Branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs) reportedly inhibit the incidence of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in patients with liver cirrhosis and obesity that is frequently associated with insulin resistance (IR). We previously reported that BCAAs exert a chemopreventive effect against HCC under IR conditions in rats. The aim of the present study was to examine the effect of BCAAs on the cumulative recurrence of HCC under IR conditions in the clinical practice. BCAA granules (Livact®, 12 g/day) were administered for 60 months following the local curative therapy for HCC, and several indices were determined. Treatment with BCAAs markedly inhibited the cumulative recurrence of HCC in patients with a high IR index [homeostasis model assessment (HOMA)-IR >2.5], but not in patients with HOMA-IR of ≤2.5. BCAA also improved the HOMA-IR, and the inhibitory effect was observed regardless of the serum albumin (Alb) levels. Similarly, BCAA treatment revealed a marked suppressive effect in patients with high fasting insulin [immune reactive insulin (IRI) >15 U/ml], but not with IRI of ≤15. BCAA treatment did not result in differences in HCC recurrence in patients with high and low glucose levels [fasting blood sugar (FBS) >110 and ≤110, respectively]. Furthermore, serum levels of the soluble form of vascular endothelial growth factor receptor 2 (sVEGFR2) were significantly inhibited along with these clinical effects. Our findings indicate that the inhibitory effect of BCAAs was achieved, at least partly, by coordinated effects of anti-angiogenesis and IR improvement. Since BCAAs are widely and safely used in clinical practice to treat patients with chronic liver diseases, BCAAs may represent a new strategy for secondary chemoprevention for HCC patients with IR. Moreover, our findings suggest that sVEGFR2 may be a useful clinical predictive marker for BCAA treatment under IR conditions.
angiogenesis; BCAA; glucose; insulin; IR; HCC; VEGF
Sorafenib, a multikinase inhibitor, is the first and only drug, which improves significantly the overall survival in patients with advanced hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). However, many patients experience diverse side effects, some of them severe and unexpected. To date, acute acalculous cholecystitis has not been documented in association with a HCC patient treated with sorafenib. Here, we report the case of a 43-year-old woman with hepatitis C virus-related advanced HCC. She received sorafenib, and later complained of a sudden onset of severe right hypocondrial pain with rebound tenderness and muscle defense. Laboratory examination showed mild elevation of transaminases, biliary enzymes, bilirubin, inflammation markers, and a marked peripheral eosinophilia. Abdominal computed tomography (CT) revealed a swollen gallbladder with exudate associated with severe inflammation without stones or debris. Consequently, sorafenib treatment was stopped immediately, and steroid-pulse therapy was performed. Steroid therapy drastically improved all clinical manifestations along with normalization of CT findings, eosinophilia, and liver functions. In summary, we herein report a rare case of acute severe acalculous cholecystitis associated with sorafenib in the patient with advanced HCC.
Hepatocelluar carcinoma; Sorafenib; Acalculous cholecystitis
Sarcoidosis is a chronic multi-systemic granulomatous disease, and liver involvement frequently occurs. in most cases, no evidence of liver dysfunction is observed, and portal hypertension due to sarcoid liver diseases is a rareoccurrence. Moreover, no case of liver sarcoidosis has ever been reported with confirmation of the disease progression. Herein we describe a patient having hepatic sarcoidosis with severe portal hypertension and liver dysfunction. The diagnosis was histologically confirmed from granulomatous status to established liver cirrhosis over 10 years. A 46-year-old woman developed massive hematemesis due to the rupture of gastric cardial varices. She underwent emergency endoscopic injection sclerotherapy, and clear evidence of chronic hepatic failure. Twelve years ago, she was diagnosed as having sarcoidosis with respiratory clinicalsymptoms. Liver biopsy revealed asymptomatic incidental granulomas without fibrosis development. After a couple of years, features of liver dysfunction were manifest and progressed. Ten years after the first biopsy, a second liver biopsy was performed, and well established dense fibrosis was revealed. Although significant liver dysfunction with portal hypertension is rarely seen in sarcoidosis, this case indicates that we have to consider the possibility that sarcoidosis may cause end-stage liver cirrhosis.
Liver sarcoidosis; Portal hypertension; Hepatic failure; Liver cirrhosis
We sought to describe clinical and laboratory findings for a large cohort of patients with thienopyridine-associated thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP).
The thienopyridine derivatives, ticlopidine and clopidogrel, are the 2 most common drugs associated with TTP in databases maintained by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Clinical reports of TTP associated with clopidogrel and ticlopidine were identified from medical records, published case reports, and FDA case reports (n = 128). Duration of thienopyridine exposure, clinical and laboratory findings, and survival were recorded. ADAMTS13 activity (n = 39) and inhibitor (n = 30) were measured for a subset of individuals.
Compared with clopidogrel-associated TTP cases (n = 35), ticlopidine-associated TTP cases (n = 93) were more likely to have received more than 2 weeks of drug (90% vs. 26%), to be severely thrombocytopenic (84% vs. 60%), and to have normal renal function (72% vs. 45%) (p < 0.01 for each). Compared with TTP patients with ADAMTS13 activity >15% (n = 13), TTP patients with severely deficient ADAMTS13 activity (n = 26) were more likely to have received ticlopidine (92.3% vs. 46.2%, p < 0.003). Among patients who developed TTP >2 weeks after thienopyridine, therapeutic plasma exchange (TPE) increased likelihood of survival (84% vs. 38%, p < 0.05). Among patients who developed TTP within 2 weeks of starting thienopyridines, survival was 77% with TPE and 78% without.
Thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura is a rare complication of thienopyridine treatment. This drug toxicity appears to occur by 2 different mechanistic pathways, characterized primarily by time of onset before versus after 2 weeks of thienopyridine administration. If TTP occurs after 2 weeks of ticlopidine or clopidogrel therapy, therapeutic plasma exchange must be promptly instituted to enhance likelihood of survival.
The liver plays a central role in hemostasis by synthesizing clotting factors, coagulation inhibitors, and fibrinolytic proteins. Liver cirrhosis (LC), therefore, impacts on both primary and secondary hemostatic mechanisms. ADAMTS13 is a metalloproteinase, produced exclusively in hepatic stellate cells, and specifically cleaves unusually large von Willebrand factor multimers (UL-VWFM). Deficiency of ADAMTS13 results in accumulation of UL-VWFM, which induces platelet clumping or thrombi under high shear stress, followed by sinusoidal microcirculatory disturbances and subsequent progression of liver injuries, eventually leading to multiorgan failure. The marked imbalance between decreased ADAMTS13 activity (ADAMTS13 : AC) and increased production of UL-VWFM indicating a high-risk state of platelet microthrombi formation was closely related to functional liver capacity, hepatic encephalopathy, hepatorenal syndrome, and intractable ascites in advanced LC. Some end-stage LC patients with extremely low ADAMTS13 : AC and its IgG inhibitor may reflect conditions similar to thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura (TTP) or may reflect “subclinical TTP.” Hence, cirrhotic patients with severe to moderate deficiency of ADAMTS13 : AC may be candidates for FFP infusion as a source of ADAMTS13 or for recombinant ADAMTS13 supplementation. Such treatments may improve the survival of patients with decompensated LC.
Budd-Chiari syndrome is a very rare pathological entity that ultimately leads to liver failure. Several therapeutic modalities, including percutaneous transluminal angioplasty, have been attempted to save the life of patients with Budd-Chiari syndrome. Few reports have described a salvage living donor liver transplantation performed after percutaneous transluminal angioplasty in a patient with acute Budd-Chiari syndrome.
A 26-year-old Japanese man developed severe progressive manifestations, such as massive ascites and hematemesis due to rupture of esophageal varices. After making several investigations, we diagnosed the case as Budd-Chiari syndrome. We first performed percutaneous transluminal angioplasty to dilate a short-segment stenosis of his inferior vena cava. The first percutaneous transluminal angioplasty greatly improved the clinical manifestations. However, after a year, re-stenosis was detected, and a second percutaneous transluminal angioplasty failed to open the severe stricture of his inferior vena cava. Since our patient had manifestations of acute liver failure, we decided to perform salvage living donor liver transplantation from his brother. The transplantation was successfully performed and all clinical manifestations were remarkably alleviated.
In cases of recurrent Budd-Chiari syndrome, the blocked hepatic venous outflow is not always relieved, even with invasive therapies. We have to take into account the possibility of adopting alternative salvage therapies if the first therapeutic modalities fail. When invasive therapy such as percutaneous transluminal angioplasty fails, liver transplantation should be considered as an alternative option.
The identification of biomarkers of anti-angiogenic therapy that predict clinical benefit is of vital importance. We previously reported that a combination treatment with clinically available safe agents, specifically angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor (ACE-I) and vitamin K (VK), inhibited the cumulative recurrence of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) via suppression of the vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF). The present study aimed to identify non-invasive biological markers that predict the clinically beneficial effect of this combination regimen. A combination of ACE-I (perindopril; 4 mg/day) and VK (menatetrenone; 45 mg/day) was administered for 54 months following curative therapy for HCC. The cumulative recurrence and several indices, which are reportedly considered as biological markers of anti-angiogenic therapies, were analyzed. The combined treatment of ACE-I and VK markedly inhibited the cumulative recurrence of HCC during the 54-month follow-up. The serum VEGF and soluble VEGF receptor (sVEGFR)-2 were significantly suppressed with this combination regimen, whereas sVEGFR-1 was not. In HCC patients without recurrence, a significant suppression of VEGF and sVEGFR-2 was achieved within 6 and 3 months after treatment, respectively. In conclusion, the combination treatment of ACE-I and VK is a potentially novel anti-angiogenic strategy for secondary chemoprevention against HCC since the two agents are widely used in clinical practice without serious side effects. Furthermore, sVEGFR-2 may become a useful clinical predictive marker of this combination treatment.
vascular endothelial growth factor; soluble vascular endothelial growth factor receptor-2; angiogenesis; hepatocellular carcinoma
AIM: To investigate the possible use of the multiple cytokine production modulator, Y-40138, as a novel immunotherapy in the rat nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) model.
METHODS: We allocated 6-wk-old male F344 rats to choline-supplemented, L-amino acid-defined (CSAA) diet (control group), CSAA diet + Y-40138 (control + Y-40138 group), choline-deficient, L-amino acid-defined (CDAA) diet (NASH group), or CDAA diet + Y-40138 (NASH + Y-40138 group). In each group, we measured the plasma alanine aminotransferase (ALT) levels, and the plasma and liver levels of tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α), interferon-γ (IFN-γ), and interleukin-10 (IL-10). Tissue specimens of phosphate buffered saline-perfused liver were subjected to hematoxylin and eosin staining, Azan staining, Sirius red staining, and immunohistochemical staining (for Kupffer cells and TNF-α). We then extracted Kupffer cells from the collagenase-perfused livers using the Percoll gradient centrifugation method, and measured the TNF-α levels in the supernatant (in vitro TNF-α production by Kupffer cells) using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay kit.
RESULTS: In comparison to the NASH group, serum ALT elevation was mild, production of serum and liver TNF-α and IFN-γ was inhibited, and IL-10 production was increased in the NASH + Y-40138 group. Amelioration of liver histology was also noted in the NASH + Y-40138 group. Kupffer cell immunohistochemical staining revealed no differences between groups, whereas TNF-α immunohistochemical staining showed fewer stained cells in the NASH + Y-40138 group than in the NASH group. The TNF-α levels in the in-vitro Kupffer cell culture supernatant were lower in the NASH + Y-40138 group than in the NASH group.
CONCLUSION: Administration of Y-40138 to NASH model rats reduced hepatic inflammation and suppressed fibrosis. These results indicate that the multiple cytokine production modulator, Y-40138, is promising as a novel treatment for NASH.
Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis; Y-40138; Tumor necrosis factor α; Interferon γ; Interleukin-10; Kupffer cell; Innate immunity
AIM: To elucidate the possible crosstalk between angiogenesis, cytokeratin-18 (CK-18), and insulin resistance (IR) especially in patients with non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH).
METHODS: Twenty-eight patients with NASH and 11 with simple fatty liver disease (FL) were enrolled in this study and underwent clinicopathological examination. The measures of angiogenesis, CK-18, and IR employed were CD34-immunopositive vessels, CK-18-immunopositive cells, and homeostasis model assessment of IR (HOMA-IR), respectively. The correlations of these factors with NASH were elucidated.
RESULTS: Significant development of hepatic neovascularization was observed only in NASH, whereas almost no neovascularization could be observed in FL and healthy liver. The degree of angiogenesis was almost parallel to liver fibrosis development, and both parameters were positively correlated. Similarly, CK-18 expression and HOMA-R were significantly increased in NASH as compared with FL and healthy liver. Furthermore, CK-18 and HOMA-IR were also positively correlated with the degree of neovascularization.
CONCLUSION: These results indicate that the crosstalk between angiogenesis, CK-18, and IR may play an important role in the onset and progression of NASH.
Angiogenesis; Cytokeratin-18; Fatty liver; Insulin resistance; Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis; Liver fibrosis
Although several recent reports have shown that hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) developed in patients with chronic hepatitis C (CH-C) even after having a sustained virological response (SVR) to interferon (IFN) therapy, it is not common for HCC to develop more than 10 years after SVR.
A 73-year-old Japanese man with CH-C who achieved SVR to IFN therapy 13 years ago was admitted into our hospital because of huge multiple liver tumors along with marked elevation of the tumor markers. Several diagnostic modalities strongly suggested HCC, and we performed histopathological examination. After confirming the diagnosis as well-differentiated HCC, we successfully treated these tumors with intensive combination therapies.
Our report highlights the need for careful follow-up for more than 10 years even if the patients with CH-C achieve SVR to IFN therapy.
AIM: To investigate the innate immune reactivity of tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α), Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4), and CD14 in the liver of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) model rats.
METHODS: Male F344 rats were fed a choline-deficient L-amino-acid-defined (CDAA) diet. The rats were killed after 4 or 8 wk of the diet, and their livers were removed for immunohistochemical investigation and RNA extraction. The liver specimens were immunostained for TNF-α, TLR4, and CD14. The gene expressions of TNF-α, TLR4, and CD14 were determined by reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). Kupffer cells were isolated from the liver by Percoll gradient centrifugation, and were then cultured to measure TNF-α production.
RESULTS: The serum and liver levels of TNF-α in the CDAA-fed rats increased significantly as compared with the control group, as did the immunohistochemical values and gene expressions of TNF-α, TLR4, and CD14 with the progression of steatohepatitis. TNF-α production from the isolated Kupffer cells of the CDAA-fed rats was elevated by lipopolysaccharide stimulation.
CONCLUSION: The expressions of TNF-α, TLR4, and CD14 increased in the NASH model, suggesting that TLR4 and CD14-mediated endotoxin liver damage may also occur in NASH.
Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis; Kupffer cells; Toll-like receptor 4; CD14; Endotoxins; Tumor necrosis factor-alpha
AIM: To investigate Kupffer cell dynamics and phagocytic activity, using a rat nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) model.
METHODS: Male F344 rats were fed either a control diet or a choline-deficient L-amino acid-defined (CDAA) diet, followed by contrast enhanced ultrasonography (CEUS) using Levovist®. The uptake of latex beads by the Kupffer cells was determined by fluorescent microscopy. The status of the Kupffer cells was compared between the two groups, using the immunohistochemical staining technique.
RESULTS: After 4 or more wk of the CDAA diet, CEUS examination revealed a decrease in the signal intensity, 20 min after intravenous Levovist®. Fluorescent microscopic examination showed that the uptake of latex beads by the Kupffer cells was reduced at week 1 and 2 in the study group, compared with the controls, with no further reduction after 3 wk. Immunohistochemical staining revealed no significant difference in the Kupffer cell counts between the control group and the CDAA group.
CONCLUSION: CEUS examination using Levovist® demonstrated reduced contrast effect and phagocytic activity in the liver parenchymal phase, although the Kupffer cell numbers were unchanged, indicating reduced phagocytic function of the Kupffer cells in the rat NASH model. We believe that CEUS examination using Levovist® is a useful screening modality, which can detect NASH in fatty liver patients.
Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis; Kupffer cells; Contrast enhanced ultrasonography; Levovist; Ultrasound contrast agent; Phagocytic activity
Although the etiology of eosinophilic cholecystitis is still obscure, the postulated causes include allergies, parasites, hypereosinophilic syndrome, and eosinophilic gastroenteritis. It is sometimes accompanied by several complications, but a simultaneous onset with pericarditis is very rares. A 28-year-old woman complained of acute right hypocondrial pain and dyspnea associated with systemic eruption. Several imaging modalities revealed acute cholecystitis and pericarditis with massive pericardial effusion. A marked peripheral blood eosinophilia was observed, and the eruption was diagnosed as urticaria. Her serum had a high titer of antibody against Ascaris lumbricoides. Treatment with albendazole drastically improved all clinical manifestations along with normalization of the imaging features and eosinophilia. We report herein a rare case of simultaneous onset of acute cholecystitis and pericarditis associated with a marked eosinophilia caused by parasitic infection.
Cholecystitis; Pericardititis; Ascaris; Parasite; Eosinophilia; Albendazole
Although it is well known that the hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is an ominous complication in patients with liver cirrhosis, there has been no approved drug to prevent the development of HCC to date. We previously reported that the combined treatment of vitamin K2 (VK) and angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor (ACE-I) significantly suppressed the experimental hepatocarcinogenesis. A 66-year-old Japanese woman with hepatitis C virus (HCV)-related liver cirrhosis developed a dysplastic nodule in the liver detected by enhanced computed tomography along with elevation of the tumor markers, namely, alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) and lectin-reactive demarcation (AFP-L3), suggesting the presence of latent HCC. After oral administration of VK and ACE-I, the serum levels of both AFP and AFP-L3 gradually decreased without any marked alteration of the serum aminotransferase activity. After one-year treatment, not only the serum levels of AFP and AFP-L3 returned to the normal ranges, but also the dysplastic nodule disappeared. Since both VK and ACE-I are widely used without serious side effects, this combined regimen may become a new strategy for chemoprevention against HCC.
Vitamin K2; ACE inhibitor; Hepatocellular carcinoma; VEGF; Angiogenesis
AIM: To evaluate the effect of combination treatment with the interferon (IFN) and angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor (ACE-I) on several fibrotic indices in patients with refractory chronic hepatitis C (CHC).
METHODS: Perindopril (an ACE-I; 4 mg/d) and/or natural IFN (3 MU/L; 3 times a week) were administered for 12 mo to refractory CHC patients, and several indices of serum fibrosis markers were analyzed.
RESULTS: ACE-Idecreased the serum fibrosis markers, whereas single treatment with IFN did not exert these inhibitory effects. However, IFN significantly augmented the effects of ACE-I, and the combination treatment exerted the most potent inhibitory effects. The serum levels of alanine transaminase and HCV-RNA were not significantly different between the groups, whereas the plasma level of transforming growth factor-β was significantly attenuated almost in parallel with suppression of the serum fibrosis markers.
CONCLUSION: The combination therapy of an ACE-Iand IFN may have a diverse effect on disease progression in patients with CHC refractory to IFN therapy through its anti-fibrotic effect.
Interferon; Angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitor; Liver fibrosis; Chronic hepatitis C; Transforming growth factor-β
AIM: Recent studies have demonstrated that obesity is the common feature of cryptogenic cirrhosis (CC) and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis. However, there is little information on CC in the region where obesity is not prevalent.
METHODS: The clinical features, and the liver-related morbidity and mortality of CC were analyzed in Japan where the prevalence of obesity is low. Among 652 cirrhotic patients, we identified 29 patients (4.4%) with CC. Of these, 24 CC patients who were followed up for more than 6 months were compared in a case-control study with age-, sex-, and Child-Pugh score-matched controls having cirrhosis of viral etiology.
RESULTS: Obesity (BMI≥25 kg/m2), diabetes mellitus, and hypertriglyceridemia were more frequent, and the visceral fat area was larger in the CC patients than in the controls. The indices of insulin resistance were higher and the serum aminotransferase levels were lower in the CC patients than in the controls. Logistic regression analysis identified the elevated hemoglobin A1c, BMI ≥ 25 kg/m2, and normal aminotransferase levels as independent predictors of CC. Kaplan-Meier analysis demonstrated lower occurrence of hepatocellular carcinoma and higher survival rate in the CC than in the controls in contrast to the similar cumulative probability of liver-related morbidity between those groups.
CONCLUSION: CC more frequently presents with the clinical features suggestive of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis compared with controls even in the region where obesity is not prevalent. The lower occurrence of hepatocellular carcinoma and higher survival rate may indicate an indolent clinical course in CC as compared with viral cirrhosis.
Cryptogenic cirrhosis; Viral cirrhosis; Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis; Hepatocellular carcinoma; Case-control study
AIM: To investigate whether adrenomedullin, a potent vasodilator peptide, plays a role in the circulatory disturbance in cirrhosis.
METHODS: Cirrhosis was induced in rats by weekly gavage of carbon tetrachloride. Hemodynamic studies were performed in vivo using radioactive microspheres and in vitro using isolated aortic rings. The adrenomedullin concentrations were measured by radioimmunoassay.
RESULTS: Acute administration of adrenomedullin to the control rats reduced the systemic arterial pressure along with an increase of serum levels of the stable metabolite of nitric oxide (NOx), in a dose-dependent manner. Chronic infusion of adrenomedullin reduced the vascular resistance and increased the blood flow in the systemic and splanchnic circulation. Intravenous administration of anti-adrenomedullin antibody did not affect any hemodynamic parameters in the cirrhotic rats, whereas this antibody ameliorated the blunted contractile response to phenylephrine, α-adrenergic receptor agonist, in the aortic rings of the cirrhotic rats. The adrenomedullin concentrations in the aorta were higher in the cirrhotic rats than in the controls, and correlated with the mean arterial pressure in the cirrhotic rats. Moreover, adrenomedullin blunted the contractile response to phenylephrine in both of the control aorta and cirrhotic aorta, but not in the presence of NG-nitro-L-arginine methyl ester, an NO synthase inhibitor.
CONCLUSION: Adrenomedullin overproduced in the vascular wall may contribute to the circulatory disturbance in cirrhosis as a local regulator of the vascular tonus rather than a circulating hormone.
Adrenomedullin; Liver cirrhosis; Vasodilation; Circulatory disturbance; Vascular tonus; Circulating hormone