- 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.
- 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.
- SEMS vs cSEMS in duodenal and small bowel obstruction: High risk of migration in the covered stent group (2013)
- AIM: To compare clinical success and complications of uncovered self-expanding metal stents (SEMS) vs covered SEMS (cSEMS) in obstruction of the small bowel. METHODS: Technical success, complications and outcome of endoscopic SEMS or cSEMS placement in tumor related obstruction of the duodenum or jejunum were retrospectively assessed. The primary end points were rates of stent migration and overgrowth. Secondary end points were the effect of concomitant biliary drainage on migration rate and overall survival. The data was analyzed according to the Strengthening the Reporting of Observational Studies in Epidemiology guidelines. RESULTS: Thirty-two SEMS were implanted in 20 patients. In all patients, endoscopic stent implantation was successful. Stent migration was observed in 9 of 16 cSEMS (56%) in comparison to 0/16 SEMS (0%) implantations (P = 0.002). Stent overgrowth did not significantly differ between the two stent types (SEMS: 3/16, 19%; cSEMS: 2/16, 13%). One cSEMS dislodged and had to be recovered from the jejunum by way of laparotomy. Time until migration between SEMS and cSEMS in patients with and without concomitant biliary stents did not significantly differ (HR = 1.530, 95%CI 0.731-6.306; P = 0.556). The mean follow-up was 57 ± 71 d (range: 1-275 d). CONCLUSION: SEMS and cSEMS placement is safe in small bowel tumor obstruction. However, cSEMS is accompanied with a high rate of migration in comparison to uncovered SEMS.
- Association of IFNL3 rs12979860 and rs8099917 with Biochemical Predictors of Interferon Responsiveness in Chronic Hepatitis C Virus Infection (2013)
- Background & Aims: Genetic variations near the interferon lambda 3 gene (IFNL3, IL28B) are the most powerful predictors for sustained virologic response (SVR) in patients with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection, compared to other biochemical or histological baseline parameters. We evaluated whether the interplay of both IFNL3 polymorphisms rs12979860 and rs8099917 together with non-genetic clinical factors contributes to the predictive role of these genetic variants. Methods: The cohort comprised 1,402 patients of European descent with chronic HCV type 1 infection. 1,298 patients received interferon-based antiviral therapy, and 719 (55%) achieved SVR. The IFNL3 polymorphisms were genotyped by polymerase chain reaction and melting curve analysis. Results: A significant correlation was found between the IFNL3 polymorphisms and biochemical as well as virologic predictors of treatment outcome such as ALT, GGT, cholesterol, and HCV RNA levels. In multivariate regression analysis, IFLN3 SNPs, HCV RNA levels, and the GGT/ALT ratio were independent predictors of SVR. Dependent on the GGT/ALT ratio and on the HCV RNA concentration, significant variations in the likelihood for achieving SVR were observed in both, carriers of the responder as well as non-responder alleles. Conclusions: Our data support a clear association between IFNL3 genotypes and baseline parameters known to impact interferon responsiveness. Improved treatment outcome prediction was achieved when these predictors were considered in combination with the IFNL3 genotype.
- Vitamin D levels vary during antiviral treatment but are unable to predict treatment outcome in HCV genotype 1 infected patients (2014)
- Background: Different parameters have been determined for prediction of treatment outcome in hepatitis c virus genotype 1 infected patients undergoing pegylated interferon, ribavirin combination therapy. Results on the importance of vitamin D levels are conflicting. In the present study, a comprehensive analysis of vitamin D levels before and during therapy together with single nucleotide polymorphisms involved in vitamin D metabolism in the context of other known treatment predictors has been performed. Methods: In a well characterized prospective cohort of 398 genotype 1 infected patients treated with pegylated interferon-α and ribavirin for 24–72 weeks (INDIV-2 study) 25-OH-vitamin D levels and different single nucleotide polymorphisms were analyzed together with known biochemical parameters for a correlation with virologic treatment outcome. Results: Fluctuations of more than 5 (10) ng/ml in 25-OH-vitamin D-levels have been observed in 66 (39) % of patients during the course of antiviral therapy and neither pretreatment nor under treatment 25-OH-vitamin D-levels were associated with treatment outcome. The DHCR7-TT-polymorphism within the 7-dehydrocholesterol-reductase showed a significant association (P = 0.031) to sustained viral response in univariate analysis. Among numerous further parameters analyzed we found that age (OR = 1.028, CI = 1.002–1.056, P = 0.035), cholesterol (OR = 0.983, CI = 0.975–0.991, P<0.001), ferritin (OR = 1.002, CI = 1.000–1.004, P = 0.033), gGT (OR = 1.467, CI = 1.073–2.006, P = 0.016) and IL28B-genotype (OR = 2.442, CI = 1.271–4.695, P = 0.007) constituted the strongest predictors of treatment response. Conclusions: While 25-OH-vitamin D-levels levels show considerable variations during the long-lasting course of antiviral therapy they do not show any significant association to treatment outcome in genotype 1 infected patients.
- 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%.
- Performance of Two HCV RNA Assays during Protease Inhibitor-Based Triple Therapy in Patients with Advanced Liver Fibrosis and Cirrhosis (2014)
- Introduction On-treatment HCV RNA measurements are crucial for the prediction of a sustained virological response (SVR) and to determine treatment futility during protease inhibitor-based triple therapies. In patients with advanced liver disease an accurate risk/benefit calculation based on reliable HCV RNA results can reduce the number of adverse events. However, the different available HCV RNA assays vary in their diagnostic performance. Aim To investigate the clinical relevance of concordant and discordant results of two HCV RNA assays during triple therapy with boceprevir and telaprevir in patients with advanced liver fibrosis/cirrhosis. Methods We collected on-treatment samples of 191 patients with advanced liver fibrosis/cirrhosis treated at four European centers for testing with the Abbott RealTime (ART) and COBAS AmpliPrep/COBAS TaqMan HCV v2.0 (CTM) assays. Results Discordant test results for HCV RNA detectability were observed in 23% at week 4, 17% at week 8/12 and 9% at week 24 on-treatment. The ART detected HCV RNA in 41% of week 4 samples tested negative by the CTM. However, the positive predictive value of an undetectable week 4 result for SVR was similar for both assays (80% and 82%). Discordance was also found for application of stopping rules. In 27% of patients who met stopping rules by CTM the ART measured levels below the respective cut-offs of 100 and 1000 IU/ml, respectively, which would have resulted in treatment continuation. In contrast, in nine patients with negative HCV RNA by CTM at week 24 treatment would have been discontinued due to detectable residual HCV RNA by the ART assay. Importantly, only 4 of these patients failed to achieve SVR. Conclusion Application of stopping rules determined in approval studies by one assay to other HCV RNA assays in clinical practice may lead to over and undertreatment in a significant number of patients undergoing protease inhibitor-based triple therapy.
- Primary Biliary Acids Inhibit Hepatitis D Virus (HDV) Entry into Human Hepatoma Cells Expressing the Sodium-Taurocholate Cotransporting Polypeptide (NTCP) (2015)
- Background: The sodium-taurocholate cotransporting polypeptide (NTCP) is both a key bile acid (BA) transporter mediating uptake of BA into hepatocytes and an essential receptor for hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis D virus (HDV). In this study we aimed to characterize to what extent and through what mechanism BA affect HDV cell entry. Methods: HuH-7 cells stably expressing NTCP (HuH-7/NTCP) and primary human hepatocytes (PHH) were infected with in vitro generated HDV particles. Infectivity in the absence or presence of compounds was assessed using immunofluorescence staining for HDV antigen, standard 50% tissue culture infectious dose (TCID50) assays and quantitative PCR. Results: Addition of primary conjugated and unconjugated BA resulted in a dose dependent reduction in the number of infected cells while secondary, tertiary and synthetic BA had a lesser effect. This effect was observed both in HuH-7/NTCP and in PHH. Other replication cycle steps such as replication and particle assembly and release were unaffected. Moreover, inhibitory BA competed with a fragment from the large HBV envelope protein for binding to NTCP-expressing cells. Conversely, the sodium/BA-cotransporter function of NTCP seemed not to be required for HDV infection since infection was similar in the presence or absence of a sodium gradient across the plasma membrane. When chenodeoxycolic acid (15 mg per kg body weight) was administered to three chronically HDV infected individuals over a period of up to 16 days there was no change in serum HDV RNA. Conclusions: Primary BA inhibit NTCP-mediated HDV entry into hepatocytes suggesting that modulation of the BA pool may affect HDV infection of hepatocytes.