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- The INCA trial (Impact of NOD2 genotype-guided antibiotic prevention on survival in patients with liver Cirrhosis and Ascites): study protocol for a randomized controlled trial (2015)
- BACKGROUND: Patients with liver cirrhosis have a highly elevated risk of developing bacterial infections that significantly decrease survival rates. One of the most relevant infections is spontaneous bacterial peritonitis (SBP). Recently, NOD2 germline variants were found to be potential predictors of the development of infectious complications and mortality in patients with cirrhosis. The aim of the INCA (Impact of NOD2 genotype-guided antibiotic prevention on survival in patients with liver Cirrhosis and Ascites) trial is to investigate whether survival of this genetically defined high-risk group of patients with cirrhosis defined by the presence of NOD2 variants is improved by primary antibiotic prophylaxis of SBP. METHODS/DESIGN: The INCA trial is a double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial with two parallel treatment arms (arm 1: norfloxacin 400 mg once daily; arm 2: placebo once daily; 12-month treatment and observational period). Balanced randomization of 186 eligible patients with stratification for the protein content of the ascites (<15 versus ≥15 g/L) and the study site is planned. In this multicenter national study, patients are recruited in at least 13 centers throughout Germany. The key inclusion criterion is the presence of a NOD2 risk variant in patients with decompensated liver cirrhosis. The most important exclusion criteria are current SBP or previous history of SBP and any long-term antibiotic prophylaxis. The primary endpoint is overall survival after 12 months of treatment. Secondary objectives are to evaluate whether the frequencies of SBP and other clinically relevant infections necessitating antibiotic treatment, as well as the total duration of unplanned hospitalization due to cirrhosis, differ in both study arms. Recruitment started in February 2014. DISCUSSION: Preventive strategies are required to avoid life-threatening infections in patients with liver cirrhosis, but unselected use of antibiotics can trigger resistant bacteria and worsen outcome. Thus, individualized approaches that direct intervention only to patients with the highest risk are urgently needed. This trial meets this need by suggesting stratified prevention based on genetic risk assessment. To our knowledge, the INCA trial is first in the field of hepatology aimed at rapidly transferring and validating information on individual genetic risk into clinical decision algorithms. TRIAL REGISTRATIONS: German Clinical Trials Register DRKS00005616 . Registered 22 January 2014. EU Clinical Trials Register EudraCT 2013-001626-26 . Registered 26 January 2015.
- The effects of clinical hypnosis versus Neurolinguistic Programming (NLP) before External Cephalic Version (ECV) : a prospective off-centre randomised, double-blind, controlled trial (2012)
- Objective. To examine the effects of clinical hypnosis versus NLP intervention on the success rate of ECV procedures in comparison to a control group. Methods. A prospective off-centre randomised trial of a clinical hypnosis intervention against NLP of women with a singleton breech fetus at or after 370/7 (259 days) weeks of gestation and normal amniotic fluid index. All 80 participants heard a 20-minute recorded intervention via head phones. Main outcome assessed was success rate of ECV. The intervention groups were compared with a control group with standard medical care alone (n=122). Results. A total of 42 women, who received a hypnosis intervention prior to ECV, had a 40.5% (n=17), successful ECV, whereas 38 women, who received NLP, had a 44.7% (n=17) successful ECV (P > 0.05). The control group had similar patient characteristics compared to the intervention groups (P > 0.05). In the control group (n = 122) 27.3% (n = 33) had a statistically significant lower successful ECV procedure than NLP (P = 0.05) and hypnosis and NLP (P = 0.03). Conclusions. These findings suggest that prior clinical hypnosis and NLP have similar success rates of ECV procedures and are both superior to standard medical care alone.
- 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.
- Prenatal ultrasound screening for fetal anomalies and outcomes in high-risk pregnancies due to maternal HIV infection: a retrospective study (2013)
- Objective. To assess the prevalence of prenatal screening and of adverse outcome in high-risk pregnancies due to maternal HIV infection. Study Design. The prevalence of prenatal screening in 330 pregnancies of HIV-positive women attending the department for prenatal screening and/or during labour between January 1, 2002 and December 31, 2012, was recorded. Screening results were compared with the postnatal outcome and maternal morbidity, and mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) was evaluated. Results. One hundred of 330 women (30.5%) had an early anomaly scan, 252 (74.5%) had a detailed scan at 20–22 weeks, 18 (5.5%) had a detailed scan prior to birth, and three (0.9%) had an amniocentesis. In seven cases (2.12%), a fetal anomaly was detected prenatally and confirmed postnatally, while in eight (2.42%) an anomaly was only detected postnatally, even though a prenatal scan was performed. There were no anomalies in the unscreened group. MTCT occurred in three cases (0.9%) and seven fetal and neonatal deaths (2.1%) were reported. Conclusion. The overall prevalence of prenatal ultrasound screening in our cohort is 74.5%, but often the opportunity for prenatal ultrasonography in the first trimester is missed. In general, the aim should be to offer prenatal ultrasonography in the first trimester in all pregnancies. This allows early reassurance or if fetal disease is suspected, further steps can be taken.
- Predictive value of interferon-lambda gene polymorphisms for treatment response in chronic hepatitis C (2014)
- Background: IL28B gene polymorphism is the best baseline predictor of response to interferon alfa-based antiviral therapies in chronic hepatitis C. Recently, a new IFN-L4 polymorphism was identified as first potential functional variant for induction of IL28B expression. Individualization of interferon alfa-based therapies based on a combination of IL28B/IFN-L4 polymorphisms may help to optimize virologic outcome and economic resources. Methods: Optimization of treatment outcome prediction was assessed by combination of different IL28B and IFN-L4 polymorphisms in patients with chronic HCV genotype 1 (n = 385), 2/3 (n = 267), and 4 (n = 220) infection treated with pegylated interferon alfa (PEG-IFN) and ribavirin with (n = 79) or without telaprevir. Healthy people from Germany (n = 283) and Egypt (n = 96) served as controls. Results: Frequencies of beneficial IL28B rs12979860 C/C genotypes were lower in HCV genotype 1/4 infected patients in comparison to controls (20–35% vs. 46–47%) this was also true for ss469415590 TT/TT (20–35% vs. 45–47%). Single interferon-lambda SNPs (rs12979860, rs8099917, ss469415590) correlated with sustained virologic response (SVR) in genotype 1, 3, and 4 infected patients while no association was observed for genotype 2. Interestingly, in genotype 3 infected patients, best SVR prediction was based on IFN-L4 genotype. Prediction of SVR with high accuracy (71–96%) was possible in genotype 1, 2, 3 and 4 infected patients who received PEG-IFN/ribavirin combination therapy by selection of beneficial IL28B rs12979860 C/C and/or ss469415590 TT/TT genotypes (p<0.001). For triple therapy with first generation protease inhibitors (PIs) (boceprevir, telaprevir) prediction of high SVR (90%) rates was based on the presence of at least one beneficial genotype of the 3 IFN-lambda SNPs. Conclusion: IFN-L4 seems to be the best single predictor of SVR in genotype 3 infected patients. For optimized prediction of SVR by treatment with dual combination or first generation PI triple therapies, grouping of interferon-lambda haplotypes may be helpful with positive predictive values of 71–96%.
- PEG-IFN alpha but not ribavirin alters NK cell phenotype and function in patients with chronic hepatitis C (2014)
- Background: Ribavirin (RBV) remains part of several interferon-free treatment strategies even though its mechanisms of action are still not fully understood. One hypothesis is that RBV increases responsiveness to type I interferons. Pegylated Interferon alpha (PEG-IFNa) has recently been shown to alter natural killer (NK) cell function possibly contributing to control of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. However, the effects of ribavirin alone or in combination with IFNa on NK cells are unknown. Methods: Extensive ex vivo phenotyping and functional analysis of NK cells from hepatitis C patients was performed during antiviral therapy. Patients were treated for 6 weeks with RBV monotherapy (n = 11), placebo (n = 13) or PEG-IFNa-2a alone (n = 6) followed by PEG-IFNa/RBV combination therapy. The effects of RBV and PEG-IFNa-2a on NK cells were also studied in vitro after co-culture with K562 or Huh7.5 cells. Results: Ribavirin monotherapy had no obvious effects on NK cell phenotype or function, neither ex vivo in patients nor in vitro. In contrast, PEG-IFNa-2a therapy was associated with an increase of CD56bright cells and distinct changes in expression profiles leading to an activated NK cell phenotype, increased functionality and decline of terminally differentiated NK cells. Ribavirin combination therapy reduced some of the IFN effects. An activated NK cell phenotype during therapy was inversely correlated with HCV viral load. Conclusions: PEG-IFNa activates NK cells possibly contributing to virological responses independently of RBV. The role of NK cells during future IFN-free combination therapies including RBV remains to be determined.
- Interobserver agreement of Thyroid Imaging Reporting and Data System (TIRADS) and strain elastography for the assessment of thyroid nodules (2013)
- Background: Thyroid Imaging Reporting and Data System (TIRADS) was developed to improve patient management and cost-effectiveness by avoiding unnecessary fine needle aspiration biopsy (FNAB) in patients with thyroid nodules. However, its clinical use is still very limited. Strain elastography (SE) enables the determination of tissue elasticity and has shown promising results for the differentiation of thyroid nodules. Methods: The aim of the present study was to evaluate the interobserver agreement (IA) of TIRADS developed by Horvath et al. and SE. Three blinded observers independently scored stored images of TIRADS and SE in 114 thyroid nodules (114 patients). Cytology and/or histology was available for all benign (n = 99) and histology for all malignant nodules (n = 15). Results: The IA between the 3 observers was only fair for TIRADS categories 2–5 (Coheńs kappa = 0.27,p = 0.000001) and TIRADS categories 2/3 versus 4/5 (ck = 0.25,p = 0.0020). The IA was substantial for SE scores 1–4 (ck = 0.66,p<0.000001) and very good for SE scores 1/2 versus 3/4 (ck = 0.81,p<0.000001). 92–100% of patients with TIRADS-2 had benign lesions, while 28–42% with TIRADS-5 had malignant cytology/histology. The negative-predictive-value (NPV) was 92–100% for TIRADS using TIRADS-categories 4&5 and 96–98% for SE using score ES-3&4 for the diagnosis of malignancy, respectively. However, only 11–42% of nodules were in TIRADS-categories 2&3, as compared to 58–60% with ES-1&2. Conclusions: IA of TIRADS developed by Horvath et al. is only fair. TIRADS and SE have high NPV for excluding malignancy in the diagnostic work-up of thyroid nodules.
- Interleukin-22 predicts severity and death in advanced liver cirrhosis: a prospective cohort study (2012)
- Background: Interleukin-22 (IL-22), recently identified as a crucial parameter of pathology in experimental liver damage, may determine survival in clinical end-stage liver disease. Systematic analysis of serum IL-22 in relation to morbidity and mortality of patients with advanced liver cirrhosis has not been performed so far. Methods: This is a prospective cohort study including 120 liver cirrhosis patients and 40 healthy donors to analyze systemic levels of IL-22 in relation to survival and hepatic complications. Results: A total of 71% of patients displayed liver cirrhosis-related complications at study inclusion. A total of 23% of the patients died during a mean follow-up of 196 +/- 165 days. Systemic IL-22 was detectable in 74% of patients but only in 10% of healthy donors (P <0.001). Elevated levels of IL-22 were associated with ascites (P = 0.006), hepatorenal syndrome (P <0.0001), and spontaneous bacterial peritonitis (P = 0.001). Patients with elevated IL-22 (>18 pg/ml, n = 57) showed significantly reduced survival compared to patients with regular ([less than or equal to]18 pg/ml) levels of IL-22 (321 days versus 526 days, P = 0.003). Other factors associated with overall survival were high CRP ([greater than or equal to]2.9 mg/dl, P = 0.005, hazard ratio (HR) 0.314, confidence interval (CI) (0.141 to 0.702)), elevated serum creatinine (P = 0.05, HR 0.453, CI (0.203 to 1.012)), presence of liver-related complications (P = 0.028, HR 0.258 CI (0.077 to 0.862)), model of end stage liver disease (MELD) score [greater than or equal to]20 (P = 0.017, HR 0.364, CI (0.159 to 0.835)) and age (P = 0.011, HR 1.047, CI (1.011 to 1.085)). Adjusted multivariate Cox proportional-hazards analysis identified elevated systemic IL-22 levels as independent predictors of reduced survival (P = 0.007, HR 0.218, CI (0.072 to 0.662)). Conclusions: In patients with liver cirrhosis, elevated systemic IL-22 levels are predictive for reduced survival independently from age, liver-related complications, CRP, creatinine and the MELD score. Thus, processes that lead to a rise in systemic interleukin-22 may be relevant for prognosis of advanced liver cirrhosis.
- 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.
- 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.