Baseline MELD score predicts hepatic decompensation during antiviral therapy in patients with chronic hepatitis C and advanced cirrhosis
Michael von Wagner
Wolf Peter Hofmann
- 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.
Soluble serum CD81 is elevated in patients with chronic hepatitis C and correlates with alanine aminotransferase serum activity
- 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.
Molecular basis of telaprevir resistance due to V36 and T54 mutations in the NS3-4A protease of the hepatitis C virus
Francisco S. Domingues
- 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.
Vitamin D levels vary during antiviral treatment but are unable to predict treatment outcome in HCV genotype 1 infected patients
Boecher Wulf O.
- 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.
Association of IFNL3 rs12979860 and rs8099917 with Biochemical Predictors of Interferon Responsiveness in Chronic Hepatitis C Virus Infection
Florian van Bömmel
- 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.
SEMS vs cSEMS in duodenal and small bowel obstruction: High risk of migration in the covered stent group
Wolf Otto Bechstein
Jörg Gerhard Albert
- 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.
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
Susanne N. Weber
- 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.
A genetic validation study reveals a role of vitamin D metabolism in the response to interferon-alfa-based therapy of chronic hepatitis C
Christian M. Lange
Tilman J. Gerlach
Markus H. Heim
- 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.
High prevalence of anti-HCV antibodies in two metropolitan emergency departments in Germany: a prospective screening analysis of 28,809 patients
- 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.
Assessment of liver fibrosis and associated risk factors in HIV-infected individuals using transient elastography and serum biomarkers
- 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.