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1.  Intravenous N-acetylcysteine in Pediatric Patients with Non-Acetaminophen Acute Liver Failure: A Placebo-Controlled Clinical Trial 
Hepatology (Baltimore, Md.)  2013;57(4):1542-1549.
N-acetylcysteine (NAC) was found to improve transplantation-free survival in only those adults with non-acetaminophen (non-APAP) acute liver failure (ALF) and grade 1–2 hepatic encephalopathy (HE). Because non-APAP ALF differs significantly between children and adults, the Pediatric Acute Liver Failure (PALF) Study Group evaluated NAC in non-APAP PALF. Children from birth through age 17 years with non-APAP ALF enrolled in the PALF registry were eligible to enter an adaptively allocated, doubly masked, placebo-controlled trial using a continuous intravenous infusion of NAC (150 mg/kg/day in 5% dextrose in water [D5W]) or placebo (D5W) for up to 7 days. The primary outcome was 1-year survival. Secondary outcomes included liver transplantation-free survival, liver transplantation (LTx), length of ICU and hospital stays, organ system failure and maximum HE score. A total of 184 participants were enrolled in the trial with 92 in each arm. The 1-year survival did not differ significantly (p=0.19) between the NAC (73%) and placebo (82%) treatment groups. The 1-year LTx-free survival was significantly lower (p=0.03) in those who received NAC (35%) than those who received placebo (53%), particularly, but not significantly so, among those less than 2 years old with HE grade 0–1 (NAC 25%; placebo 60%; p=0.0493). There were no significant differences between treatment arms for hospital or ICU length of stay, organ systems failing, or highest recorded grade of HE.
Conclusion
NAC did not improve 1-year survival in non-APAP PALF. 1-year LTx-free survival was significantly lower with NAC, particularly among those < 2 years old. These results do not support broad use of NAC in non-APAP PALF and emphasizes the importance of conducting controlled pediatric drug trials, regardless of results in adults.
doi:10.1002/hep.26001
PMCID: PMC3509266  PMID: 22886633
Child; hepatic encephalopathy; liver transplantation; multi-organ system failure; treatment
2.  Auto-antibodies and Autoimmune Disease during Treatment of Children with Chronic Hepatitis C 
Objectives
Auto-antibodies were studied in a well-characterized cohort of children with chronic hepatitis C (CHC) during treatment with PEG-IFN and ribavirin to assess the relationship to treatment and development of autoimmune disease.
Methods
114 children (5–17 years), previously screened for the presence of high titer autoantibodies, were randomized to Peg-IFN with or without ribavirin. Anti-nuclear (ANA), anti-liver-kidney-microsomal (LKM), anti-thyroglobulin (TG), anti-thyroid peroxidase (TPO), insulin (IA2), anti-glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD) antibodies were measured after trial completion using frozen sera.
Results
At baseline,19% had auto-antibodies: ANA (8%), LKM (4%), and GAD (4%). At 24 and 72 weeks (24 weeks after treatment completion), 23% and 26% had auto-antibodies (p=0.50, 0.48 compared to baseline). One child developed diabetes and two hypothyroidism during treatment; none developed autoimmune hepatitis. At 24 weeks, the incidence of flu-like symptoms, gastrointestinal symptoms, and headaches were 42%, 8% and 19% in those with auto-antibodies vs. 52%, 17%, and 26% in those without (p=0.18, 0.36, and 0.20, respectively). In children with negative HCV PCR at 24 weeks, there was no difference in the rate of early virologic response /sustained virologic response respectively in those with auto-antibodies 76%/69%, vs 58%/65% in those without (p=0.48).
Conclusions
Despite screening, we found autoantibodies commonly at baseline, during treatment for CHC and after. The presence of antibodies did not correlate with viral response, side effects, or autoimmune hepatitis. Neither screening nor archived samples assayed for thyroid and diabetes-related antibodies identified the 3 subjects who developed overt autoimmune disease, diabetes (1) and hypothyroidism (2).
doi:10.1097/MPG.0b013e3182774cae
PMCID: PMC3583208  PMID: 23439301
Pediatrics; Viral hepatitis; Therapy; Complications; Diabetes; Hypothyroid; Auto-immune
3.  Peginterferon for Chronic Hepatitis C in Children affects Growth and Body Composition: Results from the Pediatric Study of Hepatitis C (PEDS-C) Trial 
Hepatology (Baltimore, Md.)  2012;56(2):523-531.
Background
Weight loss and changes in growth are noted in children treated with interferonα
Objectives
To prospectively determine changes in weight, height, body mass index and body composition during and after treatment of children with hepatitis C.
Methods
Children treated with PEG-IFNα2a +/− ribavirin in the PEDS-C trial underwent anthropometric measurements, DXA scan, dietary and activity assessments during and after treatment.
Results
114 (55% male) children mean age 11±3 years were randomized, and 107 received treatment for at least 24 weeks. Subjects were divided into 3 groups according to duration of treatment: 24 (N=14), 48 (N=82), or 72 (N=11) weeks. Decrements of up to 0.50 z score were observed for weight, height and BMI while on therapy among all groups (P≤0.01 compared to baseline). In the group treated for 48 weeks, 29 (33%) subjects had greater than 0.5 unit decrement in height-for-age Z score. While weight-for-age and BMI z scores returned to baseline after cessation of therapy, mean HAZ score was slower to rebound, still lower than baseline at 96 weeks post-therapy for the long treatment duration group (P=0.03) and lower than baseline in most children treated for 48 weeks. Percent body fat, fat-free mass z scores and triceps skinfold z scores decreased with therapy. Dietary energy intake and levels of physical activity did not change during treatment.
Conclusions
PEG-IFNα2a was associated with significant changes in body weight, linear growth, body mass index and body composition in children. These effects were generally reversible with cessation of therapy, although height-for-age z scores had not returned to baseline after 2 years of observation in many. Longer term growth data are needed among children treated for chronic HCV.
doi:10.1002/hep.25690
PMCID: PMC3382022  PMID: 22383118
4.  Peginterferon With or Without Ribavirin Has Minimal Effect on Quality of Life, Behavioral/Emotional, and Cognitive Outcomes in Children 
Hepatology (Baltimore, Md.)  2011;53(5):1468-1475.
The aim of this study was to prospectively assess the quality of life (QOL), behavioral/emotional functioning, and cognitive status of children undergoing treatment for hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. One hundred fourteen children (5 to 18 years old) enrolled in a multi-site randomized clinical trial (Peds-C) to evaluate peginterferon alpha 2a (PEG 2a) with ribavirin (RV) or with placebo (PL) completed several standardized measures prior to treatment and at 24 weeks, 48 weeks, 6 months following treatment, and at two annual follow-up visits. After 24 weeks of treatment, mean physical QOL scores declined significantly for both groups from baseline to 24 weeks of treatment (F = 5.8, p = 0.004), although scores remained in the average range. There were no significant time or group effects for behavioral/emotional or cognitive functioning. Three children (5%) in the PEG 2a + RV group and no children in the PEG 2a + PL group had a clinically significant increase in depression symptoms. For those children who received 48 weeks of treatment, there were no significant time or group effects on any of the outcome measures (p's > 0.05). A majority of children in both the PEG 2a + RV and PEG 2a + PL groups experienced no clinically significant change in physical QOL, behavioral adjustment, depression, or cognitive functioning during or after treatment.
Conclusion
Overall QOL and psychosocial functioning are not deleteriously impacted by PEG 2a + RV or PL treatment of children with HCV.
doi:10.1002/hep.24248
PMCID: PMC3082614  PMID: 21351116
pediatrics; HCV; parents; clinical trial; quality of life
5.  The Combination of Ribavirin and Peginterferon Is Superior to Peginterferon and Placebo for Children and Adolescents Chronic Hepatitis C 
Gastroenterology  2010;140(2):450-458.e1.
Background & Aims
Although randomized trials of adults infected with hepatitis C virus (HCV) have shown that ribavirin increases efficacy of pegylated interferon (PEG), such trials have not been performed in children. We conducted a randomized, controlled trial of PEG and ribavirin, compared with PEG and placebo, in children 5–17 years old with chronic hepatitis C.
Methods
HCV RNA-positive children from 11 university medical centers were randomly groups assigned to receive either the combination of peginterferon alfa-2a (PEG 2a; 180 μg/1.73 m2 body surface area, subcutaneously each week; n=59) and ribavirin (15 mg per kilogram orally in 2 doses daily) or PEG2a and placebo for 48 weeks (n=55). The primary endpoint was sustained virologic response (SVR, lack of detectable HCV RNA at least 24 weeks after stopping therapy).
Results
An SVR was achieved in 53% of children treated with PEG 2a and ribavirin, compared with 21% of children who received PEG 2a and placebo (P<0.001). Early virologic response (> 2 log10 IU reduction in HCV RNA at 12 weeks) had a negative predictive value of only 0.89 in children with genotype 1, indicating that these children might benefit from 24 weeks of therapy before stopping treatment. Side effects, especially neutropenia, led to dose modification in 40% of children. Eighty-two percent of the PEG/ribavirin and 86% of the PEG/placebo group were in compliance with the year-2 follow-up visit; the durability of virologic response was 100% in both groups.
Conclusions
The combination of PEG and ribavirin is superior to PEG and placebo as therapy for chronic hepatitis C in children and adolescents.
doi:10.1053/j.gastro.2010.10.047
PMCID: PMC3042126  PMID: 21036173
antiviral therapy; pediatric liver disease; multi-center pediatric trial
6.  Differences in presentation and progression between severe FIC1 and BSEP deficiencies 
Journal of hepatology  2010;53(1):170-178.
Background & Aims
Progressive familial intrahepatic cholestasis (PFIC) with normal serum levels of gamma-glutamyltranspeptidase can result from mutations in ATP8B1 (encoding familial intrahepatic cholestasis 1 [FIC1]) or ABCB11 (encoding bile salt export pump [BSEP]). We evaluated clinical and laboratory features of disease in patients diagnosed with PFIC, who carried mutations in ATP8B1 (FIC1 deficiency) or ABCB11 (BSEP deficiency). Our goal was to identify features that distinguish presentation and course of these 2 disorders, thus facilitating diagnosis and elucidating the differing consequences of ATP8B1 and ABCB11 mutations.
Methods
A retrospective multi-center study was conducted, using questionnaires and chart review. Available clinical and biochemical data from 145 PFIC patients with mutations in either ATP8B1 (61 “FIC1 patients”) or ABCB11 (84 “BSEP patients”) were evaluated.
Results
At presentation, serum aminotransferase and bile salt levels were higher in BSEP patients; serum alkaline phosphatase values were higher, and serum albumin values were lower, in FIC1 patients. Elevated white blood cell counts, and giant or multinucleate cells at liver biopsy, were more common in BSEP patients. BSEP patients more often had gallstones and portal hypertension. Diarrhea, pancreatic disease, rickets, pneumonia, abnormal sweat tests, hearing impairment, and poor growth were more common in FIC1 patients. Among BSEP patients, the course of disease was less rapidly progressive in patients bearing the D482G mutation.
Conclusions
Severe forms of FIC1 and BSEP deficiency differed. BSEP patients manifested more severe hepatobiliary disease, while FIC1 patients showed greater evidence of extrahepatic disease.
doi:10.1016/j.jhep.2010.01.034
PMCID: PMC3042805  PMID: 20447715
cholestasis; genetics; transport protein; pediatrics; P-type ATPase; ATP binding cassette protein; ATP8B1; FIC1; ABCB11; BSEP
7.  Acute Liver Failure in Children: The First 348 Patients in The Pediatric Acute Liver Failure Study Group 
The Journal of pediatrics  2006;148(5):652-658.
Objectives
To determine short-term outcome for children with acute liver failure (ALF) as it relates to etiology, clinical status, patient demographics and to determine prognostic factors.
Study design
A prospective, multi-center case study collecting demographic, clinical, laboratory and short-term outcome data on children from birth to 18 years with ALF. Patients without encephalopathy were included if the prothrombin time and INR remained ≥ 20 seconds and/or >2, respectively, despite vitamin K. Primary outcome measures three weeks after study entry were death, death after transplant, alive with native liver, alive with transplanted organ.
Results
The etiology of ALF in 348 children included acute acetaminophen toxicity (14%), metabolic disease (10%), autoimmune liver disease (6%), non-APAP drug-related hepatotoxicity (5%), infections (6%), other diagnosed conditions (10%); 49% were indeterminate. Outcome varied between patient sub-groups; 20% with non-acetaminophen ALF died or underwent liver transplantation and never developed clinical encephalopathy.
Conclusions
Etiologies of ALF in children differ from adults. Clinical encephalopathy may not be present in children. The high percentage of indeterminate cases provides an opportunity for investigation.
doi:10.1016/j.jpeds.2005.12.051
PMCID: PMC2662127  PMID: 16737880

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