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1.  Rabeprazole, clarithromycin, and amoxicillin Helicobacter pylori eradication therapy: Report of an efficacy study 
AIM: To investigate the efficacy of a standard triple therapy (comprising rabeprazole, clarithromycin, and amoxicillin) for Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) eradication, noting factors that influence the outcome and documenting any adverse events.
METHODS: Following institutional ethical approval, fifty consecutive and consenting symptomatic patients with evidence of H. pylori infection by either a positive urea breath test (UBT) and/or a campylobacter-like organism test who presented to the Gastroenterology clinic of Lagos State University Teaching Hospital between 2012 and 2013 were recruited into the study. Patients were openly randomized to either a 7-d or a 10-d regimen of amoxicillin 1 g, clarithromycin 500 mg and rabeprazole 20 mg twice daily. The extent of symptom resolution was noted following the treatment, and at the end of one month after the completion of treatment, a repeat UBT was performed in each patient to document the eradication of the infection. All data (demographics, symptoms, and eradication rates) were collated and analyzed with SPSS version 18.
RESULTS: Forty-seven patients completed the study (three were excluded from the analysis for breaching the study protocol). The patients included 18 males and 29 females within the age range of 13-80 years (mean 43.7, SD 16.8). The clinical features of the study subjects were dyspepsia, reflux symptoms and features of gastrointestinal bleeding. The average eradication rate was 87.2%. Eighteen subjects were enrolled in the 7-d arm, while 29 were in the 10-d arm. There was no statistically significant difference in the age or sex distributions of the two arms. There was no significant advantage of the 10-d treatment duration over the 7-d duration (P = 0.78), and the eradication outcomes were not influenced by the gender or age of the subjects. No adverse effects were reported in either arm.
CONCLUSION: The triple therapy regime, employing a combination of amoxicillin, clarithromycin and rabeprazole, showed great efficacy and safety in the eradication of H. pylori, and this outcome was not influenced by gender or age. No difference was observed between the 7-d and 10-d regimens.
PMCID: PMC3974529
Helicobacter pylori; Eradication therapy; Amoxicillin clarithromycin; Rabeprazole triple therapy
2.  Challenges of recurrent hepatitis C in the liver transplant patient 
Cirrhosis secondary to hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a very common indication for liver transplant. Unfortunately recurrence of HCV is almost universal in patients who are viremic at the time of transplant. The progression of fibrosis has been shown to be more rapid in the post-transplant patients than in the transplant naïve, hence treatment of recurrent HCV needs to be considered for all patients with documented recurrent HCV. Management of recurrent HCV is a challenging situation both for patients and physicians due to multiple reasons as discussed in this review. The standard HCV treatment with pegylated interferon and Ribavarin can be considered in these patients but it leads to a lower rate of sustained virologic clearance than in the non-transplanted population. Some of the main challenges associated with treating recurrent HCV in post-transplant patients include the presence of cytopenias; need to monitor drug-drug interactions and the increased incidence of renal compromise. In spite of these obstacles all patients with recurrent HCV should be considered for treatment since it is associated with improvement in survival and a delay in fibrosis progression. With the arrival of direct acting antiviral drugs there is renewed hope for better outcomes in the treatment of post-transplant HCV recurrence. This review evaluates current literature on this topic and identifies challenges associated with the management of post-transplant HCV recurrence.
PMCID: PMC3974506
Cirrhosis; Hepatitis C; Recurrence; Transplant; Interferon
3.  Computational biology approach to uncover hepatitis C virus helicase operation 
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) helicase is a molecular motor that splits nucleic acid duplex structures during viral replication, therefore representing a promising target for antiviral treatment. Hence, a detailed understanding of the mechanism by which it operates would facilitate the development of efficient drug-assisted therapies aiming to inhibit helicase activity. Despite extensive investigations performed in the past, a thorough understanding of the activity of this important protein was lacking since the underlying internal conformational motions could not be resolved. Here we review investigations that have been previously performed by us for HCV helicase. Using methods of structure-based computational modelling it became possible to follow entire operation cycles of this motor protein in structurally resolved simulations and uncover the mechanism by which it moves along the nucleic acid and accomplishes strand separation. We also discuss observations from that study in the light of recent experimental studies that confirm our findings.
PMCID: PMC3974507
Hepatitis C virus; Viral replication; Helicase protein; Adenosine-triphosphate-induced operation; Conformational motions; Nucleic acid unzipping; Computational biology; Coarse-grained modelling; Elastic-network model
4.  Chronic hepatitis C virus infection and atherosclerosis: Clinical impact and mechanisms 
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection represents a major health issue worldwide due to its burden of chronic liver disease and extrahepatic manifestations including cardiovascular diseases, which are associated with excess mortality. Analysis of published studies supports the view that HCV infection should be considered a risk factor for the development of carotid atherosclerosis, heart failure and stroke. In contrast, findings from studies addressing coronary artery disease and HCV have yielded conflicting results. Therefore, meta-analytic reviews and prospective studies are warranted. The pathogenic mechanisms connecting HCV infection, chronic liver disease, and atherogenesis are not completely understood. However, it has been hypothesized that HCV may promote atherogenesis and its complications through several direct and indirect biological mechanisms involving HCV colonization and replication within arterial walls, liver steatosis and fibrosis, enhanced and imbalanced secretion of inflammatory cytokines, oxidative stress, endotoxemia, mixed cryoglobulinemia, perturbed cellular and humoral immunity, hyperhomocysteinemia, hypo-adiponectinaemia, insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes and other components of the metabolic syndrome. Understanding these complex mechanisms is of fundamental importance for the development of novel therapeutic approaches to prevent and to treat vascular complications in patients with chronic HCV infection. Currently, it seems that HCV clearance by interferon and ribavirin treatment significantly reduces non-liver-related mortality; moreover, interferon-based treatment appears to decrease the risk of ischemic stroke.
PMCID: PMC3974508
Hepatitis C virus; Atherosclerosis; Coronary artery disease; Stroke; Inflammation
5.  Adaptive immune response during hepatitis C virus infection 
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection affects about 170 million people worldwide and it is a major cause of liver cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. HCV is a hepatotropic non-cytopathic virus able to persist in a great percentage of infected hosts due to its ability to escape from the immune control. Liver damage and disease progression during HCV infection are driven by both viral and host factors. Specifically, adaptive immune response carries out an essential task in controlling non-cytopathic viruses because of its ability to recognize infected cells and to destroy them by cytopathic mechanisms and to eliminate the virus by non-cytolytic machinery. HCV is able to impair this response by several means such as developing escape mutations in neutralizing antibodies and in T cell receptor viral epitope recognition sites and inducing HCV-specific cytotoxic T cell anergy and deletion. To impair HCV-specific T cell reactivity, HCV affects effector T cell regulation by modulating T helper and Treg response and by impairing the balance between positive and negative co-stimulatory molecules and between pro- and anti-apoptotic proteins. In this review, the role of adaptive immune response in controlling HCV infection and the HCV mechanisms to evade this response are reviewed.
PMCID: PMC3974509
Hepatitis C; Adaptive immune response; Hepatitis C virus-specific cytotoxic T cells; Hepatitis C virus-specific T helper cells; T regs; Hepatitis C virus escape mutations; Anergy; Apoptosis; Chemotaxis
6.  Tools for the diagnosis of hepatitis C virus infection and hepatic fibrosis staging 
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection represents a major public health issue. Hepatitis C can be cured by therapy, but many infected individuals are unaware of their status. Effective HCV screening, fast diagnosis and characterization, and hepatic fibrosis staging are highly relevant for controlling transmission, treating infected patients and, consequently, avoiding end-stage liver disease. Exposure to HCV can be determined with high sensitivity and specificity with currently available third generation serology assays. Additionally, the use of point-of-care tests can increase HCV screening opportunities. However, active HCV infection must be confirmed by direct diagnosis methods. Additionally, HCV genotyping is required prior to starting any treatment. Increasingly, high-volume clinical laboratories use different types of automated platforms, which have simplified sample processing, reduced hands-on-time, minimized contamination risks and human error and ensured full traceability of results. Significant advances have also been made in the field of fibrosis stage assessment with the development of non-invasive methods, such as imaging techniques and serum-based tests. However, no single test is currently available that is able to completely replace liver biopsy. This review focuses on approved commercial tools used to diagnose HCV infection and the recommended hepatic fibrosis staging tests.
PMCID: PMC3974510
Hepatitis C virus; Diagnosis; Real-time polymerase chain reaction; Serology; Hepatitis C virus-RNA quantification; Hepatitis C virus genotyping; Hepatic fibrosis staging
7.  Immunologic, metabolic and genetic factors in hepatitis C virus infection 
The mechanisms that regulate disease progression during hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection and the response to treatment are not clearly identified. Numerous studies have demonstrated that a strong host immune response against HCV favors HCV clearance. In addition, genetic factors and metabolic machinery, particularly cholesterol modulation, are involved in HCV infection. It is likely that the interplay between all of these factors contributes to the outcome of HCV infection. In recent years, the world has experienced its largest epidemic of obesity. Mexico and the United States are the leading sufferers from this epidemic at the global level. Obesity is associated with the development of numerous pathologies including hypercholesterolemia which is one of the eight most important risk factors for mortality in Mexico. This may be related to the course of HCV infection in this population. Here, we focus on the urgent need to study the progression of HCV infection in relation to ethnic characteristics. Discoveries are discussed that hold promise in identifying immune, metabolic and genetic factors that, in conjunction, could be therapeutic targets or predictors of the progression of HCV infection.
PMCID: PMC3974511
Hepatitis C virus; Immune response; Lipids; Metabolism; Genetics
8.  How hepatitis C virus invades hepatocytes: The mystery of viral entry 
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is a global health problem, with an estimated 170 million people being chronically infected. HCV cell entry is a complex multi-step process, involving several cellular factors that trigger virus uptake into the hepatocytes. The high- density lipoprotein receptor scavenger receptor class B type I, tetraspanin CD81, tight junction protein claudin-1, and occludin are the main receptors that mediate the initial step of HCV infection. In addition, the virus uses cell receptor tyrosine kinases as entry regulators, such as epidermal growth factor receptor and ephrin receptor A2. This review summarizes the current understanding about how cell surface molecules are involved in HCV attachment, internalization, and membrane fusion, and how host cell kinases regulate virus entry. The advances of the potential antiviral agents targeting this process are introduced.
PMCID: PMC3974512
Hepatitis C virus; Virus entry; Hepatocytes; Receptor; Host kinase; Antiviral target
9.  Restoring the gut microbiome for the treatment of inflammatory bowel diseases 
Fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) is considered to be a highly successful therapy for recurrent and refractory Clostridium difficile infection (CDI) based on recent clinical trials. The pathogenesis of inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) is thought to be due in part to perturbations in the gut microflora that disrupt homeostasis. FMT restores essential components of the microflora which could reverse the inflammatory processes observed in IBD. Case reports and series for the treatment of IBD by FMT have shown promise with regards to treatment success and safety despite the limitations of the reporting. Future studies will determine the optimal delivery and preparation of stool as well as the conditions under which the recipient will derive maximal benefit. The long term consequences of FMT with regards to infection, cancer, auto-immune, and metabolic diseases are not known and will require continued regulation and study. Despite these limitations, FMT may be beneficial for the treatment of ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, particularly those with concurrent CDI or with pouchitis.
PMCID: PMC3974513
Crohn’s; Ulcerative colitis; Microbiota; Fecal transplantation; Dysbiosis; Pouchitis; Clostridium difficile; Probiotic
10.  Therapeutic drug monitoring in patients with inflammatory bowel disease 
Thiopurine analogs and anti-tumor necrosis factor (TNF) agents have dramatically changed the therapeutics of inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), improving short and long-term outcomes. Unfortunately some patients do not respond to therapy and others lose response over time. The pharmacokinetic properties of these drugs are complex, with high inter-patient variability. Thiopurine analogs are metabolized through a series of pathways, which vary according to the patients’ pharmacogenetic profile. This profile largely determines the ratios of metabolites, which are in turn associated with likelihoods of clinical efficacy and/or toxicity. Understanding these mechanisms allows for manipulation of drug dose, aiming to reduce the development of toxicity while improving the efficacy of treatment. The efficacy of anti-TNF drugs is influenced by many pharmacodynamic variables. Several factors may alter drug clearance, including the concomitant use of immunomodulators (thiopurine analogs and methotrexate), systemic inflammation, the presence of anti-drug antibodies, and body mass. The treatment of IBD has evolved with the understanding of the pharmacologic profiles of immunomodulating and TNF-inhibiting medications, with good evidence for improvement in patient outcomes observed when measuring metabolic pathway indices. The role of routine measurement of metabolite/drug levels and antibodies warrants further prospective studies as we enter the era of personalized IBD care.
PMCID: PMC3974514
Inflammatory bowel disease; Anti-tumor necrosis factor; Infliximab; Adalimumab; Drug level; Azathioprine; Thiopurines; Antibodies; Drug monitoring; Thioguanine
11.  Advanced therapeutic endoscopist and inflammatory bowel disease: Dawn of a new role 
Endoscopy plays a key role in the diagnosis and treatment of patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Colonoscopy has been traditionally used in the diagnosis of IBD and helps in determination of an important end point in patient management, “mucosal healing”. However, the involvement of an advanced endoscopist has expanded with innovations in therapeutic and newer imaging techniques. Endoscopists are increasingly being involved in the management of anastomotic and small bowel strictures in these patients. The advent of balloon enteroscopy has helped us access areas not deemed possible in the past for dilations. An advanced endoscopist also plays an integral part in managing ileal pouch-anal anastomosis complications including management of pouch strictures and sinuses. The use of rectal endoscopic ultrasound has been expanded for imaging of perianal fistulae in patients with Crohn’s disease and appears much more sensitive than magnetic resonance imaging and exam under anesthesia. Advanced endoscopists also play an integral part in detection of dysplasia by employing advanced imaging techniques. In fact the paradigm for neoplasia surveillance in IBD is rapidly evolving with advancements in endoscopic imaging technology with pancolonic chromoendoscopy becoming the main imaging modality for neoplasia surveillance in IBD patients in most institutions. Advanced endoscopists are also called upon to diagnose primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) and also offer options for endoscopic management of strictures through endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP). In addition, PSC patients are at increased risk of developing cholangiocarcinoma with a 20% lifetime risk. Brush cytology obtained during ERCP and use of fluorescence in situ hybridization which assesses the presence of chromosomal aneuploidy (abnormality in chromosome number) are established initial diagnostic techniques in the investigation of patients with biliary strictures. Thus advanced endoscopists play an integral part in the management of IBD patients and our article aims to summarize the current evidence which supports this role and calls for developing and training a new breed of interventionalists who specialize in the management of IBD patients and complications specific to those patients.
PMCID: PMC3974515
Inflammatory bowel disease; Endoscopy; Therapeutic endoscopy; Primary sclerosing cholangitis
12.  From conception to delivery: Managing the pregnant inflammatory bowel disease patient 
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) typically affects patients during their adolescent and young adult years. As these are the reproductive years, patients and physicians often have concerns regarding the interaction between IBD, medications and surgery used to treat IBD, and reproduction, pregnancy outcomes, and neonatal outcomes. Studies have shown a lack of knowledge among both patients and physicians regarding reproductive issues in IBD. As the literature is constantly expanding regarding these very issues, with this review, we provide a comprehensive, updated overview of the literature on the management of the IBD patient from conception to delivery, and provide action tips to help guide the clinician in the management of the IBD patient during pregnancy.
PMCID: PMC3974516
Inflammatory bowel disease; Pregnancy; Biologics; Neonatal outcomes
13.  Glucose intolerance and diabetes mellitus in ulcerative colitis: Pathogenetic and therapeutic implications 
Diabetes mellitus is one of the most frequent co-morbidities of ulcerative colitis patients. The epidemiological association of these diseases suggested a genetic sharing and has challenged gene identification. Diabetes co-morbidity in ulcerative colitis has also relevant clinical and therapeutic implications, with potential clinical impact on the follow up and outcome of patients. These diseases share specific complications, such as neuropathy, hepatic steatosis, osteoporosis and venous thrombosis. It is still unknown whether the coexistence of these diseases may increase their occurrence. Diabetes and hyperglycaemia represent relevant risk factors for postoperative complications and pouch failure in ulcerative colitis. Medical treatment of ulcerative colitis in patients with diabetes mellitus may be particularly challenging. Corticosteroids are the treatment of choice of active ulcerative colitis. Their use may be associated with the onset of glucose intolerance and diabetes, with difficult control of glucose levels and with complications in diabetic patients. Epidemiologic and genetic evidences about diabetes co-morbidity in ulcerative colitis patients and shared complications and treatment of patients with these diseases have been discussed in the present review.
PMCID: PMC3974517
Diabetes mellitus; Ulcerative colitis; Diabetes complications; Inflammatory bowel diseases; Glucose intolerance; Medical therapy; Corticosteroids
14.  Hepatitis B and C virus reactivation in immunosuppressed patients with inflammatory bowel disease 
In recent years, a number of case reports and clinical studies have highlighted the risk of hepatitis B and C virus reactivation in patients with inflammatory bowel disease who are treated with immunosuppressive drugs. The cases of viral hepatitis reactivation that have been reported are characterized by a wide range of clinical manifestations, from viremia without clinically relevant manifestations to fulminant life-threatening hepatitis. The development and dissemination of biological immunosuppressive drugs have led to a significant increase in the number of reports of interest to physicians in a variety of clinical settings. On this topic, there have been a number of published guidelines and reviews that have collected the available evidence, providing recommendations on prophylactic and therapeutic strategies and methods for monitoring patients at risk. However, it should be noted that, to date, very few clinical studies have been published, and most of the recommendations have been borrowed from other clinical settings. The published studies are mostly retrospective and are based on very heterogeneous populations, using different therapeutic and prophylactic regimens and obtaining conflicting results. Thus, it seems clear that it is desirable to concentrate our efforts on prospective studies, not conducting further reviews of the literature in the continued absence of new evidence.
PMCID: PMC3974518
Inflammatory bowel disease; Biological agents; Hepatitis B virus reactivation; Hepatitis C virus reactivation; Prophylaxis
15.  Clinical management of inflammatory bowel disease in the organ recipient 
There was estimated a higher incidence of de novo inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) after solid organ transplantation than in the general population. The onset of IBD in the organ transplant recipient population is an important clinical situation which is associated to higher morbidity and difficulty in the medical therapeutic management because of possible interaction between anti-reject therapy and IBD therapy. IBD course after liver transplantation (LT) is variable, but about one third of patients may worsen, needing an increase in medical therapy or a colectomy. Active IBD at the time of LT, discontinuation of 5-aminosalicylic acid or azathioprine at the time of LT and use of tacrolimus-based immunosuppression may be associated with an unfavorable outcome of IBD after LT. Anti-tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFα) therapy for refractory IBD may be an effective and safe therapeutic option after LT. The little experience of the use of biological therapy in transplanted patients, with concomitant anti-rejection therapy, suggests there be a higher more careful surveillance regarding the risk of infectious diseases, autoimmune diseases, and neoplasms. An increased risk of colorectal cancer (CRC) is present also after LT in IBD patients with primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC). An annual program of endoscopic surveillance with serial biopsies for CRC is recommended. A prophylactic colectomy in selected IBD/PSC patients with CRC risk factors could be a good management strategy in the CRC prevention, but it is used infrequently in the majority of LT centers. About 30% of patients develop multiple IBD recurrence and 20% of patients require a colectomy after renal transplantation. Like in the liver transplantation, anti-TNFα therapy could be an effective treatment in IBD patients with conventional refractory therapy after renal or heart transplantation. A large number of patients are needed to confirm the preliminary observations. Regarding the higher clinical complexity of this subgroup of IBD patients, a close multidisciplinary approach between an IBD dedicated gastroenterologist and surgeon and an organ transplantation specialist is necessary in order to have the best clinical management of IBD after transplantation.
PMCID: PMC3974519
Inflammatory bowel disease; Ulcerative colitis; Crohn’s disease; Primary sclerosing cholangitis; Liver transplantation; Heart transplantation; Renal transplantation; Anti-tumor necrosis factor alpha therapy
16.  Pharmacogenetics of azathioprine in inflammatory bowel disease: A role for glutathione-S-transferase? 
Azathioprine is a purine antimetabolite drug commonly used to treat inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). In vivo it is active after reaction with reduced glutathione (GSH) and conversion to mercaptopurine. Although this reaction may occur spontaneously, the presence of isoforms M and A of the enzyme glutathione-S-transferase (GST) may increase its speed. Indeed, in pediatric patients with IBD, deletion of GST-M1, which determines reduced enzymatic activity, was recently associated with reduced sensitivity to azathioprine and reduced production of azathioprine active metabolites. In addition to increase the activation of azathioprine to mercaptopurine, GSTs may contribute to azathioprine effects even by modulating GSH consumption, oxidative stress and apoptosis. Therefore, genetic polymorphisms in genes for GSTs may be useful to predict response to azathioprine even if more in vitro and clinical validation studies are needed.
PMCID: PMC3974520
Inflammatory bowel disease; Azathioprine; Pharmacogenetics; Glutathione-S-transferase; Pediatric patients
17.  Anemia in inflammatory bowel disease: A neglected issue with relevant effects 
Anemia, a common complication associated with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), is frequently overlooked in the management of IBD patients. Unfortunately, it represents one of the major causes of both decreased quality of life and increased hospital admissions among this population. Anemia in IBD is pathogenically complex, with several factors contributing to its development. While iron deficiency is the most common cause, vitamin B12 and folic acid deficiencies, along with the effects of pro-inflammatory cytokines, hemolysis, drug therapies, and myelosuppression, have also been identified as the underlying etiology in a number of patients. Each of these etiological factors thus needs to be identified and corrected in order to effectively manage anemia in IBD. Because the diagnosis of anemia in IBD often presents a challenge, combinations of several hematimetric and biochemical parameters should be used. Recent studies underscore the importance of determining the ferritin index and hepcidin levels in order to distinguish between iron deficiency anemia, anemia due to chronic disease, or mixed anemia in IBD patients. With regard to treatment, the newly introduced intravenous iron formulations have several advantages over orally-administered iron compounds in treating iron deficiency in IBD. In special situations, erythropoietin supplementation and biological therapies should be considered. In conclusion, the management of anemia is a complex aspect of treating IBD patients, one that significantly influences the prognosis of the disease. As a consequence, its correction should be considered a specific, first-line therapeutic goal in the management of these patients.
PMCID: PMC3974521
Anemia; Inflammatory bowel disease; Iron deficiency; Anemia of chronic disease; Erythropoietin
18.  Psychiatric comorbidity in the treatment of patients with inflammatory bowel disease 
Ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, commonly known as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), draw attention from specialists of various disorders, including gastroenterology, psychiatry, and radiology. The involvement of a cortical influence in the brain-gut axis as well as the interaction of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis and the peripheral nervous system provide an initial explanation of the psychological symptoms associated with IBD. The involvement of structures the limbic system, such as the anterior cingulate cortex, the prefrontal cortex, and the amygdala, paves the way for the discovery of the mechanisms underlying depression depression, anxiety, alexithymia, personality traits, and other psychological impairments following the onset of IBD. Psychiatric therapy in IBD patients is almost as important as the gastroenterological approach and consists of pharmacological treatment and psychotherapy. Neither of the available psychiatric treatment methods is considered the golden standard because both methods have side effects, and psychotropic medication can provoke the worsening of IBD symptoms. Thus, both approaches must be applied with awareness of the possibility of side effects. We suggest that psychiatrists and gastroenterologists work together to reach a consensus on IBD therapy to ensure success and to reduce side effects and relapse to the lowest possible rates.
PMCID: PMC3974522
Inflammatory bowel disease; Psychiatry; Treatment; Personality traits; Depression; Anxiety
19.  Colon-specific prodrugs of 4-aminosalicylic acid for inflammatory bowel disease 
Despite the advent of biological products, such as anti-tumor necrosis factor-α monoclonal antibodies (infliximab and adalimumab), for treatment of moderate to severe cases of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), most patients depend upon aminosalicylates as the conventional treatment option. In recent years, the increased knowledge of complex pathophysiological processes underlying IBD has resulted in development of a number of newer pharmaceutical agents like low-molecular-weight heparin, omega-3 fatty acids, probiotics and innovative formulations such as high-dose, once-daily multi-matrix mesalamine, which are designed to minimize the inflammatory process through inhibition of different targets. Optimization of delivery of existing drugs to the colon using the prodrug approach is another attractive alternative that has been utilized and commercialized for 5-aminosalicylic acid (ASA) in the form of sulfasalazine, balsalazide, olsalazine and ipsalazine, but rarely for its positional isomer 4-ASA - a well-established antitubercular drug that is twice as potent as 5-ASA against IBD, and more specifically, ulcerative colitis. The present review focuses on the complete profile of 4-ASA and its advantages over 5-ASA and colon-targeting prodrugs reported so far for the management of IBD. The review also emphasizes the need for reappraisal of this promising but unexplored entity as a potential treatment option for IBD.
PMCID: PMC3974523
4-Aminosalicylic acid; 5-Aminosalicylic acid; Sulfasalazine; Colon-specific prodrug; Inflammatory bowel disease; Ulcerative colitis; 2,4,6-trinitrobenzene sulphonic acid; Experimental colitis
20.  Remote ischemic preconditioning as treatment for non-ischemic gastrointestinal disorders: Beyond ischemia-reperfusion injury 
Common gastrointestinal diseases such as radiation enteritis (RE), acute pancreatitis, inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) and drug-induced hepatotoxicity share pathophysiological mechanisms at the molecular level, mostly involving the activation of many pathways of the immune response, ultimately leading to tissue injury. Increased oxidative stress, inflammatory cytokine release, inflammatory cell infiltration and activation and the up-regulation of inflammatory transcription factors participate in the pathophysiology of these complex entities. Treatment varies in each specific disease, but at least in the cases of RE and IBD immunosuppressors are effective. However, full therapeutic responses are not always achieved. The pathophysiology of ischemia-reperfusion (IR) injury shares many of these mechanisms. Brief and repetitive periods of ischemia in an organ or limb have been shown to protect against subsequent major IR injury in distant organs, a phenomenon called remote ischemic preconditioning (RIP). This procedure has been shown to protect the gut, pancreas and liver by modulating many of the same inflammatory mechanisms. Since RIP is safe and tolerable, and has shown to be effective in some recent clinical trials, I suggest that RIP could be used as a physiologically relevant adjunct treatment for non-ischemic gastrointestinal inflammatory conditions.
PMCID: PMC3974524
Ischemia reperfusion; Ischemic preconditioning; Remote ischemic preconditioning; Acute pancreatitis; Radiation enteritis; Inflammatory bowel diseases; Hepatotoxicity; Inflammation
21.  What physicians should know about the management of chronic hepatitis B in children: East side story 
Understanding the natural course of chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection is very important for the management and treatment of chronic hepatitis B in children. Based on treatment guidelines, the management of HBV carriers and treatment of active hepatitis have been advancing and resulted in increased survival, as well as decreased risks of complications such as liver cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. Development of a continuing medical education (CME) program for primary physicians becomes an important responsibility of pediatric hepatologists. CME could prevent misdiagnosis and unnecessary treatment that could lead to liver complications or antiviral resistance. In addition, education of patients and their parents is necessary to achieve better therapeutic outcomes.
PMCID: PMC3974525
Hepatitis B virus; Natural course; Diagnosis; Treatment; Lamivudine; Resistance
22.  Contrast-enhanced ultrasound in the diagnosis of nodules in liver cirrhosis 
Contrast-enhanced ultrasound (CEUS) using microbubble contrast agents are useful for the diagnosis of the nodules in liver cirrhosis. CEUS can be used as a problem-solving method for indeterminate nodules on computed tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or as an initial diagnostic test for small newly detected liver nodules. CEUS has unique advantages over CT and MRI including no renal excretion of contrast, real-time imaging capability, and purely intravascular contrast. Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is characterized by arterial-phase hypervascularity and later washout (negative enhancement). Benign nodules such as regenerative nodules or dysplastic nodules are usually isoechoic or slightly hypoechoic in the arterial phase and isoechoic in the late phase. However, there are occasional HCC lesions with atypical enhancement including hypovascular HCC and hypervascular HCC without washout. Cholangiocarcinomas are infrequently detected during HCC surveillance and mostly show rim-like or diffuse hypervascularity followed by rapid washout. Hemangiomas are often found at HCC surveillance and are easily diagnosed by CEUS. CEUS can be effectively used in the diagnostic work-up of small nodules detected at HCC surveillance. CEUS is also useful to differentiate malignant and benign venous thrombosis and to guide and monitor the local ablation therapy for HCC.
PMCID: PMC3974526
Hepatocellular carcinoma; Liver cirrhosis; Dysplastic nodule; Contrast ultrasound; Imaging
23.  Clinicopathological study of primary biliary cirrhosis with interface hepatitis compared to autoimmune hepatitis 
AIM: To investigate histological and immunohistochemical differences in hepatitis between autoimmune hepatitis (AIH) and primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) with AIH features.
METHODS: Liver needle biopsies of 41 PBC with AIH features and 43 AIH patients were examined. The activity of periportal and lobular inflammation was scored 0 (none or minimal activity) to 4 (severe), and the degree of hepatitic rosette formation and emperipolesis was semiquantatively scored 0-3. The infiltration of mononuclear cells positive for CD20, CD38, CD3, CD4, and CD8 and positive for immunoglobulins (IgG, IgM, and IgA) at the periportal areas (interface hepatitis) and in the hepatic lobules (lobular hepatitis) were semiquantitatively scored in immunostained liver sections (score 0-6). Serum aspartate aminotransferase (AST), immunoglobulins, and autoantibodies at the time of liver biopsy were correlated with the histological and immunohistochemical scores of individual lesions.
RESULTS: Lobular hepatitis, hepatitic rosette formation, and emperipolesis were more extensive and frequent in AIH than in PBC. CD3+, CD4+, and CD8+ cell infiltration scores were higher in the hepatic lobules and at the interface in AIH but were also found in PBC. The degree of mononuclear cell infiltration correlated well with the degree of interface and lobular hepatitis in PBC, but to a lesser degree in AIH. CD20+ cells were mainly found in the portal tracts and, occasionally, at the interface in both diseases. Elevated AST correlated well with the hepatocyte necroinflammation and mononuclear cell infiltration, specifically CD38+ cells in PBC. No correlation existed between autoantibodies and inflammatory cell infiltration in PBC or AIH. While most AIH cases were IgG-predominant at the interface, PBC cases were divided into IgM-predominant, IgM/IgG-equal, and IgG-predominant types, with the latter sharing several features with AIH.
CONCLUSION: These results suggest that the hepatocellular injuries associated with interface and lobular hepatitis in AIH and PBC with interface hepatitis may not be identical.
PMCID: PMC3974527
Primary biliary cirrhosis; Autoimmune hepatitis; Interface hepatitis; Lobular hepatitis; Plasma cell subclass
24.  Association of rs1568885, rs1813443 and rs4411591 polymorphisms with anti-TNF medication response in Greek patients with Crohn’s disease 
AIM: To investigate the correlation between rs1568885, rs1813443 and rs4411591 polymorphisms and response to infliximab in a cohort of Greek patients with Crohn’s disease (CD).
METHODS: One hundred and twenty-six patients diagnosed with CD based on standard clinical, endoscopic, radiological, and pathological criteria were enrolled in this study at the Gastroenterology Unit of the 2nd Department of Surgery and at the Colorectal Unit of the 1st Department of Propaedeutic Surgery. Infliximab at a dose of 5 mg/kg was administered intravenously at weeks 0, 2, 6 and then every 8 wk. Clinical and serological responses were assessed using the Harvey-Bradshaw Index and serum C-reactive protein (CRP) levels, respectively, and the endoscopic response was evaluated by ileocolonoscopy performed at baseline and after 12-20 wk of therapy. The changes in endoscopic appearance compared to baseline were classified into four categories, and patients were classified as responders and non-responders. Genomic DNA from whole peripheral blood was extracted and genotyping was performed by allele-specific polymerase chain reactions. χ2 test with Yate’s correction based on the S-Plus was used to compare the genotype frequencies.
RESULTS: Eighty patients (63.49%) were classified as complete and 32 (25.39%) as partial responders to infliximab, while 14 (11.11%) were primary non-responders. No correlation was found between response to infliximab and patients’ characteristics such as age, gender and disease duration. There was consistency between Harvey-Bradshaw index scores and serum CRP levels. The TT genotype of the rs1568885 polymorphism was significantly related to partial response (P = 0.024) and resistance to infliximab (P = 0.007) while the AT genotype was more frequent in partial responders (P = 0.035) and in primary non-responders (P = 0.032). Regarding rs1813443, the CC genotype was found to be associated with partial response (P = 0.005) and primary resistance (P = 0.002) to infliximab while no association was found between the rs4411591 polymorphism and the clinical response to infliximab.
CONCLUSION: Based on our results, the rs1568885 and rs1813443 polymorphisms are associated with clinical and biochemical response to infliximab in Greek patients with Crohn’s disease.
PMCID: PMC3974528
Crohn’s disease; Treatment response; Infliximab; Polymorphisms
25.  Influence of the safety and diagnostic accuracy of preoperative endoscopic ultrasound-guided fine-needle aspiration for resectable pancreatic cancer on clinical performance 
AIM: To evaluate the safety and diagnostic accuracy of endoscopic ultrasound-guided fine-needle aspiration (EUS-FNA) in a cohort of pancreatic cancer patients.
METHODS: Of 213 patients with pancreatic cancer evaluated between April 2007 and August 2011, 82 were thought to have resectable pancreatic cancer on the basis of cross-sectional imaging findings. Of these, 54 underwent EUS-FNA before surgery (FNA+ group) and 28 underwent surgery without preoperative EUS-FNA (FNA- group).
RESULTS: All 54 lesions were visible on EUS, and all 54 attempts at FNA were technically successful. The diagnostic accuracy according to cytology and histology findings was 98.1% (53/54) and 77.8% (42/54), respectively, and the total accuracy was 98.1% (53/54). One patient developed mild pancreatitis after EUS-FNA but was successfully treated by conservative therapy. No severe complications occurred after EUS-FNA. In the FNA+ and FNA- groups, the median relapse-free survival (RFS) was 742 and 265 d, respectively (P = 0.0099), and the median overall survival (OS) was 1042 and 557 d, respectively (P = 0.0071). RFS and OS were therefore not inferior in the FNA+ group. These data indicate that the use of EUS-FNA did not influence RFS or OS, nor did it increase the risk of peritoneal recurrence.
CONCLUSION: In patients with resectable pancreatic cancer, preoperative EUS-FNA is a safe and accurate diagnostic method.
PMCID: PMC3974530
Pancreatic cancer; Diagnosis; Biopsy; Endoscopic ultrasound-guided fine-needle aspiration; Preoperative diagnosis

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