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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.
- 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.
- 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%.
- Altered mucosal immune response after acute lung injury in a murine model of Ataxia Telangiectasia (2014)
- Background: Ataxia telangiectasia (A-T) is a rare but devastating and progressive disorder characterized by cerebellar dysfunction, lymphoreticular malignancies and recurrent sinopulmonary infections. In A-T, disease of the respiratory system causes significant morbidity and is a frequent cause of death. Methods: We used a self-limited murine model of hydrochloric acid-induced acute lung injury (ALI) to determine the inflammatory answer due to mucosal injury in Atm (A-T mutated)- deficient mice (Atm−/−). Results: ATM deficiency increased peak lung inflammation as demonstrated by bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) neutrophils and lymphocytes and increased levels of BALF pro-inflammatory cytokines (e.g. IL-6, TNF). Furthermore, bronchial epithelial damage after ALI was increased in Atm−/− mice. ATM deficiency increased airway resistance and tissue compliance before ALI was performed. Conclusions: Together, these findings indicate that ATM plays a key role in inflammatory response after airway mucosal injury.
- Aprotinin may increase mortality in low and intermediate risk but not in high risk cardiac surgical patients compared to tranexamic acid and ε-aminocaproic acid - a meta-analysis of randomised and observational trials of over 30.000 patients (2013)
- Background: To compare the effect of aprotinin with the effect of lysine analogues (tranexamic acid and ε-aminocaproic acid) on early mortality in three subgroups of patients: low, intermediate and high risk of cardiac surgery. Methods and Findings: We performed a meta-analysis of randomised controlled trials and observational with the following data sources: Medline, Cochrane Library, and reference lists of identified articles. The primary outcome measure was early (in-hospital/30-day) mortality. The secondary outcome measures were any transfusion of packed red blood cells within 24 hours after surgery, any re-operation for bleeding or massive bleeding, and acute renal dysfunction or failure within the selected cited publications, respectively. Out of 328 search results, 31 studies (15 trials and 16 observational studies) included 33,501 patients. Early mortality was significantly increased after aprotinin vs. lysine analogues with a pooled risk ratio (95% CI) of 1.58 (1.13–2.21), p<0.001 in the low (n = 14,297) and in the intermediate risk subgroup (1.42 (1.09–1.84), p<0.001; n = 14,427), respectively. Contrarily, in the subgroup of high risk patients (n = 4,777), the risk for mortality did not differ significantly between aprotinin and lysine analogues (1.03 (0.67–1.58), p = 0.90). Conclusion: Aprotinin may be associated with an increased risk of mortality in low and intermediate risk cardiac surgery, but presumably may has no effect on early mortality in a subgroup of high risk cardiac surgery compared to lysine analogues. Thus, decisions to re-license aprotinin in lower risk patients should critically be debated. In contrast, aprotinin might probably be beneficial in high risk cardiac surgery as it reduces risk of transfusion and bleeding complications.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.