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J Hepatol

Influence of GB virus C viraemia on the clinical, virological and histological features of early hepatitis C-related hepatic disease.

Year 1998
Manolakopoulos S. Morris A. Davies S. Brown D. Hajat S. Dusheiko G.
Department of Medicine, Royal Free Hospital and School of Medicine, Hampstead, London, UK.
BACKGROUND/AIMS: GB virus C is a newly described RNA virus. The aims of this study were to determine the prevalence of GB virus C infection in patients with chronic type C hepatitis and to examine the clinical, virological and histological features in hepatitis C and GB virus C co-infected patients. METHODS/RESULTS: One hundred and sixty patients with hepatitis C infection were studied. GBV-C RNA was detected in 33/160 (20.6%) patients; co-infected patients with hepatitis C and GB virus C infection were significantly younger (p=0.04). No difference was found between the two groups according to gender and biochemical parameters. Seventy-two of the 160 patients, for whom a liver tissue specimen taken simultaneously with the serum was available and who had compensated liver disease, were studied separately. The source of infection, duration of infection, HCV genotype and HCV RNA concentrations did not differ between 15/72 patients with dual infection and 57/72 with hepatitis C infection alone. Patients with co-infection had significantly higher degrees of portal and periportal inflammation (p=0.0006 and 0.01, respectively). No difference was observed in parenchymal activity score or extent of fibrosis. CONCLUSIONS: These results indicate a relatively high prevalence of GB virus C infection in younger patients with chronic hepatitis C, suggesting a common route of transmission. Although GB virus C co-infection does not alter the biochemical and virological profile of patients with HCV hepatitis, there is an association between GB virus C and hepatitis C viraemia and portal and periportal inflammation.

Lack of evidence for GB virus C/hepatitis G virus replication in peripheral blood mononuclear cells.

Year 1998
Radkowski M. Wang LF. Vargas H. Rakela J. Laskus T.
Institute of Infectious Diseases, Warsaw, Poland.
BACKGROUND/AIMS: The recently identified hepatitis G virus (HGV) has been found to be common in patients with various forms of chronic liver disease, particularly chronic hepatitis C. However, replication sites of this new viral agent have not been studied. METHODS: We searched for the presence of HGV RNA in peripheral blood mononuclear cells and serum samples from nine chronic hepatitis C patients coinfected with hepatitis G virus. The presence of negative viral RNA strands was determined by strand-specific Tth-based assay which was optimized on synthetic template. RESULTS: All peripheral blood mononuclear cell samples were negative for the presence of the HGV RNA minus strand and only five were positive for the presence of the positive strand, albeit at a low level of 10-10(2) genomic equivalents/10(6) cells. CONCLUSIONS: These findings imply that hepatitis G virus does not replicate in peripheral blood mononuclear cells, at least in the population of HCV/HGV coinfected patients.

Favorable response to lymphoblastoid interferon-alpha in children with chronic hepatitis C.

Year 1998
Sawada A. Tajiri H. Kozaiwa K. Guo W. Tada K. Etani Y. Okada S. Sako M.
Department of Pediatrics, Osaka University, Faculty of Medicine, Japan.
BACKGROUND/AIMS: We investigated the efficacy of interferon therapy for the treatment of children with chronic hepatitis C virus infection. METHODS: Twenty-four out of 26 children completed the 6-month treatment with lymphoblastoid interferon-alpha and were followed for 12 months or longer. Response to interferon therapy was defined by assaying for circulating HCV-RNA, using a nested PCR, at 6-month intervals after the end of the therapy. RESULTS: At the end of treatment circulating HCV-RNA was undetectable in 18/24 patients and at 6 months in 12/24. Ten of these 12 primary responders have remained virus free for more than 2 years. One patient remained negative at 12 months. The remaining patient relapsed at 12 months. At 24 months 10 of 18 patients tested negative for HCV-RNA. Serum alanine aminotransferase was normal in 11/24 patients at the end of treatment, at 6 months 12/24 were normal, and at 12 months 11/12 were normal. In eight children with sustained response, repeated liver biopsies revealed a reduction in Knodell's scores for inflammation in the hepatic lobules and in the portal areas. In three of them neither plus nor minus strand of HCV-RNA was detectable in the liver tissue. Responders had a significantly lower level of viremia than non-responders. Side effects of interferon including fever, hair loss, neutropenia, and thrombocytopenia were not serious enough to warrant cessation of interferon treatment. CONCLUSIONS: Interferon therapy in children with chronic hepatitis C may be beneficial as evaluated by sustained loss of viremia as well as by primary response.

Interferon induces insulin resistance in patients with chronic active hepatitis C.

Year 1998
Imano E. Kanda T. Ishigami Y. Kubota M. Ikeda M. Matsuhisa M. Kawamori R. Yamasaki Y.
Department of Gastroenterology and Metabolic Disease, Osaka Prefectural General Hospital, Japan.
AIM/METHODS: To elucidate the metabolic effect of interferon alpha, the following tests were performed on 14 patients with chronic active hepatitis C before and after interferon therapy (6 million units/day for 2 weeks): (1) oral glucose tolerance tests to measure insulin secretion; (2) euglycemic hyperinsulinemic clamp with oral glucose load to measure peripheral and hepatic insulin sensitivity (splanchnic glucose uptake); and (3) measurements of plasma levels of glucoregulatory hormones. RESULTS: The oral glucose tolerance test showed that a 2-week treatment with interferon did not induce apparent change in plasma glucose and insulin profiles. Nevertheless, interferon therapy worsened insulin-mediated glucose uptake in the peripheral tissues by 17% from 44.4+/-3.2 to 37.3+/-3.0 micromol x kg(-1) x min(-1) (p

Randomised controlled double-blind trial of the calcium channel antagonist amlodipine in the treatment of acute alcoholic hepatitis.

Year 1998
Bird GL. Prach AT. McMahon AD. Forrest JA. Mills PR. Danesh BJ.
Department of Medicine, Stobhill General Hospital, Glasgow, UK.
BACKGROUND/AIMS: Calcium channel blockers have a hepatoprotective action in animal models of alcohol-induced liver injury but their effect in alcoholic liver disease in humans has not been previously investigated. We have conducted a randomised, placebo-controlled trial to investigate the possible benefit of the calcium channel blocker amlodipine in terms of 4-week survival in hospitalised patients with severe acute alcoholic hepatitis. METHODS: Sixty-two patients with acute alcoholic hepatitis were randomised to receive 5-10 mg amlodipine each day for 1 year or an identical capsule containing placebo. In 36 (58%), acute alcoholic hepatitis was confirmed on biopsy and in the remainder on clinical and laboratory criteria. There were no statistically significant differences in clinical characteristics and disease severity in the treated and placebo groups. RESULTS: Of the 32 patients receiving amlodipine, there were six deaths (19%) in the first 4 weeks compared with seven (23%) of the placebo patients (p=0.329). Causes of death were similar in the amlodipine and control groups, with liver failure predominant. Analysis by the Cox proportional hazards model after adjustment for other prognostic factors showed survival was not significantly influenced by active treatment (p=0.07). One patient in each group was withdrawn because of the development of hypotension, but this did not recur on reintroduction of the capsules. CONCLUSIONS: This study shows that calcium channel blockers are well tolerated with few side effects in advanced alcoholic liver disease, but there is no conclusive evidence from this study that calcium channel blockers are helpful in the treatment of alcoholic hepatitis.

Hyperventilation restores cerebral blood flow autoregulation in patients with acute liver failure.

Year 1998
Strauss G. Hansen BA. Knudsen GM. Larsen FS.
Department of Hepatology, Rigshospitalet, University Hospital, Copenhagen, Denmark.
BACKGROUND/AIMS: In patients with acute liver failure loss of cerebral blood flow autoregulation may result from cerebral vasodilatation. Since arterial hypocapnia induces cerebral vasoconstriction, we investigated whether cerebral blood flow autoregulation could be reestablished by mechanical hyperventilation. METHODS: Seven consecutive patients (median age 45, range 30-50 years) with acute liver failure and hepatic encephalopathy stage IV entered the study. They were all maintained on mechanical ventilation. Cerebral blood flow autoregulation was evaluated by using transcranial Doppler sonography to assess mean flow velocity (Vmean) in the middle cerebral artery, during a rise in mean arterial pressure by norepinephrine infusion (0.5-10 microg/h). The patients were subsequently hyperventilated for 15 min before cerebral blood flow autoregulation was re-evaluated in the same mean arterial pressure range. RESULTS: At baseline PaCO2 (4.0 (3.5-4.9)kPa), all patients had impaired cerebral blood flow autoregulation as Vmean increased from 47 (30-78) to 68 (49-107) cm x s(-1) (p

Membrane-type matrix metalloproteinase-1(MT1-MTP) gene is overexpressed in highly invasive hepatocellular carcinomas.

Year 1998
Harada T. Arii S. Mise M. Imamura T. Higashitsuji H. Furutani M. Niwano M. Ishigami S. Fukumoto M. Seiki M. Sato H. Imamura M.
First Department of Surgery, Faculty of Medicine, Kyoto University, Japan.
BACKGROUND/AIMS: The matrix metalloproteinase (MMP) family play important roles in the invasion of cancer cells by degrading the extracellular matrices. The current study was designed to determine the expression pattern of membrane-type matrix metalloproteinase-1 (MT1-MMP) in hepatocellular carcinomas and its participation in invasion potential. METHODS: MT1-MMP mRNA expression was examined in 25 human hepatocellular carcinoma specimens using Northern blot, and the correlation to clinicopathological features was evaluated. In situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry were performed to study the localization and the cells responsible for the production. RESULTS: Northern blot analysis revealed high levels of MT1-MMP mRNA expression in tumorous portions in all cases, whereas in non-tumorous portions moderate or faint expression was evident in 22/25 cases. In 21/25 cases, the expression levels in tumorous portion were higher than those in non-tumorous portion. In particular, hepatocellular carcinoma with capsule infiltration demonstrated significantly higher expression than those without (p

Urinary 7alpha-hydroxy-3-oxochol-4-en-24-oic and 3-oxochola-4,6-dien-24-oic acids in infants with cholestasis.

Year 1998
Kimura A. Suzuki M. Murai T. Kurosawa T. Tohma M. Sata M. Inoue T. Hoshiyama A. Nakashima E. Yamashita Y. Fujisawa T. Kato H.
Department of Pediatrics and Child Health, Kurume University School of Medicine, Fukuoka, Japan.
BACKGROUND/AIMS: Urinary 3-oxo-delta4 bile acids have been detected in infants who ultimately died of liver disease. We used qualitative and quantitative methods to compare urinary 3-oxo-delta4 bile acids in liver disease, determining their composition and evaluating the prognostic implication in patients of various ages with various liver diseases. METHODS: Gas chromatography-mass spectrometry was used to measure 3-oxo-delta4 bile acids in the urine of patients and healthy controls. RESULTS: Patients with a deficiency of 3-oxo-delta4-steroid 5beta-reductase and acute hepatic failure exhibited a significantly higher percentage of 3-oxo-delta4 bile acids in total bile acids in urine than the healthy controls or other patient groups, including those with neonatal cholestasis or biliary atresia (p

Insulin secretory capacity and the regulation of glucagon secretion in diabetic and non-diabetic alcoholic cirrhotic patients.

Year 1998
Kruszynska YT. Goulas S. Wollen N. McIntyre N.
Department of Endocrinology and Metabolism, VA Medical Center, University of California San Diego, La Jolla 92093, USA.
BACKGROUND/AIMS: Insulin secretion is increased in cirrhotic patients without diabetes but decreased in cirrhotic patients with diabetes. Increased glucagon secretion is found in both groups. Our aim was to determine: 1) whether alterations in insulin secretion are due to changes in maximal secretory capacity or altered islet B-cell sensitivity to glucose, and 2) whether regulation of glucagon secretion by glucose is disturbed. METHODS: Insulin, C-peptide and glucagon levels were measured basally and during 12, 19 and 28 mmol/l glucose clamps, and in response to 5 g intravenous arginine basally and after 35 min at a glucose of 12, 19 and 28 mmol/l in 6 non-diabetic alcoholic cirrhotic patients, six diabetic alcoholic cirrhotic patients and six normal controls. RESULTS: Fasting insulin, and C-peptide levels were higher in cirrhotic patients than controls but not different between diabetic and non-diabetic patients. C-peptide levels at t=35 min of the clamp increased more with glucose concentration in non-diabetic cirrhotic patients than controls; there was little increase in diabetic cirrhotic patients. At a blood glucose of approximately 5 mmol/l the 2-5 min C-peptide response to arginine (CP[ARG]) was similar in all groups, but enhancement of this response by glucose was greater in non-diabetic cirrhotic patients and impaired in diabetic cirrhotic patients. Maximal insulin secretion (CP(ARG) at 28 mmol/l glucose) was 49% higher in the non-diabetic cirrhotic patients than controls (p

Endoscopic sclerotherapy with fibrin glue as compared with polidocanol to prevent early esophageal variceal rebleeding.

Year 1998
Zimmer T. Rucktaschel F. Stolzel U. Liehr RM. Schuppan D. Stallmach A. Zeitz M. Weber E. Riecken EO.
Department of Gastroenterology, Universitatsklinikum Benjamin Franklin, Free University of Berlin, Germany.
BACKGROUND/AIMS: Endoscopic sclerotherapy is of proven benefit for patients after esophageal variceal bleeding, but is associated with substantial local and systemic complications. Since fibrin glue is a promising agent for endoscopic sclerotherapy of esophageal varices, we compared its safety and efficacy in patients after esophageal variceal bleeding. PATIENTS AND METHODS: In a randomized, controlled trial, 36 patients with an acute episode of variceal bleeding were endoscopically treated with either polidocanol (18 patients) or fibrin glue (18 patients) by intravariceal injections within 12 h of admission. Tissue compatibility, incidence of various complications, episodes of rebleeding and overall survival rates were investigated. RESULTS: Rebleeding, especially from enrollment to day 28, was less common in the fibrin group (p=0.046), and all patients treated with fibrin glue survived for more than 28 days, whereas five patients treated with polidocanol died within this period. The incidence of sclerotherapy-induced ulcers was significantly lower in the fibrin group than in the polidocanol group (p=0.001), and major complications such as perforation or ulcer bleeding were observed only in the polidocanol group. There were no complications in any group due to activation of systemic coagulation, fibrinolysis or clinically relevant pulmonary embolization. CONCLUSIONS: We conclude that fibrin glue is an efficient and safe agent for endoscopic sclerotherapy of bleeding esophageal varices, especially in the immediate posthemorrhagic period.

Liver transplantation in patients with non-biliary cirrhosis: prognostic value of preoperative factors.

Year 1998
Gonzalez E. Rimola A. Navasa M. Andreu H. Grande L. Garcia-Valdecasas JC. Cirera I. Visa J. Rodes J.
Department of Surgery, Hospital Clinic i Provincial, University of Barcelona, Spain.
BACKGROUND/AIM: The type of disease indicating liver transplantation is one of the most powerful predictors of postoperative survival. This may be an important problem in evaluating the prognostic significance of other factors when patients with liver diseases of very different nature are jointly studied. To minimize this bias, the present study aimed to investigate preoperative prognostic factors in liver transplantation only in patients with non-biliary cirrhosis. METHODS: Twenty-three preoperative standard clinical and laboratory variables were analyzed as possible prognostic factors in 162 patients receiving liver transplantation for non-biliary cirrhosis. Data for seven splanchnic and systemic hemodynamic variables were also analyzed in 55 patients. RESULTS: Using univariate analyses followed by a multivariate analysis, only preoperative blood urea nitrogen (BUN) reached statistical significance as an independent predictor of hospital survival; the survival rate at the end of hospitalization being 90% in patients with BUN< or =25 mg/dl and 65% in patients with BUN>25 mg/dl (p=0.0008). Similarly, preoperative BUN was the only variable independently predicting cumulative long-term survival, with an 87% survival probability at 1 year and 73% at 4 years in patients with BUN< or =25 mg/dl, and 61% and 49%, respectively, in patients with BUN>25 mg/dl (p=0.0014). CONCLUSIONS: Renal function parameters are the most powerful preoperative predictors of survival after liver transplantation in patients with non-biliary cirrhosis. It is suggested that liver transplantation is indicated in these patients before marked renal dysfunction develops.

Early liver transplantation is crucial in children with liver disease and pulmonary artery hypertension.

Year 1998
Losay J. Piot D. Bougaran J. Ozier Y. Devictor D. Houssin D. Bernard O.
Unite de Cardiologie Pediatrique, Hopital Marie Lannelongue, Le Plessis-Robinson, France.
BACKGROUND/AIMS: Early liver transplantation is crucial in children with liver disease and pulmonary artery hypertension. Some severe pulmonary vascular anomalies associated with portal hypertension disappear after isolated liver transplantation. Evolution of pulmonary artery hypertension due to plexogenic arteriopathy is controversial, as this association is still considered a contraindication to isolated liver transplantation. Outcome of pulmonary hypertension after isolated liver transplantation is reported in three patients with portal hypertension. METHODS: After echocardiographic diagnosis, the patients had a complete hemodynamic exploration, and two had a lung biopsy. After liver transplantation, the survivors had echocardiographic follow up and a second hemodynamic exploration. RESULTS: In two children, pulmonary pressures and resistances returned to near-normal values 1 and 6 years after successful isolated liver transplantation. The third patient, with the most severe arteriopathy, had to wait 1 year for a donor, and the attempted transplantation was complicated by ventricular tachycardia; death occurred 2 days after surgery. CONCLUSIONS: Liver transplantation can reverse pulmonary artery hypertension due to high pulmonary resistances complicating liver disease with portal hypertension, provided it is carried out at an early stage. Early detection of pulmonary hypertension by systematic echocardiography may thus be crucial in these children with portal hypertension.

Association between HLA class II alleles and protection from or susceptibility to chronic hepatitis C.

Year 1998
Zavaglia C. Martinetti M. Silini E. Bottelli R. Daielli C. Asti M. Airoldi A. Salvaneschi L. Mondelli MU. Ideo G.
Department of Internal Medicine and Center for Liver Diseases, Niguarda Hospital, Milan, Italy.
BACKGROUND/AIMS: Recent studies have suggested that the course of chronic hepatitis C may be influenced by the immunogenetic background of the host. Specifically, HLA-DR11 (5) has been associated with less advanced hepatitis C virus (HCV)-related liver disease. The aim of the present study was to investigate whether HLA-DRB1*11 subtypes or HLA-DQA1 and DQB1 genes might be associated with protection from or susceptibility to chronic HCV infection, histological severity of HCV-induced liver disease and infecting HCV genotype. METHODS: Ninety-nine unrelated outpatients with histologically documented chronic hepatitis C were studied and their allele frequencies were compared with those of 179 ethnically matched controls and with those of 41 HCV RNA-positive patients with persistently normal aminotransferase levels (HCV carriers). HLA-DQ types and HLA-DRB1*11 subtypes were determined by polymerase chain reaction gene amplification with sequence specific primers. RESULTS: None of 10 DQA1 or 12 DQB1 alleles was significantly associated with susceptibility to or protection from chronic HCV infection or with histological staging or with HCV genotype. However, analysis of DQA1-DQB1 combinations showed that DQA1*0201-DQB1*0201 combination was significantly more frequent in patients compared to controls, both in cis (26.3% vs 16.2%, p = 0.04, odds ratio = 1.8, 95% confidence interval, 0.96-3.5) and in trans (12.1% vs. 1.1%, p = 0.0001, OR = 12.2, 95% CI, 2.6-113.7). HCV carriers did not differ from controls or from patients in the frequency of DQA1-DQB1 combinations. The extended haplotype DRB1*1104, DQA1*0501, DQB1*0301 was seen significantly less frequently in patients than in controls (8% vs 22.3%, p = 0.0025, OR = 0.31, 95% CI, 0.12-0.7) or HCV-RNA carriers (8% vs 26.8%, p = 0.003, OR = 0.24, 95% CI, 0.08-0.73). CONCLUSIONS: Immunogenetic factors may play a role in determining both protection from and susceptibility to chronic hepatitis C, the trans-dimer DQA1*0201-DQB1*0201 predisposing to and the DRB1*1104, DQA1*0501, DQB1*0301 haplotype protecting from chronic hepatitis C.

Analysis of the treatment effect on recurrent bleeding and death in patients with cirrhosis and esophageal varices: multistage competing-risks model compared to conventional methods. The Copenhagen Esophageal Varices Sclerotherapy Project.

Year 1998
Thomsen BL. Sorensen TI.
Department of Biostatistics, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Denmark.
BACKGROUND/AIMS: Multiple recurrences of bleeding with high mortality in cirrhosis with esophageal varices have been inadequately analyzed in previous trials. We propose analysis by the multistage competing-risks model, specifying the effect on overall mortality as an effect on mortality during bleeding, rate of cessation of bleeding, mortality rate without bleeding, and rate of rebleeding. METHODS: The Copenhagen Esophageal Varices Project enrolled patients after first bleeding and randomized 94 to usual treatment and 93 to sclerotherapy as supplement. During 9-52 months of follow-up, rebleeding occurred in 49 and 42, and death in 68 and 60 patients, respectively. The proportional hazards regression model (Cox model) was used for reanalysis both by the multistage competing-risks model and by conventional analysis for overall mortality and rate of first rebleeding. In the multistage model, time zero was at entry to any new disease stage, of which the first four were analyzed - two bleeding stages and two bleeding-free stages. RESULTS: The conventional analysis showed a reduction of overall mortality rate in the sclerotherapy group of borderline significance, but no effect on rate of rebleeding. The multistage model indicated that sclerotherapy reduced the rate of rebleeding late in the disease course, and particularly after the first rebleeding. Rate of cessation of bleeding and mortality rates during bleeding and without bleeding were not affected by sclerotherapy. CONCLUSIONS: Conventional analysis may give misleading conclusions, which might be avoided by applying the multistage model. The effect of sclerotherapy on overall mortality may be ascribed entirely to the reduced rate of rebleeding.

Nutritional and prognostic significance of serum hypothyroxinemia in hospitalized patients with liver cirrhosis.

Year 1998
Caregaro L. Alberino F. Amodio P. Merkel C. Angeli P. Plebani M. Gatta A.
Dipartimento di Medicina Clinica e Sperimentale, University of Padua, Italy.
BACKGROUND/AIMS: A variety of severe illnesses can induce changes in thyroid hormone metabolism, leading to findings referred to as "sick euthyroid syndrome". In several groups of patients the reduction of serum thyroxine concentration (T4), characteristic of the low-T4 variant of sick euthyroid syndrome, has been found to be a good predictor of survival. Although the pathophysiology of hormonal alterations has not yet been defined, nutritional deficits have been suggested to play a role. The study aimed to define the prognostic and nutritional significance of serum thyroxine in liver cirrhosis. METHODS: Thyroid hormones and nutritional status were evaluated in a group of 75 consecutive hospitalized patients with cirrhosis, followed-up clinically for 12 months. RESULTS: A low-T4 variant of sick euthyroid syndrome was found in 23 of the 75 enrolled patients with cirrhosis (30.6%). Serum T4, but not serum T3, correlated with mid-arm muscle circumference (p < 0.01), an indicator of muscle protein compartment. While both serum T3 and T4 correlated directly with serum proteins and inversely with Child-Pugh score, only T4 was predictive of outcome. Patients with the low-T4 variant of sick euthyroid syndrome showed significantly lower short- and long-term survival rates compared to those with normal serum T4 concentrations (p < 0.008 at 3 months, p < 0.001 at 6 months and 1 year). A multivariate analysis using the proportional hazards Cox's regression procedure showed that serum T4, but not serum T3 or nutritional parameters, improves the prognostic capacity of Child-Pugh score (p < 0.01). CONCLUSIONS: These data indicate that the low T4-variant of sick euthyroid syndrome distinguishes a subgroup of patients with cirrhosis at risk for decreased survival. The inclusion of T4 in the Child-Pugh score, by improving its prognostic power, may optimize the selection of patients with advanced cirrhosis to receive specific therapy such as transplantation.

Osteopenia in rats with liver cirrhosis: beneficial effects of IGF-I treatment.

Year 1998
Cemborain A. Castilla-Cortazar I. Garcia M. Quiroga J. Muguerza B. Picardi A. Santidrian S. Prieto J.
Department of Human Physiology, School of Medicine, University of Navarra, Pamplona, Spain.
BACKGROUND/AIMS: Liver cirrhosis is associated with osteopenia and also with low levels of IGF-I. This hormone has been reported to stimulate bone formation in states of undernutrition and low bone turnover. Our aims were to evaluate whether osteopenia develops in male Wistar rats with CCl4-induced cirrhosis and whether IGF-I is effective in the restoration of bone mass in these animals. METHODS: Cirrhotic rats were distributed into two groups: group CI (n = 12) which received placebo and group CI + IGF (n = 12) which was treated with human recombinant IGF-I (2 microg/100 g bw/day, s.c., 21 days). Twelve normal animals which received placebo constituted the control group. On the 22nd day, the animals were sacrificed, and bone parameters were analyzed in femur and/or tibia. RESULTS: Posterior-anterior and latero-medial diameters were similar in all groups. Also, no significant differences were observed in bone contents of calcium, total proteins, collagen and hydroxyapatite in CI rats as compared with controls. However, CI rats showed significant reductions in bone weight (-13.5%, p < 0.001), total bone density (-9.28%, p < 0.001), and increased perimedullar bone resorption and urinary levels of deoxypyridinoline (a marker of bone resorption). In CI + IGF rats these parameters improved significantly as compared with CI animals. CONCLUSIONS: Osteopenia characterized by loss of bone mass and preserved bone composition is found in rats with CCl4-induced cirrhosis. This bone disorder is partially corrected by treatment with low doses of IGF-I. Since osteoporosis seems to be the predominant form of osteopenia in patients with cirrhosis, IGF-I should be considered as a possible therapy for this disorder.

Hepatitis B virus precore mutants in serum and liver of Southern African Blacks with hepatocellular carcinoma.

Year 1998
Kramvis A. Kew MC. Bukofzer S.
Medical Research Council, Department of Medicine, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa.
BACKGROUND/AIM: The aim of this study was to sequence the precore region of HBV isolated from serum and tumorous and non-tumorous liver tissue from patients with hepatocellular carcinoma to identify mutations that might play a role in malignant transformation. METHODS: HBV DNA was extracted from 62 sera, 14 tumorous and 12 non-tumorous liver tissue samples of patients with hepatocellular carcinoma, amplified by the polymerase chain reaction and sequenced directly. RESULTS: Thirty-nine patients were HBeAg-negative and 23 HBeAg-positive. Missense mutations were present predominantly in HBeAg-negative sera. The most common missense mutation, a guanine to thymine transversion, occurred at nucleotide 1862 in the bulge of the encapsidation signal; it was more prevalent in HBeAg-negative (10/39) than in HBeAg-positive patients (1/23) (p = 0.03). Mutations known to prevent HBeAg synthesis were detected in seven sera; five with an 1896 stop-codon mutation, one with an 1817 nonsense mutation, and one with a frameshift mutation caused by an insertion between 1838 and 1839. Missense mutations and deletions were present more often in tumorous tissue derived from HBsAg-negative patients. In the tumours missense mutations occurred at position 1862 and 1899, and the deletions affected direct repeat 1 and/or the encapsidation signal and included the x gene stop-codon. CONCLUSIONS: The 1862 mutation, and other missense mutations and deletions detected in the precore gene, may disrupt HBV DNA replication and/or signal peptide cleavage leading to HBeAg-negativity. Disruption of viral replication may promote integration of unencapsidated replicative intermediates and hence contribute to hepatocarcinogenesis.

Progression of hepatocellular carcinoma as reflected by nuclear DNA ploidy and cellular differentiation.

Year 1998
Oriyama T. Yamanaka N. Fujimoto J. Ichikawa N. Okamoto E.
First Department of Surgery, Hyogo College of Medicine, Nishinomiya, Japan.
BACKGROUND/AIMS: Intratumor heterogeneity of DNA ploidy within a single hepatocellular carcinoma is not well understood. The present study was designed to examine the histologic distribution of intratumor DNA ploidy in hepatocellular carcinomas of different growth types in relation to cell differentiation. METHODS: Twenty patients (16 men and four women; mean age, 60.2 years) with hepatocellular carcinoma (mean diameter, 4.3 cm) were studied. One hundred and twenty-seven samples from different sites of each tumor were analyzed by determination of the nuclear DNA content and histological examination. RESULTS: The DNA ploidy was heterogeneous in nine (45%) of the 20 tumors. Five tumors had a mixture of diploid and aneuploid regions, and the remaining four consisted of aneuploid regions with different DNA indices. There was no significant difference in patient characteristics between the heterogeneous and homogeneous groups. A significant correlation was found between tumor growth type and the incidence of heterogeneity. Only 16% of single nodular carcinomas without intratumor septal formation exhibited heterogeneity, while single nodular tumors with septal formation or confluent multinodular tumors were associated with high incidences of different DNA ploidy patterns or DNA indices. There was no aneuploidy in well-differentiated foci, while aneuploidy was frequently found in moderately or poorly differentiated foci (incidences of 67% and 74%, respectively). CONCLUSIONS: Heterogeneity of DNA ploidy may develop along with changes in growth pattern and cell dedifferentiation or by confluence of nodules originating from different tumor cell clones.

Steroid withdrawal is safe and beneficial in stable cyclosporine-treated liver transplant patients.

Year 1998
Gomez R. Moreno E. Colina F. Loinaz C. Gonzalez-Pinto I. Lumbreras C. Perez-Cerda F. Castellon C. Garcia I.
General and Digestive Surgery, Liver Transplantation Unit, University Hospital, 12 de Octubre, Madrid, Spain.
BACKGROUND: In the immunosuppression of orthotopic liver transplant recipients, steroids are used despite their unspecific action and long-term side effects. Few studies have been carried out on steroid withdrawal and many aspects remain to be elucidated. METHODS: A prospective study was performed to analyse the effect of steroid withdrawal on 86 patients with stable graft function, more than 1 year after orthotopic liver transplant. Thirty patients had chronic hepatitis in the graft. Seventy-two continued with cyclosporine (CsA) and 14 with CsA-azathioprine (AZA) therapy. The follow-up was 23.2 +/- 8.1 months (range 12-52 months). A paired t-test was used for statistical analysis. RESULTS: No acute or chronic rejection occurred, and steroids were not reinstituted. There were no changes in serum transaminase levels, but bilirubin levels decreased (p < 0.01). At the end of the follow-up, we found improvements in blood pressure in hypertensive patients (systolic 156.1 +/- 8.4 mmHg vs. 139.4 +/- 8.7 mmHg, p < 0.001); body weight (72 +/- 13.5 kg vs. 70.8 +/- 13 kg, p < 0.05); serum cholesterol (211.3 +/- 42 mg/dl vs. 191.6 +/- 43.5 mg/dl, p < 0.001) and bone mineral density in lumbar spine (0.823 +/- 0.13 g/cm2 vs. 0.893 +/- 0.135 g/cm2, p < 0.001). Four of ten diabetic patients were no longer insulin-dependent and insulin requirements decreased in the remaining six. No significant biochemical changes were found in patients with hepatitis in the graft, and we found an improvement in inflammatory activity in the nine biopsied patients. CONCLUSIONS: Steroid withdrawal with CsA monotherapy is feasible, safe and beneficial in patients who have stable liver graft function 1 year after orthotopic liver transplant. We consider that AZA therapy is not necessary unless drastic reduction of CsA levels is required because of renal dysfunction.

Hydes prurigo nodularis and chronic HCV hepatitis.

Year 1998
Neri S. Raciti C. D'Angelo G. Ierna D. Bruno CM.
Institute of Internal and Emergency Medicine, Catania University, Italy.
The authors describe a woman with chronic active hepatitis, Hyde's prurigo nodularis and hepatitis C virus infection. The association of these three pathologies and their parallel evolution during treatment suggest a possible pathogenic link between the chronic hepatitis C virus infection and the skin disease.

Chronic hepatitis induced by Jin Bu Huan.

Year 1998
Picciotto A. Campo N. Brizzolara R. Giusto R. Guido G. Sinelli N. Lapertosa G. Celle G.
Department of Internal Medicine, University of Genoa, Italy.
BACKGROUND/AIMS: Jin Bu Huan and other Chinese herbal products are widely taken remedies. They have been developed as a natural alternative to traditional drugs in the treatment of various ailments. Their ability to induce several side effects such as acute hepatitis has already been described. We report a case of chronic hepatic damage following administration of Jin Bu Huan Anodyne tablets. METHODS: The patient, a 49-year-old man, developed biochemical signs of liver damage 2 months after beginning Jin Bu Huan intake (3 tablets/daily) including biopsy-proven chronic hepatitis with moderate fibrosis. Virological, autoimmune, metabolic or other hepatotoxic causes were excluded. Liver function impairment was resolved by discontinuing Jin Bu Huan intake. CONCLUSIONS: This case reinforces the already known hepatotoxicity of this product and should make us think more about the uncontrolled use of alternative products.

In vitro reactivity of cryoglobulin IgM and IgG in hepatitis C virus-associated mixed cryoglobulinemia.

Year 1998
Schott P. Polzien F. Muller-Issberner A. Ramadori G. Hartmann H.
Department of Medicine, Georg-August-University, Gottingen, Germany.
BACKGROUND/AIMS: Mixed cryoglobulinemia is frequently associated with chronic hepatitis C virus infection. We aimed to clarify the mechanism, kinetics and participating proteins in cryoprecipitate formation, which are still being debated. METHODS: Eighteen patients with cryoglobulinemia were studied. Isolated serum cryoprecipitates and purified cryoglobulin IgM and IgG fractions were analyzed in vitro by turbidimetry for temperature-dependent complex formation. Immunoglobulin reactivity, i.e. in cryoprecipitates and in cryoglobulin-free sera, was studied using immunoblot and enzyme immunoassays. HCV RNA was detected by reverse transcriptase/polymerase chain reaction. RESULTS: By turbidimetry, purified cryo-IgM precipitated (in the absence of HCV RNA) with cryo-IgG as well as with non-cryoglobulin IgG and with IgG Fc or F(ab')2 fragments. In contrast, purified cryo-IgG did not precipitate with non-cryoglobulin IgM. Anti-HCV IgG reactivity was found in cryoglobulin-free sera, in cryoprecipitates and in purified cryoglobulin IgG fractions. The respective titers were similar. Purified cryo-IgM did not react to HCV-encoded proteins. Binding of cryo-IgM to heterologous IgG was inhibited by intact IgG (up to a mean of about 52%) as well as by IgG Fc (33%) and F(ab')2 fragments (17%). Binding of cryo-IgM to IgG was enhanced at low temperature (4 degrees C vs. 37 degrees C), particularly for type III cryoglobulin IgM. CONCLUSIONS: In hepatitis C virus-associated cryoglobulinemia the in vitro precipitate formation depended on cryo-IgM, while IgG appeared to act as an unspecific antigenic partner. Hepatitis C viral particles were probably not required. Cryo-IgM binding occurred primarily to intact IgG. Anti-HCV reactivity of either cryo-IgM or cryo-IgG was not necessary for precipitate formation. Regarding the pathogenesis, a direct hepatitis C virus protein-dependent stimulation of B-cells producing cryo-IgM seems to be unlikely.

Characteristics of patients with dual infection by hepatitis B and C viruses.

Year 1998
Zarski JP. Bohn B. Bastie A. Pawlotsky JM. Baud M. Bost-Bezeaux F. Tran van Nhieu J. Seigneurin JM. Buffet C. Dhumeaux D.
Departement d'Hepato-Gastroenterologie, C.H.U. de Grenoble - BP 217, France.
BACKGROUND/AIMS: The purpose of this study was to compare the epidemiological, biochemical, virological and histological characteristics of patients with chronic hepatitis B and C with those of patients suffering from chronic hepatitis C alone. METHODS: Twenty-three patients with chronic hepatitis C, who were anti-HCV positive and HBs antigen positive, were studied and subdivided into two groups according to the presence or absence of HBV DNA replication. They were compared to 69 age- and sex-matched patients with chronic hepatitis who were anti-HCV positive and HBs antigen negative. All patients were HCV RNA positive by PCR, anti-HIV negative and anti-HDV negative. HBV DNA and HCV RNA were detected in serum by means of a branched DNA assay and PCR. The HCV serotypes were determined by the Chiron Riba HCV serotyping SIA technique. The histological characteristics included the Knodell score. RESULTS: Epidemiological, biochemical and virological parameters were not different between the two groups. Only the prevalence of cirrhosis was greater in chronic hepatitis B and C patients than in patients with chronic hepatitis C alone (p = 0.01). Among chronic hepatitis B and C patients, HCV RNA level was significantly lower in HBV DNA positive than in HBV DNA negative patients (p = 0.01). Indeed, histological lesions were more severe in HBV DNA positive than in HBV DNA negative patients, including prevalence of cirrhosis (p = 0.01), Knodell score (p = 0.05) and, among the latter, piecemeal necrosis (p = 0.01) and fibrosis (p = 0.05). The characteristics of patients with dual infection did not differ according to the mode of contamination and duration of HBV disease, except for a shorter duration in patients contaminated by drug abuse than in other patients. CONCLUSIONS: These results suggest that HBV DNA replication inhibits HCV RNA replication in patients with chronic active hepatitis B and C but increases the severity of histological lesions.

HCV and HGV in B-cell non-Hodgkins lymphoma.

Year 1998
Ellenrieder V. Weidenbach H. Frickhofen N. Michel D. Prummer O. Klatt S. Bernas O. Mertens T. Adler G. Beckh K.
Department of Gastroenterology, University of Ulm, Germany.
BACKGROUND/AIMS: A causative role of hepatitis C virus infection (HCV) has been discussed in the pathogenesis of mixed cryoglobulinaemia and in B-cell non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. No data are available concerning the newly discovered hepatitis G virus (HGV) and extrahepatic manifestations such as haematological malignancies. But, HCV and HGV most probably belong to the same family of Flavivirus. Consequently, we looked for the prevalence of HCV, HGV and cryoglobulins in patients with B-cell non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. METHODS: Serum samples from 69 patients with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma were studied. Diagnosis of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma was established according to the Kiel classification. Active HCV- and HGV infections were investigated using polymerase chain reaction for detection of viral RNA. Cryoglobulins were detected from serum and monoclonal immunoglobulin components were analysed with immunofixation electrophoresis. In addition, we assessed the clinical course of HCV- and HGV-infected patients under chemotherapy. RESULTS: Three of 69 (4.3%) patients with B-cell non-Hodgkin's lymphoma were HCV-infected and nine non-Hodgkin's lymphoma patients (13.0%) were positive for hepatitis G virus RNA. All HGV infected patients were suffering from low-grade non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. No HGV-infected patient was co-infected by HCV and neither HCV- nor HGV-infected patients showed clinical signs of chronic liver disease before, during or after chemotherapy. Serum samples from all patients were devoid of cryoglobulins. CONCLUSIONS: HCV seems to have no significance for the pathogenesis of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in Germany. The increased prevalence of hepatitis G (16.3%) in patients with low-grade non-Hodgkin's lymphoma could suggest a pathological consequence of HGV infection outside of the liver. Evidence of clinically relevant hepatic disease in HGV infected patients was not obtained. Further, chemotherapy does not seem to affect the subsequent clinical course of HGV infection.

Metadoxine accelerates fatty liver recovery in alcoholic patients: results of a randomized double-blind, placebo-control trial. Spanish Group for the Study of Alcoholic Fatty Liver.

Year 1998
Caballeria J. Pares A. Bru C. Mercader J. Garcia Plaza A. Caballeria L. Clemente G. Rodrigo L. Rodes J.
Liver Unit, Hospital Clinic i Provincial, University of Barcelona, Spain. rovira@medicina.ub.es
BACKGROUND/AIMS: Our aim was to investigate the effectiveness of metadoxine (pyridoxol L, 2 pyrrolidone-5-carboxylate) in the treatment of alcoholic fatty liver. METHODS: A double-blind randomized multicenter trial involving 136 chronic active alcoholic patients diagnosed with fatty liver by clinical, biochemical and ultrasonographic criteria was performed. Patients were treated with 1500 mg/day of metadoxine (n = 69) or placebo (n = 67) for 3 months. Patients were clinically and biochemically evaluated every month. Ultrasonography was performed before and after treatment. RESULTS: At the end of the study there was a significant improvement in the liver function tests in both groups. However, the changes were more rapid and greater in patients treated with metadoxine, in whom significant changes in serum levels of bilirubin, aminotransferases and gammaglutamyl transpeptidase were already observed after 1 month of treatment, and normalization of these parameters was observed at the end. After treatment, the percentage of patients with ultrasonographic signs of steatosis was significantly lower in the metadoxine group (28% vs 70%, p < 0.01) and the degree of steatosis was also lower in this group. Sixteen patients treated with metadoxine and 15 with placebo continued drinking. Alcohol intake was lower than initially, and similar in both groups. In the metadoxine group, the biochemical changes were similar in both the abstinent and the nonabstinent patients. In contrast, in the placebo group the improvement in the liver function tests was significantly higher in abstinents. Among patients who continued drinking, the prevalence (45% vs 92%, p < 0.05) and the degree of steatosis were also significantly lower in patients treated with metadoxine. CONCLUSIONS: In patients with alcoholic fatty liver, metadoxine accelerates the normalization of liver function tests and the ultrasonographic changes, even in those who do not completely abstain from alcohol intake. Thus, metadoxine could be useful in the treatment of the early stages of alcoholic liver disease.

Limited T cell receptor Vbeta-chain repertoire of liver-infiltrating T cells in autoimmune hepatitis.

Year 1998
Arenz M. Meyer zum Buschenfelde KH. Lohr HF.
Ist. Dept. of Internal Medicine, Johannes Gutenberg-University, Mainz, Germany.
BACKGROUND/AIMS: To characterize the cellular immune reactions in autoimmune hepatitis, the T cell receptor repertoire of liver-infiltrating and circulating T cells was studied. METHODS: Nucleic acids of liver-tissue and peripheral blood-derived T cells from 12 patients with untreated autoimmune hepatitis, four patients with chronic hepatitis C and three patients with toxic liver injury were extracted and analysed using a semiquantitative RT-PCR with a panel of T cell receptor Vbeta family specific primers. After agarose gel electrophoresis, the distribution of T cell receptor (TCR) Vbeta molecules was assessed by densitometry. Furthermore, results were compared to the TCR Vbeta distribution of 10 healthy blood donors. RESULTS: Four of 12 patients with untreated autoimmune hepatitis but no patients with chronic hepatitis C and toxic liver injury showed a significant overexpression of TCR Vbeta3 (17.8% +/- 2.6% vs. 9.3% +/- 4.6%; p = 0.01) and three an overexpression of Vbeta13.1 (14.6% +/- 2.3% vs. 6.6% +/- 3.5%; p = 0.02) molecules compared to the TCR Vbeta-distribution in healthy blood donors. In addition, Vbeta3+ T cells were found enriched in the liver tissue compared to autologous peripheral blood in three autoimmune hepatitis patients (15.3% +/- 7.0% vs. 5.2% +/- 3.1%; L/B ratio: 2.9), while Vbeta13.1+ T cells were enriched in the liver tissue from one of three patients with overexpression. CONCLUSIONS: In autoimmune hepatitis a disease specific compartmentalisation of TCR Vbeta3+ T cells was observed in the liver tissues. Although their specificity was unknown, this might indicate that these infiltrating T cells could have relevance for abnormal immunoregulation.

Is severe cryptogenic chronic hepatitis similar to autoimmune hepatitis?

Year 1998
Kaymakoglu S. Cakaloglu Y. Demir K. Turkoglu S. Badur S. Gurel S. Besisik F. Cevikbas U. Okten A.
Division of Gastroenterohepatology, Istanbul Medical Faculty, Capa, Turkey.
BACKGROUND/AIMS: It has been reported that severe cryptogenic chronic hepatitis may be a subgroup of autoimmune hepatitis. The aims of this study were to investigate the clinical features, liver function tests, human leukocyte antigens and response to immunosuppressive therapy in severe cryptogenic chronic hepatitis, and to compare the findings in such patients with those in patients with autoimmune hepatitis. METHODS: History of alcohol and hepatotoxic drug intake, markers of metabolic liver disease, autoantibodies (antinuclear antibody, smooth muscle antibody, antibody to liver/kidney microsome type 1), and viral markers (HBsAg, HBV DNA, anti-HCV, HCV RNA) were negative in all severe cryptogenic chronic hepatitis patients (histological activity index > 9 and alanine aminotransferase level > 2 x normal). Fifteen cryptogenic patients (13 women; mean age, 33 +/- 16 years) and seven autoimmune patients (seven women; mean age, 28 +/- 3.9 years; five type 1; two type 2a) received prednisolone and azathioprine for at least 2 years. RESULTS: Cryptogenic chronic hepatitis patients were similar to patients with autoimmune hepatitis with respect to age, sex, clinical presentation, liver function tests and Knodell scores at admission. HLA phenotype frequencies were comparable between cryptogenic and autoimmune groups: BW6 (77% vs. 100%), DR4 (62% vs. 57%), and HLA B8 (15% vs. 43%). The rates of complete and partial remissions achieved during therapy were 87% vs. 57% and 13% vs. 29%, respectively (p > 0.05). CONCLUSIONS: The clinical, biochemical and HLA phenotypic features, and the responsiveness to immunosuppressive therapy in severe cryptogenic chronic hepatitis support the idea that it may be an autoimmune liver disease similar to autoimmune hepatitis.

HBV-specific lymphoproliferative and cytokine responses in patients with chronic hepatitis B.

Year 1998
Vingerhoets J. Michielsen P. Vanham G. Bosmans E. Paulij W. Ramon A. Pelckmans P. Kestens L. Leroux-Roels G.
Institute of Tropical Medicine, Laboratory of Immunology, Antwerp, Belgium. jvingerhoets@itg.be
BACKGROUND/AIMS: Hepatitis B virus specific T cell responses are crucial for viral elimination but their nature is not fully understood. METHODS: We studied the regulation of proliferation and cytokine production after antigenic stimulation in peripheral blood mononuclear cells from chronically HBV-infected patients and subjects with natural immunity after recovery from an acute infection. Proliferation and production of interferon-gamma, IL-10 and tumor necrosis factor-alpha were determined after stimulation with HBcAg, HBeAg or HBsAg in the absence or presence of IL-12 or neutralizing antibodies to IL-12, interferon-gamma, IL-4, IL-10 or tumor necrosis factor-alpha. RESULTS: Upon stimulation with HBcAg or HBeAg, peripheral blood mononuclear cells from chronic hepatitis B virus patients displayed a clear class-II restricted proliferative response (SI greater than 2.5). Both interferon-gamma (less than 50 IU/ml) and IL-10 levels up to 600 pg/ml were detected. Proliferative or cytokine responses to HBsAg were very weak or absent. Addition of IL-12 to HBeAg-stimulated cultures increased the production of interferon-gamma to more than 200 IU/ml in all patients and slightly increased the production of IL-10. Neutralization of IL-10 increased the HBeAg-induced interferon-gamma production but had no effect on tumor necrosis factor-alpha production. Addition of anti-IL-4 or anti-tumor necrosis factor-alpha had no significant influence on proliferation or cytokine release. Importantly, in both chronic hepatitis B virus patients and naturally immune subjects, IL-12 induced proliferative and interferon-gamma responses in peripheral blood mononuclear cells stimulated with HBsAg. CONCLUSIONS: Our data indicate that peripheral blood mononuclear cells from chronic hepatitis B virus patients proliferate and produce interferon-gamma and IL-10 upon HBeAg but not upon HBsAg stimulation. IL-12 augments the HBeAg-induced responses and, additionally, provokes proliferation and interferon-gamma production in HBsAg-stimulated cultures.

Correction of maternal serum bile acid profile during ursodeoxycholic acid therapy in cholestasis of pregnancy.

Year 1998
Brites D. Rodrigues CM. Oliveira N. Cardoso M. Graca LM.
Centro de Patogenese Molecular, Faculdade de Farmacia da Universidade de Lisboa, Portugal.
BACKGROUND/AIMS: Intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy is characterized by pruritus and increased levels of serum bile acids, and is often associated with premature delivery, fetal distress, and perinatal mortality. The aims of the present study were: (i) to better define the serum bile acid profile in intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy and its potential usefulness for differential diagnosis; (ii) to investigate the effect of ursodeoxycholic acid treatment on the bile acid pool; and (iii) to investigate possible adverse effects of therapy. METHODS: Fifteen patients with intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy were enrolled in this study. Ursodeoxycholic acid (14 mg/kg body weight per day) was administered for 13 +/- 5 days. Twenty normal pregnant women served as controls. Serum bile acid profile was analyzed by high-performance liquid chromatography. RESULTS: Patients with cholestasis of pregnancy showed significant alterations in the proportion of primary bile acids, with an increase in cholic acid (64.0 +/- 3.0% vs. 32.2 +/- 1.8%, p < 0.01), and a decrease in chenodeoxycholic acid (20.8 +/- 1.4% vs. 31.9 +/- 1.3%, p < 0.01), as compared to controls, resulting in a marked elevation in the cholic/chenodeoxycholic acid ratio (3.4 +/- 0.5 vs. 1.1 +/- 0.1, p < 0.01). The glycine/taurine ratio was reduced in cholestasis of pregnancy (0.8 +/- 0.1 vs. 1.4 +/- 0.1, p < 0.01). During ursodeoxycholic acid administration its proportion in serum increased from 1.4 +/- 0.6% (0.6 +/- 0.2 micromol/l) at baseline to 24.7 +/- 2.3% (5.9 +/- 1.9 micromol/l) with therapy (p < 0.01). This increment was accompanied by a significant decrease in the percentage of cholic acid (28.2 +/- 2.6%, p < 0.01) and an elevation in chenodeoxycholic acid proportion (25.0 +/- 1.9%, N.S.). Although lithocholic acid concentration in serum was maintained with treatment (1.2 +/- 0.2 micromol/l vs. 1.7 +/- 0.5 micromol/l), there was a significant increase in lithocholic acid proportion (p < 0.01) from 3.3 +/- 0.5% at baseline to 7.4 +/- 1.3% during therapy. The glycine/taurine ratio of serum bile acid pool returned to normal after ursodeoxycholic acid administration (1.7 +/- 0.3). CONCLUSIONS: These results establish the importance of ursodeoxycholic acid treatment for the correction of maternal serum bile acid profile in cholestasis of pregnancy, indicating that ursodeoxycholic acid may improve fetal prognosis.

Use of famciclovir to prevent HBV reactivation in HBsAg-positive recipients after allogeneic bone marrow transplantation.

Year 1998
Lau GK. Liang R. Wu PC. Lee CK. Lim WL. Au WY.
Department of Medicine, Queen Mary Hospital, Hong Kong. gkklau@hkstar.com
BACKGROUND/AIMS: Reactivation of chronic hepatitis B viral infection causes significant morbidity and mortality after bone marrow transplantation. Recently, nucleoside analogues, such as famciclovir, were found to have a direct suppressive effect on hepatitis B virus replication in both in vitro and in vivo studies. We have studied the effect of famciclovir on the incidence of hepatitis B virus reactivation and hepatitis after allogeneic bone marrow transplantation. METHODS: Eight hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg)-positive patients who received allogeneic bone marrow transplantation were given oral famciclovir 250 mg three times daily, starting at least 1 week prior to bone marrow transplantation and continuing for 24 weeks after transplantation. Clinical and serological outcomes in these patients were compared with 24 HBsAg-positive recipients of allogeneic bone marrow transplantation who did not receive famciclovir (historical controls). RESULTS: After bone marrow transplantation, there were five patients with hepatitis B virus reactivation among those who received famciclovir 250 mg three times daily. Four of these patients responded to increased dosages of 500 mg three times daily and did not develop hepatitis. The remaining patient suffered from hepatitis related to hepatitis B virus reactivation. Compared to historical controls, there were fewer cases of hepatitis due to hepatitis B virus reactivation and veno-occlusive disease. The median follow-up was 701.6 days (range: 50-2346 days) with ten deaths (three due to hepatic failure related to HBV reactivation) in those who did not receive famciclovir and one death (due to hepatic failure related to graft-versus-host disease) in those who received famciclovir. CONCLUSIONS: Use of famciclovir significantly reduced hepatitis due to hepatitis B virus reactivation in HBsAg-positive recipients after allogeneic bone marrow transplantation.

A pilot randomized, controlled trial of the effect of iron depletion on long-term response to alpha-interferon in patients with chronic hepatitis C.

Year 1998
Fong TL. Han SH. Tsai NC. Morgan TR. Mizokami M. Qian D. Phan C. Goad K. Redeker AG.
The Liver Unit, University of Southern California School of Medicine, Los Angeles, USA.
BACKGROUND/AIMS: Some studies have suggested that hepatic iron may influence the response to interferon therapy in chronic hepatitis C patients. We conducted this randomized, controlled trial to evaluate the effect of iron depletion on: (1) aminotransferase activity and hepatitis C RNA levels; and (2) response to interferon therapy in 38 patients with elevated alanine aminotransferase levels and who were HCV RNA positive. METHODS: Seventeen patients underwent a 500-ml phlebotomy every 2 weeks until iron deficiency was achieved. Patients were then started on a 6-month course of alpha-interferon 2b (3 mu tiw). Controls were 21 patients who were monitored for a 6- to 8-week period without phlebotomy prior to interferon therapy. Response to interferon was defined as loss of serum HCV RNA by reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction. Serum HCV RNA was quantitated by bDNA technique. RESULTS: Alanine aminotransferase levels decreased in 15/17 patients after phlebotomy. Mean alanine aminotransferase fell from 156.8 to 89.7 U/l (p=0.008). Changes in iron indices and alanine aminotransferase after phlebotomy were not accompanied by changes in HCV RNA levels. In control patients, neither alanine aminotransferase nor HCV RNA levels changed during the observation period. At the end of 24 weeks of interferon therapy, 7/17 phlebotomized patients had a response, compared to 6/21 control patients (p=ns). After 6 months of follow-up, 5/17 phlebotomized patients remained HCV RNA negative, in contrast to only 1/21 controls (p=0.07). CONCLUSIONS: Iron depletion led to a reduction in aminotransferase levels; this was not accompanied by changes in levels of hepatitis C RNA. There may be an improvement in the sustained response to interferon therapy, but this requires confirmation.

Role of anti-interferon antibodies in breakthrough occurrence during alpha 2a and 2b therapy in patients with chronic hepatitis C.

Year 1998
Leroy V. Baud M. de Traversay C. Maynard-Muet M. Lebon P. Zarski JP.
Departement d'Hepato-gastroenterologie, CHU Grenoble, France.
BACKGROUND/AIMS: Alpha interferon induces aminotransferase normalization in about 50% of patients with chronic viral hepatitis C. However, some patients who initially respond experience a relapse during the treatment period (breakthrough phenomenon). The aim of this study was to evaluate the prevalence of breakthrough and its relationship with the emergence of neutralizing anti-interferon antibodies. METHODS: We studied 172 patients with histologically proven chronic hepatitis C, treated with interferon alpha 2a or 2b 3 mega units three times a week for 6 months. For each patient, HCV RNA level (polymerase chain reaction and bDNA) and anti-interferon antibodies dosage were determined during therapy. RESULTS: Among 84 patients with initial response, 13 (15.5%) experienced breakthrough. The kinetics of alanine aminotransferase and HCV RNA levels were strongly correlated, suggesting that breakthrough is not due to a random alanine aminotransferase fluctuation during treatment, but to the reappearance of viral replication. Neutralizing anti-interferon antibodies emergence was observed in 38.5% in patients with breakthrough, as compared to 9.0% and 2.8% of non-responder and complete-responder patients, respectively (p

Use of granulocyte macrophage colony stimulating factor alone or in combination with interferon-alpha-2b for treatment of chronic hepatitis C.

Year 1998
Shiffman ML. Hofmann CM. Luketic VA. Sanyal AJ.
Hepatology Section, Medical College of Virginia, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond 23298, USA.
BACKGROUND/AIMS: We have evaluated the effect of granulocyte macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF) when utilized either alone or in combination with interferon for treatment of chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV). METHODS: A total of 71 patients with chronic HCV, elevated alanine aminotransferase and normal hepatic function were enrolled into these studies. Nineteen patients who had previously failed to achieve both biochemical and virologic response during interferon therapy were treated with increasing doses of GM-CSF alone (65-250 microg/m2 three times weekly) for 6 months. Another 52 patients who had not been previously treated with interferon entered a randomized controlled trial; 25 were treated with interferon alone (3 mU three times weekly) and 27 with a combination of interferon+GM-CSF (3 mU+250 microg/m2 three times weekly). All patients were treated for 6 months. Both groups were well matched for age, sex, race, serum alanine aminotransferase, HCV-RNA titer, liver histology score and cirrhosis. RESULTS: None of the patients treated with GM-CSF alone developed either biochemical or virologic response at any of the treatment dosages and mean HCV-RNA titer remained unchanged from baseline during this therapy. For patients in the randomized controlled trial, biochemical and virologic responses were observed in 54% of interferon-treated patients compared to 31.8% for those treated with interferon+GM-CSF. Long-term sustained virologic response was observed in only one patient in each group. No significant differences were observed in HCV-RNA titer during the course of treatment. GM-CSF treatment was associated with a significant increase in total white blood cell count and absolute eosinophil count, which peaked within the first month of therapy and declined spontaneously during the remaining 5 months. CONCLUSION: GM-CSF either alone or in combination with interferon does not appear to be effective for treatment of chronic HCV.

Alpha-glutathione transferases in HCV-related chronic hepatitis: a new predictive index of response to interferon therapy?

Year 1998
Loguercio C. Caporaso N. Tuccillo C. Morisco F. Del Vecchio Blanco G. Del Vecchio Blanco C.
Department of Internal Medicine F. Magrassi, 2nd University of Naples, Italy.
BACKGROUND/AIM: The aim of this study was to evaluate if plasma levels of alpha-glutathione-S-transferases (determined in basal conditions and monthly for 1 year during and 1 year after interferon therapy) could characterize patients who show only a primary response. METHODS: We studied 48 patients with biopsy-proven, hepatitis C virus ribonucleic acid positive chronic hepatitis treated with interferon: 18 were "Sustained Responders", 12 "Relapsers" and 18 "Non-Responders". RESULTS: Relapsers showed higher basal levels of alpha-glutathione-S-transferases, which remained higher than normal even when alanine aminotransferases normalized. No correlation was documented between alpha-glutathione-S-transferase levels and all other parameters examined (alanine aminotransferases, gamma-glutamyl-transpeptidase, viremia, and histological activity index). CONCLUSIONS: These findings suggest that alpha-glutathione-S-transferase levels may be considered a predictive index of response to interferon therapy in chronic hepatitis C patients.

The C282Y mutation in the haemochromatosis gene (HFE) and hepatitis C virus infection are independent cofactors for porphyria cutanea tarda in Australian patients.

Year 1998
Stuart KA. Busfield F. Jazwinska EC. Gibson P. Butterworth LA. Cooksley WG. Powell LW. Crawford DH.
Department of Gastroenterology, The Royal Brisbane Hospital, Australia.
BACKGROUND/AIM: Whether mutations in the putative haemochromatosis gene (HFE) and hepatitis C virus act independently to precipitate porphyria cutanea tarda is unknown. The aim of the study was to investigate the relationship between mutations in HFE, hepatitis C and porphyria cutanea tarda. METHODS: The frequencies of the C282Y and H63D mutations in HFE were determined in 27 patients with porphyria cutanea tarda and compared with the reported control frequencies. In addition, the presence of hepatitis C virus infection was identified and related to the patients' HFE status. RESULTS: The C282Y mutation was found in 44.4% of patients compared with the control frequency of 12% (p

Bile duct bacterial isolates in primary sclerosing cholangitis: a study of explanted livers.

Year 1998
Olsson R. Bjornsson E. Backman L. Friman S. Hockerstedt K. Kaijser B. Olausson M.
Department of Medicine, Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Goteborg, Sweden.
BACKGROUND/AIMS: The pathogenesis of the inflammatory lesion in primary sclerosing cholangitis is unknown. The clinical picture is characterized by i.a. episodes of fever, the cause of which also remains speculative. Previous studies of bacterial isolates in the liver or bile ducts in primary sclerosing cholangitis have had the shortcoming of possible contamination associated with the sampling. The aim of this study was to investigate whether bile and bile duct tissue, obtained under sterile conditions in connection with liver transplantation, contain bacteria. METHODS: We studied bile from bile duct walls and bile collected from the explanted livers of 36 patients with primary sclerosing cholangitis and 14 patients with primary biliary cirrhosis. RESULTS: Positive cultures were obtained from 21 of 36 primary sclerosing cholangitis patients, but from none of the primary biliary cirrhosis patients. The number of bacterial strains was inversely related to the time after the last endoscopic retrograde cholangiography. Treatment with antibiotics or intraductal stent, or the occurrence of fever before liver transplantation did not seem to influence the culture results, whereas antibiotic treatment in connection with endoscopic retrograde cholangiography may possibly have reduced the number of isolates in the cultures. Alpha-haemolytic Streptococci were retrieved as late as 4 years after the last endoscopic retrograde cholangiography. Retrospective analysis of liver laboratory tests after endoscopic retrograde cholangiography did not indicate a deleterious effect of the investigation. CONCLUSIONS: The data suggest that antibiotics should be given routinely in connection with endoscopic retrograde cholangiography. They also raise the question of a possible role of alpha-haemolytic Streptococci in the progression of primary sclerosing cholangitis.

Mycobacterial DNA not detected in liver sections from patients with primary biliary cirrhosis.

Year 1998
O'Donohue J. Fidler H. Garcia-Barcelo M. Nouri-Aria K. Williams R. McFadden J.
Institute of Liver Studies, King's College, London, UK.
BACKGROUND/AIMS: Recent studies in primary biliary cirrhosis have reported the detection of serum antibodies against Mycobacterium gordonae and of mycobacterial DNA in liver sections. The aim of this study was to investigate whether mycobacterial DNA is present in liver biopsy material in primary biliary cirrhosis. METHODS: Archival liver biopsy specimens from 11 patients with primary biliary cirrhosis (10 female, mean age 52 years) and 11 patients with autoimmune hepatitis (10 female, mean age 53 years) were identified. Positive control tissue comprised five archival lymph node specimens from patients with tuberculous lymphadenopathy, three of which had stained positive on ZN staining, and also a liver biopsy specimen from a patient with tuberculous hepatitis (ZN positive). Fixed sections were deparaffinised and DNA was extracted by mechanical disruption with glass beads. DNA was purified by use of diatoms and lysis in guanidinium thiocyanate in a technique previously validated for archival DNA. Primers were directed to amplify a partial 16S ribosomal RNA gene yielding the species-specific character for mycobacteria, and also to amplify the constitutively-expressed human gene GAPDH. RESULTS: The polymerase chain reaction was shown to be capable of detecting 1 fg of M. gordonae DNA in 'spiked' samples, equivalent to 1-5 bacterial cells. No mycobacterial DNA was detected in liver biopsy samples from either the primary biliary cirrhosis or autoimmune hepatitis groups. Of the tuberculous control sections, mycobacterial DNA was detected in four of five lymph nodes and the liver biopsy specimen. GAPDH amplification was detected in all tested samples from liver disease and tuberculous control samples. CONCLUSION: These data do not support a role for mycobacteria in the aetiology of primary biliary cirrhosis.

Histopathological evaluation of liver fibrosis: quantitative image analysis vs semi-quantitative scores. Comparison with serum markers.

Year 1998
Pilette C. Rousselet MC. Bedossa P. Chappard D. Oberti F. Rifflet H. Maiga MY. Gallois Y. Cales P.
Service d'Hepato-Gastroenterologie, CHU, Angers, France.
BACKGROUND/AIMS: Liver fibrosis is mainly evaluated by qualitative histological examination. Although histological semi-quantitative scores and quantitative determination with image analysis are now possible, these methods have not been fully validated and compared. Therefore, we evaluated these two methods prospectively in 243 patients with chronic liver disease. METHODS: The semi-quantitative fibrosis score was evaluated by two independent pathologists, using the Knodell fibrosis score and a 6-grade score derived from the Metavir score; the area of fibrosis was measured by image analysis. The serum levels of hyaluronate, N-terminal peptide of procollagen III, laminin, transforming growth factor-beta1, alpha2-macroglobulin, apolipoprotein A1, PGA score and prothrombin index were measured. RESULTS: There was a good correlation between the semi-quantitative fibrosis score and the area of fibrosis (r=0.84, p

Upright posture decreases esophageal varices flow velocity in patients with cirrhosis.

Year 1998
Iwao T. Oho K. Sakai T. Sato M. Nakano R. Yamawaki M. Toyonaga A. Tanikawa K.
Department of Medicine II, Kurume University School of Medicine, Asahi, Japan.
BACKGROUND/AIMS: Patients with cirrhosis tend to have esophageal variceal bleeding episodes at night, rather than during the day time. Since human beings carry on ordinary activities in the upright posture in the day time and are recumbent at night, we hypothesized that posture may be a factor related to a circadian variation of variceal bleeding. The aim of this study was to examine the effect of upright posture on esophageal varices hemodynamics in patients with cirrhosis. METHODS: Nine patients with cirrhosis and esophageal varices were included in a crossover study performed on 2 separate days. On the non-endoscopic day, cardiac output, portal vein flow velocity, and superior mesenteric artery flow velocity were measured with percutaneous Doppler ultrasonography. Plasma renin activity and plasma norepinephrine concentrations were also determined. On the endoscopic day, in addition to the above measurements, esophageal varices flow velocity was measured using transesophageal Doppler ultrasonography. These measurements were performed in the supine position and 20 min after the assumption of the upright position. RESULTS: On the non-endoscopic day, the upright posture significantly decreased cardiac output, portal vein flow velocity, and superior mesenteric artery flow velocity. Plasma renin activity and plasma norepinephrine concentration were significantly increased after assumption of the upright position. On the endoscopic day, similar hemodynamic and hormonal changes were observed. In addition, the upright posture significantly decreased esophageal varices flow velocity. Furthermore, the magnitude of the reduction in esophageal varices flow velocity (-42%) was significantly greater than that in portal vein flow velocity (-22%, p

Factors related to early mortality after transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt for failed endoscopic therapy in acute variceal bleeding.

Year 1998
Patch D. Nikolopoulou V. McCormick A. Dick R. Armonis A. Wannamethee G. Burroughs A.
University Department of Medicine, Royal Free Hospital, London, UK.
BACKGROUND: Uncontrolled variceal haemorrhage is the main indication for transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt. However, mortality is 50% for this high-risk group. We have evaluated clinical and laboratory variables prior to transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt in order to establish predictors of mortality, validated prospectively. METHOD: Over a 4-year period, 367 patients were admitted with variceal bleeding. In 54 patients endoscopic therapy for acute variceal bleeding failed and they had emergency transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt. Failure of therapy was defined as continued bleeding after 2 endoscopy sessions (n=39) or vasoconstrictor-resistant bleeding from gastric/ectopic varices (n=15). Thirty-three variables were analysed from data available immediately prior to transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt. RESULTS: Twenty-six patients died within 6 weeks. In a multivariate analysis, 6 factors had independent prognostic value: moderate/severe ascites, requirement for ventilation, white cell blood count (WBC), platelet count (PLT), partial thromboplastin time with kaolin (PTTK) and creatinine. A prognostic index (PI) score was derived, in which presence of moderate/severe ascites, or need for ventilation, scored 1: PI=1.54 (Ascites)+1.27 (Ventilation)+1.38 Ln (WBC)+2.48 ln (PTTK)+1.55 Ln (Creat)-1.05 Ln (PLT). Using this equation, 42% (n=10) of deaths occurred in the fifth quintile (PI > or = 18.52), where the mortality was 100%. The score was prospectively validated in a further 31 patients, giving 100% positive predictive value. Eleven further patients died, including all seven with a PI >18.5. No survivors had a PI >18.3. CONCLUSION: Despite immediate control of bleeding by transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt, patients with uncontrolled variceal haemorrhage have a high mortality, particularly when associated with markers of advanced liver disease, sepsis and multi-organ failure. The use of transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt is probably not justified in this subgroup. Our prognostic index can help identify such patients, and, if validated elsewhere, will help in deciding when to use transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt.

Diagnostic value and tolerance of Lipiodol-computed tomography for the detection of small hepatocellular carcinoma: correlation with pathologic examination of explanted livers.

Year 1998
Bizollon T. Rode A. Bancel B. Gueripel V. Ducerf C. Baulieux J. Trepo C.
Hepatology Unit, Hotel-Dieu Hospital, Lyon, France.
BACKGROUND/AIMS: This study aimed to assess the tolerance and the real sensitivity of Lipiodol-computed tomography in the detection of small hepatocellular carcinoma by comparison with pathological examination of the explanted livers. METHODS: Seventy-two patients with cirrhosis (Child A=8, B=36, C=28) awaiting orthotopic liver transplantation underwent Lipiodol-computed tomography to determine the presence, number and location of possible hepatocellular carcinoma nodules. Before liver transplantation six patients had a presumed single hepatocellular carcinoma diagnosed by biopsy. Liver transplantation was performed a mean of 6 months after Lipiodol-computed tomography. Explanted livers were sectioned at 0.8- to 1-cm intervals. Lipiodol-computed tomography staging and pathologic findings were compared. RESULTS: Pathologic studies showed 24 hepatocellular carcinoma nodules (diameter, 2-42 mm) not diagnosed before liver transplantation in 14 of the 72 livers. Lipiodol-computed tomography detected 6 of these 24 nodules, but none of the daughter lesions (n=9) in the six patients with a presumed single hepatocellular carcinoma. Lesion-by-lesion analysis revealed a sensitivity of 37%. Lipiodol-computed tomography falsely detected three additional nodules not confirmed by pathologic examination (1 haemangioma, 2 nondysplastic regenerating nodules). One Child C patient developed variceal bleeding within 2 days after injection of Lipiodol. CONCLUSIONS: Tolerance of this procedure was satisfactory, even in Child C patients. Lipiodol-computed tomography has a low sensitivity in the detection of small hapatocellular carcinoma. These results must be considered when liver resection or liver transplantation is proposed for the treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma.

Preoperative TNM-classification is a better prognostic indicator for recurrence of hepatocellular carcinoma after liver transplantation than albumin mRNA in peripheral blood. Liver Transplant Oncology Group.

Year 1998
Peck-Radosavljevic M. Pidlich J. Bergmann M. Ferenci P. Seelos C. Wichlas M. Lipinski E. Gnant M. Gangl A. Muhlbacher F.
Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, University of Vienna, Austria. m.peck@magnet.at
BACKGROUND/AIM: Survival after orthotopic liver transplantation for hepatocellular carcinoma is limited by a high rate of tumor recurrence. A polymerase chain reaction assay based on the detection of albumin mRNA expression in peripheral blood for detection of hematogenous micrometastasis of hepatocellular carcinoma has been described, which may help to select candidates for orthotopic liver transplantation. METHODS: The prognostic value of a highly sensitive nested reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction assay was evaluated in comparison with the TNM-classification of the International Union against Cancer in a population of liver transplant candidates. RESULTS: Eighty patients with liver disease and 42 control patients were evaluated. Six of 21 patients with hepatocellular carcinoma and 11 of 59 patients with other diseases of the liver were positive for albumin reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction, making this assay an indicator of ongoing liver damage without absolute specificity for hepatocellular carcinoma. Twelve patients with hepatoma were followed after liver transplantation and seven of those patients had a tumor recurrence within 12 months. Six of these patients with recurrence had International Union against Cancer stage IV A tumors preoperatively, while only one of them was positive for albumin reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction before transplantation. Only one patient with a stage I to III tumor had a recurrence within 12 months. CONCLUSIONS: Detection of albumin mRNA in peripheral blood by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction seems to be an unreliable marker for assessing hematogenous spread of hepatocellular carcinoma. With International Union against Cancer stage IV A being a much better predictor of tumor recurrence, the practical value of albumin mRNA reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction for patient selection in liver transplant candidates seems to be very limited.

Antitumor effect of the nucleoside analogs 2-chlorodeoxyadenosine and 2,2-difluorodeoxycytidine on human hepatoma HepG2 cells.

Year 1998
Graziadei I. Kelly T. Schirmer M. Geisen FH. Vogel W. Konwalinka G.
Department of Internal Medicine, University of Innsbruck, Austria.
BACKGROUND/AIMS: Hepatocellular carcinoma is one of the most malignant tumors in the world. Although a wide range of therapeutic options is available, the efficacy of these methods and the prognosis of hepatocellular carcinoma are still very poor. The nucleoside analogs 2-chlorodeoxyadenosine (Cladribine, 2-CdA) and 2',2'-difluorodeoxycytidine (Gemcitabine, dFdC) have shown potent cytotoxic effects on various human tumor cell lines in vitro and marked therapeutic efficacy in the treatment of lymphoproliferative disorders and several solid tumors in vivo. In the present study we evaluated the antitumor effect of 2-CdA and dFdC on human hepatoma HepG2 cells. METHODS: HepG2 cells were grown in the absence and presence of increasing concentrations of 2-CdA and dFdC. Antitumor activity was assessed by inhibition of cell growth, evaluated by counting cell numbers in a hemocytometer and by 3H-thymidine uptake, and by reduction of cell viability as determined by exclusion of 0.1% trypan blue. For rescue experiments, the natural pyrimidine deoxycytidine (dCyd) was added simultaneously or delayed. RESULTS: A strong antitumor activity was observed for both compounds. dFdC showed a more pronounced effect with an inhibition constant (IC50) of 3.98+/-0.03 nM in comparison to 2-CdA with an IC50 of 16.66+/-0.40 nM. Both drugs achieved their half-maximal antitumor activity after 31 h. With respect to dFdC, fractionated daily administrations showed a distinctly greater antitumor activity than a single transient administration. The cytotoxic effects of 2-CdA and dFdC were completely reversed by simultaneous addition of dCyd. CONCLUSION: In this paper we show strong antitumor effects of the nucleoside analogs 2-CdA and dFdC on the human hepatoma cell line HepG2. These findings suggest that both compounds, but in particular dFdC, are promising substances for further evaluations in the treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma.

Transient emergence of hepatitis B variants in a patient with chronic hepatitis B resistant to lamivudine.

Year 1998
Buti M. Jardi R. Cotrina M. Rodriguez-Frias F. Esteban R. Guardia J.
Liver Unit, Hospital General Universitario Valle Hebron, Barcelona, Spain.
BACKGROUND: Lamivudine is a cytosine nucleoside analogue that inhibits hepatitis B virus replication. Resistance to lamivudine monotherapy has been reported in patients who received lamivudine to prevent recurrent hepatitis B virus infection after liver transplantation. No cases of resistance have been described in patients who did not clear HBV DNA during lamivudine therapy. METHODS: We report the case of an adult patient with chronic HBeAg-positive hepatitis B who had a hepatitis flare during lamivudine therapy. The patient did not respond to lamivudine and, at 4 months of treatment, developed a significant serum alanine aminotransferase elevation. Alanine aminotransferase levels remained elevated for 4 months and returned to baseline spontaneously. Lamivudine therapy was administered for 1 year (52 weeks) and after withdrawal, alanine aminotransferase levels remained elevated. RESULTS: Sequencing studies of HBV DNA at week 52 showed the emergence of a lamivudine-resistant variant associated with two point mutations in the hepatitis B virus polymerase gene: one mutation led to amino acid substitution of methionine to valine at residue 552, in the highly conserved tyrosine-methionineaspartate-aspartate motif, part of the active site of the polymerase; the second mutation consisted of a substitution of leucine to methionine at residue 528. At week 54 of follow-up, both mutations were undetectable. CONCLUSION: This observation demonstrates the transient emergence of HBV variants in the course of therapy in a patient resistant to lamivudine therapy.

Insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus during alpha-interferon therapy for chronic viral hepatitis.

Year 1998
Fabris P. Betterle C. Greggio NA. Zanchetta R. Bosi E. Biasin MR. de Lalla F.
Department of Infectious Diseases, S. Bortolo Hospital, Vicenza, Italy.
A 29-year-old man was observed to develop insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus following a 5-month treatment with recombinant alpha-2b-interferon for chronic hepatitis C. After the onset of the disease, serum samples that had, respectively, been collected before therapy commencement, at month 3, and at the onset of insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus were tested for islet-cell (ICA-IgG), glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD-Abs), IA2 (IA2-Abs) and insulin (IA-Abs) autoantibodies. The following results were obtained: ICA-IgG, 5, >80, and >80 JDF-U, respectively; GAD-Abs: >100 U/ml in all three measurements; IA2-Abs and IA-Abs: negative. During treatment, thyroid microsomal autoantibodies increased markedly (from 1:100 to 25,600 titer); thyroid-stimulating hormone was persistently normal. HLA class II typing revealed a genetic predisposition to insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus as demonstrated by the presence of DRB1* 04/08, DQ A1 52 Arg+/Arg+, and DQB1 57 N-Asp/Asp alleles. One year after the onset of insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, the patient is still receiving 30 IU insulin daily; the liver function tests are normal and HCV-RNA is negative. These data support the hypothesis that, in predisposed patients, alpha-interferon therapy can enhance an ongoing autoimmune process against pancreatic beta-cells and induce overt insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus. We therefore suggest that, in patients with a documented predisposition to insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, alpha-IFN therapy should be administered with caution.

Long-term course of interferon-treated chronic hepatitis C.

Year 1998
Camma C. Di Marco V. Lo Iacono O. Almasio P. Giunta M. Fuschi P. Vaccaro A. Fabiano C. Magrin S. Di Stefano R. Bonura C. Pagliaro L. Craxi A.
Istituto Metodologie Diagnostiche Avanzate, Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche, Palermo, Italy.
BACKGROUND/AIMS: To evaluate whether sustained response to a-interferon improves clinical outcome in patients with chronic hepatitis C. METHODS: A cohort of 410 consecutive patients (65% with chronic hepatitis, 35% with cirrhosis) were treated with a-interferon in two trials (mean follow-up 62.1 months, range 7-109 months). All were serum HCV RNA positive before therapy and received first 10 then 5 million units of a-2b or a-nl interferon three times weekly for 6 to 12 months. Sustained response was defined as normal aminotransferases 12 months after stopping interferon. RESULTS: Sixty-two patients (15.1%: 54 with chronic hepatitis, eight with cirrhosis) were sustained responders. At the end of follow-up, 56 out of 62 sustained responders (90.3%) were serum HCV RNA negative. No biochemical relapse after 12 months was seen in sustained responders, regardless of initial histology, HCV genotype or persistence of HCV RNA. Although three died of non-hepatic causes, no liver-related events were observed among sustained responders. Complications of liver disease occurred in 34 relapsers/non-responders: nine hepatocellular carcinomas, 21 ascites and four portal hypertensive bleedings. Eleven relapsers/nonresponders died: eight of hepatic and three of non-hepatic causes. Event-free survival was significantly longer in sustained responders than in all the remaining patients. In a regression analysis, sustained response to interferon, low age and absence of cirrhosis were independent predictors of event-free survival. CONCLUSIONS: Hepatitis C virus is probably eradicated and progression of liver disease is prevented in most patients who remain HCV RNA negative with normal transaminases for more than 1 year after stopping treatment.

Pattern of HCV antibodies with special reference to NS5A reactivity in HCV-infected patients: relation to viral genotype, cryoglobulinemia and response to interferon.

Year 1998
Frangeul L. Cresta P. Perrin M. Duverlie G. Khorsi H. Musset L. Opolon P. Huraux JM. Lunel F.
Service de Virologie, CHU Pitie-Salpetriere, Paris, France. lfrangeu@pasteur.fr
BACKGROUND/AIMS: We aimed to compare the anti-hepatitis C virus reactivity in confirmatory assays (RIBA 3.0 Ortho Diagnostic and INNO-LIA HCV Ab III Innogenetics) among patients infected with different hepatitis C virus genotypes, with or without cryoglobulinemia, and in patients treated with interferon. METHODS: One hundred and three patients followed in our hepatogastroenterology unit were included in the study and compared to 320 consecutive patients tested using RIBA 3.0. Seventy-nine of the 103 patients were treated with interferon. Long-term responders to interferon were defined as having normal alanine aminotransferase levels and being HCV RNA negative 6 months after the end of treatment. Initial responders were defined as having normal alanine aminotransferase levels at the end of interferon therapy but abnormal alanine aminotransferase levels and/or detectable HCV RNA during the following 6 months. Non-responders were defined as still having elevated alanine aminotransferase during and after interferon. Serological tests (RIBA and INNO-LIA) were performed according to the manufacturers' instructions. HCV RNA was detected by nested polymerase chain reaction. Hepatitis C virus genotype was determined by using a Line Probe Assay (Innogenetics). RESULTS: There was no significant difference in the pattern of hepatitis C virus reactivity according to the hepatitis C virus genotype or presence of cryoglobulinemia. Twenty-three patients were classified as non-responders, 35 as initial responders, 21 as long-term responders. NS5 reactivity was significantly different (p

Ultrasound detection of abdominal lymphadenomegaly in subjects with hepatitis C virus infection and persistently normal transaminases: a predictive index of liver histology severity.

Year 1998
Soresi M. Carroccio A. Bonfissuto G. Agate V. Magliarisi C. Aragona F. Levrero M. Notarbartolo A. Montalto G.
Cattedra di Medicina Interna, Universita di Palermo, Italy.
BACKGROUND/AIMS: The indications for liver biopsy in anti-HCV-positive patients with persistently normal alanine aminotransferase levels are not clearly established. Recent studies have correlated the presence of abdominal lymphoadenomegaly with disease severity in patients with chronic hepatitis C. Our study aimed to evaluate the frequency of abdominal lymphoadenomegaly in an anti-HCV positive blood donor population with persistently normal alanine aminotransferase and the relationship of abdominal lymphoadenomegaly with the severity of liver changes. METHODS: Eighty-six anti-HCV positive blood donors (58 M, 28 F) with normal alanine aminotransferase were followed up for a median of 31 months (range 12-50). To evaluate the frequency of abdominal lymphoadenomegaly, all patients underwent ultrasound scan. The common parameters of liver function as well as serum HCV RNA levels were determined. Histological changes were evaluated both in a conventional manner and using the numerical scoring systems of Knodell and Desmet. RESULTS: Of the 86 donors, 68 (79%) maintained persistently normal alanine aminotransferase levels during follow-up, and abdominal lymphoadenomegaly was present in 15 of them (22.0%). The remaining 18 donors (21%) showed rises in alanine aminotransferase above normal levels during the follow-up and seven of them (38%) had abdominal lymphoadenomegaly (p=n.s.). In the subjects with normal alanine aminotransferase, there were no significant differences in the common parameters of liver function and the serum presence of HCV RNA between those with or without abdominal lymphoadenomegaly. Normal liver was found in five patients without abdominal lymphoadenomegaly, but never in patients with abdominal lymphoadenomegaly. Analysis with the Mantel-Haenszel test showed a trend toward more serious changes in patients with abdominal lymphoadenomegaly (chi-square MH=9.5, p

High prevalence of infection with hepatitis G virus in patients with hepatic and extrahepatic malignancies.

Year 1998
Toniutto P. Pirisi M. Fabris C. Bardus P. Soardo G. Vitulli D. Tisminetzky SG. Pacco P. Gasparini V. Baralle F. Bartoli E.
Department of Experimental and Clinical Pathology and Medicine, University of Udine, Italy.
BACKGROUND/AIMS: The pathogenic role of hepatitis G virus, the recently discovered blood-borne agent, is controversial. Our aim was to ascertain the prevalence of hepatitis G virus infection in hepatic and in extrahepatic malignancies. METHODS: We studied 166 Italian patients (112 male, 54 female, mean age 61.8+/-9.3, mean+/-SD, range 34-85). One hundred and eighteen had cirrhosis, which was complicated by hepatocellular carcinoma in 66 cases. Forty-eight patients had extra-hepatic malignancies. Circulating HGV RNA was detected by reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) of both the nonstructural-3 and 5'noncoding regions of the hepatitis G virus genome. Antibodies to the E2 protein of hepatitis G virus were detected by means of an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. RESULTS: Ongoing HGV infection was detected in 30/66 (46%) patients with hepatocellular carcinoma, 12/52 (23%) patients with cirrhosis, and 14/48 (29%) patients with extrahepatic malignancies (p

Liver failure associated with mitochondrial DNA depletion.

Year 1998
Morris AA. Taanman JW. Blake J. Cooper JM. Lake BD. Malone M. Love S. Clayton PT. Leonard JV. Schapira AH.
Metabolic Unit, Institute of Child Health, London, UK.
BACKGROUND/AIMS: Liver failure in infancy can result from several disorders of the mitochondrial respiratory chain. In some patients, levels of mitochondrial DNA are markedly reduced, a phenomenon referred to as mitochondrial DNA depletion. To facilitate diagnosis of this condition, we have reviewed the clinical and pathological features in five patients with mitochondrial DNA depletion. METHODS: Cases were identified by preparing Southern blots of DNA from muscle and liver, hybridising with appropriate probes and quantifying mitochondrial DNA relative to nuclear DNA. RESULTS: All our patients with mitochondrial DNA depletion died of liver failure. Other problems included hypotonia, hypoglycaemia, neurological abnormalities (including Leigh syndrome) and cataracts. Liver histology showed geographic areas of fatty change, bile duct proliferation, collapse of liver architecture and fibrosis; some cells showed decreased cytochrome oxidase activity. Muscle from three patients showed mitochondrial proliferation, with loss of cytochrome oxidase activity in some fibres but not in others; in these cases, muscle mitochondrial DNA levels were less than 5% of the median control value. The remaining two patients (from a single pedigree) had normal muscle histology and histochemistry associated with less severe depletion of mitochondrial DNA in muscle. CONCLUSIONS: Liver failure is common in patients with mitochondrial DNA depletion. Associated clinical features often include neuromuscular disease. Liver and muscle histology can be helpful in making the diagnosis. Mitochondrial DNA levels should be measured whenever liver failure is thought to have resulted from respiratory chain disease.

Immunogenetic analysis of a panel of monoclonal IgG and IgM anti-PDC-E2/X antibodies derived from patients with primary biliary cirrhosis.

Year 1998
Thomson RK. Davis Z. Palmer JM. Arthur MJ. Yeaman SJ. Chapman CJ. Spellerberg MB. Stevenson FK.
Tenovus Laboratory, and University Medicine, Southampton University Hospitals, UK. rkt@soton.ac.uk
BACKGROUND/AIMS: Autoantibodies with specificity for the E2 component of the pyruvate dehydrogenase complex (PDC-E2) are commonly present in primary biliary cirrhosis. The aim of this study was to generate and characterise human anti-PDC-E2 monoclonal antibodies and analyse immunoglobulin gene usage and mutation for clues to pathogenesis. METHODS: Peripheral B-lymphocytes from two patients with primary biliary cirrhosis were used to generate heterohybridomas secreting PDC-E2 specific monoclonal antibodies. The antibodies were characterised by ELISA, immunoblotting, indirect immunofluorescence and enzyme inhibition techniques, and their encoding immunoglobulin genes were amplified, cloned and sequenced. RESULTS: Four IgGlambda and one IgMlambda monoclonal antibodies specific for PDC-E2 were generated: all gave bands at 74 kD and 52 kD on PDC immunoblots, two clones were specific for the lipoylated inner lipoyl domain, and all inhibited target enzyme function. Sequence analysis suggested unrestricted VH gene usage, but a strong preference for lambda light chains. The extent of somatic mutation was high (3-20%), with evidence for antigen selection in 3/5 VH sequences. CONCLUSIONS: These monoclonal antibodies closely resemble the hallmark autoantibodies of primary biliary cirrhosis. Their specificities demonstrate true cross reactivity between an epitope on PDC-E2 and Protein X, and the existence of a subset of B cells that recognise only the lipoylated form of the antigen. The pattern of immunoglobulin gene mutations suggests an antigen-driven selection of high affinity IgG autoantibodies, supporting a possible role for exogenous antigen in the pathogenesis of primary biliary cirrhosis.

Attributable risk for symptomatic liver cirrhosis in Italy. Collaborative Groups for the Study of Liver Diseases in Italy.

Year 1998
Corrao G. Zambon A. Torchio P. Arico S. La Vecchia C. di Orio F.
Institute of Statistical and Mathematical Sciences, Medical Statistics and Epidemiology, University of Milan, Italy.
BACKGROUNDS/AIMS: Knowledge of the proportion of liver cirrhosis attributable to the main risk factors is largely based on methodologically questionable clinical reports. METHODS: The proportion of newly diagnosed cases of symptomatic liver cirrhosis attributable to known risk factors was estimated by a case-control study performed during 1989-1996 in 23 medical divisions of several hospitals distributed throughout Italy. Cases were 462 inpatients with cirrhosis admitted for the first time for liver decompensation. Controls were 651 patients admitted during the same period and to the same hospitals as the cases, for acute diseases unrelated to alcohol and virus infection. The proportion of symptomatic liver cirrhosis cases due to alcohol intake and hepatitis B and C viruses and the combination of these was expressed as the population attributable risk. RESULTS: Attributable risks were 67.9% (95% confidence interval (CI): 53.8-79.4) for alcohol, 40.1% (95% CI: 35.3-45.2) for hepatitis C virus and 4.4% (95% CI: 2.5-7.6) for hepatitis B virus. The three factors together explained 98.1% (95% CI: 81.6-99.6) of cases in men and 67.0% (95% CI: 50.4-85.8) in women. CONCLUSIONS: Alcohol is the risk factor with the highest impact on symptomatic liver cirrhosis risk in Italy. From a public health viewpoint, with the elimination of the well-known risk factors (particularly alcohol and hepatitis C virus), liver cirrhosis should become a rare disease.

Effects of silymarin in alcoholic patients with cirrhosis of the liver: results of a controlled, double-blind, randomized and multicenter trial.

Year 1998
Pares A. Planas R. Torres M. Caballeria J. Viver JM. Acero D. Panes J. Rigau J. Santos J. Rodes J.
Hospital Clinic i Provincial, University of Barcelona, Spain. pares@medicina.ub.es
BACKGROUND/AIMS: Silymarin has protective effects in different experimental conditions, but its efficacy in human liver cirrhosis has not been completely established. Therefore, this study was carried out to determine the effect of silymarin in alcoholics with liver cirrhosis with respect to survival and clinical and laboratory changes. METHODS: From February 1986 to June 1989, we enrolled 200 alcoholics with histologically or laparoscopically proven liver cirrhosis in a randomized, double-blind multicenter trial comparing 450 mg of silymarin (150 mg/ three times per day) with placebo. The primary outcome was time to death, and the secondary outcome was the progression of liver failure. Additional analyses were also performed in 75 patients in whom anti-hepatitis C virus antibodies were measured after completion of the trial. RESULTS: One hundred and three patients were assigned to receive silymarin and 97 to receive placebo. The two groups were well matched for demographic and baseline clinical and laboratory features. A 2-year study period was completed in 125 patients (57 receiving silymarin and 68 receiving placebo). Twenty-nine patients (15 receiving silymarin, and 14 receiving placebo) died during the trial. Survival was similar in patients receiving silymarin or placebo. The effect of silymarin on survival was not influenced by sex, the persistence of alcohol intake, the severity of liver dysfunction or by the presence of alcoholic hepatitis in the liver biopsy. Silymarin did not have any significant effect on the course of the disease. No relevant side-effects were observed in any group. CONCLUSIONS: The results of this study indicate that silymarin has no effect on survival and the clinical course in alcoholics with liver cirrhosis.

Doppler sonography and hepatic vein catheterization in portal hypertension: assessment of agreement in evaluating severity and response to treatment.

Year 1998
Merkel C. Sacerdoti D. Bolognesi M. Bombonato G. Gatta A.
Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, University of Padua, Padova, Italy.
BACKGROUND/AIM: The study was designed to assess to what extent portal hemodynamic parameters obtained by duplex Doppler ultrasonography may be substituted for the measurement of hepatic venous pressure gradient in evaluating the severity of portal hypertension and the response to medical treatment with beta-blockers or beta-blockers plus nitrates in patients with cirrhosis and portal hypertension. METHODS: In 39 of these patients hepatic venous pressure gradient was determined by hepatic vein catheterization, and portal blood flow velocity and the congestion index of the portal vein were measured by duplex Doppler ultrasonography. In 19 of these patients the changes in hepatic venous pressure gradient and in Doppler parameters were also assessed after chronic administration of nadolol. In 11 of the 19 patients the changes after chronic administration of nadolol plus isosorbide-5-mononitrate were also measured. RESULTS: In the whole series, no significant correlation was found between hepatic venous pressure gradient and duplex Doppler parameters, but, when the 12 patients with a patent para-umbilical vein were excluded, significant linear correlations were found between hepatic venous pressure gradient and portal blood velocity (r=-0.39; p=0.05) or congestion index (r=0.37; p=0.05). Considering together the changes induced by nadolol and nadolol plus isosorbide-5-mononitrate, no correlation was apparent between changes in duplex Doppler parameters and in hepatic venous pressure gradient. Agreement between hepatic venous pressure gradient and duplex Doppler parameters in defining good and poor responders was insufficient. CONCLUSIONS: These data suggest that portal blood velocity and the congestion index of the portal vein are related to portal hypertension in patients without a patent para-umbilical vein, but are of limited value in discriminating good responders from poor responders to medical treatment for portal hypertension.

The postprandial portal flow is related to the severity of portal hypertension and liver cirrhosis.

Year 1998
Ludwig D. Schwarting K. Korbel CM. Bruning A. Schiefer B. Stange EF.
Department of Internal Medicine I, University of Lubeck, Germany.
BACKGROUND/AIMS: Diminished postprandial portal hyperemia has been demonstrated by echo-Doppler flowmetry in patients with liver cirrhosis, but its diagnostic role is unclear. This prospective study was therefore undertaken in patients with varying severity of portal hypertension and degree of liver cirrhosis. METHODS: Portal flowmetry was performed in 66 patients with cirrhosis and 20 healthy volunteers during fasting and 30 min after ingestion of a standardized meal. Hemodynamic parameters were related to the degree of esophageal varices, variceal bleeding, portal hypertensive gastropathy and Child-Pugh score. RESULTS: The postprandial portal blood velocity increment was low in patients with esophageal varices of any degree (22-24%), compared to patients without varices (49%, p

Hemodynamic changes in patients developing effective hypovolemia after total paracentesis.

Year 1998
Vila MC. Sola R. Molina L. Andreu M. Coll S. Gana J. Marquez J. Pala J. Bory F. Pons S. Szescielinski L. Jimenez W.
Service of Gastroenterology, Hospital del Mar, Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona, Spain.
BACKGROUND/AIMS: In many centers paracentesis is considered the treatment of choice for tense ascites. However, the mechanism of effective hypovolemia after paracentesis, the main complication associated with this procedure, remains unknown. In the current study, systemic hemodynamics was sequentially studied before and after total paracentesis in 46 patients with cirrhosis and tense ascites. The aim of the study was to assess the mechanism of effective hypovolemia after paracentesis. METHODS: Plasma renin activity and aldosterone, mean arterial pressure, cardiac output (ECO-Doppler) and systemic vascular resistance were measured before, and 3 h, 6 h and 6 days after total paracentesis associated with plasma volume expansion. RESULTS: Effective hypovolemia after paracentesis (defined as 50% increase in plasma renin activity up to a level over 4 ng x m(-1) x h(-1) at the 6th day after paracentesis) occurred in 20 cases [plasma renin activity increased from 8+/-17 to 19+/-2.7 ng x m(-1) x h(-1)]. In the remaining 26 cases no changes in plasma renin activity [8.5+/-2.4 vs. 8.7+/-2.2 ng x m(-1) x h(-1)] were observed. The amounts of ascitic fluid volume removed were similar. Effective hypovolemia after paracentesis was associated with a significant decrease in mean arterial pressure (89+/-2 vs. 81+/-3 mmHg) and systemic vascular resistance [1263+/-67 vs. 1014+/-80 dyn x s(-1) x cm(-5)] 6 days after treatment. In contrast, no significant changes in these parameters were observed in patients not developing this complication. In the whole group of patients a significant inverse relation was observed between changes in plasma renin activity and in systemic vascular resistance (r=0.74;p< 0.001). CONCLUSIONS: These results indicate that effective hypovolemia after paracentesis in cirrhosis is predominantly due to an accentuation of the arteriolar vasodilation already present in these patients.

The number connection tests A and B: interindividual variability and use for the assessment of early hepatic encephalopathy.

Year 1998
Weissenborn K. Ruckert N. Hecker H. Manns MP.
Neurologische Klinik, Medizinische Hochschule Hannover, Germany.
BACKGROUND/AIMS: The number connection tests A and B are regarded as sensitive psychometric measures for the assessment of early hepatic encephalopathy. Review of the studies dealing with the diagnostic sensitivity of the number connection tests, however, shows that the scoring of the number connection tests results differs between studies. Most groups define the limits of the normal range by studying small control groups. Others use scores given in the literature without ensuring the comparability of the test versions used. Thus, there is a need for normative data for the number connection test results and for re-evaluation of the sensitivity of the tests using valid scores. METHODS: In this study the number connection tests A and B were administered to 249 healthy volunteers (age: 18 to 76 years) to analyze the influence of age, education and occupation on their results. In addition, the age-corrected normative data were applied to 169 patients with grade 0-I hepatic encephalopathy. The specificity and sensitivity of age-corrected and age-independent normative data of the number connection tests were compared. RESULTS: There was a significant influence of age and education on the number connection test results, but only a negligible effect of occupation. Application of the age-corrected normative data to the test results of the patients with grade I hepatic encephalopathy significantly decreased the sensitivity of the number connection tests for hepatic encephalopathy compared to widely used age-independent normal ranges, but also increased the specificity. CONCLUSION: The use of standardized versions of the number connection tests and age-related normative data is recommended.

Effects of supplementation with unsaturated fatty acids on plasma and membrane lipid composition and platelet function in patients with cirrhosis and defective aggregation.

Year 1998
Marra F. Riccardi D. Melani L. Spadoni S. Galli C. Fabrizio P. Tosti-Guerra C. Carloni V. Gentilini P. Laffi G.
Istituto di Medicina Interna, Universita di Firenze, Florence, Italy.
BACKGROUND/AIMS: Defective platelet aggregation and reduced platelet production of thromboxane A2, a metabolite of arachidonic acid, are common findings in patients with cirrhosis. We evaluated the effects of dietary supplementation with two combinations of unsaturated fatty acids on platelet function and plasma and membrane fatty acids in patients with liver cirrhosis. METHODS: In a double-blind study, 15 patients with cirrhosis and defective aggregation were randomized to receive a 6-week supplementation with gamma-linolenic and linoleic acid (1 g/day of each fatty acid) or with oleic acid and linoleic acid (groups GLA and OA, respectively). RESULTS: Under baseline conditions, patients showed elevated concentrations of monounsaturated fatty acids and a reduction in polyunsaturated fatty acids. The product/precursor ratios for delta6 and delta5 desaturases, two key enzymes in the pathway leading to arachidonic acid, were significantly reduced in the group of patients. In the GLA group, a significant increase in the levels of dihomo-gamma-linolenic acid (20:3omega6) was observed in plasma and membranes, together with a parallel decrease in the 20:4/20:3omega6 ratio after supplementation. No significant changes were observed in the OA group. The levels of arachidonic acid did not change significantly in either group of patients. Platelet aggregation to collagen was unchanged in the GLA group, but significantly improved in the OA group. CONCLUSIONS: These results show that supplementation with precursors of arachidonic acid is ineffective in elevating plasma or membrane arachidonate levels and does not improve platelet aggregation, suggesting that synthesis of arachidonic acid through the delta5 desaturase cannot be correspondingly activated or that incorporation/retention of the produced fatty acid into lipids is impaired. The increased platelet aggregation in the OA group is likely to be explained by the effect of oleic acid contained in the diet, the effects of which may have been counteracted by the elevation in 20:3omega6, a source of anti-aggregatory prostanoids, in the GLA group.

Laminin isoforms in non-tumoral and tumoral human livers. Expression of alpha1, alpha2, beta1, beta2 and gamma1 chain mRNA and an alpha chain homologous to the alpha2 chain.

Year 1998
Lietard J. Loreal O. Theret N. Campion JP. L'Helgoualc'h A. Turlin B. Ramee MP. Yamada Y. Clement B.
Unite Detoxication et Reparation Tissulaire INSERM U-456, Rennes, France.
BACKGROUND/AIMS: Laminins, the major non-collagenous basement membrane components, are involved in various biological processes. Laminin isoforms have never been characterized in human livers. The expression of five laminin mRNA was investigated in livers with or without cancer and in hepatoma cells and, by comparison, in both rat hepatoma and hepatic stellate cells. METHODS: Laminin alpha1, alpha2, beta1, beta2 and gamma1 mRNA was detected by northern blot and/or RT-PCR in livers without chronic disease (n=5), in both tumoral and non-tumoral areas of livers with hepatocellular carcinomas (n=13) or metastases (n=18), in human HBGC2 and rat Faza-567 hepatoma cell lines, and in 6-day-old rat hepatic stellate cell cultures. RESULTS: Laminin alpha1, alpha2 and beta1 mRNA were found in 25-33% and gamma1 mRNA in 58% of the livers, the signal for laminin beta2 mRNA being faint in all the samples. Laminin alpha2, beta1, beta2 and gamma1 mRNA were expressed in hepatoma and stellate cells. The laminin alpha2 cDNA probe recognized a 3.5 kb mRNA different from the expected 9 kb mRNA. Using degenerated oligonucleotides, RT-PCR products from both rat hepatoma and stellate cells revealed 90% identity with the alpha2 chain sequence. Antibodies against peptide deduced from the conserved C-terminal domain of both alpha1 and alpha2 chains recognized polypeptides corresponding to the degradation products of alpha2 chain in liver extracts and both media and cell layers from hepatoma and stellate cells. In addition, a Mr=130000 polypeptide was revealed by these antibodies in liver extracts and cell layers, which was consistent with the expected size deduced from the 3.5 kb mRNA. CONCLUSIONS: This first report on laminin isoforms in human livers indicates that laminin 1 (alpha1-beta1-gamma1), 2 (alpha2-beta1-gamma1), 3 (alpha1-beta2-gamma1) and 4 (alpha2-beta2-gamma1) mRNA and a polypeptide homologous to the alpha2 isoform, which could correspond to a truncated form of this chain, are usually expressed in non-tumoral and/or tumoral livers.

Intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma arising in congenital hepatic fibrosis: report of an autopsy case.

Year 1998
Yamato T. Sasaki M. Hoso M. Sakai J. Ohta H. Watanabe Y. Nakanuma Y.
Department of Pathology (II), Kanazawa University School of Medicine, Japan.
We report an autopsy case of a 60-year-old woman who had congenital hepatic fibrosis with intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma. A white nodular lesion with a surrounding vague gray area was detected in the right lobe of the liver. Microscopically, most of the nodular lesion was a poorly-differentiated adenocarcinoma. In the surrounding gray area, small bile ducts and bile ductules showed prominent epithelial overgrowth, some of which was composed of dysplasia and well-differentiated adenocarcinoma. The background liver showed the characteristic features of congenital hepatic fibrosis. Immunohistochemically, biliary oncofetal markers (mucin core protein 1 and carcinoembryonic antigen) were more frequently and extensively expressed in poorly-differentiated than well-differentiated adenocarcinoma. This is the 4th reported case of intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma arising in congenital hepatic fibrosis and suggests that malignant transformation via dysplasia occurs in the abnormal intrahepatic biliary tree of older congenital hepatic fibrosis patients.

Post-traumatic membranous obstruction of the inferior vena cava associated with a hypercoagulable state.

Year 1998
Balian A. Valla D. Naveau S. Musset D. Coue O. Lemaigre G. Chaput JC.
Service d'Hepato-gastroenterologie, de l'Hopital Antoine Beclere, Clamart, France.
It has been hypothesized that abdominal trauma may be one of the factors involved in membranous obstruction of the inferior vena cava. We present two cases of membranous obstruction of the inferior vena cava associated with trauma. One asymptomatic case, associated with an occult myeloproliferative disorder, developed within 3 years of a violent abdominal trauma. The other case, associated with familial plasminogen deficiency, was discovered at surgery 3 days after a road accident with obvious abdominal trauma, since superimposed extensive thrombosis of the inferior vena cava caused acute Budd-Chiari syndrome. We conclude that underlying prothrombotic conditions are probably necessary for the development of membranous obstruction of the inferior vena cava and that minor trauma may contribute to the development of thrombosis through indirect mechanisms.

Outbreak of enterically-transmitted hepatitis due to hepatitis A and hepatitis E viruses.

Year 1998
Coursaget P. Buisson Y. Enogat N. Bercion R. Baudet JM. Delmaire P. Prigent D. Desrame J.
Institut de Virologie de Tours and Laboratoire d'Immunologie des Maladies Infectieuses, Faculte de Pharmacie, Tours, France.
BACKGROUND/AIMS: One hundred and eleven patients with acute hepatitis and 61 controls were investigated for hepatitis serological markers in order to determine the viral etiology of cases involved in a waterborne epidemic of hepatitis observed in 1993 in Djibouti, Republic of Djibouti (East Africa). These cases occurred both in indigenous Djiboutians, and in French soldiers and their families in Djibouti. A retrospective study of the viral etiology of acute hepatitis cases observed in French soldiers and relatives living in Djibouti during the 3-year period preceding the epidemic was also undertaken. METHODS: HAV, HBV and HCV infections were investigated using commercial ELISA tests. HEV infections were investigated by testing IgG and IgM-specific antibodies by means of three different ELISA tests using recombinant proteins or synthetic peptides. RESULTS: Hepatitis A was observed in 37 (33%) and hepatitis E in 43 (39%) of the 111 cases of acute hepatitis recorded during this epidemic. Hepatitis B represented only 6% of the indigenous cases and hepatitis C was not observed among the cases investigated. Anti-HEV IgG antibodies were also detected in 19% of the indigenous control group. CONCLUSION: These results suggest that both HAV and HEV were responsible for this waterborne epidemic of acute hepatitis. However, HAV and HEV infections were not equally distributed between French expatriates and Djibouti residents. Whereas HAV infections were mainly observed in French patients, HEV was almost exclusively found in indigenous patients. This study reports for the first time a waterborne outbreak of acute hepatitis simultaneously due to HAV and HEV.

Time course of total cysteine, glutathione and homocysteine in plasma of patients with chronic hepatitis C treated with interferon-alpha with and without supplementation with N-acetylcysteine.

Year 1998
Bernhard MC. Junker E. Hettinger A. Lauterburg BH.
Department of Clinical Pharmacology, University of Bern, Switzerland.
BACKGROUND/AIMS: Glutathione depletion might be one reason for the low rate of response of patients with chronic hepatitis C to treatment with interferon. The aim of the present study was to document the thiol status of patients with chronic hepatitis C and the effects of N-acetylcysteine, a precursor for glutathione synthesis, on the concentrations of total cysteine, glutathione and homocysteine during treatment of chronic hepatitis C with interferon. METHODS: Total cysteine, glutathione and homocysteine in plasma were measured by high performance liquid chromatography, following reduction of disulfides and derivatization of thiols with monobromobimane in a group of 36 patients with chronic hepatitis C, who participated in a multicenter, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial studying the effect of supplementation with N-acetylcysteine (600 mg three times daily) on the response to treatment with interferon-a (3 MU three times per week) for 6 months. RESULTS: The concentrations of total cysteine (367.0+/-43.9 vs 360.4+/-33.5 nmol/ml, mean+/-95% confidence interval), glutathione (12.5+/-1.6 vs 14.1+/-1.3 nmol/ml) and homocysteine (21.2+/-4.5 vs 19.6+/-5.2 nmol/ml) were similar in patients with chronic hepatitis C and healthy control subjects Supplementation with N-acetylcysteine resulted in measurable concentrations of N-acetylcysteine in plasma, but did not significantly increase the concentrations of cysteine, glutathione or homocysteine. There was no difference between the two treatment groups with regard to transaminases and clearance of HCV RNA. CONCLUSIONS: Circulating concentrations of total cysteine, glutathione and homocysteine are normal in patients with chronic hepatitis C. Supplementation with N-acetylcysteine did not increase the circulating concentrations of total cysteine, glutathione and homocysteine.

Early development of chronic active hepatitis in recurrent hepatitis C virus infection after liver transplantation: association with treatment of rejection.

Year 1998
Berenguer M. Prieto M. Cordoba J. Rayon JM. Carrasco D. Olaso V. San-Juan F. Gobernado M. Mir J. Berenguer J.
Hepatogastroenterology Service, Hospital Universitario LA FE, Valencia, Spain. jb101v@nacom.es
BACKGROUND/AIMS: We retrospectively studied 63 consecutive patients (mean age 54+/-8) with hepatitis C virus genotype 1b recurrence after liver transplantation and with a minimum histological follow-up of 1 year, in order to determine whether an early severe recurrence, defined as the development of chronic active hepatitis within the first 2 years post-liver transplantation, was associated with increased immunosuppression. METHODS: The 1st year immunosuppression data (rejection episodes, boluses of methyl-prednisolone, cumulative doses of prednisone and azathioprine, OKT3 use) were recorded, and evaluated as predictive of severe recurrence at 1 and 2 years post-liver transplantation. Chronic active hepatitis and rejection were defined by histological criteria. Immunosuppression consisted of cyclosporine, azathioprine and prednisone. The treatment of rejection was based on a "bolus" of 1 g methyl-prednisolone/3 days. RESULTS: At 1 year, 64% (40/63) of the patients had chronic active hepatitis, whereas of the 40 patients who had a 2nd year biopsy available, 75% had chronic active hepatitis at 2 years. At 1 year post-liver transplantation, no significant association was observed between immunosuppression and the development of chronic active hepatitis. In contrast, at 2 years, rejection (p=0.006), treatment of rejection (p=0.05), methyl-prednisolone boluses (p=0.013) and the number of rejection episodes (p=0.0034) occurring during the 1st year post-liver transplantation were significantly more common in patients with chronic active hepatitis. There was also a trend towards higher cumulative steroids (9447+/-3176.5 vs 7891.5+/-2111 mg) and higher cumulative azathioprine doses (13472+/-11154 vs 6233.5+/-5937 mg) in patients with chronic active hepatitis as compared to those who did not develop chronic active hepatitis. CONCLUSIONS: Rejection and/or its treatment may accelerate the natural history of hepatitis C virus genotype 1b infection post-liver transplantation.

Chronic hepatitis in children after liver transplantation: role of hepatitis C virus and hepatitis G virus infections.

Year 1998
Davison SM. Skidmore SJ. Collingham KE. Irving WL. Hubscher SG. Kelly DA.
The Liver Unit, Birmingham Children's Hospital NHS Trust, UK.
BACKGROUND/AIMS: Chronic graft hepatitis occurs in 20-30% adults after liver transplantation but the prevalence and causes in children are not known. In adults, hepatitis C virus infection is prevalent prior to transplantation and recurrent infection is a frequent cause of graft dysfunction. The significance of the recently described hepatitis G virus infection remains unproven. The aim of this study was to examine the role of hepatitis C virus and hepatitis G virus infection in chronic graft hepatitis after paediatric liver transplantation. METHODS: The prevalence of graft hepatitis and the role of hepatitis C virus and hepatitis G virus infections in 80 children after liver transplantation have been studied, with a median follow up of 4.4 years (range 0.4 to 10.7), and the persistence of hepatitis G infection in the presence of immunosuppression has been determined. RESULTS: Chronic graft hepatitis was diagnosed in 19/80 (24%) children and was most frequently seen in children transplanted for cryptogenic cirrhosis (71%). There was no significant difference in the prevalence of chronic hepatitis in those transplanted before or after donor anti-HCV screening. Hepatitis C infection occurred in three children transplanted prior to donor screening but in only one was associated with chronic hepatitis. Hepatitis G infection was found in 22/79 (28%) transplant recipients but was not associated with graft hepatitis. In 17/21 children hepatitis G infection persisted for a median of 5.2 years after transplantation. CONCLUSION: Chronic hepatitis occurred in 24% of children after liver transplantation, a similar prevalence to that in adults. Cryptogenic liver disease predisposed to graft hepatitis, but neither hepatitis C nor hepatitis G infection was associated. Hepatitis G virus caused a frequent and usually persistent infection after transplantation.

Increased interleukin-12 serum levels in chronic alcoholism.

Year 1998
Laso FJ. Iglesias MC. Lopez A. Ciudad J. San Miguel JF. Orfao A.
Servicio de Medicina Interna II, Hospital Universitario, Universidad de Salamanca, Spain. laso@gugu.usal.es
BACKGROUND/AIMS: In the present study the serum levels of interleukin-12 were analyzed in alcoholic patients in order to explore the possible relationship between them and both the ethanol intake status and the existence of alcoholic liver disease. METHODS: For that purpose interleukin-12 levels were analyzed in a total of 26 alcoholic patients. Additionally, both interferon-gamma and interleukin-4 serum levels were measured in the same patients as a means of exploring the balance between the T-helper-1 and T-helper-2 immune responses. All patients had consumed at least 90 g of ethanol per day for more than 5 years. Fourteen were alcoholics without liver disease (AWLD group) and the other 12 patients were diagnosed as having alcoholic liver cirrhosis. In parallel to the patients, 10 age- and sex-matched healthy volunteers were included in the study. RESULTS: Our results show that interleukin-12 serum levels are significantly increased in AWLD patients as compared to normal controls (p

Plasma levels of soluble tumor necrosis factor receptors p55 and p75 in patients with alcoholic liver disease of increasing severity.

Year 1998
Naveau S. Emilie D. Balian A. Grangeot-Keros L. Borotto E. Portier A. Giraud V. Capron F. Galanaud P. Chaput JC.
Service d'Hepato-Gastro-Enterologie, Hopital A. Beclere, Clamart, France.
BACKGROUND/AIMS: Correlations between serum levels of soluble tumor necrosis factor receptors p55 (TNFsRp55) and Child Pugh index have previously been reported in alcoholic patients with cirrhosis. We have undertaken this study to improve understanding of the role of tumor necrosis factor soluble receptors (TNFsRs) in alcoholic liver disease. METHODS: One hundred and two patients with alcoholic liver disease of various severity (23 pure steatosis, 22 fibrosis, seven acute alcoholic hepatitis without cirrhosis, 12 cirrhosis without acute alcoholic hepatitis, 14 cirrhosis with mild acute alcoholic hepatitis and 24 cirrhosis with severe acute alcoholic hepatitis) were studied. Blood was collected on EDTA and plasma was tested for TNFsR concentrations using ELISA assays. RESULTS: Plasma levels of TNFsRp55 and p75 increased progressively with the severity of liver disease, reaching a maximum in cirrhotic patients with severe acute alcoholic hepatitis. Plasma levels of TNFsRp55 in patients with fibrosis and of TNFsRp75 in patients with acute alcoholic hepatitis without cirrhosis were already higher than in healthy controls. In cirrhotic patients with or without acute alcoholic hepatitis TNFsRp55 and p75 were significantly increased compared with controls. In cirrhotic patients, plasma levels of TNFsRp55 correlated positively with all parameters of liver injury, whereas the TNFsRp75/ TNFsRp55 ratio correlated negatively. In cirrhotic patients with severe acute alcoholic hepatitis, the TNFsRp75/TNFsRp55 ratio was significantly lower than in all other groups. In cirrhotic patients with severe acute alcoholic hepatitis treated by prednisolone, the decrease in TNFsRp55 plasma levels between day 1 and day 15 was significantly more important in patients still alive at 2 months than in patients who died within 2 months. CONCLUSIONS: These results show that the expression of TNF-soluble receptors (TNFsRs) participates in the early phases of the alcoholic liver disease and that the TNFsRp75/TNFsRp55 ratio and plasma levels of TNFsRp55 may help to determine the diagnosis and the prognosis of severe acute alcoholic hepatitis in cirrhotics.

Dual-energy CT in the diagnosis and quantification of fatty liver: limited clinical value in comparison to ultrasound scan and single-energy CT, with special reference to iron overload.

Year 1998
Mendler MH. Bouillet P. Le Sidaner A. Lavoine E. Labrousse F. Sautereau D. Pillegand B.
Department of Gastroenterology, Dupuytren University Hospital, Limoges, France. mendler@sunaimed.univ-rennes1.fr
BACKGROUND/AIMS: It has been suggested that dual-energy CT could differentiate irregular fatty liver from other hypodense lesions. We compared dual-energy CT to ultrasound scan and single-energy CT in the diagnosis and quantification of fatty liver, with special reference to iron overload. METHODS: Twenty-seven patients were included according to ultrasound: fatty liver (n=16) and normal liver (n=11). Single and dual-energy CT were performed. Attenuation measurements of hepatic lobes and control tissues were taken at 140 kV and 80 kV CT-guided liver biopsy was done in fatty liver patients, the degree of infiltration was estimated, and the histologic iron overload determined (iron overload, n=11; iron-free, n=5). RESULTS: The mean changes in attenuation for the right hepatic lobe were: normal liver: -0.8 (ns); iron overloaded fatty liver: 1.5 (ns); and iron-free fatty liver: 7.7 (p

Transforming growth factor-beta1 in autoimmune hepatitis: correlation of liver tissue expression and serum levels with disease activity.

Year 1998
Bayer EM. Herr W. Kanzler S. Waldmann C. Meyer Zum Buschenfelde KH. Dienes HP. Lohse AW.
I. Department of Medicine, Johannes Gutenberg-University, Mainz, Germany.
BACKGROUND/AIMS: Transforming growth factor-beta1 (TGF-beta1) is considered the most important mediator of hepatic fibrogenesis. At the same time, TGF-beta1 is an immunosuppressive cytokine. Development of fibrosis, often rapid, is a characteristic of autoimmune hepatitis, as is spontaneous systemic immunosuppression. The aim of our study was therefore to define the role of TGF-beta1 in autoimmune hepatitis. METHODS/RESULTS: Using the MV 1Lu bioassay, we found markedly elevated serum levels of TGF-beta1 (median 109 ng/ml) in active autoimmune hepatitis, which normalised when patients reached biochemical remission following immunosuppressive therapy (median 34 ng/ml; p=0.0001 compared to active disease). With a newly established ELISPOT-assay for TGF-beta1-producing cells, we could exclude an increase in TGF-beta1-producing peripheral blood cells as a source of the elevated TGF-beta1. However, by in situ hybridisation and immunohistochemistry, we found strong TGF-beta1 expression in the inflamed liver. In addition to non-parenchymal and infiltrating cells, many hepatocytes showed strong staining for TGF-beta1. TGF-beta1 expression in the liver normalised in remission, yet was still somewhat increased in patients with biochemical remission but remaining histological disease activity. Conclusions: These results suggest that TGF-beta1 is an important mediator in active autoimmune hepatitis. They support the theory that immunosuppressive therapy needs to be guided by histology, as prevention of the development of cirrhosis presumably requires near complete suppression of TGF-beta1 in the liver; this is only found when there is no longer any histological evidence of inflammation.

No evidence for involvement of the interleukin-10 -592 promoter polymorphism in genetic susceptibility to primary biliary cirrhosis.

Year 1998
Zappala F. Grove J. Watt FE. Daly AK. Day CP. Bassendine MF. Jones DE.
Center for Liver Research, University of Newcastle, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, UK.
BACKGROUND/AIMS: Primary biliary cirrhosis is a chronic cholestatic liver disease with an autoimmune aetiology. Family studies, which have shown a significantly increased incidence of primary biliary cirrhosis in the close relatives of patients, suggest that genetic factors play a significant role in determining disease susceptibility. Several studies have previously identified loci which appear to play a role in determining this susceptibility, including the MHC class II allele HLA DR8, and the class III encoded C4A null allele (C4AQ0). Here, we have studied another candidate susceptibility locus in primary biliary cirrhosis, an apparently functional biallelic polymorphism at position -592 in the promoter region of the gene encoding the immuno-modulatory cytokine interleukin-10. Interleukin-10 plays an important role in the functional control, in vivo, of autoreactive Th-1 type CD4+ T-cells, with experimental manipulation of interleukin-10 leading to significant modulation of disease development in animal models of autoimmunity. METHODS: Interleukin-10 -592 genotypes were studied by polymerase chain reaction in 171 well-characterised, histologically-staged, primary biliary cirrhosis patients and 141 locally matched controls. RESULTS: Of 171 primary biliary cirrhosis patients, 99 were homozygous for the commoner allele (C/C), 68/171 (40%) were heterozygotes (A/C), whilst 4/171 (2%) were homozygous for the rarer allele (A/A). These genotype frequencies were not significantly different from those seen in controls (p=0.49, odds ratio 1.2 [0.8-1.91). CONCLUSIONS: These findings, in the first study of IL-10 as a candidate locus in a human autoimmune disease, suggest that IL-10 -592 is not a susceptibility locus in primary biliary cirrhosis.

The antinuclear autoantibodies Sp100 and gp210 persist after orthotopic liver transplantation in patients with primary biliary cirrhosis.

Year 1998
Luettig B. Boeker KH. Schoessler W. Will H. Loges S. Schmidt E. Worman HJ. Gershwin ME. Manns MP.
Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Hannover Medical School, Germany.
BACKGROUND/AIMS: Primary biliary cirrhosis is an autoimmune liver disease which is characterized by the presence of autoantibodies directed against mitochondrial components which belong to the pyruvate dehydrogenase enzyme complex. Apart from antibodies against mitochondrial components, primary biliary cirrhosis patients often show antibodies against nuclear components, of which anti-Sp100 and anti-gp210 are considered to be disease specific. We investigated the incidence and course of antibodies against nuclear components in primary biliary cirrhosis patients before and after liver transplantation. METHODS: Sera from 42 primary biliary cirrhosis patients were studied using indirect immunofluorescence to detect antibodies against mitochondrial components and antibodies against nuclear components, ELISA to detect anti-Sp100, and immunoblot analysis to detect anti-gp210 and antibodies against nuclear components subtypes. RESULTS: Ninety-three percent of primary biliary cirrhosis patients in our study were antimitochondrial antibody positive. Forty-three percent of the patients were antinuclear antibody positive. Of these, 35% had antibodies against Sp100 and 36% were positive for anti-gp210. After transplantation, antimitochondrial antibody titers as well as antinuclear antibody titers decreased in all patients. Autoantibodies in low titer persisted for up to 13 years. The pattern of nuclear autoantigens recognized by patient sera was unchanged after liver transplantation. However, the antinuclear antibody pattern was very different between the individual patients. Anti-Sp100 and anti-gp210 were not detected in sera of patients with autoimmune hepatitis, hepatitis C infection, inflammatory bowel disease, connective tissue diseases, or primary sclerosing cholangitis. The serum alkaline phosphatase level was not different in antinuclear antibody negative or positive patients before or after transplantation. CONCLUSIONS: We conclude that the persistence of antibodies against mitochondrial components, and anti-Sp100 and anti-gp210 in primary biliary cirrhosis patients after liver transplantation is disease specific, but that this does not reflect recurrent disease activity in the graft.

Beneficial effect of ursodeoxycholic acid on alterations induced by cholestasis of pregnancy in bile acid transport across the human placenta.

Year 1998
Serrano MA. Brites D. Larena MG. Monte MJ. Bravo MP. Oliveira N. Marin JJ.
Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Salamanca, Spain.
BACKGROUND/AIMS: The existence of impairment in bile acid transport across the placenta during intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy and the effect of ursodeoxycholic acid treatment (1 g/day) were investigated. METHODS: Kinetic parameters were calculated from experiments carried out on membrane vesicles obtained from basal (TPMb, fetal-facing) and apical (TPMa, maternal-facing) trophoblast plasma membranes. Bile acid uptake was measured using varying concentrations of [14C]-glycocholate and a rapid filtration technique. RESULTS: The maximal velocity of transport (Vmax), the apparent affinity constant (Kt) and the efficiency (Ef) of transport (Vmax/Kt) of the anion:bile acid exchanger located at the TPMb were reduced in intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy. Ursodeoxycholic acid induced a reversal of Vmax, Kt and Ef to normal values. Owing to the 3-fold increase in Vmax, with no change in Kt, intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy induced an enhancement in Ef of ATP-independent bile acid transport across TPMa. Both Vmax and Ef were restored to normal values by ursodeoxycholic acid. Finally, in ATP-dependent bile acid transport across TPMa, a reduction in the Ef due to an increase in Vmax together with a more pronounced increase in Kt was found. This impairment was also reversed by ursodeoxycholic acid. CONCLUSIONS: These results suggest that placenta bile acid transport systems are impaired in intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy. Moreover, together with the confirmed beneficial effect for intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy patients, such as the relief of pruritus and the improvement in biochemical markers of cholestasis, ursodeoxycholic acid treatment restores the ability of the placenta to carry out vectorial bile acid transfer.

Significance of increased plasma adrenomedullin concentration in patients with cirrhosis.

Year 1998
Kojima H. Tsujimoto T. Uemura M. Takaya A. Okamoto S. Ueda S. Nishio K. Miyamoto S. Kubo A. Minamino N. Kangawa K. Matsuo H. Fukui H.
Third Department of Internal Medicine, Nara Medical University, Kashihara, Japan.
BACKGROUND/AIMS: Adrenomedullin recently discovered in human pheochromocytoma is a potent vasodilatory peptide mainly derived from vascular endothelial and smooth muscle cells. Hyperdynamic circulation, ultimately leading to ascites formation, has been attributed to peripheral vasodilatation in liver cirrhosis. However, little is known about the role of adrenomedullin in this condition. METHODS: Plasma adrenomedullin concentrations were measured by radioimmunoassay after extraction and purification in 28 cirrhotic patients without ascites, 12 cirrhotic patients with ascites and 10 healthy subjects. RESULTS: Plasma adrenomedullin concentrations in cirrhotic patients with ascites (12.7+/-4.5 fmol/ml) were significantly higher than those in cirrhotic patients without ascites (8.2+/-2.3 fmol/ml, p

Noninvasive hemodynamic measurements of superior mesenteric artery in the prediction of portal pressure response to propranolol.

Year 1998
Iwao T. Oho K. Sakai T. Sato M. Nakano R. Yamayaki M. Toyonaga A. Tanikawa K.
Department of Medicine II, Kurume University School of Medicine, Japan.
BACKGROUND/AIMS: The portal pressure response to propranolol administration is heterogeneous in patients with cirrhosis. The aim of this study was to examine the diagnostic accuracy of noninvasive hemodynamic parameters of superior mesenteric artery (SMA) and femoral artery (FA) in the prediction of portal pressure response to propranolol. METHODS: Twenty-six patients with cirrhosis were studied. Portal pressure was assessed by measurements of hepatic venous pressure gradient. Mean arterial pressure and heart rate were also recorded. Cardiac index, and flow velocity of SMA and FA, and pulsatility index of SMA and FA were then measured by means of Doppler ultrasonography. After intravenous propranolol administration (0.10 mg/kg), the above measurements were repeated. RESULTS: Propranolol significantly reduced cardiac index, heart rate, SMA flow velocity, and FA flow velocity and increased SMA pulsatility index and FA pulsatility index. Although propranolol significantly decreased hepatic venous pressure gradient, a reduction of > or =20% was seen in only 10 patients (good responders); the remaining 16 patients exhibited

Oral L-ornithine-L-aspartate therapy of chronic hepatic encephalopathy: results of a placebo-controlled double-blind study.

Year 1998
Stauch S. Kircheis G. Adler G. Beckh K. Ditschuneit H. Gortelmeyer R. Hendricks R. Heuser A. Karoff C. Malfertheiner P. Mayer D. Rosch W. Steffens J.
Hospital Nordwest, Dept. of Internal Medicine, Frankfurt/Main, Germany.
BACKGROUND/AIMS: In the current state of knowledge of the pathophysiology of hepatic encephalopathy, a reduction in hyperammonemia is the most important evidence of effective treatment. Therefore, the therapeutic efficacy of oral L-ornithine-L-aspartate, which improves impaired ammonia detoxification, was investigated in patients with cirrhosis, hyperammonemia and stable, overt, chronic hepatic encephalopathy, and in subclinical hepatic encephalopathy in a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. METHODS: Oral L-ornithine-L-aspartate was administered three times daily at fixed times for 14 consecutive days in a total dose of 18 g per day. The design was chosen to prevent an increase in ammonia induced by a protein meal of 0.25 g/kg body weight, given at the start of the daily treatment period. Efficacy variables were: fasting and postprandial ammonia concentration, Number-Connection-Test time, mental state grades, and a Portosystemic Encephalopathy Index. Analyses were based on the total study sample of 32 placebo- and 34 L-ornithine-L-aspartate-treated patients as well as on the subgroup samples in the overt (20 placebo- and 23 L-ornithine-L-aspartate-treated) and subclinical hepatic encephalopathy (12 placebo- and 11 L-ornithine-L-aspartate-treated) patients. RESULTS: Number Connection Test performance times (p

Importance of hepatic first-pass removal in metastasis of colon carcinoma cells.

Year 1998
Mizuno N. Kato Y. Izumi Y. Irimura T. Sugiyama Y.
Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Tokyo, Japan.
BACKGROUND/AIMS: It might be thought that colon carcinoma tends to metastasize to the liver because tumor cells leaving the primary colon tumor pass initially through the liver. Therefore we elucidated the kinetics of tumor cells in the body in order to understand the effect of the location of the liver on hepatic metastasis, that is to examine the hepatic first-pass effect of tumor cells. METHODS: Based on a physiological kinetic model, we examined quantitatively the hepatic metastasis and hepatic distribution of KM12-H1X cells administered by different routes. RESULTS: Both the number and incidence of colonies of hepatic metastasis were much greater after intrasplenic injection than after intravenous injection. The distribution of radioactivity to the liver after intrasplenic injection of [3H] thymidine-labeled cells was also much higher than that after intravenous injection. The number of colonies of hepatic metastasis correlated well with the area under the curve of the distributed amount of the tumor cells in the liver, regardless of the injection route; the correlation line was identical for each injection route. CONCLUSIONS: These results suggest that the hepatic first-pass effect is an important factor for the hepatic metastasis and that the cumulative number of tumor cells distributed in the liver is a determining factor for the degree of metastasis. Mathematical analysis based on a physiological model also suggests that hepatic metastasis depends on hepatic first-pass trapping of tumor cells.

Mechanism of initial distribution of blood-borne colon carcinoma cells in the liver.

Year 1998
Mizuno N. Kato Y. Shirota K. Izumi Y. Irimura T. Harashima H. Kiwada H. Motoji N. Shigematsu A. Sugiyama Y.
Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Tokyo, Japan.
BACKGROUND/AIMS/METHODS: The distribution characteristics of a human colon carcinoma cell line, KM12-HX cells, were examined. After intraportal vein (i.p.v.) or intravenous (i.v.) injection into rats, almost all the injected tumor cells are distributed to liver or lung, respectively, both after 30 s and 30 min. Our previous kinetic analysis of the fate of tumor cells revealed that the cumulative amount of tumor cells distributed in the liver is a factor determining the degree of metastasis. Thus, we examined the mechanism of initial efficient trapping of tumor cells by the liver in more detail. RESULTS: Thirty minutes after tumor cells were injected into the left ventricle of the heart, the distribution of tumor cells was more restricted in several tissues (kidney, small intestine, large intestine and spleen), as compared with the distribution of microspheres undergoing 100% extraction, indicating that the first-pass extraction of KM12-HX cells is incomplete in these organs. The hepatic first-pass distribution of these tumor cells was unaffected by pretreatment of liposomes, such that the preinjected amount was sufficient to saturate the phagocytotic function of macrophages. Thus, the mechanism of initial distribution of the tumor cells to the liver is different from the mechanism of liposome uptake by macrophages. Considering that the diameter of microvessels in sinusoid and KM12-HX cells is approximately 7 and 12 microm, respectively, it is possible that these tumor cells are trapped physically in hepatic microvessels. In fact, after i.p.v. injection of microspheres 5 microm in diameter, only 20% of the dose was distributed to liver and the rest to other tissues. In contrast, almost 100% of microspheres 10 microm in diameter were distributed to the liver. CONCLUSIONS: These results support the hypothesis that the initial organ distribution of blood-borne tumor cells is determined by mechanical and physical properties of the cells.

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