones. High concentrations corresponding to between 10(6) to 10(7) bacteria/g were detected in 11 stones and low concentrations of 10(5) bacteria/g were detected in 71 sterile stones. The infection in stones with a positive bacterial culture was characterized by the predominance of single bacterial sequence(s) of the bacteria cultured. A similar predominance, indicating a recent infection, was found in sterile gallstones with low DNA concentrations. A high diversity of non-repeating bacterial sequences, possibly arising from previous overlapping infections, was found in sterile gallstones with high concentrations of bacterial DNA. After 6 months concentrations of bacterial DNA fell significantly in all groups of gallstones. As bacterial DNA is quickly destroyed upon storage, but is nevertheless readily found in most gallstones at the time of cholecystectomy, there must be a mechanism by which it is replenished. One such mechanism is the frequently reoccurring, possibly self-terminating infection and another one is the permanent colonization of the gallstone with bacteria at low concentrations. Both can promote cholecystolithiasis.

Hepatic plasma flow estimated according to Ficks principle in patients with hepatic encephalopathy: evaluation of indocyanine green and D-sorbitol as test substances.

Year 1998
Clemmesen JO. Tygstrup N. Ott P.
Department of Hepatology, Rigshospitalet, University of Copenhagen, Denmark.
The magnitude of hepatic plasma flow in patients with liver failure and hepatic encephalopathy (HE) is unknown because a reliable flow estimate has not been available. The purpose of this study was to estimate hepatic plasma flow in patients with HE and to evaluate indocyanine green (ICG) and sorbitol as test compounds. Fourteen patients with acute liver failure (ALF) and nine patients with chronic liver failure (CLF), all with HE grade II or more, were studied. After hepatic vein catheterization, hepatic plasma flow was estimated by use of constant infusion, simultaneous arterial and hepatic vein concentration measurements, and calculated according to Fick's principle. The hepatic extraction fraction of D-sorbitol 0.179+/-0.144 (mean+/-SD) was higher than the hepatic extraction fraction of ICG 0.054+/-0.085 (P < .001). The low hepatic extraction fraction of ICG rendered this compound unfit for estimation of hepatic plasma flow in these patients. In contrast, by using D-sorbitol the hepatic plasma flow could be estimated in 21 of 23 patients with a median SD of 8.4% (range, 2.6% to 29%). The D-sorbitol estimated hepatic plasma flow was 1.2+/-0.5 L/min (n = 12) in patients with ALF and 1.4+/-0.9 L/min (n = 9) in patients with CLF. These values are higher than what has been reported in normal subjects and in patients with cirrhosis without HE. An elevated hepatic flow should increase oxygen delivery and may enhance the failing liver's ability to remove substances from the blood. At the same time, hepatic first pass metabolism is reduced. We conclude that an elevated hepatic flow in these patients is of clinical importance.

Open-label trial of oral nalmefene therapy for the pruritus of cholestasis.

Year 1998
Bergasa NV. Schmitt JM. Talbot TL. Alling DW. Swain MG. Turner ML. Jenkins JB. Jones EA.
Liver Diseases Section, Digestive Diseases Branch, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, Bethesda, MD, USA.
The aims of this study were to determine whether long-term oral administration of the opiate antagonist nalmefene is associated with any beneficial effects in patients with pruritus secondary to cholestatic liver disease and to assess the safety of long-term administration of this drug to these patients. Fourteen patients with unrelieved chronic pruritus of cholestasis were studied. Scratching activity, independent of limb movements, was recorded continuously for 24-hour periods before and during treatment with an initial ameliorating dose of nalmefene. Simultaneously, during these periods, visual analogue scores (VASs) of pruritus were recorded every 4 hours while patients were awake. The dose of nalmefene, which initially was 2 mg orally twice daily, was increased during the study, usually until a satisfactory clinical response was achieved. Five patients experienced a transient opioid withdrawal-like reaction that did not preclude continuing with nalmefene therapy. Serum biochemical indices of cholestasis did not change appreciably during treatment. Thirteen patients reported amelioration of the perception of pruritus on nalmefene. In 5 patients, exacerbations of pruritus occurred approximately 4 weeks after an initial ameliorating dose had been reached; these exacerbations were managed by increasing the dose. Baseline mean values for VAS and scratching activity were higher than corresponding means during nalmefene therapy in 13 (P = .002) and 12 (P = .013) patients, respectively. Possible tolerance to nalmefene occurred in 3 patients. Three patients experienced marked exacerbation of pruritus after nalmefene therapy was suddenly discontinued. Blood levels of nalmefene were consistent with normal pharmacokinetics of the drug. These results suggest that nalmefene may have a favorable risk-to-benefit ratio when it is administered orally long-term to patients with the pruritus of cholestasis.

Risk of colorectal neoplasia in patients with primary sclerosing cholangitis and ulcerative colitis following orthotopic liver transplantation.

Year 1998
Loftus EV Jr. Aguilar HI. Sandborn WJ. Tremaine WJ. Krom RA. Zinsmeister AR. Graziadei IW. Wiesner RH.
Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN 55905, USA.
Several centers have identified colorectal cancer in patients with primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) and ulcerative colitis (UC) who have undergone orthotopic liver transplantation. Increased frequency of surveillance colonoscopy and prophylactic colectomy has been recommended. To address these concerns, we reviewed the posttransplantation experience with colorectal neoplasia in patients with PSC and UC at our institution. All patients with PSC and UC who underwent liver transplantation at Mayo Clinic between April 1985 and December 1993 were followed up through their complete history for colorectal dysplasia, cancer, or death. Eighty-one of 108 patients with PSC (75%) had concomitant inflammatory bowel disease (all but 1 had UC). Proctocolectomy had been performed before transplantation in 24 (30%). Median follow-up after transplantation was 4.2 years. Among the 57 patients with intact colons, 3 developed colorectal cancer, an incidence of approximately 1% per person per year. The cumulative incidence of dysplasia was 15% at 5 years and 21% at 8 years. Overall actuarial survival stratified by presence or absence of an intact colon at transplantation was similar (86% and 86%, respectively, at 5 years). The risk of carcinoma after transplantation compared with that expected for patients during a comparable (pretransplantation) period was increased fourfold but was not statistically significant. The risk of colorectal neoplasia (dysplasia and cancer) after liver transplantation in patients with PSC and UC is clinically important. However, this risk had no impact on patient survival. Prophylactic proctocolectomy does not appear necessary, but annual surveillance colonoscopy is recommended.

Plasma selenium in patients with cirrhosis.

Year 1998
Burk RF. Early DS. Hill KE. Palmer IS. Boeglin ME.
Department of Medicine, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, TN, USA.
Plasma selenium concentration is decreased in patients with cirrhosis and, based on this finding, it has been suggested that patients with cirrhosis are selenium deficient. We measured plasma selenium concentration and the two plasma selenoproteins, glutathione peroxidase (GSHPx-3) and selenoprotein P, in the plasma of patients with cirrhosis of Child classes A, B, and C and in control subjects. Plasma selenium declined in proportion to the severity of the cirrhotic condition, as indicated by the Child class. Selenoprotein P, which originates largely in the liver, declined in a similar manner. Plasma glutathione peroxidase activity increased, and GSHPx-3 originates in the kidney. Selenium in the non-selenoprotein pool, shown by others to be largely selenomethionine in albumin, declined. Thus, although plasma selenium is decreased in patients with cirrhosis, the increase in plasma glutathione peroxidase activity, which occurs in them, suggests that patients with cirrhosis do not have selenium deficiency.

Intracellular distribution of the Wilsons disease gene product (ATPase7B) after in vitro and in vivo exogenous expression in hepatocytes from the LEC rat, an animal model of Wilsons disease.

Year 1998
Nagano K. Nakamura K. Urakami KI. Umeyama K. Uchiyama H. Koiwai K. Hattori S. Yamamoto T. Matsuda I. Endo F.
Department of Pediatrics, Kumamoto University School of Medicine, Honjo, Japan.
In patients with Wilson's disease, both copper incorporation into ceruloplasmin and excretion of this metal into bile are impaired. These conditions are caused by a genetic defect in the Wilson's disease gene (ATP7B). To investigate the Wilson's disease gene protein (ATPase7B) in hepatocytes, we constructed an expression plasmid carrying full-length complementary DNA for human Wilson's disease gene and attempted to express the gene in hepatocytes of LEC rats, an animal model of Wilson's disease. Transfection of hepatocytes, either in vitro or in vivo, was done using a newly developed cationic liposome containing 1,4-bis(3-(N-hexadecyl) aminopropyl) piperazine. Immunological analyses of human ATPase7B with specific monoclonal antibodies showed human ATPase7B to be a membrane protein with a molecular mass of 155 kd. Analysis of human ATPase7B expressed in hepatocytes from LEC rats suggested that this protein is present in the trans-Golgi network and at the plasma membrane, a distribution pattern similar to that of Menkes' disease protein (ATPase7A). These findings suggest that these two putative copper-transporting P-type ATPases function similarly at the cellular level. Cotransfection and coexpression of the human Wilson's disease gene and ceruloplasmin gene in cultured hepatocytes indicate that the distribution of ceruloplasmin is always accompanied by ATPase7B at the perinuclear region, but that part of ATPase7B localizes irrespective of the distribution of ceruloplasmin. Based on these investigations, we propose that ATPase7B exists in the trans-Golgi network and transports copper into this compartment. This seems to ensure an appropriate delivery of copper to the apoceruloplasmin. On the other hand, part of ATPase7B that is not accompanied by ceruloplasmin in the perinuclear region and at the plasma membrane seems to contribute to efflux of this metal from the hepatocytes. Thus the distribution patterns of ATPase7B in hepatocytes may explain the dual roles of this P-type ATPase in hepatocytes.

Hemopexin from four species inhibits the association of heme with cultured hepatoma cells or primary rat hepatocytes exhibiting a small number of species specific hemopexin receptors.

Year 1998
Taketani S. Immenschuh S. Go S. Sinclair PR. Stockert RJ. Liem HH. Muller Eberhard U.
Kansai Medical University, Moriguchi, Osaka, Japan.
Hemopexin (Hx) binds heme with a very high affinity (Kd

Effects of systemic prostaglandin E1 on hepatic amino acid-nitrogen metabolism in patients with cirrhosis.

Year 1998
Fabbri A. Bianchi G. Brizi M. Bugianesi E. Magalotti D. Zoli M. Marchesini G.
Dipartimento di Medicina Interna, Cardioangiologia, Epatologia, Universita di Bologna, Policlinico S. Orsola, Italy.
Prostaglandins of the E (PGE) series have long been considered "catabolic" hormones, but recent data suggest that they may be secreted in critically ill patients to counteract stress hormones, stimulating protein synthesis. Their use is under scrutiny to improve hepatic microcirculation and as cytoprotective agents. We tested the effects of PGE1 on hepatic and whole-body nitrogen metabolism in eight patients with cirrhosis. Urea-nitrogen synthesis rate, alpha-amino-nitrogen levels, and nitrogen exchange were measured in the basal, postabsorptive state and in response to continuous alanine infusion, in paired experiments, during superinfusion of PGE1 or saline. Splanchnic and systemic hemodynamics were assessed by echo-Doppler at the beginning and at the end of each experiment. PGE1 produced a rapid fall in plasma amino acids and in urea-nitrogen synthesis rate, as well as a positive nitrogen exchange. The slope of the regression of alpha-amino-nitrogen levels on urea-nitrogen synthesis rate, a measure of liver cell metabolic activity, was not affected, but the regression line was shifted rightward, suggesting a nitrogen-sparing effect of PGE1. Mesenteric artery and portal flow were unchanged, whereas femoral artery flow increased by 30%. Insulin and glucagon levels were not systematically different. We conclude that PGE1 reduces hepatic urea synthesis rate, independent of hormones and/or hepatic flow, possibly acting at the peripheral level on amino acid transport, thus reducing amino acid supply to the liver. The resulting net nitrogen sparing might be the basis for the beneficial effect of PGE1 in clinical hepatology.

Epidemiology of hepatitis C and G in sporadic and familial porphyria cutanea tarda.

Year 1998
Lamoril J. Andant C. Bogard C. Puy H. Gouya L. Pawlotsky JM. Da Silva V. Soule JC. Deybach JC. Nordmann Y.
Centre Francais des Porphyries, Hopital Louis Mourier, Colombes.
From 1995 to 1997, we prospectively evaluated the prevalence of hepatitis C virus (HCV) RNA in 124 patients with porphyria cutanea tarda (PCT) from Northern France (83 sporadic and 41 familial PCT). Serum samples were analyzed for ferritin, transaminases, HCV antibodies, and HCV RNA. In addition, genotyping of HCV and searches for HCV infection risk factors (blood transfusion, iv drug abuse, and surgical intervention) were performed. Twenty-six of 124 patients (21%; 95% CI: 13.9-28) were positive for serum HCV antibodies. All of them were also positive for HCV RNA. The prevalence of HCV infection was higher in the sporadic PCT group (26.5%, 22 out of 83) than in the familial PCT group (9.7%, 4 out of 41). Risk factors for hepatitis C infection were found to be significantly increased in the HCV-positive group when compared with the HCV-negative PCT group. In all HCV-positive patients with a risk factor, the suspected date of exposure to the virus always preceded the clinical onset of PCT. The HCV genotype pattern in PCT patients was similar to that observed in nonporphyric HCV patients in western European countries. Serum ferritin level was increased in both HCV-positive and HCV-negative porphyric patients. Transaminase levels were significantly higher in HCV-infected PCT patients. Sixty-seven out of 124 patients were retrospectively studied for hepatitis G virus (HGV) infection. Six of these 67 patients (8.9%; 95% CI: 2.1-15.8) were positive for HGV RNA. None of the six HGV-infected patients were positive for HCV RNA. The HGV-infected patients did not differ statistically from those without HGV infection with regard to age, ferritin, transaminase levels, and PCT treatment. These results support the view that sporadic cases of HGV infection may occur frequently. This study of a large cohort of HCV and PCT patients further documents an increasing gradient in HCV prevalence from northern to southern Europe, and shows that HCV infection acts as a triggering factor of PCT. Finally, the HGV prevalence found in the PCT patients was comparable with that found in French blood donors, suggesting that HGV is not a PCT triggering factor.

Interferon alfa treatment of HCV RNA carriers with persistently normal transaminase levels: a pilot randomized controlled study.

Year 1998
Sangiovanni A. Morales R. Spinzi G. Rumi M. Casiraghi A. Ceriani R. Colombo E. Fossati M. Prada A. Tavani E. Minoli G.
Division of Medicine, Valduce Hospital, Como, Italy.
Most patients with serum hepatitis C virus (HCV) RNA and persistently normal alanine transaminase (ALT) levels show histological features of mild to moderately active chronic hepatitis. Some cirrhosis has also been reported. To assess whether interferon (IFN) treatment led to long-term HCV suppression in these patients, 31 previously untreated patients (15 men, 16 women; mean age, 44 years) with serum HCV RNA, persistently normal ALT levels on at least four consecutive occasions 2 months apart, and histological features of chronic hepatitis (21 mild activity, 10 moderate activity) were randomized to receive 1FN-alpha-2a, 3 MU three times a week for 6 months (n = 16), or no treatment (n = 15). All patients were followed up for at least 6 months after treatment ended. HCV RNA was tested by nested reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) using 5'-untranslated region complementary primers, quantified by branched-DNA assay, and typed by nested RT-PCR testing for the HCV core region. Treated and untreated patients had similar epidemiological, virological, and histological characteristics. At the end of treatment, serum HCV RNA was still detected in 15 patients (94%) and 14 controls (93%). ALT levels flared up in 10 patients receiving IFN (62%) and in 1 control (62% vs. 7%; P < .005, chi2 test). In conclusion, 6 months' treatment with IFN-alpha-2a did not eradicate HCV RNA from serum in carriers with persistently normal ALT levels but caused ALT flare-ups in two thirds of them. Until more is known about the natural history of HCV RNA carriers with normal ALT levels, these patients should not be treated with IFN.

Evaluation of assays for antibody to hepatitis E virus by a serum panel. Hepatitis E Virus Antibody Serum Panel Evaluation Group.

Year 1998
Mast EE. Alter MJ. Holland PV. Purcell RH.
Hepatitis Branch, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA 30333, USA.
Few data are available to evaluate the performance of existing assays for antibody to the hepatitis E virus (anti-HEV). A panel of 164 randomized and coded sera was tested for anti-HEV by 12 different assays. The panel included a dilution series of an early convalescent human serum, known-positive sera (undiluted human sera obtained 2 months to 13 years after acute hepatitis E, and postinoculation chimpanzee sera), known-negative sera (preinoculation chimpanzee sera; sera from chimpanzees with hepatitis A virus, hepatitis B virus, or hepatitis C virus infection; and normal human sera), and sera obtained from previously tested U.S. blood donors without a history of hepatitis. Six tests detected anti-HEV in > or =90% of undiluted known-positive sera. The sensitivity of all of the assays with known-positive sera ranged from 17% to 100%, and the limit of detection by endpoint dilution ranged from 1:5 to 1:160. Ten tests were nonreactive for all of the 22 known-negative sera, one test was reactive for one serum, and one test was reactive for 5 sera. In pairwise comparisons of different tests in blood donor sera, the overall concordance ranged from 49% to 94% (median, 69%) and the concordance among reactive sera ranged from 0% to 89% (median, 32%). Several of these tests performed well in detecting anti-HEV in known positive sera. However, highly discrepant results among U.S. blood donor sera indicate that anti-HEV seroprevalence data in non-HEV-endemic countries may be unreliable and should be interpreted with caution.

Tenoxicam, a non-steroid anti-inflammatory drug, is unable to increase the response rate in patients with chronic hepatitis C treated by alpha interferon.

Year 1998
Zarski JP. Maynard-Muet M. Chousterman S. Baud M. Barnoud R. Abergel A. Bacq Y. Combis JM. Causse X. Tran A. Oberti F. Minello A. Bresson-Hadni S. Bailly F. Raabe JJ. Leroy V. Hamici L. Hicham T. Girardin MF.
Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology Grenoble, France.
The purpose of this study is to compare a combination of interferon (IFN)-alpha2a (Roferon) + Tenoxicam with IFN-alpha2a alone in the treatment of chronic hepatitis C. This prospective, randomized double-blind study included 149 patients, all of whom were diagnosed with active chronic hepatitis C but non-cirrhotic (ALT > or = 1.5 upper limit of normal, anti-hepatitis C virus (HCV) positive by enzyme-linked immunosorbant assay2 and RIBA3). The patients were randomized in two groups, as follows: G1 (n = 76): IFNalpha2a 3 million units times per week during 6 months + placebo; and G2 (n = 73): IFNalpha2a 3 million units three times per week + Tenoxicam (20 mg/day) during 6 months. Alanine aminotransferase (ALT) and HCV RNA were determined before and at months 6 and 12 of treatment. 2'5' oligoadenylate synthetase activity (2'5' AS) was dosed in mononuclear cells before and at 3-month treatment intervals in 28 patients. Liver biopsy was performed before and 6 months after the end of therapy. Parameters were similar before therapy for both groups. Biochemical and virological responses were similar for both groups at month 6 (49.3% vs. 42.9% and 43.3% vs. 38.3%, respectively) and month 12 (28.3% vs. 23.8% and 17.2% vs. 17.5%, respectively). HCV RNA level significantly decreased in both groups at month 6, with no difference whatever the therapy; however, the HCV RNA level returned to initial values at month 12 and was the only significant prognostic factor of a sustained response. No peak of 2'5' AS activity was observed during treatment in patients with dual therapy. A histological improvement was also noted in both groups without difference, regardless of therapy. The percentage of adverse events was identical for both groups. Paracetamol intake, assessed in 80 patients, was 49.1 g per 6 months in the G1 group and 22.5 g per 6 months in the G2 group (not significant). In conclusion, the non-steroid anti-inflammatory drug, Tenoxicam, does not increase IFNalpha efficacy in the treatment of chronic hepatitis C. This combination is well tolerated and partially lowers Paracetamol intake, but not preexisting alpha-IFN adverse events.

Slow progression rate of fibrosis in hepatitis C virus patients with persistently normal alanine transaminase activity.

Year 1998
Mathurin P. Moussalli J. Cadranel JF. Thibault V. Charlotte F. Dumouchel P. Cazier A. Huraux JM. Devergie B. Vidaud M. Opolon P. Poynard T.
Service d'HepatoGastroenterologie, Groupe Hospitalier Pitie-Salpetriere, Paris, France.
In hepatitis C virus (HCV) patients with persistently normal alanine transaminase (ALT), the progression rate of fibrosis is unknown. The aims of this study were: 1) to compare HCV patients with normal ALT (group I) with HCV patients with elevated ALT (group II) matched on independent factors associated with fibrosis; and 2) to assess the progression rate of fibrosis. One hundred two HCV patients were included in each group. Histological lesions were staged using the METAVIR score. We defined fibrosis progression per year as the ratio of the fibrosis stage in METAVIR units to the duration of infection. In group I, ALT values were normal, and lower than in group II (25 vs. 127 IU/L; P < .0001). HCV RNA was present less frequently in group I (66% vs. 97%; P < .0001). There were no significant differences for viremia and genotypes. Histological activities were lower in group I (0.6 vs. 1.38; P < .0001). The stage of fibrosis was lower in group I (0.95 vs. 1.8; P < .001). The median progression rate of fibrosis was lower in group I (0.05 vs. 0.13; P < .001). In group I, after exclusion of negative HCV-RNA patients, the median progression rate of positives remained lower (0.05 vs. 0.13; P < .001). In group I, all cirrhotic patients (n = 3) were heavy drinkers. HCV patients with normal ALT showed weaker histological activity and lower fibrosis scores, and the progression rate of fibrosis was twice as slow as in HCV patients with elevated ALT. In these patients, severe fibrosis was associated with high alcohol consumption.

Serum immunoglobulin M antibody to hepatitis D as a surrogate marker of hepatitis D in interferon-treated patients and in patients who underwent liver transplantation.

Year 1998
Borghesio E. Rosina F. Smedile A. Lagget M. Niro MG. Marinucci G. Rizzetto M.
Department of Gastroenterology, Azienda Ospedaliera and University of Torino, Italy.
The kinetics of the immunoglobulin (Ig) M type antibody to the hepatitis D virus (IgM anti-HD) were investigated in hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) carriers with chronic hepatitis D treated with interferon (IFN) and in patients with terminal hepatitis delta virus (HDV) cirrhosis who underwent liver transplantation. The IgM antibody disappeared in each of 8 patients who responded to IFN therapy with the persistent normalization of aminotransferases and with the clearance of serum HBsAg and HDV-RNA. The IgM reactivity did not decline in the 45 treated patients who did not respond to the cytokine or who experienced a relapse after responding while on therapy. The antibody rapidly disappeared from serum post-transplantation in each of 10 examined patients with HDV who underwent transplantation. In 5 patients who underwent transplantation and who became reinfected with HDV, the antibody remained undetectable during the early reinfection phase, as marked by HDV replication and by the absence of liver damage; however, it rapidly raised to pre-transplantation levels with the recurrence of hepatitis D (HD) in the liver graft. Monomeric 7S IgM anti-HD predominated over pentameric 19S antibody in each of the two patients examined for IgM anti-HD molecular species. The IgM antibody to HDV raises in response to HDV-induced damage and represents a valid surrogate marker of liver damage which is immunopathologically related to HDV infection. Besides providing diagnostic information, it provides the best predictor of impending resolution of chronic HDV disease, whether spontaneous or IFN-induced.

Safety and immunogenicity of hepatitis A vaccine in patients with chronic liver disease.

Year 1998
Keeffe EB. Iwarson S. McMahon BJ. Lindsay KL. Koff RS. Manns M. Baumgarten R. Wiese M. Fourneau M. Safary A. Clemens R. Krause DS.
Stanford University Medical Center, California, USA.
Acute hepatitis A superimposed on chronic liver disease (CLD) has been associated with severe or fulminant hepatitis. An open, multicenter study was performed to compare the safety and immunogenicity of an inactivated hepatitis A vaccine in patients with CLD with that in healthy subjects. A secondary objective was to compare the safety of the hepatitis A vaccine with that of a commercial hepatitis B vaccine in subjects with chronic hepatitis C. A total of 475 subjects over the age of 18 years were enrolled into 1 of 5 groups according to history, serological data, and previous diagnosis. Patients in groups 1 (healthy adults), 2 (chronic hepatitis B), 3 (chronic hepatitis C), and 5 (other CLD not caused by viral hepatitis) were vaccinated with two doses of inactivated hepatitis A vaccine, 6 months apart. Patients in group 4 (chronic hepatitis C) received 3 doses of a recombinant hepatitis B vaccine, according to a 0-, 1-, and 6-month schedule. Local injection-site symptoms were the most common reactions reported following vaccination in all groups (35.5% of all doses), with the hepatitis B vaccine eliciting fewer injection-site symptoms than the hepatitis A vaccine (19.8% compared with 37.5%). Although a higher percentage of healthy subjects (93%) seroconverted after a single dose of the hepatitis A vaccine than did subjects with chronic hepatitis C (73.7%) or CLD of nonviral etiologies (83.1%), more than 94% of all vaccinees were seropositive for anti-HAV after the complete vaccination course. At each time point, a lower geometric mean concentration of anti-HAV was observed for each group of CLD patients compared with the healthy control subjects. In conclusion, hepatitis A vaccine was well tolerated and induced a satisfactory immune response in patients with chronic hepatitis B, chronic hepatitis C, and miscellaneous CLD.

Independent and combined action of hepatitis C virus infection and alcohol consumption on the risk of symptomatic liver cirrhosis.

Year 1998
Corrao G. Arico S.
Department of Statistics, University of Milan, Milano, Italy.
Although alcohol intake and hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection are the major determinants of liver cirrhosis (LC) in Western countries, the joint effect of these two factors on LC risk has not yet been adequately studied. We used data from two hospital-based case-control studies performed in Italy. Cases were 285 cirrhotic patients admitted for the first time to district hospitals for liver decompensation. Controls were 417 patients admitted during the same period, and in the same hospitals as the cases, for acute diseases unrelated to alcohol. Alcohol consumption was expressed as lifetime daily alcohol intake (LDAI). Serum HCV antibodies (anti-HCV) were detected using a second-generation test and recombinant immunoblotting assay. We found a dose-effect relationship between LDAI and the risk of LC in both anti-HCV-negative and -positive subjects. Considering the extreme LDAI categories (LDAI = 0 g, lifetime teetotalers, and LDAI = 175 g), the LC odds ratios increased from 1.0 (reference category) to 15.0 (95% CI, 7.1-31.7) and from 9.2 (95% CI, 2.0-43.2) to 147.2 (95% CI, 42.1-514.3) in anti-HCV-negative and -positive patients respectively. The interaction between LDAI and HCV showed an additive structure for LDAI < 50 g/day and a multiplicative structure for consumption > 125 g/day. Alcohol intake and HCV infection are independent risk factors for symptomatic liver cirrhosis, each being sufficient to induce the disease. In subjects with high alcohol intake, the coexistence of HCV infection multiplies the alcohol-associated risk of cirrhosis. In subjects with low alcohol intake, other factors could be involved.

Occupancy of dipeptidyl peptidase IV activates an associated tyrosine kinase and triggers an apoptotic signal in human hepatocarcinoma cells.

Year 1998
Gaetaniello L. Fiore M. de Filippo S. Pozzi N. Tamasi S. Pignata C.
Department of Pediatrics, Federico II University, Naples, Italy.
Dipeptidyl peptidase IV (CD26/DPP-IV) is an ectoenzyme expressed on different cell types. Signaling properties and functional consequences of the CD26 triggering have been elucidated mostly on T cells, where the molecule delivers a costimulatory signal that potentiates T-cell activation through the T-cell receptor. We conducted studies in the human hepatocarcinoma-derived PLC/PRF/5 cell line to examine the signal transduction through CD26 and its functional properties in the absence of other T-cell-specific membrane molecules. Engagement of CD26 in PLC/PRF/5 cells through a specific antibody induces tyrosine phosphorylation of several proteins with maximal intensity 15 minutes after the stimulation. This effect was under the negative regulatory control of CD45 tyrosine phosphatase, in that the addition of orthovanadate clearly enhanced the phosphorylation events. Using in vitro kinase assays with CD26 immunoprecipitates, we observed that a protein or proteins with kinase activity are coprecipitated with the CD26 molecule. In addition, unlike Jurkat T cells, in which CD26 expression exerts a protective effect against apoptosis, in PLC/PRF/5 cells CD26 occupancy delivers a potent apoptotic signal. This effect was also observed in HepG2 cells, thus indicating that it represents a more general phenomenon occurring in different liver neoplastic cell lines.

New member of aldose reductase family proteins overexpressed in human hepatocellular carcinoma.

Year 1998
Scuric Z. Stain SC. Anderson WF. Hwang JJ.
Gene Therapy Laboratories, University of Southern California School of Medicine, Los Angeles 90033, USA.
The multistep process of liver carcinogenesis involves various genetic and phenotypic alterations. To identify genes whose expression is increased during hepatocarcinogenesis, differential-display polymerase chain reaction (DD-PCR) was used to examine differences in the mRNA composition of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) versus normal liver (nontumor) tissues. This approach identified 67 cDNAs that were preferentially expressed in HCC tissue. When these cDNAs were analyzed by reverse-Northern analysis, five were reproducibly expressed at high levels in HCC. Interestingly, Northern blot analysis revealed that one of the genes showed significantly increased mRNA levels in all five tested tumor samples, while its mRNA level in the nontumor samples was minimal. BLAST analysis revealed that this gene has high sequence identity with the genes from aldo-keto reductase family of proteins including the mouse fibroblast growth factor-induced gene (FR-1) (80% identity), mouse vas deferens protein (MVDP) (76%), and human aldose reductase (AR) (62%). Expression of this novel AR-related protein in all five tested HCCs suggests that this protein may play an important role in liver carcinogenesis.

Activation of mitogen-activated protein kinases/extracellular signal-regulated kinases in human hepatocellular carcinoma.

Year 1998
Ito Y. Sasaki Y. Horimoto M. Wada S. Tanaka Y. Kasahara A. Ueki T. Hirano T. Yamamoto H. Fujimoto J. Okamoto E. Hayashi N. Hori M.
First Department of Medicine, Osaka University School of Medicine, Suita, Japan.
Mitogen-activated protein kinase/extracellular signal-regulated protein kinase (MAPK/ERK) is a key molecule in intracellular signal transducing pathways that transport extracellular stimuli from cell surface to nuclei. MAPK/ERK has been revealed to be involved in the physiological proliferation of mammalian cells and also to potentiate them to transform. However, its role in the outgrowth of human hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) has yet to be clarified. Therefore, in this study, we investigated the activation of MAPK/ERK and its associated gene expression in HCC. MAPK/ERK was activated in 15 of 26 cases of HCC we examined (58%), and its activity level was significantly higher in HCC than in the adjacent non-cancerous lesions. Besides, MAPK/ERK activation in HCC was positively correlated with protein expression of transcription factor c-Fos. Furthermore, in 25 of 26 cases of HCC which genomic DNA was available, 22 cases without genomic DNA amplification exhibited positive correlation, not only between protein expression of c-Fos and cyclin D1, but also between MAPK/ERK activation and cyclin D1 expression. Concerning the relationship between MAPK/ERK activation and the clinicohistopathological features of HCC, the tumor (HCC) versus non-tumor (non-cancerous counterpart) ratio (T/N) of MAPK/ERK activity was positively correlated with tumor size, but neither with the stage of HCC nor the degree of differentiation of HCC. In conclusion, these findings suggest that MAPK/ERK activation in human HCC may play an important role in multistep hepatocarcinogenesis, especially in the progression of HCC; at least in part, through cyclin D1 up-regulation primarily induced by MAPK/ERK via c-Fos.

Expression of E-cadherin, alpha-catenin, beta-catenin, and CD44 (standard and variant isoforms) in human cholangiocarcinoma: an immunohistochemical study.

Year 1998
Ashida K. Terada T. Kitamura Y. Kaibara N.
Department of Pathology (II), Tottori University, Faculty of Medicine, Yonago, Japan.
Immunolocalization of E-cadherin (E-cad), alpha-catenin, beta-catenin, and CD44 has rarely been investigated in human cholangiocarcinoma (CC). We, therefore, immunohistochemically examined the expression of E-cad, alpha-catenin, beta-catenin, CD44 standard (CD44s), and CD44 variants (CD44v) including CD44v5, CD44v6, CD44v7-8, and CD44v10 in normal adult livers and in 47 cases of CC; and the results were then correlated with tumor grade, vascular invasion, metastasis, p53 expression, proliferative fraction (Ki-67 labeling), and c-erbB2 expression. In normal livers, E-cad, alpha-catenin and beta-catenin, but not CD44s, CD44v5, CD44v6, CD44v7-8, and CD44v10, were expressed at the cell membrane of normal intrahepatic bile ducts. In CC, membranous expression of E-cad, alpha-catenin, and beta-catenin was the same or reduced when compared with non-cancerous bile ducts in the majority of CC. We found that the down-regulation of E-cad, alpha-catenin, and beta-catenin expression significantly correlated with tumor high grade, but not with vascular invasion, metastasis, p53 expression, Ki-67 labeling, or c-erbB2 expression, except for beta-catenin, the down-regulation of which was associated with c-erbB2 down-regulation. CD44s, CD44v5, CD44v6, CD44v7-8 and CD44v10 were frequently expressed at the membrane of CC cells. There were, however, no significant correlations between these aberrant CD44 expression and tumor grade, metastasis, vascular invasion, p53 expression, Ki-67 labeling, or c-erbB2 expression, with a few exceptions of CD44s and CD44v5. We found that CD44s aberrant expression significantly correlated with absence of metastasis and vascular invasion, and that CD44v5 aberrant expression significantly correlated with p53 under-expression. These results suggest that membranous expression of E-cad, alpha-catenin, and beta-catenin is reduced in a majority of CC and this down-regulation correlates with CC high grade, and that beta-catenin down-regulation is associated with c-erbB2 down-regulation. The data also suggested that CD44s, CD44v5, CD44v6, CD44v7-8, and CD44v10 may be neoexpressed during carcinogenesis of CC but this neoexpression does not correlate with tumor progression in CC, with the exception of CD44s and CD44v5.

Variant liver estrogen receptor transcripts already occur at an early stage of chronic liver disease.

Year 1998
Villa E. Dugani A. Moles A. Camellini L. Grottola A. Buttafoco P. Merighi A. Ferretti I. Esposito P. Miglioli L. Bagni A. Troisi R. De Hemptinne B. Praet M. Callea F. Manenti F.
Department of Internal Medicine, University of Modena, Italy.
Variant estrogen receptors may be found in hepatocellular carcinoma and may influence its natural history. Because it is not known whether their occurrence is an early or a late event during the course of chronic liver disease or whether they cluster in some subgroups of patients, we investigated a series of patients in different stages of chronic liver disease. One hundred eleven consecutive patients were studied for variant estrogen receptor transcripts by reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction of RNA extracted from liver biopsy specimens. In chronic active hepatitis, variant estrogen receptor transcripts were coexpressed with wild-type significantly more often in men than in women (P = .029) and in hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg)-positive subjects than in subjects positive for antibody to hepatitis C virus (P = .0006). In hepatocellular carcinoma, again in men (P = .004) and in HBsAg-positive patients (P = .0015), the variant estrogen receptor transcript was overexpressed or remained the only one expressed. Patients with liver cell dysplasia presented with the same estrogen receptor pattern than patients with hepatocellular carcinoma. This further reinforces the significance of liver cell dysplasia as a preneoplastic condition. The significantly higher occurrence of variant estrogen receptor in men (especially in HBsAg-positive men) already at an early stage of disease, like chronic active hepatitis, suggests that the alteration of estrogen receptors, favoring uncontrolled proliferation and development of hyperplasia, might constitute a prominent mechanism facilitating neoplastic transformation especially in men.

Analysis of CDKN2A, CDKN2B, CDKN2C, and cyclin Ds gene status in hepatoblastoma.

Year 1998
Iolascon A. Giordani L. Moretti A. Basso G. Borriello A. Della Ragione F.
Department di Biomedicina dell'Eta Evolutiva, University of Bari, Italy.
The status and the expression of cyclin-dependent kinase inhibitor A (CDKN2A) family genes, named CDKN2A, CDKN2B, and CDKN2C and of cyclin Ds (D1, D2, and D3) genes were investigated in 14 cases of human hepatoblastomas. These genes were selected because: 1) CDKN2A and CDKN2B are very frequently inactivated in human cancers; 2) cyclin Ds are overexpressed in several tumors and 3) CDKN2A is posttranscriptionally silenced in hepatocellular carcinomas. Structural analysis of the CDKN2A, CDKN2B, and CDKN2C genes in hepatoblastoma cases showed the absence of deletions and/or point mutations. Moreover, a detailed investigation of loss of heterozygosity at 9p21 and 1p32 (the chromosomal regions where CDKN2A genes are located) rules out the possible loss of one allele. Messenger RNA (mRNA) analysis showed that CDKN2C is expressed in all hepatoblastoma samples studied, while both CDKN2A and CDKN2B genes are not transcribed in the cancer specimens as well as in the matched normal liver tissues. Interestingly, an alternative mRNA expressed by the CDKN2A gene (beta-transcript) is detectable in 100% of the samples investigated. The analysis of cyclin D genes expression revealed that cyclin D1 is highly transcribed in normal hepatic tissue while cyclin D2 or D3 genes were extensively expressed in the matched transformed samples. Investigation at protein level confirmed the data obtained on RNA analysis. Indeed, p16INK4A and p15INK4B (products of expression of CDKN2A and CDKN2B respectively) were not observable while pl8INK4C (which is codified by CDKN2C) was clearly detectable in the samples analyzed. Moreover, a noticeable decrease of cyclin D1 content and increase of cyclin D3 level were observable in tumor tissues versus normal counterparts. Our findings demonstrated the following: 1) CDKN2A, CDKN2B, and CDKN2C genes are structurally unmodified in human hepatoblastoma, and 2) CDKN2A (alpha-transcript) and CDKN2B are transcriptionally silenced in normal liver whereas CDKN2A (beta-transcript) and CDKN2C were clearly expressed. Finally, a clear shift in cyclin D type expression was observable during malignant transformation. These results show that CDKN2A gene family alterations are not involved in hepatoblastoma development, whereas changes in cyclin D types might play a role in this type of tumor. Furthermore, a highly regulated expression of CDKN2A seems to occur in normal hepatic tissue.

Use and outcome of liver transplantation in acetaminophen-induced acute liver failure.

Year 1998
Bernal W. Wendon J. Rela M. Heaton N. Williams R.
Institute of Liver Studies, King's College Hospital and King's College School of Medicine and Dentistry, London, UK.
Once defined clinical criteria are fulfilled in acetaminophen-induced hepatotoxicity, prognosis without orthotopic liver transplantation (OLT) may be very poor. In the present study, we examined the application and outcome of OLT in 548 patients admitted to a single center between 1990 and 1996. Four hundred twenty-four (77%) of the patients studied did not fulfill transplantation criteria, and 396 of these (93%) survived. The majority of the 28 nonsurvivors (7%) in this group fulfilled two of three combined criteria, and the finding of a high APACHE III score could be used as an indicator for the need for OLT. Of the 56 patients (45%) not listed, in only a small proportion was this caused by psychiatric reasons, and in the majority, it was a consequence of the rapid development of multiple organ failure and cerebral edema. This also applied to 24 (35%) of the 68 listed patients in whom the rapidity of clinical deterioration, reflected in increasing APACHE III scores, was such that even with the prompt availability of donor organs, OLT was not possible. In the final event, only 44 (35%) of those who fulfilled criteria underwent OLT, of whom 33 (75%) survived to leave the hospital. Survival was greatest in those receiving unreduced grafts, and markers of early graft function differed significantly between survivors and nonsurvivors. Liver transplantation is an effective treatment in a relatively small number of patients with acetaminophen-induced hepatotoxicity, and for a substantial proportion, transplantation was never an option because of the rapidity of clinical deterioration. APACHE III scoring may be of value in decision making and in better defining patients in clinical trials.

Expression of hepatitis B virus X protein in HBV-infected human livers and hepatocellular carcinomas.

Year 1998
Su Q. Schroder CH. Hofmann WJ. Otto G. Pichlmayr R. Bannasch P.
Division of Cell Pathology, German Cancer Research Center, Heidelberg.
Transactivation of cellular genes and functional inactivation of p53 by the hepatitis B virus (HBV) X gene-encoded protein (HBx) are proposed as alternative mechanisms for induction of hepatocellular carcinomas (HCCs) in chronic HBV infection. Using an immunohistochemical approach, we studied the expression of HBx in 39 explanted livers with HBV-associated disease. Because the data reported previously have been inconsistent, possibly due to the application of different antibodies, we compared results with 5 polyclonal and 6 monoclonal anti-HBx antibodies from five laboratories. Ten of the 11 antibodies reacted with recombinant HBx by Western blotting, but only 1 polyclonal and 2 monoclonal antibodies reacted specifically with HBx in tissue, and were thus suitable for immunohistochemistry. Three other polyclonal antibodies reacted with tissue components in addition to HBx. One polyclonal and 4 monoclonal antibodies did not recognize the HBx in the tissue. HBx was demonstrated in 16 of 30 (53.3%) cirrhotic livers and 10 of 18 (58.8%) HCCs by all specific antibodies. The expression of HBx, among three HBV antigens examined, was found to be preferentially maintained in HCC and the surrounding liver parenchyma, including focal or nodular preneoplastic lesions. However, the immunoreactivity was always limited to the cytoplasm of a small number of parenchymal and neoplastic cells. The role of X gene expression in HBV-associated human hepatocarcinogenesis remains to be established.

Lymphoblastoid interferon alfa-n1 improves the long-term response to a 6-month course of treatment in chronic hepatitis C compared with recombinant interferon alfa-2b: results of an international randomized controlled trial. Clinical Advisory Group for

Year 1998
Farrell GC. Bacon BR. Goldin RD.
Department of Medicine, Westmead Hospital, New South Wales, Australia.
The aim of this study was to compare the short-term and long-term efficacy and safety of lymphoblastoid interferon with a recombinant interferon alfa (IFN-alpha) in a 24-week treatment course for chronic hepatitis C. One thousand seventy-one patients with chronic hepatitis C were randomized to receive lymphoblastoid IFN-alpha n1 or recombinant IFN-alpha2b at the same dosing regimen, 3 million units administered subcutaneously three times a week for 24 weeks. Hepatitis C viral (HCV) genotype (by line probe assay) was determined at baseline, and serum HCV RNA level (by quantitative reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction) was measured at baseline and weeks 24, 48, and 72. Primary end points were normalization of serum alanine aminotransferase (ALT) levels at end of therapy (week 24) and sustained ALT normalization at weeks 48 and 72. Secondary end points were nondetectability of serum HCV RNA at 24, 48, and 72 weeks, and histological improvement at weeks 24 and 72. The two treatment groups were similar with respect to demographic, clinical, and histological variables (10% had cirrhosis at entry), baseline serum HCV RNA levels, and distribution of HCV genotypes. Intent-to-treat analysis showed that ALT response at end of treatment was 35.3% for IFN-alpha n1 and 37.9% for IFN-alpha2b (P = .38). Histological improvement and nondetectability of HCV RNA were also similar between the two treatment groups at the end of treatment, as were the type and frequency of reported adverse experiences. Among treatment responders, post-treatment relapse was significantly less frequent with IFN-alpha n1 than with IFN-alpha2b. Thus, sustained ALT responses (SR) to IFN-alpha n1 were significantly more frequent than SR to IFN-alpha2b (12.0% vs. 7.6% at 48 weeks, P = .02; 10.3% vs. 6.7% at 72 weeks, P = .04). SR were associated with viral loss and histological improvement, and more patients treated with IFN-alpha n1 were HCV RNA negative at week 72 compared with patients treated with IFN-alpha2b (P = .03). SR at week 72 were two- to sixfold better with other HCV genotypes relative to type 1, but the improved long-term efficacy of IFN-alpha n1 compared with IFN-alpha2b was evident for all major HCV genotypes. It is concluded that IFN-alpha n1 and IFN-alpha2b have similar end-of-treatment response rates and safety profiles but the sustained response rate is higher with IFN-alpha n1. SR to IFN-alpha treatment are associated with clearance of HCV RNA, and histological improvement was maximal in patients who exhibited sustained ALT normalization and clearance of HCV RNA.

Combination therapy with thymosin alpha1 and interferon for the treatment of chronic hepatitis C infection: a randomized, placebo-controlled double-blind trial.

Year 1998
Sherman KE. Sjogren M. Creager RL. Damiano MA. Freeman S. Lewey S. Davis D. Root S. Weber FL. Ishak KG. Goodman ZD.
University of Cincinnati Medical Center, OH 45267, USA.
Hepatitis C is a major cause of liver disease leading to cirrhosis. Although interferon (IFN) is the only approved therapy, treatment is characterized by low response rates and dose-limiting side effects. We evaluated the addition of thymosin alpha1 (TA1), an immunomodulatory peptide, to the standard treatment regimen for hepatitis C to determine if combination therapy shows biological activity using outcome measures including normalization of alanine aminotransferase levels, histological activity, and viral load during treatment. We performed a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial to compare the biological activity of a combination TA1 and IFN with that seen for IFN alone in patients with chronic hepatitis C infection. One hundred nine patients were randomized for intention to treat and received 1.6 mg of TA1 subcutaneously twice weekly and 3 MU of IFN three times weekly; 3 MU of IFN three times weekly and placebo TA1; or placebo for both agents. All patients had chronic HCV infection with confirmation of chronic hepatitis on liver biopsy. Biochemical responders were followed up until alanine aminotransferase (ALT) levels became abnormal or for 26 weeks, and relapsers were retreated for 26 weeks in the same treatment arm. One hundred three patients completed treatment for 26 weeks, and six patients dropped out. The groups were similar with regard to sex, gender distribution, baseline histological activity index (HAI) score, risk factors, and viral titers. End-of-treatment biochemical response was seen in 37.1% of patients treated with combination therapy, 16.2% of patients treated with IFN alone, and 2.7% of untreated controls by intent-to-treat analysis (IFN/TA1 vs. IFN, chi2 = 4.05, P = .04). HCV RNA clearance was seen in 37.1% of IFN/TA1-treated patients and 18.9% of IFN-treated subjects. Mean HCV RNA titers were significantly lower than baseline at weeks 8, 16, and 24 after drug initiation among patients treated with IFN/TA1 but not in the other treatment arms. Histological improvement, as evidenced by a decrease in HAI of more than two points, occurred in the combination therapy arm more frequently than in comparison groups. Cumulative sustained biochemical responses were 14.2% and 8.1% in the IFN/TA1 and IFN arms, respectively, based on an intention-to-treat model. The combination of TA1 and standard IFN treatment for chronic hepatitis C showed evidence of biological activity at the completion of treatment by biochemical, histological, and virological outcome measures. Further research involving longer duration and varied dosing is needed.

Re-treatment of chronic hepatitis C with consensus interferon .

Year 1998
Heathcote EJ. Keeffe EB. Lee SS. Feinman SV. Tong MJ. Reddy KR. Albert DG Jr. Witt K. Blatt LM.
University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
A multicenter, open-label, phase 3 study was conducted in 337 patients with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection who had either not responded to previous interferon therapy or had relapsed after discontinuation of therapy with either consensus interferon (9 microg) or interferon alpha-2b (3 million U) three times a week for 24 weeks. Patients were randomized to receive a higher dose of consensus interferon (15 microg) administered subcutaneously three times a week for 24 or 48 weeks and then were observed for an additional 24 weeks. Patients who had relapsed after prior interferon therapy were more likely to have a sustained alanine aminotransferase response and HCV RNA response (as measured by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction with a sensitivity of < 100 copies/mL) than were patients who had not responded to prior interferon therapy. For relapsers, the sustained HCV RNA response rate was 58% (48 weeks) and 28% (24 weeks). The sustained alanine aminotransferase response for relapsers was 52% (48 weeks) and 39% (24 weeks). The sustained HCV RNA response rate among prior nonresponders was 13% (48 weeks) and 5% (24 weeks), and the sustained alanine aminotransferase response rate for nonresponders was 17% (48 weeks) and 12% (24 weeks). The administration of 15 microg of consensus interferon was well tolerated and was not associated with an increase in the incidence of side effects. These data demonstrate that re-treatment with 15 microg of consensus interferon is safe and effective therapy for patients with chronic hepatitis C who have either not responded to previous interferon therapy or relapsed after discontinuation of interferon therapy.

Re-treatment with interferon alfa of patients with chronic hepatitis C.

Year 1998
Chow WC. Boyer N. Pouteau M. Castelnau C. Martinot-Peignoux M. Martins-Amado V. Degos F. Maghinici C. Sinegre M. Benhamou JP. Degott C. Erlinger S. Marcellin P.
INSERM U 481 and Centre Claude Bernard de Recherche sur les Hepatites virales, Hopital Beaujon, Clichy, France.
Treatment of patients with chronic hepatitis C has had limited success because of relapses and nonresponse to interferon alfa therapy (currently the only established therapeutic agent). A retrospective study was done to determine the efficacy of re-treatment with interferon and the predictors of response in patients who failed to achieve sustained response after one standard course of interferon therapy (3 million units three times a week for 24 weeks). One hundred and eleven patients (47 relapsers and 64 nonresponders), mean age 45 years, were included in the study. Eighteen relapsers and 13 nonresponders received a higher dose (5 MU), and 11 relapsers and 6 nonresponders received a longer duration (48 weeks) of interferon therapy. The remaining patients received the same regimen as the first treatment. Eighty-one percent and 23% of relapsers and nonresponders, respectively, had an end-of-treatment response, and 19% and 3% of the corresponding patient groups had a sustained response to re-treatment. Two patients with breakthrough during their first treatment were the only nonresponders with sustained response after re-treatment. Sustained response was observed only in patients who received an increased dose or duration of interferon therapy. No predictor of sustained response was found. In conclusion, sustained response to re-treatment with interferon was only observed with augmentation of dose or duration of therapy in some relapsers and patients who had breakthrough. Established predictors of response to interferon in naive patients, in particular serum hepatitis C virus RNA and genotype, were not associated with sustained response to re-treatment.

Quantification of the initial decline of serum hepatitis C virus RNA and response to interferon alfa.

Year 1998
Zeuzem S. Lee JH. Franke A. Ruster B. Prummer O. Herrmann G. Roth WK.
Medizinische Klinik II, Klinikum der Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universitat, Frankfurt, Germany.
Although several virus- and host-related predictive factors for the response to interferon alfa (IFN-alpha) have been defined in patients with chronic hepatitis C, no pretreatment parameter can definitely predict the response to antiviral treatment. Assessment of the initial response by quantification of serum hepatitis C virus RNA before and 4 weeks after initiation of therapy may be a clinically applicable and reliable parameter to predict long-term response. Therefore, the aims of the present study were to test the predictive value of a decline in HCV RNA of at least 3 log in the first 4 weeks of treatment (deltaHCV RNA) in patients treated with 3 x 10(6) units of recombinant IFN-alpha2a (rIFN-alpha2a) three times per week subcutaneously and to compare deltaHCV RNA with other established predictive factors, such as HCV genotype and pretreatment viremia. Serum HCV RNA was measured by a validated quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). Geno/subtyping of HCV was performed by direct sequencing of the nonstructural (NS) 5B region of PCR-amplified isolates and subsequent phylogenetic analysis. Stable HCV RNA levels (deltaHCV RNA < or = 1 log) within the first 4 weeks of IFN-alpha treatment were present in 42 of 70 patients. A decline in HCV RNA levels between 1 to 3 log and more than 3 log was observed in 9 (13%) and 19 patients (27%), respectively. In 21 of 70 patients (30%), HCV RNA was not detectable at the end of 12 months' treatment. Three of 26 patients (11%) with a pretreatment viremia of < or = 10(6) copies/mL (all HCV subtype 3a) and 6 of 44 patients (14%) with a pretreatment viremia of > 10(6) copies/mL (HCV subtypes 1b, 2a, 2c, 3a [two patients], and 4) achieved a virological sustained response to interferon-alpha2a treatment. All patients with a virological sustained response had an initial deltaHCV RNA of more than 3 log. In a stepwise discriminant-function analysis, the initial deltaHCV RNA was confirmed as the strongest predictor of virological sustained response (P < .0001). In conclusion, the data of the present study suggest that IFN-alpha treatment can be terminated after 4 weeks in patients with a decrease in HCV RNA levels of less than 3 log, when apparent HCV eradication is considered the therapeutic target. The predictive value of deltaHCV RNA clearly exceeds the significance of HCV genotype and pretreatment viremia as predictors of successful IFN-alpha treatment.

Immunoreactivity of porcine heart dihydrolipoamide acetyl- and succinyl-transferases (PDC-E2, OGDC-E2) with primary biliary cirrhosis sera: characterization of the autoantigenic region and effects of enzymatic delipoylation and relipoylation.

Year 1998
Koike K. Ishibashi H. Koike M.
Department of Pathological Biochemistry, Atomic Disease Institute, Nagasaki University School of Medicine, Japan.
Analysis of the primary structure of the lipoyl domain of the dihydrolipoamide acetyltransferase (PDC-E2) component of the porcine pyruvate dehydrogenase complex (PDC) reveals a high degree of homology with M2 antigen and human PDC-E2. The porcine PDC-E2 and the dihydrolipoamide succinyltransferase (OGDC-E2) component of the porcine 2-oxoglutarate dehydrogenase complex (OGDC) were identified as mitochondrial autoantigen with sera from patients with primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC). Immunodominant regions (autoepitopes) on the porcine-PDC-E2 component have been mapped to two regions around Lys-46 (outer lipoyl domain) and Lys-173 (inner lipoyl domain), which contained covalently bound lipoic acid prosthetic group. When these lipoyl domains were cleaved at Asp-45 or Asp-172 with endoproteinase Asp-N, the autoantigenicities of the two domains completely disappeared; this suggested the requirement of Asp-45 or Asp-172 residues for the immunoreaction with PBC sera. In addition, a single 14-amino acid epitope peptide histidine-substituted at Asp-172 did not exhibit competitive inhibition of autoantigen binding. Fragmentation of lipoyl domain of the porcine PDC-E2 by limited proteolysis and BrCN-cleavage after alkylation resulted in rapid loss of autoantigenicity. Enzymatic delipoylation and relipoylation of the complexed and free PDC-E2 and OGDC-E2 components did not influence immunoreactivity with PBC sera.

Detection of reovirus RNA in hepatobiliary tissues from patients with extrahepatic biliary atresia and choledochal cysts.

Year 1998
Tyler KL. Sokol RJ. Oberhaus SM. Le M. Karrer FM. Narkewicz MR. Tyson RW. Murphy JR. Low R. Brown WR.
Department of Neurology, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Denver 80262, USA.
Extrahepatic biliary atresia (EHBA) and choledochal cysts (CDC) are important causes of obstructive jaundice in pediatric patients. Viruses in general, and reoviruses in particular, have long been considered as possible etiologic agents responsible for inciting the inflammatory process that leads to these infantile obstructive cholangiopathies. In an effort to determine whether reovirus infection is associated with these disorders, we used a sensitive and specific reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) technique designed to amplify a portion of the reovirus L1 gene segment from extracts of liver and/or biliary tissues. These tissues were obtained at the time of liver biopsy or surgical procedures from 23 patients with EHBA, 9 patients with CDC, and 33 patients with other hepatobiliary diseases. Hepatic and biliary tissues obtained at autopsy from 17 patients who died without known liver or biliary disease were also analyzed. Reovirus RNA was detected in hepatic and/or biliary tissues from 55% of patients with EHBA and 78% of patients with CDC. Reovirus RNA was found also in extracts of hepatic and/or biliary tissue from 21% of patients with other hepatobiliary diseases and in 12% of autopsy cases. The prevalence of reovirus RNA in tissues from patients with EHBA and CDC was significantly greater than that in patients with other hepatobiliary diseases (chi2 P = .012 EHBA vs. OTHER, P = .001 CDC vs. OTHER), or AUTOPSY cases (chi2 P = .006 EHBA vs. AUTOPSY, P < .001 CDC vs. AUTOPSY).

Diet and gallstones in Italy: the cross-sectional MICOL results.

Year 1998
Attili AF. Scafato E. Marchioli R. Marfisi RM. Festi D.
Cattedra di Gastroenterologia, Dipartimento di Medicina Clinica, Universita di Roma La Sapienza, Rome, Italy.
Fifteen thousand nine hundred ten men and 13,674 women (age, 30-69 years) were enrolled in an epidemiological survey of the general population, between December 1984 and April 1987. Each participant was submitted to ultrasonography (US) of the gallbladder and completed a food-frequency questionnaire, covering 38 food items. A common portion size was identified and subjects were asked how often each item was consumed. Nutrient intake was computed by multiplying the intake frequency and nutrient content per portion for each item, and then by summing the product over all foods. Each nutrient intake was adjusted for energy intake. Alcohol intake was calculated by summing the consumption of wine, beer, and liquor. Having excluded subjects aware of having gallstones (GS) or previously submitted to cholecystectomy (to avoid prothopatic bias), 787 males and 1,014 females with GS and 14,272 males and 10,836 females without GS were available for analysis. Relative risks (RR) of GS were computed by quintiles of nutrient intake. The overnight fasting period was calculated as the difference between the specified time of dinner and the time of the next meal (breakfast or lunch). A significant negative association was found between RR of GS and total energy intake for males (chi2 for trend = 8.37; P = .004), fiber intake for females (chi2 = 5.45; P = .02), and daily alcohol consumption for males (chi2 = 10.86; P = .001). A positive association was observed between RR of GS and carbohydrate (chi2 = 5.95; P = .01 for males; chi2 = 9.39; P = .002 for females) and protein intake only for males (chi2 = 10.92; P = .01). Prevalence of GS was higher among subjects who had an overnight fasting period of over 12 hours than subjects with that of less than 12 hours. (RR: 1.35; 95% CI: 1.01-1.80 for males; RR: 1.28; 95% CI: 1.03-1.60 for females). These data do not confirm that high energy intake is associated with an increased risk of GS. Factors protecting against GS comprise: low carbohydrate (males and females) and protein (males) intakes, high fiber (females) and moderate alcohol intake (males) consumption, and a shorter overnight fasting period for both sexes.

Cholesterol crystallization in human gallbladder bile: relation to gallstone number, bile composition, and apolipoprotein E4 isoform.

Year 1998
Van Erpecum KJ. Van Berge-henegouwen GP. Eckhardt ER. Portincasa P. Van De Heijning BJ. Dallinga-Thie GM. Groen AK.
Department of Gastroenterology, University Hospital Utrecht, The Netherlands.
Patients with multiple cholesterol gallstones are at increased risk of recurrence after nonsurgical therapy, possibly because of fast biliary cholesterol crystallization. Serum apolipoprotein E4 (apo E4) is a risk factor for primary cholesterol gallstone formation as well as recurrence. We examined potential effects of stone number and apolipoprotein E genotype on crystallization and on various crystallization-influencing factors in gallbladder biles of 36 cholesterol stone patients (25 multiple stones: 10 carrying the epsilon4 allele). Biliary cholesterol saturation, bile salt composition or concentrations of total protein, immunoglobulin (Ig)A, IgG, alpha1-acid glycoprotein, haptoglobin, or mucin--all crystallization promoters--did not differ between multiple and solitary stone patients, apparently not explaining different speed of crystallization (crystal observation time 3.5 +/- 0.6 days vs. 12.7 +/- 2.4 days, respectively; P = .0003). In contrast, biliary aminopeptidase-N activities (2,607 +/- 592 mU/mL vs. 947 +/- 185 mU/mL; P = .04) were higher and IgM levels (179 +/- 39 vs. 65 +/- 8 mg/L; P = .09) tended to be higher in the case of multiple stones. Although patients carrying the epsilon4 allele had similar stone numbers and crystallization as patients without the epsilon4 allele, their cholesterol saturation index (CSI) was lower (1.08 +/- 0.09 vs. 1.54 +/- 0.13; P = .01), whereas total protein and bile salt concentrations tended to be higher with preferential taurine-conjugation. In conclusion, fast cholesterol crystallization is associated with multiple stones but not with apolipoprotein E4. Whereas fast crystallization may contribute to high recurrence rates after nonsurgical therapy in case of multiple gallstones, the mechanism for increased risk of gallstone formation in patients carrying the epsilon4 allele remains unknown.

Visual attention in cirrhotic patients: a study on covert visual attention orienting.

Year 1998
Amodio P. Marchetti P. Del Piccolo F. Campo G. Rizzo C. Iemmolo RM. Gerunda G. Caregaro L. Merkel C. Gatta A.
Clinical Medicine V, University of Padova, Italy.
Attentional dysfunction, which influences overall cognitive productivity, is not well characterized in cirrhotic patients. The aim of this study was to clarify the features of covert visual attention orienting in cirrhotics without overt hepatic encephalopathy. One hundred consecutive cirrhotic patients and 40 controls were enrolled. Visual covert attention orienting was assessed by the Posner test, which evaluates the effect of a cue on visual reaction times. Patients were characterized by the number connection test (NCT) and electroencephalographic (EEG) spectral analysis. The severity of liver disease was graded using standard laboratory parameters and the Child-Pugh's classification. Fifty-five psychometric and EEG evaluations were performed in the follow-up of 17 patients to assess the relationship between the variations of psychometric and neurophysiological findings. NCT and quantified-EEG parameters (altered in 19% and 40% of cirrhotic patients, respectively) were linked to each other and to the severity of liver disease. The Posner test showed a delay of visual reaction times in class B-C cirrhotic patients. Reaction times were correlated with ammonia and EEG parameters. The effect of the cue was higher in cirrhotic patients than in controls, particularly in the invalid position. This study suggests that cirrhotic patients have a reduced activity rate and reduced capacity to disengage attention previously focused on a cue. Such alterations are linked to NCT and EEG findings.

Clinical significance of microvessel density and vascular endothelial growth factor expression in hepatocellular carcinoma and surrounding liver: possible involvement of vascular endothelial growth factor in the angiogenesis of cirrhotic liver.

Year 1998
El-Assal ON. Yamanoi A. Soda Y. Yamaguchi M. Igarashi M. Yamamoto A. Nabika T. Nagasue N.
Second Department of Surgery, Shimane Medical University, Izumo, Japan.
As in other tumors, the assessment of microvessel density (MVD) in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) may be essential to perform an effective anti-angiogenic therapy for this tumor. The relationship between vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) and MVD of HCC as well as the surrounding liver remains to be elucidated. In 71 patients who had undergone curative hepatic resection for HCC, MVD and VEGF expressions were evaluated for HCC and the liver by quantitative reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and/or immunostaining. The intensity and extent of VEGF immunoreactivity were evaluated using a computer image analyzer-cell analysis system (CAS). Angiographic data were re-evaluated and compared with MVD in 50 tumors. Tumoral MVD was significantly correlated with tumor capsule formation (t test, P = .0016). Small HCCs (< or = 2 cm) had a significantly lower MVD compared with moderate-sized HCCs (2-5 cm) (t test, P = .016), and the MVD of large HCCs was relatively lower than that of moderate tumors. Tumor vascularity on angiography was not correlated with the MVD. Neither VEGF mRNA levels nor protein expression in HCC were correlated with the tumoral MVD or any histopathological features of the tumor. However, cirrhotic livers had significantly higher MVD and VEGF expressions compared with noncirrhotic livers (t test, P = .0015 and P = .047, respectively). Only the MVD of tumor was significantly correlated with intrahepatic recurrence (t test, P = .0048) and disease-free survival (DFS) rates (log rank test, P = .0035). Moreover, the MVD was an independent predictor for DFS by multivariate analysis (chi2 test, P = .03). In conclusion, the MVD in HCC may be involved in the dismal prognosis of this tumor, and VEGF may be associated with the angiogenic process of the cirrhotic liver, but not with the angiogenesis of HCC.

Dietary iron overload as a risk factor for hepatocellular carcinoma in Black Africans.

Year 1998
Mandishona E. MacPhail AP. Gordeuk VR. Kedda MA. Paterson AC. Rouault TA. Kew MC.
Department of Medicine, University of the Witwatersrand Medical School, Johannesburg, South Africa.
Although the iron-loading disease, hereditary hemochromatosis, has a strong causal association with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), the carcinogenic potential of dietary iron overload in Black Africans is not known. We investigated this potential by evaluating iron status, alcohol consumption, markers for hepatitis B (HBV) and C virus (HCV) infections, and exposure to dietary aflatoxin B1 in 24 rural patients with this tumor, 48 race-, sex-, and age-matched hospital-based controls, and 75 related or unrelated close family members of the cancer patients. Iron overload was defined as a raised serum ferritin concentration in combination with a transferrin saturation > or = 60%, and was confirmed histologically when possible. Among 24 patients and 48 hospital controls, the risk of developing HCC in the iron-loaded subjects was 10.6 (95% confidence limits of 1.5 and 76.8) relative to individuals with normal iron status, after adjusting for alcohol consumption, chronic HBV and HBC infections, and exposure to aflatoxin B1. The risk of HCC in subjects with HBV infection was 33.2 (7.2, 153.4) (odds ratio [95% confidence limits]), HCV infection 6.4 (0.3, 133.5), and alcohol consumption 2.0 (0.5, 8.2). Aflatoxin B1 exposure did not appear to increase the risk of HCC. The population attributable risk of iron overload in the development of HCC was estimated to be 29%. Among 20 cancer patients and 75 family members, the risk of developing HCC with iron overload was 4.1 (0.5, 32.2). We conclude that dietary iron overload may contribute to the development of HCC in Black Africans.

Prognosis of hepatocellular carcinoma with diabetes mellitus after hepatic resection.

Year 1998
Ikeda Y. Shimada M. Hasegawa H. Gion T. Kajiyama K. Shirabe K. Yanaga K. Takenaka K. Sugimachi K.
Department of Surgery II, Kyushu University, Faculty of Medicine, Fukuoka, Japan.
We evaluated the effect of diabetes mellitus on the prognosis of hepatocellular carcinoma after an elective hepatic resection. Of the 342 patients who underwent a hepatic resection between April 1985 and March 1995, 87 (25.4%) were diabetic. Postoperative morbidity was more common among diabetics than among nondiabetics (36.0% vs. 22.5%, P = .0239). The postoperative survival rate and the cancer-free survival rate were also better in patients without diabetes than in those with diabetes (P = .0333, P = .0149). The results of a multivariate analysis show diabetes mellitus to be an independent and prognostic indicator after a hepatic resection with hepatocellular carcinoma. According to the above findings, diabetes mellitus is thus considered to be a risk factor for prognosis after hepatic resection in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma.

Liver transplantation for small hepatocellular carcinoma: the tumor-node-metastasis classification does not have prognostic power.

Year 1998
Llovet JM. Bruix J. Fuster J. Castells A. Garcia-Valdecasas JC. Grande L. Franca A. Bru C. Navasa M. Ayuso MC. Sole M. Real MI. Vilana R. Rimola A. Visa J. Rodes J.
Department of Liver Unit, Institut d'Investigacions Biomediques August Pi i Sunyer, Hospital Clinic, University of Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain.
Tumoral recurrence rate and survival of patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) treated by orthotopic liver transplantation (OLT) depend on tumor stage. Thereby, from the beginning of our program, we selected only patients with solitary tumors < or = 5 cm without vascular invasion, thus avoiding the use of the tumor-node-metastasis (TNM) staging system as a selection tool. The present study reports the results obtained in 58 consecutive patients (52 +/- 8 years, 47 males) with HCC (7 incidentals) transplanted between 1989 and 1995. Transplantation was indicated because of tumor diagnosis in 40 cases and advanced liver failure in 18. Mean tumor size at staging was 28.2 +/- 12.1 mm. No adjuvant treatment was applied during the waiting period (58.9 +/- 45.1 days). The pathological tumor-node-metastasis (pTNM) classification allocated 15 patients to stage I, 19 to stage II, 11 to stage IIIA, and 13 to stage IVA showing preoperative understaging in 43% of the cases with known tumor. After a median follow up of 31 months, only two patients have shown tumor recurrence and fifteen have died, the 1-, 3-, and 5-year survival being 84%, 74%, and 74%. All HCV+ patients remain infected and 94% showed significant liver disease (6 cirrhosis). Six patients have had a second transplant. In conclusion, the application of restrictive criteria not following the TNM staging system prompts excellent results for liver transplantation in patients with HCC, both in terms of survival and disease recurrence, even without applying adjuvant treatment; however, the survival data should be tempered by the appearance of complications that may worsen the long-term prognosis.

Transarterial embolization versus symptomatic treatment in patients with advanced hepatocellular carcinoma: results of a randomized, controlled trial in a single institution.

Year 1998
Bruix J. Llovet JM. Castells A. Montana X. Bru C. Ayuso MC. Vilana R. Rodes J.
Liver Unit, IDIBAPS, Hospital Clinic i Provincial, University of Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain.
This randomized, controlled trial assessed the effect of transarterial embolization (TAE) (without associated chemotherapy) on the survival of patients with nonsurgical hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Eighty consecutive patients were randomized to treatment with embolization (Group A, n = 40), or to symptomatic treatment (Group B, n = 40), there being no differences between both groups regarding the degree of liver function impairment and tumor stage. Eighty-two percent of the patients presented a self-limited postembolization syndrome, without treatment-related mortality. Fifty-five percent of the treated cases exhibited a partial response, which resulted in a lower probability of tumor progression during follow-up (57% vs. 77% at 1 year; P < .005). However, after a median follow-up of 24 months (30 deaths in each group), there are no differences in survival (Group A: 49% and 13%; Group B: 50% and 27%, at 2 and 4 years, respectively; P = .72). The absence of differences was maintained even when dividing patients according to Child-Pugh's grade, Okuda stage, or performance status test (PST). Furthermore, there were no differences in the probability of complications or in the need of hospital admissions. In conclusion, TAE has a marked antitumoral effect associated to a slower growth of the tumor, but it does not improve the survival of patients with nonsurgical HCC.

Analysis of the expression pattern of the latent transforming growth factor beta binding protein isoforms in normal and diseased human liver reveals a new splice variant missing the proteinase-sensitive hinge region.

Year 1998
Michel K. Roth S. Trautwein C. Gong W. Flemming P. Gressner AM.
Department of Clinical Chemistry and Central Laboratory, Philipps University, Marburg, Germany.
Latent transforming growth factor beta binding protein (LTBP), a component of the extracellular matrix (ECM) of various tissues, is important for the secretion of TGF-beta and, furthermore, for the storage of TGF-beta in ECM. The proteolytic cleavage of LTBP is assumed to be the prerequisite for the activation of TGF-beta. We investigated the mRNA expression pattern of the three LTBP isoforms (LTBP-1, -2, -3) and the protein distribution of the components of the large latent TGF-beta complex, namely LTBP-1 and -2, latency-associated protein (LAP), and TGF-beta, in human liver using reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and immunohistochemical alkaline phosphatase anti-alkaline phosphatase (APAAP) staining. Parts of explanted livers diagnosed as hepatitis B, hepatitis C, primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC), and primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) and normal liver tissue were examined. LTBP transcripts were detected in the same manner in all liver specimens. Interestingly, we found a new splice variant of LTBP-1 (LTBP-1D), in which the sequence coding for the proteinase-sensitive hinge region is deleted. The corresponding parts of the human LTBP-2 and LTBP-3 cDNA coding for the hinge region were sequenced and show neither similar proteinase cleavage sites nor deleted cDNA sequences. The proposed proteinase cleavage site of mouse LTBP-3 seems not to be conserved in the human LTBP-3 gene. By immunohistochemistry, LTBP-1, -2, and LAP were detectable in normal and diseased livers and showed a different staining pattern for both LTBP isoforms. By contrast, TGF-beta showed a spotted staining pattern in diseased livers only, predominantly in the area of parenchymal cells that are close to fibrotic tissue. This strongly suggests the release of active TGF-beta from preexisting latent complexes. The LTBP-1D splice variant, which is probably less sensitive against proteolytic degradation and therefore may protect TGF-beta from activation, may have importance for modulating the biological activity of TGF-beta in normal and diseased liver.

Expression of co-stimulatory molecules by Kupffer cells in chronic hepatitis of hepatitis C virus etiology.

Year 1998
Burgio VL. Ballardini G. Artini M. Caratozzolo M. Bianchi FB. Levrero M.
Fondazione Andrea Cesalpino and Instituto di Clinica Medica 1, Universita La Sapienza, Roma, Italy.
In this paper we show that in viral hepatitis most Kupffer cells (KCs) are activated and express high levels of CD80, CD40, and class-II MHC molecules, thus acquiring the phenotype of professional antigen presenting cells (APCs). Activated KCs display a close contact with CD4+ T lymphocytes and form KCs-T lymphocyte clusters. Clusters are found within the sinusoids, across the sinusoid wall, and within the liver parenchyma as well, as a consequence of transendothelial migration (TEM). The positivity of activated KCs for hepatitis C virus (HCV) antigens, which likely reflects phagocytosis of infected hepatocytes, suggests that KCs-T cell clusters represent the morphological expression of the functional interaction between KCs acting as professional APCs and antigen-experienced CD4+ T lymphocytes within the liver. These phenotypic and morphological changes are distinct features of livers in chronic hepatitis patients compared with controls.

Changes in lymph vessels and portal veins in the portal tract of patients with idiopathic portal hypertension: a morphometric study.

Year 1998
Oikawa H. Masuda T. Sato S. Yashima A. Suzuki K. Sato S. Satodate R.
Department of Pathology, School of Medicine, Iwate Medical University, Morioka, Japan.
Little is known about the effects of the pathological process associated with idiopathic portal hypertension (IPH) on hepatic lymph vessels or lymph flow. We used morphometric analysis to examine IPH-associated changes in lymph vessels and branches of the portal vein, with use of immunohistochemical staining for alpha smooth muscle actin. We also quantitated these changes using an image analysis system. The study was conducted with use of liver wedge biopsy material from 10 patients with advanced IPH and 10 control samples from patients with gastric carcinoma without liver disease. The number of lymph vessels, identified by a lack of smooth muscle layer in the wall, and the ratio of the total area of these vessels to that of the portal tract were higher in IPH samples than in the control samples, but the ratio of the area of a single lymph vessel to that of the portal tract in IPH samples was not different from control samples. The number of portal vein branches, characterized by hypertrophy of the smooth muscle layer in IPH samples was not different from control samples. The ratio of the total area of these branches to that of the portal tract, and the ratio of a single portal vein branch to that of the portal tract, were lower in IPH samples than in the control samples. Our results suggest that these morphometric changes in IPH may be associated with a reduction in portal blood flow and increased lymph flow, and that the latter may in turn reduce the high portal vein pressure in idiopathic portal hypertension.

Porphyria cutanea tarda, hepatitis C, and HFE gene mutations in North America.

Year 1998
Bonkovsky HL. Poh-Fitzpatrick M. Pimstone N. Obando J. Di Bisceglie A. Tattrie C. Tortorelli K. LeClair P. Mercurio MG. Lambrecht RW.
University of Massachusetts Medical Center, and Center for Study of Disorders of Iron and Porphyrin Metabolism, Worcester 01655, USA.
In some, but not all countries, porphyria cutanea tarda (PCT) has been associated with chronic infection with the hepatitis C virus (HCV). Recently, PCT has also been associated with mutations in the HFE gene that are associated with HLA-linked hereditary hemochromatosis. Until now, few studies of these associations have been reported from North America. The aims of this study were: 1) to assess the prevalence of HCV infection and HFE mutations in North American patients with PCT; 2) to compare demographic and laboratory features between those who are HCV-positive and HCV-negative; and 3) to study urinary porphyrin excretions in American HCV-positive patients without clinically manifest PCT. Clinical and laboratory data, including tests for HCV and urinary porphyrins, were collected from 70 unselected patients with typical PCT. Urinary porphyrins were also measured in 110 non-PCT patients with chronic hepatitis C. Mutational analyses of the HFE gene were performed in 26 PCT patients. Thirty-nine of 70 (56%) of the PCT patients had evidence of HCV infection. Thirty-two of 39 PCT patients with HCV were men, all of whom used alcohol. In contrast, 22 of 31 PCT patients without HCV infection were women, 12 of whom had taken estrogens. The HCV-positive group was more likely to have used illicit intravenous drugs (45% vs. 0%; P = 0.01), to have had several (>4) sex partners (48% vs. 13%; P = 0.005), and less likely to have no known risk factors for HCV infection (33% vs. 78%; P = 0.004). Total urinary porphyrin excretion was the same in the two groups, but those with HCV infection had a significantly lower percentage of uroporphyrin and higher percentages of hepta-and hexa-carboxy porphyrins in urine. Sixteen of 110 (15%) HCV-positive subjects without PCT had increased urinary porphyrins, but, unlike PCT, these were mainly coproporphyrin. Forty-two percent of PCT patients carried the C282Y mutation of HFE (15% homozygous), and another 31% carried the H63D mutation (8% homozygous). Thus, 73% of PCT patients had one of these mutations. The prevalence of HCV infection (56%) and mutations in the HFE gene (73%) are high among North American patients with PCT. Alcohol and estrogen use are important additional risk factors. All PCT patients should be tested for HCV infection and for HFE gene mutations. Although HCV infection is a trigger for PCT, preclinical PCT is rare in chronic HCV hepatitis C in the United States.

Identification and characterization of mutations in hepatitis B virus resistant to lamivudine. Lamivudine Clinical Investigation Group.

Year 1998
Allen MI. Deslauriers M. Andrews CW. Tipples GA. Walters KA. Tyrrell DL. Brown N. Condreay LD.
Department of Virology, Glaxo Wellcome Inc., Research Triangle Park, NC 27709-3398, USA.
Cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma occur as long-term complications of chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection. Antiviral therapy is potentially a successful approach for the treatment of patients with HBV infection, which includes the nucleoside analog, lamivudine [(-)2'-deoxy-3'-thiacytidine, 3TC]. Although resistance to lamivudine therapy has been reported in several HBV-infected patients, the pattern of resistance-associated mutations in HBV has not been fully characterized. We report a DNA sequence database that includes a 500-base pair region of the HBV polymerase gene from 20 patients with clinical manifestations of lamivudine resistance. Analysis of the database reveals two patterns of amino acid substitutions in the tyrosine, methionine, aspartate, aspartate (YMDD) nucleotide-binding locus of the HBV polymerase. HBV DNA from the sera of patients in Group I exhibits a substitution of valine for methionine at residue 552, accompanied by a substitution of methionine for leucine at residue 528. Patients in Group II had only an isoleucine-for-methionine substitution at position 552. Reconstruction of these mutations in an HBV replication-competent plasmid was performed in a transient transfection cell assay to determine the function/relevance of these mutations to lamivudine resistance. Both Group I and Group II mutations resulted in a substantial decrease in sensitivity to lamivudine treatment (> 10,000-fold shift in IC50 over wild-type [wt] IC50), strongly indicating that these mutations were involved in resistance to lamivudine. A hypothetical model of the HBV reverse transcriptase has been generated for further study of the role of these mutations in lamivudine resistance.

Dynamics of hypervariable region 1 variation in hepatitis C virus infection and correlation with clinical and virological features of liver disease.

Year 1998
Brambilla S. Bellati G. Asti M. Lisa A. Candusso ME. D'Amico M. Grassi G. Giacca M. Franchini A. Bruno S. Ideo G. Mondelli MU. Silini EM.
Department of Pathology, Universita and IRCCS Policlinico San Matteo, Pavia, Italy.
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is a dynamic process during which molecular variants are continuously selected as the result of virus adaptation to the host. Understanding the nature of HCV genetic variation is central to current theories of pathogenesis and immune response. We prospectively studied hypervariable region 1 (HVR1) variation in the E2 gene of 36 hepatitis C patients, including 10 asymptomatic carriers, followed up for 1 to 2 years. Sequence changes in single and consecutive serum samples were assessed and correlated with clinical and virological parameters of liver disease. A region of the E1 gene was sequenced for comparison in 3 subjects. HVR1 heterogeneity at single time points widely varied in individual patients, did not increase cumulatively over the follow-up period, and did not correlate with HVR1 evolutionary rates. Conversely, the process of HVR1 sequence diversification, although differed considerably among patients, was stable over time and directly correlated with infections by HCV type 2, lower alanine aminotransferase (ALT) levels, and absence of cirrhosis. HCV carriers showed the highest HVR1 variation rates. Our findings indicate that HVR1 variation has an adaptive significance and is associated with favorable features of liver disease and suggest that prospective, rather than static, observations are required to model the process of HCV variation.

Heterozygosity for hereditary hemochromatosis is associated with more fibrosis in chronic hepatitis C.

Year 1998
Smith BC. Gorve J. Guzail MA. Day CP. Daly AK. Burt AD. Bassendine MF.
Centre for Liver Research, University of Newcastle upon Tyne, England, UK.
Hepatic iron has been associated with more aggressive liver disease in chronic viral hepatitis. We evaluated whether the recently described C282Y mutation of the hemochromatosis gene, designated HFE (responsible for at least 83% of hereditary hemochromatosis), was associated with more advanced liver disease in chronic hepatitis C. One hundred thirty-seven patients with biopsy-proven chronic hepatitis C were studied and liver biopsies scored for necroinflammation (grade 0-18) and fibrosis (stage 0-6). Genomic DNA was amplified by polymerase chain reaction and the C282Y mutation identified by restriction with RsaI and electrophoretic separation of restriction fragments. Ten (7.3%) patients had the C282Y mutation. No C282Y homozygous patients were identified. Age, sex distribution, and estimated weekly alcohol consumption were not significantly different between those with and without the mutation. Serum ferritin was higher in the heterozygotes (mean, 339 microg/L) compared with homozygous wild types (153 microg/L; P = .0005). In the majority of patients, liver iron was graded 0 out of 4, but hepatocyte iron staining was more commonly present in heterozygotes compared with homozygous normals (30% compared with 4% [P = .02]). Liver disease was more advanced in those with the mutant allele (mean fibrosis stage: 3.6, compared with wild type: 1.5 [P = .01]). Cirrhosis was found more often in those with the mutation (40%) compared with those without (8.7%) (P = .01; odds ratio: 7.6 [1.9-31.2]). There was no significant difference in inflammation scores between heterozygotes and wild type (mean, 5.4 compared with 4.1). Hepatitis C virus (HCV)-RNA titers were measured by branched DNA assay (HCV RNA 2.0-Chiron), and there was no difference between heterozygous and homozygous normal patients. Thus, despite relatively minor increases in iron stores, individuals who are heterozygous for hemochromatosis appear to develop more fibrosis in chronic hepatitis C. Venesection may be useful therapy in this subgroup.

What strategy should be used for diagnosis of hepatitis C virus infection in clinical laboratories?

Year 1998
Pawlotsky JM. Lonjon I. Hezode C. Raynard B. Darthuy F. Remire J. Soussy CJ. Dhumeaux D.
Department of Bacteriology and Virology, INSERM U99, Hopital Henri Mondor, Universite Paris XII, Creteil, France.
The aim of this study was to determine a cost-effective strategy for the diagnosis of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection in clinical laboratories. Anti-HCV antibodies were sought in 3,014 consecutive unselected samples with two different enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA). An immunoblot-based confirmatory assay (RIBA3.0) was performed in the samples with at least one ELISA positive or weakly positive. HCV RNA was evaluated using HCV polymerase chain reaction (PCR) in the samples with a weakly positive ELISA, discrepant results of the two ELISAs, or an indeterminate RIBA3.0 pattern. The two ELISAs gave concordant results in 2,957 (98.1%) of the 3,014 samples (negative in 87.9%, positive in 11.8%, and weakly positive in 0.3%), and discrepant results in 57 (1.9%). RIBA3.0 was positive in 338 of the 350 ELISA-positive samples (96.6%) and indeterminate in 12. Six of them were PCR-positive. Among the 8 weakly positive samples, 1 was RIBA3.0-positive, 6 were RIBA3.0-indeterminate, and 1 was RIBA3.0-negative; all were PCR-negative. Among the 57 samples with discrepant ELISA results, 4 were RIBA3.0-positive (none were PCR-positive), 22 were RIBA3.0-indeterminate (1 was PCR-positive), and 31 were RIBA3.0-negative (6 were PCR-positive). In these cases, the clinical context and PCR detection of HCV RNA allowed for definitive classification. In conclusion, one single ELISA determination is necessary for diagnosis of HCV infection in clinical laboratories, and confirmation of positive or weakly positive ELISAs with immunoblot-based confirmatory assays is no longer needed. HCV-RNA detection by PCR helps to resolve weakly positive or negative ELISA results when the clinical context is compatible with hepatitis C.

Broadly reactive antibodies to hypervariable region 1 in hepatitis C virus-infected patient sera: relation to viral loads and response to interferon.

Year 1998
Hattori M. Yoshioka K. Aiyama T. Iwata K. Terazawa Y. Ishigami M. Yano M. Kakumu S.
Third Department of Internal Medicine, Nagoya University School of Medicine, Japan.
To clarify the nature of serum anti-hypervariable region 1 (HVR1) antibodies in patients infected with hepatitis C virus (HCV), we assessed the reactivity of 21 patients' sera with 42 HVR1 proteins by Western blot. HVR1 was expressed as fusion proteins with glutathione S-transferase (GST). The patients' sera reacted with variable percentages of the HVR1 proteins, and always reacted with HVR1 proteins of the different genotype. In the genotype-1b-infected patients, the percentage of genotype-1b HVR1 proteins reactive with serum correlated significantly with viral loads; the sera reactive with the higher percentages of HVR1 proteins contained the larger viral loads. In addition, it was significantly lower in the responders of interferon (IFN) therapy than in nonresponders. The competition assays indicated that multiple fractions of anti-HVR1 antibodies with different specificity in a serum reacted with different HVR1 proteins, and that, additionally, a single fraction of antibodies often reacted with more than one HVR1 protein through a similar amino acid sequence. In conclusion, serum anti-HVR1 antibodies were broadly reactive by the mechanism of both the cross-reactivity of a single fraction of anti-HVR1 antibodies with more than one HVR1 protein and the presence of multiple fractions of anti-HVR1 antibodies with different specificity in a serum. In genotype-1b-infected patients, the broad reactivity of serum anti-HVR1 antibodies correlated with viral loads and response to IFN. Further studies are necessary to elucidate the correlation among the broad reactivity of sera with multiple HVR1 proteins and clinical features of chronic hepatitis C patients.

Emergence and takeover of YMDD motif mutant hepatitis B virus during long-term lamivudine therapy and re-takeover by wild type after cessation of therapy.

Year 1998
Chayama K. Suzuki Y. Kobayashi M. Kobayashi M. Tsubota A. Hashimoto M. Miyano Y. Koike H. Kobayashi M. Koida I. Arase Y. Saitoh S. Murashima N. Ikeda K. Kumada H.
Department of Gastroenterology, Toranomon Hospital, Okinaka, Memorial Institute for Medical Research, Tokyo, Japan.
Treatment of hepatitis B virus (HBV) with lamivudine is effective in suppressing virus replication and results in reduced inflammatory activity. However, the emergence of lamivudine-resistant mutant virus, with amino acid substitution in the YMDD motif of DNA polymerase, has been reported. We report the emergence and takeover of YMDD mutant and re-takeover by wild type during and after long-term lamivudine therapy. YMDD mutants were detected in five patients who showed DNA breakthrough (HBV DNA becoming detectable after a period of DNA negativity), which occurred after 9 to 14 months of lamivudine therapy. Four of five mutants had amino acid sequence YIDD, and the remaining mutant had YVDD. Patients with high HBV-DNA titer and/or hepatitis B e antigen tended to develop breakthrough (P = .038). Using a sensitive and specific polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based method developed in this study, the emergence of YMDD mutants was detected 1 to 4 months before DNA breakthrough, but not detected in any of the pretreatment sera. The mutants were predominant at breakthrough, but were replaced by wild-type virus 3 to 4 months after cessation of therapy in the two patients who discontinued therapy. One of these patients had a relapse of hepatitis. Mutant continued to replicate in the remaining three patients who continued to receive treatment, and relapse occurred in only one of these patients. Our results suggest that the replication of YMDD mutant viruses is less than wild type and is re-overtaken by wild type after cessation of therapy. Re-administration of lamivudine, possibly combined with other antiviral therapy, might be useful in some patients experiencing hepatitis with lamivudine-resistant variants.

Effect of alcohol consumption on serum hepatitis C virus RNA and histological lesions in chronic hepatitis C.

Year 1998
Pessione F. Degos F. Marcellin P. Duchatelle V. Njapoum C. Martinot-Peignoux M. Degott C. Valla D. Erlinger S. Rueff B.
Service d'Hepatologie, Unite de Recherches de Physiopathologie Hepatique (INSERM U24), Hopital Beaujon, Assistance Publique-Hopitaux de Paris, Clichy, France.
The role of alcohol intake in the occurrence of severe liver disease in chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) carriers is still debated. A cross-sectional study has been conducted in 233 chronic hepatitis C virus carriers. Weekly self-reported alcohol consumption (SRAC) was evaluated, serum HCV RNA levels were measured by a branched DNA technique (Quantiplex 2.0) and HCV genotypes were determined. A liver biopsy was performed simultaneously and liver lesions were graded with the Knodell histological activity index. Data were examined by uni- and multivariate analyses. Alcohol consumption was relatively low (< 140 g/per week in 193/233 patients [80%]). We found a highly significant correlation between SRAC and serum HCV RNA levels (r = .26, P = .001). Fibrosis was significantly correlated with age and alcohol consumption. These results suggest that in HCV carriers, alcohol consumption, even with low alcohol intake, increases viremia and hepatic fibrosis. Chronic HCV carriers should be advised to avoid regular alcohol intake.

Hepatitis D viremia following orthotopic liver transplantation involves a typical HDV virion with a hepatitis B surface antigen envelope.

Year 1998
Smedile A. Casey JL. Cote PJ. Durazzo M. Lavezzo B. Purcell RH. Rizzetto M. Gerin JL.
Division of Molecular Virology and Immunology, Georgetown University Medical Center, Rockville, MD 20852, USA.
Patients receiving orthotopic liver transplantation (OLT) because of type D hepatitis frequently exhibit what appears to be an autonomous, or "isolated," hepatitis D virus (HDV) infection following the transplantation, with no evidence of hepatitis B virus (HBV) in the graft or in the serum. These observations have led to the hypothesis that HBV might not always be required for HDV infection, or that HDV could exist as a latent infection until rescued by HBV. Alternatively, an apparently autonomous HDV infection could be explained by coinfection of a small number of hepatocytes with both viruses following transplantation, with a very low level of HBV expression that supports low-level HDV propagation. Our results are consistent with the latter hypothesis. Sensitive polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based analysis of HBV and HDV viremia in transplantation patients with HDV infection previously characterized as isolated showed that HDV viremia was not independent of HBV viremia. Additional analyses, including PCR amplification, buoyant density analysis in a CsCl gradient, and immunoprecipitation with monoclonal hepatitis B surface antigen antibodies (anti-HBs), indicated that the posttransplant HDV particle is typical: it contains full-length HDV RNA and an envelope of hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) and is not different from that found during the acute and chronic stages of HDV superinfection or coinfection. Moreover, an experimental test of the first hypothesis in chimpanzees did not support the idea that HDV can persist for several weeks as an isolated, latent infection that can be rescued subsequently by HBV. The data indicate, therefore, that latent HDV infection is not a factor in OLT recipients. We conclude that the HDV virion in the posttransplantation setting is typical, and that HDV viremia following OLT requires the helper function of HBV infection.

Role of alcohol in the progression of liver disease caused by hepatitis C virus infection.

Year 1998
Ostapowicz G. Watson KJ. Locarnini SA. Desmond PV.
Department of Gastroenterology, St. Vincent's Hospital, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.
In patients with chronic hepatitis C, alcohol consumption has been proposed as a risk factor for the progression of liver disease; however, evidence for this remains conflicting. Two hundred thirty-four anti-hepatitis C virus (HCV)-positive patients who had a liver biopsy performed within the past 24 months were studied. Demographic data and information on risk factors were recorded. A detailed lifetime alcohol consumption history was obtained. Viral studies included HCV viral titer and HCV genotype. Mean age (+/- SEM) of the group was 40.8 +/- 0.7 years. One hundred sixty-six (71%) were male. A risk factor for HCV infection was found in 195 patients (86%). Genotype distribution was: 1b: 22%; 1a: 15%; 1(nonsubtypable): 15%; 3a: 34%; and 2: 7%. Fifty (21%) patients had cirrhosis. Patients with cirrhosis were older (51.6 +/- 1.8 years) than those with chronic hepatitis (37.6 +/- 0.6 years; P = .0001), were infected at an older age (25.9 +/- 2.0 vs. 20.9 +/- 0.6 years; P = .001), and had a longer duration of infection (20.5 +/- 1.3 vs. 16.2 +/- 0.5 years; P = .0008). Patients with cirrhosis had a greater total lifetime alcohol consumption (288,765 +/- 58,115 g) than those with chronic hepatitis (189,941 +/- 15,453 g; P = .018). Cirrhotic patients also had greater total alcohol consumption during the period of infection with HCV (240,962 +/- 63,756 g vs. 146,510 +/- 12,862 g; P = .02). On multivariate analysis, subject age and total alcohol consumption were independently associated with the presence of cirrhosis. Total lifetime alcohol consumption is a risk factor for the progression of liver disease caused by HCV.

Molecular basis for persistent hepatitis B virus infection in the liver after clearance of serum hepatitis B surface antigen.

Year 1998
Mason AL. Xu L. Guo L. Kuhns M. Perrillo RP.
Section of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Ochsner Medical Institutions, New Orleans, LA 70121, USA.
Hepatitis B virus (HBV) DNA has been detected by polymerase chain reaction (PCR) in the liver of patients with resolved chronic HBV infection and sustained clearance of hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) from serum. However, it is unknown whether the virus is transcriptionally active at this time or if the covalently closed circular (CCC) replicative intermediate of HBV DNA can still be detected. Therefore, hepatic nucleic acid extracts from seven patients who had cleared serum HBsAg were assessed by (PCR) for either reverse-transcribed HBV RNA, or an intact direct repeat region of the HBV genome indicative of the CCC replicative intermediate of HBV DNA. HBV transcripts were detected in four of seven patients in the study group, whereas an intact direct repeat region of the HBV genome was detected in three. Evidence for viral transcription and replication was more frequently detected in patients who had recently cleared serum HBsAg, but HBV RNA was also detected in one patient 5 years after HBsAg clearance, and an intact direct repeat region of HBV DNA was detected in another subject at nearly 4 years after resolution of disease. Therefore, hepatic HBV transcription may be associated with replicative intermediates of persistent HBV DNA in patients who have cleared HBsAg from serum, suggesting that, on occasion, HBV may not be in a latent state but undergoing low-level replication.

Decreased muscle strength in patients with alcoholic liver cirrhosis in relation to nutritional status, alcohol abstinence, liver function, and neuropathy.

Year 1998
Andersen H. Borre M. Jakobsen J. Andersen PH. Vilstrup H.
Department of Neurology, Aarhus University Hospital, Denmark.
To study motor function quantitatively in alcoholic liver cirrhosis muscle strength, liver function, peripheral nerve function, and nutrition were assessed in 24 patients. Isokinetic strength of flexion and extension at elbow, wrist, hip, knee, and ankle and of shoulder abduction and adduction was evaluated and compared with findings in 24 matched healthy subjects. Degree of liver disease was assessed with the Child-Pugh score and the galactose elimination capacity (GEC). Nutritional status was evaluated with an estimation of lean body mass (LBM) from 24-hour urinary creatinine excretions. Peripheral nerve function was evaluated with neurological symptom and disability scores, nerve conduction studies, and quantitative sensory tests summed to obtain a neuropathy rank-sum score (NRSS) for each patient. Combined muscle strength at hip, knee, ankle, shoulder, elbow, and wrist were weakened with 34% (P < .005), 35% (P < .001), 35% (P < .01), 34% (P < .01), 29% (P < .01), and 29% (P < .02), respectively. The median Child-Pugh score was 7 (range, 5-12), and the median duration of alcohol abstinence was 90 days (range, 5-960 days). After multiple linear regression analysis including LBM, Child-Pugh score, GEC, duration of alcohol abstinence, and NRSS, only LBM was correlated to the strength at the knee (r=.79; P < .0001) and at the ankle (r=.63; P < .01). It is concluded that muscle strength is weakened substantially in alcoholic patients with liver cirrhosis and that weakness is related to the severity of malnutrition but not to the severity of liver disease, duration of alcohol abstinence, or neuropathy.

Bacterial infection is independently associated with failure to control bleeding in cirrhotic patients with gastrointestinal hemorrhage.

Year 1998
Goulis J. Armonis A. Patch D. Sabin C. Greenslade L. Burroughs AK.
Liver Transplantation and Hepatobiliary Medicine Unit, Royal Free Hospital and School of Medicine, London, England, UK.
Bacterial infection is frequently diagnosed in cirrhotic patients with variceal hemorrhage. The aim of this study was to assess the incidence of failure to control bleeding in cirrhotic patients during the first 5 days after the episode of variceal bleeding in relation to the diagnosis of bacterial infection and use of antibiotics. One hundred seventy-seven consecutive admissions for gastrointestinal bleeding in 151 patients were evaluated prospectively. From them, 163 admissions for variceal bleeding in 137 patients were included in the main analysis. Bleeding was managed in a standardized protocol using octreotide or terlipressin with sclerotherapy or band ligation for active bleeding at endoscopy. The end points were defined as in Baveno guidelines related to transfusion requirement or fresh hematemesis after 6 hours from time zero. The standardized screening protocol for bacterial infection consisted of chest radiograph and blood, urine, and ascitic fluid cultures. Active bleeding was reported at endoscopy in 86 admissions (53%). Failure to control bleeding occurred in 76 patient admissions (47%). Empirical antibiotic treatment was used in 113 admissions (69%), whereas in 81% of them (91 admissions, 56%) 102 bacterial infections were documented. Multivariate analysis showed that proven bacterial infection (P < .0001) or antibiotic use (P < .003) as well as active bleeding at endoscopy (P < .001) and Child-Pugh score (P < .02) were independent prognostic factors of failure to control bleeding. The results remained unchanged when all patient admissions with gastrointestinal bleeding of any source were included in the multivariate analysis. Bacterial infection is associated with failure to control variceal bleeding and needs to be evaluated in the planning and analysis of clinical trials.

Factors associated with serum alanine transaminase activity in healthy subjects: consequences for the definition of normal values, for selection of blood donors, and for patients with chronic hepatitis C. MULTIVIRC Group.

Year 1998
Piton A. Poynard T. Imbert-Bismut F. Khalil L. Delattre J. Pelissier E. Sansonetti N. Opolon P.
No information.
In clinical research, the definition of the upper limit of normal (ULN) alanine transaminase (ALT) is never detailed. However, such a definition can vary and may have practical consequences. Our aim was to assess factors associated with serum ALT activity in apparently healthy subjects and then to apply seven different definitions of ULN in three different populations so as to assess the prevalence of subjects with normal ALT among blood donors and among hepatitis C patients before (normal ALT hepatitis C patients) and after treatment (interferon [IFN] responders). ALT measurements were performed in the same laboratory using the same technique; 1,033 donors were prospectively investigated, 186 patients with hepatitis C never treated and 40 patients treated with 3 MU three times per week of IFN-alpha for at least 6 months. The seven definitions (D) of ULN were: D1: 95th percentile of ALT; D2: 95th percentile after separating males and females; D3: males and females separately, ULN=10 (mean of log10 ALT + 1.96 SD); D4: ULN=45 IU/L given by the manufacturer; D5: mean + 1 SD after exclusion of the 5% extreme values; D6: 95th percentile after separating subjects with body mass index (BMI) under or equal to the median (23); and D7: 95th percentile after separating subjects according to BMI and sex. BMI and male sex were independently associated (P < .0001; logistic regression) with ALT, without an association with alcohol. The range of ULN varied from 26 IU/L in females (D5) to 66 IU/L in males with BMI >23 (D7). Depending on the definition, the prevalence of blood donors with normal ALT varied from 82% to 96%, i.e., a range of 14%; that of hepatitis C patients with normal ALT varied from 16% to 27%, i.e., a range of 11%; the prevalence of IFN responders varied from 25% to 42%, i.e., a range of 17%. Definitions of normal ALT values should be adjusted for sex and BMI to reduce artificial heterogeneity in blood donor selection and in hepatitis C clinical studies.

Cost-effectiveness of ultrasound-guided liver biopsy.

Year 1998
Pasha T. Gabriel S. Therneau T. Dickson ER. Lindor KD.
Division of Gastroenterology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN 55905, USA.
The risk of a major complication from "blind" percutaneous liver biopsy is reported to be in the range of 0.24% to 3.8%. In a recent randomized trial, patients whose liver biopsies were performed with ultrasonography had a significant reduction in complications requiring hospitalization compared with patients without ultrasound-guided biopsies (0.5% vs. 2.2%, P < .05). Despite this, routine use of ultrasonography for liver biopsies has not been implemented because of controversies with respect to cost-effectiveness. The aim of our study was to analyze the relative cost-effectiveness of performing ultrasound-guided liver biopsies using decision analysis. A decision tree was constructed to compare a strategy of liver biopsy using ultrasonography with a strategy without ultrasonography. The major outcomes included were minor complications such as pain requiring analgesics and major complications, which require hospitalization. Costs included were direct medical costs from the payer's perspective. In our baseline model, the cost from complications per patient with and without ultrasonography was $62 and $129, respectively. The marginal effectiveness expressed as the number of major complications avoided was 1.2/100 liver biopsies. The incremental cost to avoid one major complication was $2,731. The model was most sensitive to the frequency of major complications and the additional cost of ultrasonography. Our decision analysis model suggests that ultrasound-guided liver biopsy is cost-effective. Future studies assessing the efficacy of image-guided liver biopsies should be conducted.

Tumor necrosis factor and interleukin-6 in spontaneous bacterial peritonitis in cirrhosis: relationship with the development of renal impairment and mortality.

Year 1998
Navasa M. Follo A. Filella X. Jimenez W. Francitorra A. Planas R. Rimola A. Arroyo V. Rodes J.
Department of Internal Medicine, Hospital Clinic i Provincial, University of Barcelona, Spain.
Spontaneous bacterial peritonitis (SBP) is associated with an important production of inflammatory mediators. However, it is unknown whether there is a relationship between the abdominal production of these mediators and the development of renal impairment, one of the most important prognostic parameters in spontaneous bacterial peritonitis. We studied 52 cirrhotic patients at diagnosis and resolution of the infection, by measuring endotoxin, tumor necrosis factor (TNF), and interleukin-6 (IL-6) levels in plasma and ascitic fluid. Thirteen patients (25%) developed renal impairment. Patients developing renal impairment showed significantly higher plasma and ascitic fluid cytokine levels at diagnosis of infection than patients who did not (plasma TNF-alpha: 96.0+/-38.7 vs. 39.1+/-3.6 pg/mL, P=.0209; ascitic fluid TNF-alpha: 474.5+/-118.1 vs. 160.8+/-42.7 pg/mL, P=.0173; plasma IL-6: 6,635+/-2,897 vs. 458+/-109 pg/mL, P=.0004; ascitic fluid IL-6: 182,559+/-47,328 vs. 39,250+/-10,803 pg/mL, P=.0001). Independent predictors of development of renal impairment at diagnosis were: renal failure (blood urea nitrogen > 30 mg/dL or serum creatinine > 1.5 mg/dL) (P < .001), IL-6 levels in ascitic fluid (P < .001), and mean arterial pressure (P < .05). Ten of the 13 (77%) patients who developed renal impairment died during hospitalization, but only 2 of the 39 (5%) patients who did not (P=.0001). In addition, renal failure at diagnosis of the infection was the only independent predictor of hospital mortality (P < .001). In conclusion, the inflammatory response to the infection may be an important mechanism of renal impairment and the associated mortality in SBP.

Loss of butyrate-induced apoptosis in human hepatoma cell lines HCC-M and HCC-T having substantial Bcl-2 expression.

Year 1998
Saito H. Ebinuma H. Takahashi M. Kaneko F. Wakabayashi K. Nakamura M. Ishii H.
Department of Internal Medicine, School of Medicine, Keio University, Tokyo, Japan.
We have demonstrated that sodium butyrate induces differentiation in human hepatoma cells; however, recent studies have shown that this agent causes apoptosis in some types of cancer cells. In this study, we examined whether sodium butyrate causes apoptosis in the human hepatoma cell lines, HCC-M and HCC-T. The growth of human hepatoma cells was dose-dependently reduced by sodium butyrate. Flow cytometric analysis showed cell-cycle arrest at the G1 phase in the sodium butyrate-treated cells. Apoptotic change was never found in treated cells at concentration levels of less than 5 mmol/L. Sodium butyrate decreased p53 expression and increased p21WAF-1 expression in HCC-T and HCC-M cells having the wild-type p53 gene. Western blot analysis showed that Bcl-2 was expressed in the HCC-T and HCC-M cells, and its expression was increased after exposure to sodium butyrate. Antisense oligodeoxynucleotide against bcl-2 easily caused apoptosis. These results indicate that sodium butyrate hardly induces apoptotic change in the human hepatoma cell lines, HCC-T and HCC-M, with the increase of Bcl-2 expression. Cell-cycle arrest in the G1 phase caused by sodium butyrate was suggested to be induced by the increase in p21WAF-1 expression, but this change did not link with the p53 increase.

pp60c-src activation in hepatocellular carcinoma of humans and LEC rats.

Year 1998
Masaki T. Okada M. Shiratori Y. Rengifo W. Matsumoto K. Maeda S. Kato N. Kanai F. Komatsu Y. Nishioka M. Omata M.
Second Department of Internal Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Tokyo, Japan.
For the related Src kinases, a close correlation exists between elevated tyrosine kinase activity and cell transformation. However, the involvement of pp60c-src in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) remains obscure. The aim of this study was to evaluate whether pp60c-src tyrosine kinase activity is elevated in HCC. We analyzed the kinase activity of pp60c-src in normal liver tissue, chronic hepatitis liver tissue, and tumorous and adjacent nontumorous portions of HCC tissue from patients and Long-Evans cinnamon (LEC) rats that are known to develop liver cancer spontaneously. The kinase activity of pp60c-src was rarely detected in the normal human liver tissue and chronic hepatitis liver tissue, but it was elevated in tumorous and nontumorous portions of HCC tissue. Furthermore, the kinase activity of pp60c-src was significantly elevated in tumorous tissues compared with nontumorous tissues. The kinase activity of pp60c-src was also higher in poorly differentiated HCC. In addition, the kinase activity of pp60c-src increased proportionately with the development of HCC of LEC rats. Our results suggest that activation of the protooncogene product pp60c-src may play an important role in the malignant transformation of hepatocytes in human and LEC rats, and that it may be closely related to the histopathological grading of human HCC.

The effect of N-acetylcysteine on oxygen transport and uptake in patients with fulminant hepatic failure.

Year 1998
Walsh TS. Hopton P. Philips BJ. Mackenzie SJ. Lee A.
Department of Anaesthetics, Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, Scotland.
We have investigated the effect of N-acetylcysteine on hemodynamic variables, oxygen delivery (DO2), oxygen consumption (VO2), and oxygen extraction in patients with fulminant hepatic failure using independent methods of determining DO2 and VO2, thereby eliminating the effect of mathematical coupling, which may have biased previous studies. In 11 patients with severe fulminant hepatic failure, we documented the hemodynamic effects of N-acetylcysteine during the first 5 hours of a standard infusion regime and simultaneously measured VO2 using a method based on respiratory gas analysis. We related physiological changes to plasma N-acetylcysteine concentrations, and compared this group with 7 patients who received placebo infusions. A variable hemodynamic response to N-acetylcysteine was observed that did not differ significantly in comparison with the placebo group, and did not correlate with plasma drug concentrations. The most significant relationship observed between DO2 and VO2 in any patient predicted a 13-mL x min(-1) x m(-2) increase in VO2 when DO2 increased by 100 mL x min(-1) x m(-2); in 8 patients, VO2 was independent of DO2 over the range observed. In the group that received N-acetylcysteine, a small (mean 6 [SD 6] mL x min(-1) x m[-2]) increase in VO2 occurred in comparison with baseline after 1 hour of infusion (P < .01), but changes were not significantly different from the placebo group and were not sustained. N-Acetylcysteine infusion did not increase oxygen extraction or result in an improvement in whole-blood lactate levels or base excess during the study period. We conclude that N-acetylcysteine infusion does not result in clinically relevant improvements in global VO2, or in clinical markers of tissue hypoxia in patients with severe fulminant hepatic failure.

Persistent viremia after recovery from self-limited acute hepatitis B.

Year 1998
Yotsuyanagi H. Yasuda K. Iino S. Moriya K. Shintani Y. Fujie H. Tsutsumi T. Kimura S. Koike K.
First Department of Internal Medicine, University of Tokyo, Japan.
To define the duration of viremia in the course of acute hepatitis B, we semiquantitatively determined the levels of hepatitis B virus (HBV) DNA in the sera, using polymerase chain reaction (PCR) coupled with Southern blotting, of non-immunocompromised patients with self-limited acute hepatitis B. In the sera of 10 of 11 patients, HBV DNA, which was presumably coated with viral proteins, was detected for a long period after recovery, even at the final observation times, which ranged from 6 to 19 months after disease onset. To characterize the mode of HBV that was present in serum, we immunoprecipitated immune complexes in sera by the addition of anti-human immunoglobulin G (IgG) and determined the levels of HBV DNA separately in the supernatants and pellets. In the acute phase of hepatitis B, high levels of HBV DNA were detected both in the supernatants and pellets at comparative levels. After the convalescent phase, the amount of HBV DNA in the supernatant decreased with respect to that in the pellets. It is notable that, in most cases, serum HBV persisted as a form of immune complex even after the seroconversion to antibody to hepatitis B surface antigen (anti-HBs). These data suggest that the replication of HBV may persist in some organs, most likely in the liver or peripheral blood cells, for a long period after recovery from acute hepatitis B, and the data indicate the possible transmission of HBV from organ transplantation donors who exhibit serological markers of past infection only.

Efficacy of thymosin alpha1 in patients with chronic hepatitis B: a randomized, controlled trial.

Year 1998
Chien RN. Liaw YF. Chen TC. Yeh CT. Sheen IS.
Liver Research Unit, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital, Chang Gung University, Taipei, Taiwan.
Thymosin alpha1 (Talpha) is an immune modifier that has been shown in a pilot study to be effective for chronic hepatitis B; this requires confirmation. Ninety-eight patients with clinicopathologically proven chronic hepatitis B were randomly allocated to 3 groups: 1) group A received a 26-week course of Talpha with a 1.6-mg subcutaneous injection two times a week (T6 group); 2) group B received the same regimen as group A, but Talpha therapy extended for 52 weeks (T12 group); and 3) group C served as a control group and was followed up for 18 months without specific treatment (T0 group). The three groups were comparable in clinicohistological features at entry. The complete virological response rate (clearance of serum hepatitis B virus [HBV] DNA and hepatitis B e antigen [HBeAg]) was higher in group A (40.6%) and group B (26.5%) than in group C (9.4%) (group A vs. group C: P=.004; group B vs. group C: P=.068) when assessed 18 months after entry, although complete response rates among these three groups were similar when first assessed at the end of therapy. There was a trend for complete virological response to increase or accumulate gradually after the end of Talpha therapy. None of the responders lost hepatitis B surface antigen. Blinded histological assessment showed a significant improvement in treated patients, particularly in lobular necroinflammation and scores excluding fibrosis. No significant side effects were observed. These results suggest that a 26-week course of Talpha therapy is effective and safe in patients with chronic hepatitis B.

Characteristics of patients with hepatitis C virus with and without GB virus C/hepatitis G virus co-infection and efficacy of interferon alfa.

Year 1998
Enomoto M. Nishiguchi S. Fukuda K. Kuroki T. Tanaka M. Otani S. Ogami M. Monna T.
Department of Public Health, Osaka City University Medical School, Osaka, Japan.
GB virus C/hepatitis G virus (GBV-C/HGV) infection seems to be common among patients with hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. We studied retrospectively the proportions of patients with GBV-C/HGV RNA and antibodies to the GBV-C/HGV second envelope protein (anti-E2) among 149 subjects with chronic hepatitis C who had received interferon alfa. The clinical characteristics of patients with GBV-C/HGV RNA or anti-E2 were examined, as was the efficacy of the treatment. Stored serum specimens were tested for GBV-C/HGV RNA by the reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction and for anti-E2 by an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Of the 149 patients before therapy, 8 (5%) had GBV-C/HGV RNA only, 72 (48%) had anti-E2 only, and 4 (3%) had both. The mean age of patients with GBV-C/HGV RNA (some with anti-E2) was significantly less than that of patients with anti-E2 only. Results of laboratory and histological evaluations were not different depending on the presence of GBV-C/HGV RNA or anti-E2. The GBV-C/HGV RNA titer decreased during therapy in all 12 patients with GBV-C/HGV RNA; only 4, with a low titer before therapy and with anti-E2 detected at some time, had sustained clearance of GBV-C/HGV. Our results suggested that half of the patients with chronic hepatitis C had been exposed to GBV-C/HGV, but in almost all, the virus had been cleared; also, even chronic GBV-C/HGV infection did not affect the severity of the disease arising from HCV. Interferon alfa treatment was sometimes effective against GBV-C/HGV, and anti-E2 may be associated with clearance of GBV-C/HGV.

Risk factors for hepatocellular carcinoma and its incidence after interferon treatment in patients with chronic hepatitis C. Osaka Liver Disease Study Group.

Year 1998
Kasahara A. Hayashi N. Mochizuki K. Takayanagi M. Yoshioka K. Kakumu S. Iijima A. Urushihara A. Kiyosawa K. Okuda M. Hino K. Okita K.
First Department of Medicine, Osaka University School of Medicine, Suita City, Japan.
To elucidate the risk factors for liver carcinogenesis and to examine the incidence of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) after interferon therapy, 1,022 chronic hepatitis C patients treated with interferon were followed by ultrasonography for 13 to 97 months (median 36 months). Sustained response with prolonged alanine aminotransferase normalization was found in 313 patients, transient response with alanine aminotransferase relapse after therapy in 304, and no response in 405. Forty-six developed HCC, of whom 5 were sustained responders, 9 were transient responders, and 32 were nonresponders. The cumulative incidence of HCC in transient responders was almost equal to that in sustained responders, and it was significantly higher in nonresponders than in sustained and transient responders (P=.0009). The seventh-year cumulative incidence rates of HCC in sustained responders, transient responders, and nonresponders were estimated to be 4.3%, 4.7%, and 26.1%, respectively. However, there was no significant difference in the cumulative incidence of HCC between patients with HCV subtype 1 and 2 (P=.14). Cox regression analysis showed that the risk of HCC development was not elevated in transient responders compared with sustained responders, but that the risk was 7.90-fold higher in nonresponders than in sustained responders (P=.008). Patients > or =55 years of age had a significantly higher risk ratio (4.65) than did those under 55 years of age (P=.006). The risk of HCC development in men was 4.35 times higher than the risk in women (P=.02). However, the degree of fibrosis was not a significant risk factor for the development of HCC (risk ratio, 3.16; P=.052). These results suggest that patients in the high-risk group of HCC after interferon therapy were those who showed no response, those who were older, and those who were male, and that such patients should be carefully followed using ultrasonography.

A randomized study comparing ribavirin and interferon alfa monotherapy for hepatitis C recurrence after liver transplantation.

Year 1998
Gane EJ. Lo SK. Riordan SM. Portmann BC. Lau JY. Naoumov NV. Williams R.
Institute of Liver Studies, King's College School of Medicine and Dentistry, London, UK.
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection usually recurs after orthotopic liver transplantation (OLT), and most patients develop graft damage. This study compared the efficacy of interferon alfa (IFN-alpha) and ribavirin monotherapies in liver transplant recipients with chronic hepatitis C in the graft. Thirty OLT recipients with chronic hepatitis C were randomized to receive either IFN-alpha (3 MU three times a week) or ribavirin (up to 1.2 g daily) for 24 weeks. Virological, biochemical, and histological responses to treatment were assessed. Twenty-eight patients completed the treatment regimen, two ribavirin-treated patients being withdrawn because of severe hemolysis. Normalization of serum aspartate aminotransferase was achieved in 13 of 14 patients receiving ribavirin (93%) and 6 of 14 patients receiving IFN-alpha (43%; P=.01). Lobular inflammation was reduced in 9/14 ribavirin-treated (64%) and 3 of 14 IFN-alpha-treated patients (21%; P=.05), each of whom had a biochemical response. However, the total histological activity index did not improve in either the interferon (P=.43) or the ribavirin (P=.96) group. Posttreatment viremia levels were significantly reduced in IFN-alpha-treated (P=.05) but not in ribavirin-treated (P=.88) patients. Hemolysis occurred in all ribavirin-treated patients, with serum hemoglobin decreasing to < 10 g/dL in 50%. Total leukocyte and lymphocyte counts decreased significantly during ribavirin treatment (P=.02 and P=.004, respectively). We concluded that in patients with chronic hepatitis C after OLT, IFN-alpha retains an antiviral effect whereas ribavirin is superior in achieving normalization of serum aspartate aminotransferase levels and reducing lobular inflammation, but not the total histological activity index. These findings provide a rationale for combination therapy in the post-OLT setting, although patients must be carefully monitored for hemolysis.

The impact of traveling to endemic areas on the spread of hepatitis E virus infection: epidemiological and molecular analyses.

Year 1998
Wu JC. Sheen IJ. Chiang TY. Sheng WY. Wang YJ. Chan CY. Lee SD.
Department of Medicine, Veterans General Hospital, National Yang-Ming University School of Medicine, Taipei, Taiwan.
Traveling to endemic areas carries a risk of hepatitis E virus (HEV) infection, but no molecular analysis to document sources of infection is available. Eighteen (38%) of 47 patients with acute non-A, non-B, non-C hepatitis were positive for antibody to HEV (anti-HEV), and 9 (50%) of these were also positive for serum HEV RNA by polymerase chain reaction following reverse transcription. Only 1 (5%) of the 21 patients with acute hepatitis A was positive for HEV RNA. Travel to endemic areas (mostly to China; odds ratio, 22.2; 95% confidence interval, 4.7-105.8) and deeper jaundice (odds ratio, 5.2; 95% confidence interval, 1.01-27.2) were the only factors associated with HEV infection in multivariate analysis. The two HEV isolates from two patients who had traveled to China and the HEV isolate from a patient whose travel history was obscure formed a monophyletic group with the isolates from Guangzhou. The HEV isolates from our patients show a homology of 72% to 78% in nucleotide sequence with the Burma, Beijing, India, Pakistan, and Xiangjiang strains; a homology of 81% to 91% with the Guangzhou strains; and a homology of 76% with the Mexico strain. The close relationship between the Taiwan isolates and the Guangzhou strains was further supported by the short Kimura's two-parameter distances among them. In summary, HEV infection does occur in this area. Epidemiological and molecular analyses strongly indicate that most cases of HEV infection originated from travel to HEV-endemic areas.

Neurovisual impairment: a frequent complication of alpha-interferon treatment in chronic viral hepatitis.

Year 1998
Manesis EK. Moschos M. Brouzas D. Kotsiras J. Petrou C. Theodosiadis G. Hadziyannis S.
Academic Department of Medicine, Hippokration General Hospital, Athens, Greece.
Following our earlier observation of clinically evident optic tract neuropathy in patients receiving low-dose interferon (IFN) therapy, we prospectively evaluated 53 consecutive patients treated for chronic hepatitis B or C with a median dose of 3 MU of IFN-a2b thrice weekly. Measurements included routine ophthalmologic evaluation and recordings of visual evoked responses (VER), electroretinograms (ERG), visual acuity, and visual fields, before, at the end of IFN treatment, and at follow-up visits. Baseline P100 latencies of VERs (base-VER) were abnormally prolonged in 24 patients (32 of 106 eyes, 30.2%); age was the only significant covariate associated with increased risk for an abnormal base-VER by multiple logistic regression (relative risk [RR] 5.3 per each 5-year increase in age). In 45 patients (74 eyes) with normal baseline P100 latencies, the end-of-treatment VERs (end-VER) were significantly prolonged compared with baseline, becoming abnormal in 11 (15 of 74 eyes, 20.3%) (138.8+/-8.7 vs. 117.7+/-5.2 ms, P < .001). This subgroup had older age (59.1+/-11.0 vs. 47.5+/-15.3, P=.007) and reduced visual sensitivity compared with their own pretreatment measurements (24.5+/-1.6 vs. 23.0+/-1.2db, P=.019). Changes of end-VERs by age had a sigmoid distribution with a steep increase of values beyond the 5th decade (R2=.326, P < .001). In a logistic regression model, significant predictors of abnormal end-VERs were, patients' age (RR 5.6 per each 5-year increase), presence of hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection (RR 15.1 compared with hepatitis C virus [HCV] infection) and serum cholesterol levels above 240 mg% (RR 7.1 compared with values < 240 mg%). Subconjunctival hemorrhages were seen in 2 cases and funduscopic examination revealed cotton wool spots in one other. ERG recordings and the P100 amplitude remained unchanged. After stopping IFN, the treatment-associated neurovisual abnormalities reversed to normal in 7 patients (10 of 15 eyes) and persisted in 5 (5 of 15 eyes, 33.3%) for up to 37 (median 7.3) months observation, all patients remaining clinically asymptomatic. In conclusion, subclinical neurovisual impairment is a frequent, largely unrecognized complication of low-dose IFN therapy, and patients with chronic hepatitis B and older age appear to be most susceptible. This apparently innocuous complication is long lasting, possibly irreversible in some patients, with yet undetermined consequences on visual function.

Relative quantification and mapping of hepatitis C virus by in situ hybridization and digital image analysis.

Year 1998
Gosalvez J. Rodriguez-Inigo E. Ramiro-Diaz JL. Bartolome J. Tomas JF. Oliva H. Carreno V.
Department of Biology, Science Faculty, Universidad Autonoma de Madrid, Spain.
Although several reports concerning the detection of hepatitis C virus (HCV) by in situ hybridization have been published, there are no data concerning the relative viral load in infected hepatocytes or about its relation with serum viremia levels. To address these issues, liver biopsies from 10 patients with chronic hepatitis C were analyzed by in situ hybridization and digital image analysis of hybridization signals. Serum HCV RNA levels were measured using the Amplicor Monitor test. HCV RNA was detected by in situ hybridization in the hepatocytes of the ten liver samples. The hybridization signals were mainly found in the cytoplasm. The relative viral load per infected cell fit the second order polynomial curves in all cases. The minimum and maximum relative viral load per infected hepatocyte differed in the ten cases; however, large differences were not observed in the mean relative viral load among the samples, especially when compared with the increasing values detected for copy number per milliliter in serum. The percentage of infected cells ranged from 4.8% to 87.6% in the ten cases. The percentage of positive cells correlated with the serum viremia levels. Our data suggest that HCV viremia does not depend on the relative viral load per infected cell but on the number of infected hepatocytes.

Determinants of outcome of compensated hepatitis C virus-related cirrhosis.

Year 1998
Serfaty L. Aumaitre H. Chazouilleres O. Bonnand AM. Rosmorduc O. Poupon RE. Poupon R.
Service d'Hepato-gastroenterologie, Hopital St-Antoine, Assistance Publique-Hopitaux de Paris, France.
The aim of this study was to assess the incidence of decompensation (ascites, jaundice, variceal bleeding, and encephalopathy), hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and death or liver transplantation in patients with compensated hepatitis C virus (HCV)-related cirrhosis, taking into account the viral genotype and interferon (IFN) therapy. Between 1989 and 1994, 668 patients with no clinical evidence of decompensation were referred to our department for liver biopsy because of positivity for anti-HCV antibodies and elevated aminotransferase activity; 103 of these patients had cirrhosis. The median follow-up was 40 months. Fifty-nine patients were treated with IFN for a mean duration of 11+/-6 months; 3 (5%) had a prolonged biochemical and virological response. Baseline characteristics of IFN-treated and untreated patients were not significantly different. HCV genotypes (InnoLiPa) were predominantly 1b (48%) and 3a (20%). During follow-up, complications of cirrhosis occurred in 26 patients, HCC in 11 patients, and decompensation not related to HCC in 19 patients. Sixteen patients died, 94% of liver disease. Three patients were transplanted for liver failure. The 4-year risk of HCC was 11.5% (annual incidence 3.3%) and that of decompensation was 20%. Survival probability was 96% and 84% at 2 and 4 years, respectively. In multivariate analysis, the absence of IFN therapy was the only independent factor predictive both for HCC and decompensation. A low albumin level at entry and the absence of IFN therapy were the two independent factors predictive of death or liver transplantation. Probability of survival at 2 and 4 years was significantly different between IFN-treated and untreated patients (respectively 97% and 92% vs 95% and 63%, P < .0001). In conclusion, in patients with compensated HCV-related cirrhosis: 1) complications of cirrhosis are frequent, whatever the viral genotype; and 2) the severity of cirrhosis and the absence of IFN therapy are independently predictive of bad outcome.

Источник: https://gastroportal.ru/science-articles-of-world-periodical-eng/hepatology.html
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