Liver Articles: Short Takes

DBE van Wessel et al. JPGN 2017; 65: 370-74.  This retrospective study showed an increase in biliary atresia incidence in preterm infants compared with full-term: 1.06 per 10,000 compared with 0.52/10,000. In addition, 4-year transplant-free survival rates were significantly worse at 21%, whereas 4-year survival rates was 61%. Clearance of jaundice (with Kasai) was achieved in only 23%.

Related post: Biliary Atresia More Common in Preterm Infants

ES Björnsson et al. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol 2017; 15: 1635-36. This study examined response to steroids in 18 patients with drug-induced autoimmune hepatitisKey findings: 14 patients had elevated antinuclear antibodies & there were none with elevated smooth muscle antibodies. Infliximab was most frequent agent (n=11) and nitrofurantoin was other frequent agent (n=3).  Overall, 40% improved after discontinuation of medication, the remainder had prompt responses to corticosteroids.  Relapse did not occur when corticosteroids were discontinued.  Among the infliximab group, there was no evidence of liver injury after transitioning to alternative tumor necrosis factor-α inhibitor.

M Balwani et al. Hepatology 2017; 66: 1314-22. Acute Hepatic Porphyrias -Review. Current recommendations include gene sequencing to confirm all biochemical cases. Biochemical tests are spot urine testing of porphobilinogen (PBG), 5-aminolevulinic acid (ALA), and porphyrins. A normal urine PBG in symptomatic patients “excludes the three most common acute hepatic porphyrias.”  For those with abnormal studies, this reference is a handy.

S Wirth et al. Hepatology 2017; 66: 1102-10.  This study examined the effectiveness of sofosbuvir and weigh-based ribavirin dosing in 12-17 year olds with genotype 2 & 3 Hepatitis C infection.  Duration of treatment was 12 weeks for genotype 2 and 24 weeks for type 3.  Overall, SVR12 was achieved in 51 of 52 (98%); one patient with genotype 3 did not achieve SVR12.

Related post: New HCV Treatment Effective in Adolescents (Genotype 1 study)

F Kanwal et al. Gastroenterol 2017; 153: 996-1005. This study, a retrospective cohort of 22,500 VA patients treated for hepatitis C infection, showed that direct-acting antivirals (DAAs) lowered, but did not eliminate, the risk of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Among the 87% who achieved an SVR, the adjusted hazard ratio for HCC was 0.28.  This was true as well as among patients with cirrhosis.. Hazard ratio for those with compensated cirrhosis was 0.32 compared with 0.18 among those without cirrhosis.

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Autoimmune Hepatitis and Hepatocellular Carcinoma

Briefly noted:

A Tansel et al. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol 2017; 15: 1207-17.  This systematic review and meta-analysis identified 25 studies and 6528 patients examining the relationship between autoimmune hepatitis (AIH) and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) .  In these studies the median followup was 8.0 years.  Key findings:

  • The pooled incidence of HCC was 3.06 per 1000 patient-years
  • 92 of 93 patients who had HCC had evidence of cirrhosis before or at the time of their diagnosis

My take: This study demonstrates that AIH patients with cirrhosis are at increased risk for HCC.  In patients with AIH who do not have cirrhosis, there does not appear to be a significant risk of HCC.

Also: Link for Online Resource for Hepatopulmonary Syndrome (Canadian Sponsored site). This site has content for patients and for practitioners, including a useful video.

 

Related blog posts:

6-Thioguanine Levels in Autoimmune Hepatitis

A recent retrospective study (MA Sheiko et al JPGN 2017; 65: 80-5) examines the issue of azathioprine (AZA) metabolites and outcomes in pediatric autoimmune hepatitis (AIH).

Study characteristics:

  • 66 children
  • Mean age of diagnosis 9.6 years
  • Mean follow-up 2.9 years
  • Study period 2002-2013

Key findings:

  • 79% achieved biochemical remission (defined as ALT ≤50 U/L); mean time was 6.2 months
  • 6% required liver transplantation
  • 18% were weaned off immunosuppression and remained in remission
  • 6-thioguanine (6-TGN) levels ranging from 50 to 250 (pmol/8 x 10 to 8th red blood cell count) were associated with biochemical remission

Our study suggests that AZA dosing of approximately 1.2 to 1.6 mg/kg/day will achieve 6-TGN levels of 50 to 250 pmol, which is sufficient to maintain biochemical remission in the majority of patients.

This is significantly lower than dosing recommended for inflammatory bowel disease (recommended levels 250-450). The associated editorial (pg 2-3, N Kerkar) cautions that while “lower levels are sufficient for maintaining biochemical remission…higher levels, similar to that used in IBD, are required for inducing remission.”

My take: Lower doses of azathioprine are likely to maintain biochemical remission and cause fewer side effects.  Metabolite levels can be helpful to assure reasonable levels of 6-TGN and to assure medication adherence.

Related blog entries:

Disclaimer: These blog posts are for educational purposes only. Specific dosing of medications (along with potential adverse effects) should be confirmed by prescribing physician.  This content is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment provided by a qualified healthcare provider. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a condition.

Shem Creek, SC

Slim Pickings: Data for 2nd-Line Autoimmune Hepatitis Pediatric Therapy

A recent study (AN Zizzo et al. JPGN 2017; 65: 6-15) performed a systematic review and meta-analysis of pediatric autoimmune hepatitis (AIH) studies.

The most remarkable finding was that there were only 76 patients from 15 qualifying studies.

Other findings:

  • Response to mycophenolate mofetil (MMF) with 34 patients was 36% (according to abstract) at 6 months  (discrepancy in article –results state 38% response)
  • Response to cyclosporine with 15 patients was 83% (discrepancy in article –results state 86% response)
  • Response to tacrolimus with 4 patients was 50%
  • Adverse effects were very common, particularly with cyclosporine (64% noted at least 1 adverse effect)

The article has an associated editorial (N Kerkar, pg 2-3).  “The adverse event profile of cyclosporine with gingival hyperplasia, hypertrichosis, nephrotoxicity, and neurotoxicity made it challenging for long-term use in children.”  Besides the small number of patients, “the studies that were included were largely “observational”‘ which limits their findings as well.  The study authors recommend MMF as the preferred option for 2nd-line therapy.

My take: Fortunately, most patients with autoimmune hepatitis respond to first line therapy with azathioprine/steroids.  It is unclear what is the optimal 2nd-line treatment for refractory patients.

Related blog entries:

Egret, Shem Creek

Liver Problems with Inflammatory Bowel Disease

A recent review (Full text: LJ Saubermann et al. JPGN 2017; 64: 639-52)  discusses the hepatic issues and complications associated with inflammatory bowel disease.

Key topics:

  • Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis (PSC)
  • Autoimmune Hepatitis (AIH)
  • Autoimmune Sclerosing Cholangitis (ASC)
  • Portal Venous Thrombosis/hypercoagulability
  • Cholelithiasis (more common in Crohn’s disease if diseased terminal ileum)
  • Viral hepatitis
  • Drug-Induced Liver Disease
  • Fatty Liver disease

Many of these topics have been discussed previously on this blog.  A couple of pointers in this review:

PSC:

  • Greater risk of colorectal carcinoma
  • IBD-PSC patients are at higher risk for pouchitis
  • GGT of >252 U/L “was highly sensitive (99%) and had good specificity (71%) for PSC” [or ASC]
  • The authors recommend “screening all newly diagnosed patients with IBD with ALT and GGT
  • Immunosuppressive therapy is NOT effective
  • Vancomycin therapy is currently being tested (clinical trials: NCT02137668 & NCT01802073)

AIH:

  • Less frequent in IBD patients than PSC
  • Most common treatment is prednisone/azathioprine
  • 40-80% of children have cirrhosis at AIH diagnosis, but “progression to end-stage liver disease is rare and …with appropriate treatment, 80% of patients achieve remission.”

ASC:

  • ASC is an overlap syndrome between AIH and PSC
  • “It is important that children with IBD and apparent AIH are routinely investigated for evidence of biliary disease with MRCP”
  • “ASC responds to the same immunosuppressive combination therapy used for AIH”

HAV/HBV Immunization:

  • HAV vaccination is effective in patients with IBD…although the rate [seroconversion] was significantly lower” in patients receiving anti-TNF therapy (92.4% vs 99.1% in one study).
  • In those needing HBV immunization: “One strategy evaluated to improve HBV immunity in adults with IBD is an accelerated course with double vaccine doses at 0, 1, and 2 months.”

Methotrexate (MTX):

  • “The extent of histological features of hepatotoxicity secondary to long-term MTX use in IBD has been infrequently described; however, the inicdence of significant abnormal histological findings appears to be rather low.”

My take: This article is a good starting point for liver-related issues in IBD.  For concerns regarding medications, the NIH livertox website is more useful and much more comprehensive.

Related blog entries:

DILI:

PSC:

AIH:

 

 

World Congress 2016 Postgraduate Course

I’ve attached (with permission) the syllabus from the World Congress 2016 Postgraduate Course: 2016-world-congress-postgraduate-course-syllabus

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One lecture that I will highlight with a few slides is from Dr. Martin Martin (pg 53-62) which emphasizes a new model for evaluating neonatal intestinal failure/congenital diarrhea by using whole exome sequencing –see slides below.

Other pointers:

  • Pg 82.  Breastmilk associated with shorter duration of TPN dependence in short bowel syndrome
  • Pg 137. Look for vasculopathy (MRI/MRA) and renal disease in Alagille syndrome
  • Pg 152. Lactated ringer’s likely better in acute pancreatitis than normal saline.
  • Pg 171. If constipation at less than 1 year is untreated, >60% have issues with constipation at age 3.

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Disclaimer: These blog posts are for educational purposes only. Specific dosing of medications/diets (along with potential adverse effects) should be confirmed by prescribing physician/nutritionist.  This content is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment provided by a qualified healthcare provider. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a condition.

Journals Supplanting Textbooks: Managing Liver Disease

Between Journals and online resources, textbooks are increasingly less useful.  Case in point -this past month, Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology published a special issue: The Art and Science of Managing Liver Disease.  Some of the articles are excellent reviews.

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With autoimmune hepatitis (AIH), the authors make a number of useful points and concisely summarized diagnosis and management.  A few points:

  • Anti-soluble liver antigen/liver-pancreas (SLA/LP) and Asialoglycoprotein receptor (ASGPR) useful in diagnosis of AIH type 1 or 2 and is prognostic for severe disease.
  • In U.S. current guidelines suggest an azathioprine dose of 50 mg (for adults) whereas in Europe the dose is typically 1-2 mg/kg/day.  The authors suggest that the U.S. guidelines could lead to undertreatment, particularly with increasing rates of obesity.
  • The authors state that routine “testing for TPMT deficiency before AZA treatment of AIH is unnecessary, because severe TPMT deficiency occurs in 0.3%-0.5% of the general population and does not invariably cause AZA-induced bone marrow toxicity.” [I will probably continue to check TPMT activity.] They do recommend TPMT testing in cirrhotic patients and those with cytopenias.
  • The authors note that successful long-term withdrawal can occur in 19-40% but recommend biochemical remission (>12-24 months) and histologic remission.  They caution against withdrawal in patients after a relapse due to increased risks of progression to cirrhosis and/or death.
  • When discussing alternative therapies, the authors note that mycophenolate mofetil (MMF) is typically effective for patients intolerant to AZA but not likely to work in AZA nonresponders.
  • Alternative agents reviewed included tacrolimus, cyclosporine, sirolimus/everolimus, rituximab, and infliximab.

Other topics in this issue included NAFLD, HCC, Varices, Hepatic encephalpathy, HBV, HCV, Acute-on-Chronic Liver Failure, PSC and Malignancy, DILI, and noninvasive imaging for liver fibrosis.