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- Comparison of ELF, FibroTest and FibroScan for the non-invasive assessment of liver fibrosis (2010)
- Background: FibroTest (FT) is the most frequently used serum fibrosis marker and consists of an algorithm of five fibrosis markers (alfa2-macroglobulin, apolipoproteinA1, haptoglobin, GGT, bilirubin). The Enhanced Liver Fibrosis (ELF) test consists of an algorithm of three fibrosis markers (hyaluronic acid, amino-terminal propeptide-of-type-III-collagen, tissue-inhibitor of matrix-metaloproteinase-1). While a systematic review has shown comparable results for both individual markers, there has been no direct comparison of both markers. Methods: In the present study, the ELF-test was analyzed retrospectively in patients with chronic liver disease, who received a liver biopsy, transient elastography (TE) and the FibroTest using histology as the reference method. Histology was classified according to METAVIR and the Ludwig's classification (F0-F4) for patients with chronic hepatitis C and B virus (HCV, HBV) infection and primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC), respectively. Results: Seventy-four patients were analysed: 36 with HCV, 10 with HBV, and 28 with PBC. The accuracy (AUROC) for the diagnosis of significant fibrosis (F[greater than or equal to]2) for ELF and FibroTest was 0.78 (95%CI:0.67-0.89) and 0.69 (95%-CI:0.57-0.82), respectively (difference not statistically significant, n.s.). The AUROC for the diagnosis of liver cirrhosis was 0.92 (95%CI:0.83-1,00), and 0.91 (95%CI:0.83-0.99), respectively (n.s.). For 66 patients with reliable TE measurements the AUROC for the diagnosis of significant fibrosis (cirrhosis) for TE, ELF and FT were 0.80 (0.94), 0.76 (0.92), and 0.67 (0.91), respectively (n.s.). Conclusion: FibroTest and ELF can be performed with comparable diagnostic accuracy for the non-invasive staging of liver fibrosis. Serum tests are informative in a higher proportion of patients than transient elastography.
- Serum microRNA-21 as marker for necroinflammation in hepatitis C patients with and without hepatocellular carcinoma (2011)
- Background: MicroRNA-21 (miR-21) is up-regulated in tumor tissue of patients with malignant diseases, including hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Elevated concentrations of miR-21 have also been found in sera or plasma from patients with malignancies, rendering it an interesting candidate as serum/plasma marker for malignancies. Here we correlated serum miR-21 levels with clinical parameters in patients with different stages of chronic hepatitis C virus infection (CHC) and CHC-associated HCC. Methodology/Principal Findings: 62 CHC patients, 29 patients with CHC and HCC and 19 healthy controls were prospectively enrolled. RNA was extracted from the sera and miR-21 as well as miR-16 levels were analyzed by quantitative real-time PCR; miR-21 levels (normalized by miR-16) were correlated with standard liver parameters, histological grading and staging of CHC. The data show that serum levels of miR-21 were elevated in patients with CHC compared to healthy controls (P<0.001); there was no difference between serum miR-21 in patients with CHC and CHC-associated HCC. Serum miR-21 levels correlated with histological activity index (HAI) in the liver (r = −0.494, P = 0.00002), alanine aminotransferase (ALT) (r = −0.309, P = 0.007), aspartate aminotransferase (r = −0.495, P = 0.000007), bilirubin (r = −0.362, P = 0.002), international normalized ratio (r = −0.338, P = 0.034) and γ-glutamyltransferase (r = −0.244, P = 0.034). Multivariate analysis revealed that ALT and miR-21 serum levels were independently associated with HAI. At a cut-off dCT of 1.96, miR-21 discriminated between minimal and mild-severe necroinflammation (AUC = 0.758) with a sensitivity of 53.3% and a specificity of 95.2%. Conclusions/Significance: The serum miR-21 level is a marker for necroinflammatory activity, but does not differ between patients with HCV and HCV-induced HCC.
- Assessment of liver fibrosis and associated risk factors in HIV-infected individuals using transient elastography and serum biomarkers (2012)
- Background: Liver fibrosis in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected individuals is mostly attributable to co-infection with hepatitis B or C. The impact of other risk factors, including prolonged exposure to combined antiretroviral therapy (cART) is poorly understood. Our aim was to determine the prevalence of liver fibrosis and associated risk factors in HIV-infected individuals based on non-invasive fibrosis assessment using transient elastography (TE) and serum biomarkers (Fibrotest [FT]). Methods: In 202 consecutive HIV-infected individuals (159 men; mean age 47 ± 9 years; 35 with hepatitis-C-virus [HCV] co-infection), TE and FT were performed. Repeat TE examinations were conducted 1 and 2 years after study inclusion. Results: Significant liver fibrosis was present in 16% and 29% of patients, respectively, when assessed by TE (≥ 7.1 kPa) and FT (> 0.48). A combination of TE and FT predicted significant fibrosis in 8% of all patients (31% in HIV/HCV co-infected and 3% in HIV mono-infected individuals). Chronic ALT, AST and γ-GT elevation was present in 29%, 20% and 51% of all cART-exposed patients and in 19%, 8% and 45.5% of HIV mono-infected individuals. Overall, factors independently associated with significant fibrosis as assessed by TE (OR, 95% CI) were co-infection with HCV (7.29, 1.95-27.34), chronic AST (6.58, 1.30-33.25) and γ-GT (5.17, 1.56-17.08) elevation and time on dideoxynucleoside therapy (1.01, 1.00-1.02). In 68 HIV mono-infected individuals who had repeat TE examinations, TE values did not differ significantly during a median follow-up time of 24 months (median intra-patient changes at last TE examination relative to baseline: -0.2 kPa, p = 0.20). Conclusions: Chronic elevation of liver enzymes was observed in up to 45.5% of HIV mono-infected patients on cART. However, only a small subset had significant fibrosis as predicted by TE and FT. There was no evidence for fibrosis progression during follow-up TE examinations.
- A common HLA-DPA1 variant is associated with hepatitis B virus infection but fails to distinguish active from inactive Caucasian carriers (2012)
- Background and Aims: Chronic infection with the hepatitis B virus (HBV) is a major health issue worldwide. Recently, single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) within the human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-DP locus were identified to be associated with HBV infection in Asian populations. Most significant associations were observed for the A alleles of HLA-DPA1 rs3077 and HLA-DPB1 rs9277535, which conferred a decreased risk for HBV infection. We assessed the implications of these variants for HBV infection in Caucasians. Methods: Two HLA-DP gene variants (rs3077 and rs9277535) were analyzed for associations with persistent HBV infection and with different clinical outcomes, i.e., inactive HBsAg carrier status versus progressive chronic HBV (CHB) infection in Caucasian patients (n = 201) and HBsAg negative controls (n = 235). Results: The HLA-DPA1 rs3077 C allele was significantly associated with HBV infection (odds ratio, OR = 5.1, 95% confidence interval, CI: 1.9–13.7; p = 0.00093). However, no significant association was seen for rs3077 with progressive CHB infection versus inactive HBsAg carrier status (OR = 2.7, 95% CI: 0.6–11.1; p = 0.31). In contrast, HLA-DPB1 rs9277535 was not associated with HBV infection in Caucasians (OR = 0.8, 95% CI: 0.4–1.9; p = 1). Conclusions: A highly significant association of HLA-DPA1 rs3077 with HBV infection was observed in Caucasians. However, as a differentiation between different clinical courses of HBV infection was not possible, knowledge of the HLA-DPA1 genotype cannot be translated into personalized anti-HBV therapy approaches.
- Soluble serum CD81 is elevated in patients with chronic hepatitis C and correlates with alanine aminotransferase serum activity (2012)
- Aim: Cellular CD81 is a well characterized hepatitis C virus (HCV) entry factor, while the relevance of soluble exosomal CD81 in HCV pathogenesis is poorly defined. We performed a case-control study to investigate whether soluble CD81 in the exosomal serum fraction is associated with HCV replication and inflammatory activity. Patients and Methods: Four cohorts were investigated, patients with chronic hepatitis C (n = 37), patients with chronic HCV infection and persistently normal ALT levels (n = 24), patients with long term sustained virologic response (SVR, n = 7), and healthy volunteers (n = 23). Concentration of soluble CD81 was assessed semi-quantitatively after differential centrifugation ranging from 200 g to 100,000 g in the fifth centrifugation fraction by immunoblotting and densitometry. Results: Soluble CD81 was increased in patients with chronic hepatitis C compared to healthy subjects (p = 0.03) and cured patients (p = 0.017). Patients with chronic HCV infection and persistently normal ALT levels and patients with long term SVR had similar soluble CD81 levels as healthy controls (p>0.2). Overall, soluble CD81 levels were associated with ALT levels (r = 0.334, p = 0.016) and severe liver fibrosis (p = 0.027). Conclusion: CD81 is increased in the exosomal serum fraction in patients with chronic hepatitis C and appears to be associated with inflammatory activity and severity of fibrosis.
- A frequent variant in the human bile salt export pump gene ABCB11 is associated with hepatitis C virus infection, but not liver stiffness in a German population (2012)
- Background: The human ATP-binding cassette, subfamily B, member 11 (ABCB11) gene encodes the bile salt export pump, which is exclusively expressed at the canalicular membrane of hepatocytes. A frequent variant in the coding region, c.1331 T > C, leading to the amino acid exchange p.V444A, has been associated with altered serum bile salt levels in healthy individuals and predisposes homozygous carriers of the [C] allele for obstetric cholestasis. Recently, elevated bile salt levels were shown to be significantly associated with rates and risk of cirrhosis in patients with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection treated with pegylated interferon-alpha2 and ribavirin, suggesting a potential role for bile salt levels in HCV treatment outcomes and in the fibrogenic evolution of HCV-related liver disease. The aim of this study was to investigate a possible association of ABCB11 c.1331 T > C with hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection and fibrosis stages as assessed by non-invasive transient elastography in a German cohort of patients. Methods: ABCB11 c.1331 T > C genotype was determined by allelic discrimination assay in 649 HCV infected cases and 413 controls. Overall, 444 cases were staged for fibrotic progression by measurement of liver stiffness. Results: Homo- or heterozygous presence of the frequent [C] allele was associated with HCV positivity (OR = 1.41, CI = 1.02 - 1.95, p = 0.037). No association was detectable between the ABCB11 c.1331 T > C genotype and increased liver stiffness. Conclusions: Our data confirm that homozygous presence of the major [C] allele of ABCB11 c.1331 T > C is a genetic susceptibility factor for HCV infection, but not for liver fibrosis.
- High prevalence of anti-HCV antibodies in two metropolitan emergency departments in Germany: a prospective screening analysis of 28,809 patients (2012)
- Background and Aims: The prevalence of hepatitis C virus (HCV) antibodies in Germany has been estimated to be in the range of 0.4–0.63%. Screening for HCV is recommended in patients with elevated ALT levels or significant risk factors for HCV transmission only. However, 15–30% of patients report no risk factors and ALT levels can be normal in up to 20–30% of patients with chronic HCV infection. The aim of this study was to assess the HCV seroprevalence in patients visiting two tertiary care emergency departments in Berlin and Frankfurt, respectively. Methods: Between May 2008 and March 2010, a total of 28,809 consecutive patients were screened for the presence of anti-HCV antibodies. Anti-HCV positive sera were subsequently tested for HCV-RNA. Results: The overall HCV seroprevalence was 2.6% (95% CI: 2.4–2.8; 2.4% in Berlin and 3.5% in Frankfurt). HCV-RNA was detectable in 68% of anti-HCV positive cases. Thus, the prevalence of chronic HCV infection in the overall study population was 1.6% (95% CI 1.5–1.8). The most commonly reported risk factor was former/current injection drug use (IDU; 31.2%) and those with IDU as the main risk factor were significantly younger than patients without IDU (p<0.001) and the male-to-female ratio was 72% (121 vs. 46 patients; p<0.001). Finally, 18.8% of contacted HCV-RNA positive patients had not been diagnosed previously. Conclusions: The HCV seroprevalence was more than four times higher compared to current estimates and almost one fifth of contacted HCV-RNA positive patients had not been diagnosed previously.
- A genetic validation study reveals a role of vitamin D metabolism in the response to interferon-alfa-based therapy of chronic hepatitis C (2012)
- Background: To perform a comprehensive study on the relationship between vitamin D metabolism and the response to interferon-α-based therapy of chronic hepatitis C. Methodology/Principal Findings: Associations between a functionally relevant polymorphism in the gene encoding the vitamin D 1α-hydroxylase (CYP27B1-1260 rs10877012) and the response to treatment with pegylated interferon-α (PEG-IFN-α) and ribavirin were determined in 701 patients with chronic hepatitis C. In addition, associations between serum concentrations of 25-hydroxyvitamin D3 (25[OH]D3) and treatment outcome were analysed. CYP27B1-1260 rs10877012 was found to be an independent predictor of sustained virologic response (SVR) in patients with poor-response IL28B genotypes (15% difference in SVR for rs10877012 genotype AA vs. CC, p = 0.02, OR = 1.52, 95% CI = 1.061–2.188), but not in patients with favourable IL28B genotype. Patients with chronic hepatitis C showed a high prevalence of vitamin D insufficiency (25[OH]D3<20 ng/mL) during all seasons, but 25(OH)D3 serum levels were not associated with treatment outcome. Conclusions/Significance: Our study suggests a role of bioactive vitamin D (1,25[OH]2D3, calcitriol) in the response to treatment of chronic hepatitis C. However, serum concentration of the calcitriol precursor 25(OH)D3 is not a suitable predictor of treatment outcome.
- Molecular basis of telaprevir resistance due to V36 and T54 mutations in the NS3-4A protease of the hepatitis C virus (2008)
- Background The inhibitor telaprevir (VX-950) of the hepatitis C virus (HCV) protease NS3-4A has been tested in a recent phase 1b clinical trial in patients infected with HCV genotype 1. This trial revealed residue mutations that confer varying degrees of drug resistance. In particular, two protease positions with the mutations V36A/G/L/M and T54A/S were associated with low to medium levels of drug resistance during viral breakthrough, together with only an intermediate reduction of viral replication fitness. These mutations are located in the protein interior and far away from the ligand binding pocket. Results Based on the available experimental structures of NS3-4A, we analyze the binding mode of different ligands. We also investigate the binding mode of VX-950 by protein-ligand docking. A network of non-covalent interactions between amino acids of the protease structure and the interacting ligands is analyzed to discover possible mechanisms of drug resistance. We describe the potential impact of V36 and T54 mutants on the side chain and backbone conformations and on the non-covalent residue interactions. We propose possible explanations for their effects on the antiviral efficacy of drugs and viral fitness. Molecular dynamics simulations of T54A/S mutants and rotamer analysis of V36A/G/L/M side chains support our interpretations. Experimental data using an HCV V36G replicon assay corroborate our findings. Conclusion T54 mutants are expected to interfere with the catalytic triad and with the ligand binding site of the protease. Thus, the T54 mutants are assumed to affect the viral replication efficacy to a larger degree than V36 mutants. Mutations at V36 and/or T54 result in impaired interaction of the protease residues with the VX-950 cyclopropyl group, which explains the development of viral breakthrough variants.
- Baseline MELD Score Predicts Hepatic Decompensation during Antiviral Therapy in Patients with Chronic Hepatitis C and Advanced Cirrhosis (2013)
- Background and Aims: In patients with advanced liver cirrhosis due to chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection antiviral therapy with peginterferon and ribavirin is feasible in selected cases only due to potentially life-threatening side effects. However, predictive factors associated with hepatic decompensation during antiviral therapy are poorly defined. Methods: In a retrospective cohort study, 68 patients with HCV-associated liver cirrhosis (mean MELD score 9.18±2.72) were treated with peginterferon and ribavirin. Clinical events indicating hepatic decompensation (onset of ascites, hepatic encephalopathy, upper gastrointestinal bleeding, hospitalization) as well as laboratory data were recorded at baseline and during a follow up period of 72 weeks after initiation of antiviral therapy. To monitor long term sequelae of end stage liver disease an extended follow up for HCC development, transplantation and death was applied (240weeks, ±SD 136weeks). Results: Eighteen patients (26.5%) achieved a sustained virologic response. During the observational period a hepatic decompensation was observed in 36.8%. Patients with hepatic decompensation had higher MELD scores (10.84 vs. 8.23, p<0.001) and higher mean bilirubin levels (26.74 vs. 14.63 µmol/l, p<0.001), as well as lower serum albumin levels (38.2 vs. 41.1 g/l, p = 0.015), mean platelets (102.64 vs. 138.95/nl, p = 0.014) and mean leukocytes (4.02 vs. 5.68/nl, p = 0.002) at baseline as compared to those without decompensation. In the multivariate analysis the MELD score remained independently associated with hepatic decompensation (OR 1.56, 1.18–2.07; p = 0.002). When the patients were grouped according to their baseline MELD scores, hepatic decompensation occurred in 22%, 59%, and 83% of patients with MELD scores of 6–9, 10–13, and >14, respectively. Baseline MELD score was significantly associated with the risk for transplantation/death (p<0.001). Conclusions: Our data suggest that the baseline MELD score predicts the risk of hepatic decompensation during antiviral therapy and thus contributes to decision making when antiviral therapy is discussed in HCV patients with advanced liver cirrhosis.