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1.  C-reactive protein and bacterial infection in cirrhosis 
In the general population, C-reactive protein (CRP) level increases in the presence of acute or chronic inflammation and infections. In patients with cirrhosis, the basal level is higher than in patients without cirrhosis, due to chronic hepatic and other inflammation, but when infection occurs the more severe the underlying liver dysfunction, the lower the increase in CRP. Therefore, the predictive power of CRP for infection and prognosis is weak in patients with decompensated/advanced cirrhosis and in the intensive care setting. However, higher CRP and also persistently elevated CRP levels can help identify patients with a higher short-term risk of mortality.
PMCID: PMC3982625  PMID: 24733601
C-reactive protein; bacterial infections; cirrhosis; Intensive Care Unit; mortality; prognosis
2.  Transarterial chemoembolization and bland embolization for hepatocellular carcinoma 
Transarterial chemoembolization (TACE) is the first line treatment for patients with intermediate stage hepatocellular carcinoma but is also increasingly being used for patients on the transplant waiting list to prevent further tumor growth. Despite its widespread use, TACE remains an unstandardized procedure, with variation in type and size of embolizing particles, type and dose of chemotherapy and interval between therapies. Existing evidence from randomized controlled trials suggest that bland transarterial embolization (TAE) has the same efficacy with TACE. In the current article, we review the use of TACE and TAE for hepatocellular carcinoma and we focus on the evidence for their use.
PMCID: PMC3964379  PMID: 24695579
Cirrhosis; Hepatocellular carcinoma; Mortality; Embolization; Transarterial chemoembolization; Transarterial embolization; Prognosis
3.  Can non-invasive measurements aid clinical assessment of volume in patients with cirrhosis? 
World Journal of Hepatology  2013;5(8):433-438.
AIM: To evaluate the non-invasive assessments of volume status in patients with cirrhosis.
METHODS: Echocardiography and multifrequency bioimpedance analysis measurements and short synacthen tests were made in 20 stable and 25 acutely decompensated patients with cirrhosis.
RESULTS: Both groups had similar clinical assessments, cortisol response and total body water (TBW), however the ratio of extracellular water (ECW)/TBW was significantly greater in the trunk (0.420 ± 0.004 vs 0.404 ± 0.005), and limbs (R leg 0.41 ± 0.003 vs 0.398 ± 0.003, P < 0.05, and L leg 0.412 ± 0.003 vs 0.399 ± 0.003) with decompensated cirrhosis compared to stable cirrhotics, P < 0.05). Echocardiogram derived right atrial and ventricular filling and end diastolic pressures and presence of increased left ventricular end diastolic volume and diastolic dysfunction were similar in both groups. The decompensated group had lower systemic blood pressure, mean systolic 101.8 ± 4.3 vs 122.4 ± 5.3 and diastolic 58.4 ± 4.1 mmHg vs 68.8 ± 3.1 mmHg respectively, P < 0.01, and serum albumin 30 (27-33) vs 32 (31-40.5) g/L, P < 0.01.
CONCLUSION: Decompensated cirrhotics had greater leg and truncal ECW expansion with lower serum albumin levels consistent with intravascular volume depletion and increased vascular permeability.
PMCID: PMC3767842  PMID: 24023982
Cirrhosis; Bioimpedance; Echocardiography; Extracellular water; Ascites; Cortisol
4.  Ursodeoxycholic Acid Improves Bilirubin but Not Albumin in Primary Biliary Cirrhosis: Further Evidence for Nonefficacy 
BioMed Research International  2013;2013:139763.
Background/Aim. In randomised controlled trials (RCTs) of ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA), although serum bilirubin is frequently reduced, its effect on disease progression and mortality is unclear. As serum albumin is an established independent prognostic marker, one might expect less deterioration of serum albumin values in a UDCA-treated group. We therefore modelled the typical evolution of serum bilirubin and albumin levels over time in UDCA-untreated patients and compared it with the observed levels in UDCA RCTs. Methods. Multilevel modelling was used to relate the evolution of serum albumin to serum bilirubin and time since patient referral. For each considered RCT, the derived model was used to predict the relationship between final mean serum albumin and bilirubin concentration, adjusted for mean serum albumin at referral and followup duration. Results. Five RCTs were eligible in terms of available data, of which two had long followup. In all trials, serum albumin did not significantly differ between UDCA- and placebo-treated patients, despite the UDCA effect on serum bilirubin. Therefore, there is no evidence over time for changes or maintenance of albumin levels for UDCA-treated patients above the levels predicted for placebo-treated patients. Conclusions. Our findings suggest that UDCA does not alter serum albumin in a way that is consistent with its effect on serum bilirubin. Therefore, reductions in serum bilirubin of UDCA-treated PBC do not parallel another validated and independent prognostic marker, further questioning the validity of serum bilirubin reduction with UDCA as a surrogate therapeutic marker.
PMCID: PMC3741702  PMID: 23984317
5.  Surveillance and diagnosis of hepatocellular carcinoma in patients with cirrhosis 
World Journal of Hepatology  2009;1(1):48-61.
Early identification of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is more frequent because of surveillance programs for HCC worldwide. The optimal strategy of surveillance in cirrhosis is a current topical issue. In terms of diagnosis, recent advances in non-invasive imaging technology, including various techniques of harmonic ultrasound, new ultrasound contrast agents, multi-slice helical computed tomography and rapid high quality magnetic resonance, have all improved the accuracy of diagnosis. Consequently the role of liver biopsy in diagnosis of HCC has declined. The imaging diagnosis relies on the hallmark of arterial hypervascularity with portal venous washout. However, with recent advances in genomics and proteomics a great number of potential serum and tissue markers have been identified and are being developed as new candidate markers for both diagnosis and prognosis of hepatocellular carcinoma, and may increase the need for liver biopsy.
PMCID: PMC2998953  PMID: 21160965
Hepatocellular carcinoma; Liver neoplasm; Screening; Diagnosis; Imaging; Liver biopsy; Molecular markers
6.  The evolution in the prioritization for liver transplantation 
Annals of Gastroenterology  2012;25(1):6-13.
Policies for organ allocation can be based on medical urgency, utility or transplant benefit. With an urgency policy, patients with worse outcomes on the waiting list are given higher priority for transplantation [based on the Child–Turcotte–Pugh score or the Model for End-stage Liver Disease (MELD) score, or United Kingdom model for End-stage Liver Disease (UKELD) score]. The MELD and UKELD scores have statistical validation and use objective and widely available laboratory tests. However, both scores have important limitations. Adjustments to the original MELD equation and new scoring systems have been proposed to overcome these limitations; incorporation of serum sodium improves its predictive accuracy and is part of the UKELD score. The utility-based systems are based on post-transplant outcome taking into account donor and recipient characteristics. MELD and UKELD scores poorly predict outcomes after liver transplantation due to the absence of donor factors. The transplant benefit models rank patients according to the net survival benefit that they would derive from transplantation. These models would be based on the maximization of the lifetime gained through liver transplantation. Well-designed prospective studies and simulation models are necessary to establish the optimal allocation system in liver transplantation, as no current model has all the best characteristics.
PMCID: PMC3959341  PMID: 24713804
MELD score; UKELD score; liver transplantation; allocation; survival benefit
7.  Non-invasive assessment of liver fibrosis 
Annals of Gastroenterology  2012;25(3):218-231.
The presence and degree of hepatic fibrosis is crucial in order to make therapeutic decisions and predict clinical outcomes. Currently, the place of liver biopsy as the standard of reference for assessing liver fibrosis has been challenged by the increasing awareness of a number of drawbacks related to its use (invasiveness, sampling error, inter-/intraobserver variability). In parallel with this, noninvasive assessment of liver fibrosis has experienced explosive growth in recent years and a wide spectrum of noninvasive methods ranging from serum assays to imaging techniques have been developed. Some are validated methods, such as the Fibrotest/ Fibrosure and transient elastography in Europe, and are gaining a growing role in routine clinical practice, especially in chronic hepatitis C. Large-scale validation is awaited in the setting of other chronic liver diseases. However, noninvasive tests used to detect significant fibrosis and cirrhosis, the two major clinical endpoints, are not yet at a level of performance suitable for routine diagnostic tests, and there is still no perfect surrogate or method able to completely replace an optimal liver biopsy. This article aims to review current noninvasive tests for the assessment of liver fibrosis and the perspectives for their rational use in clinical practice.
PMCID: PMC3959378  PMID: 24714123
liver fibrosis; non-invasive; transient elastography; serum biomarkers; liver biopsy
8.  Klippel-Trénaunay syndrome, pregnancy and the liver: an unusual interplay 
Annals of Gastroenterology  2012;25(4):365-367.
Klippel-Trénaunay syndrome is a rare congenital syndrome characterized by capillary malformations, soft tissue and bone hypertrophy, and varicose veins. There is a well-established risk for thrombotic complications in these patients. A case of a young patient diagnosed post partum with the very rare liver involvement is presented. The complex clinical course, the multidisciplinary management and the long-term outcome are discussed.
PMCID: PMC3959411  PMID: 24714267
Klippel-Trénaunay syndrome; portal vein thrombosis; varicose veins; pregnancy
10.  Is Sustained Virological Response a Marker of Treatment Efficacy in Patients with Chronic Hepatitis C Viral Infection with No Response or Relapse to Previous Antiviral Intervention? 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e83313.
Randomised clinical trials (RCTs) of antiviral interventions in patients with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection use sustained virological response (SVR) as the main outcome. There is sparse information on long-term mortality from RCTs.
We created a decision tree model based on a Cochrane systematic review on interferon retreatment for patients who did not respond to initial therapy or who relapsed following SVR. Extrapolating data to 20 years, we modelled the outcome from three scenarios: (1) observed medium-term (5 year) annual mortality rates continue to the long term (20 years); (2) long-term annual mortality in retreatment responders falls to that of the general population while retreatment non-responders continue at the medium-term mortality; (3) long-term annual mortality in retreatment non-responders is the same as control group non-responders (i.e., the increased treatment-related medium mortality “wears off”).
The mean differences in life expectancy over 20 years with interferon versus control in the first, second, and third scenarios were -0.34 years (95% confidence interval (CI) -0.71 to 0.03), -0.23 years (95% CI -0.69 to 0.24), and -0.01 (95% CI -0.3 to 0.27), respectively. The life expectancy was always lower in the interferon group than in the control group in scenario 1. In scenario 3, the interferon group had a longer life expectancy than the control group only when more than 7% in the interferon group achieved SVR.
SVR may be a good prognostic marker but does not seem to be a valid surrogate marker for assessing HCV treatment efficacy of interferon retreatment. The SVR threshold at which retreatment increases life expectancy may be different for different drugs depending upon the adverse event profile and treatment efficacy. This has to be determined for each drug by RCTs and appropriate modelling before SVR can be accepted as a surrogate marker.
PMCID: PMC3861485  PMID: 24349487
11.  The Role of E. coli Infection in the Pathogenesis of Primary Biliary Cirrhosis 
Disease markers  2011;29(6):301-311.
Among various infectious agents possibly involved in the pathogenesis of primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC), Escherichia Coli (E. coli) has received special attention because of epidemiological and experimental evidence linking this bacterium with the disease's development. This review discusses early and more recent epidemiological studies associating recurrent urinary tract infections with E. coli and the development of PBC. We also critically review data provided over the years demonstrating disease-specific humoral and cellular immune responses against E. coli antigens in patients with PBC. Finally, we assess the relevance of experimental findings reporting cross-reactive immunity between mimicking sequences of E. coli and the major PBC mitochondrial antigens in the pathogenesis of the PBC. We also address the extent to which molecular mimicry and immunological cross-reactivity can be considered as a critical pathogenic process linking infection with self destruction.
PMCID: PMC3835537  PMID: 21297249
Autoimmunity; autoimmune disease; bile ducts; cholestasis; liver; immunity; tolerance; mimicry; cross-reactivity
12.  Tuberculosis Is Not a Risk Factor for Primary Biliary Cirrhosis: A Review of the Literature 
Primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) is a progressive cholestatic liver disease characterised serologically by cholestasis and the presence of high-titre antimitochondrial antibodies, and histologically by chronic nonsuppurative cholangitis and granulomata. As PBC is a granulomatous disease and Mycobacterium tuberculosis is the most frequent cause of granulomata, a causal relation between tuberculosis and PBC has been suggested. Attempts to find serological evidence of PBC-specific autoantibodies such as AMA have been made and, conversely, granulomatous livers from patients with PBC have been investigated for molecular evidence of Mycobacterium tuberculosis. This paper discusses in detail the reported data in support or against an association between Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection and PBC. We discuss the immunological and microbiological data exploring the association of PBC with exposure to Mycobacterium tuberculosis. We also discuss the findings of large epidemiologic studies investigating the association of PBC with preexistent or concomitant disorders and the relevance of these findings with tuberculosis. Genome-wide association studies in patients with tuberculosis as well as in patients with PBC provide conclusive hints regarding the assumed association between exposure to this mycobacterium and the induction of PBC. Analysis of these data suggest that Mycobacterium tuberculosis is an unlikely infectious trigger of PBC.
PMCID: PMC3504403  PMID: 23213506
13.  Rheumatoid Arthritis and Primary Biliary Cirrhosis: Cause, Consequence, or Coincidence? 
Arthritis  2012;2012:391567.
Primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) is a progressive cholestatic liver disease characterized serologically by cholestasis and the presence of high-titre antimitochondrial antibodies and histologically by chronic nonsuppurative cholangitis and granulomata. PBC patients often have concomitant autoimmune diseases, including arthropathies. This raises the question as to whether there are shared features in the pathogenesis of those diseases with the pathogenesis of PBC. Epidemiological and large case studies have indicated that although the incidence of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is not significantly raised in PBC patients, there appears to be a higher rate of RA in PBC patients and their relatives. Genetic studies have demonstrated that several genes implicated in PBC have also been implicated in RA. Epigenetic studies provided a wealth of data regarding RA, but the findings on epigenetic changes in PBC are very limited. As well, certain infectious agents identified in the pathogenesis of PBC may also play a role in the pathogenesis of RA. These data suggest that although RA is not significantly present in PBC, some individuals with certain genetic traits and environmental exposures may develop both conditions. This concept may also apply to other concomitant diseases found in PBC patients.
PMCID: PMC3488395  PMID: 23150824
14.  Sex Differences Associated with Primary Biliary Cirrhosis 
Primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) is a cholestatic liver disease of autoimmune origin, characterised by the destruction of small intrahepatic bile ducts. The disease has an unpredictable clinical course but may progress to fibrosis and cirrhosis. The diagnostic hallmark of PBC is the presence of disease-specific antimitochondrial antibodies (AMA), which are pathognomonic for the development of PBC. The disease overwhelmingly affects females, with some cases of male PBC being reported. The reasons underlying the low incidence of males with PBC are largely unknown. Epidemiological studies estimate that approximately 7–11% of PBC patients are males. There does not appear to be any histological, serological, or biochemical differences between male and female PBC, although the symptomatology may differ, with males being at higher risk of life-threatening complications such as gastrointestinal bleeding and hepatoma. Studies on X chromosome and sex hormones are of interest when studying the low preponderance of PBC in males; however, these studies are far from conclusive. This paper will critically analyze the literature surrounding PBC in males.
PMCID: PMC3369468  PMID: 22693524
15.  Epstein-Barr Virus as a Trigger of Autoimmune Liver Diseases 
Advances in Virology  2012;2012:987471.
The pathogenesis of autoimmune diseases includes a combination of genetic factors and environmental exposures including infectious agents. Infectious triggers are commonly indicated as being involved in the induction of autoimmune disease, with Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) being implicated in several autoimmune disorders. EBV is appealing in the pathogenesis of autoimmune disease, due to its high prevalence worldwide, its persistency throughout life in the host's B lymphocytes, and its ability to alter the host's immune response and to inhibit apoptosis. However, the evidence in support of EBV in the pathogenesis varies among diseases. Autoimmune liver diseases (AiLDs), including autoimmune hepatitis (AIH), primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC), and primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC), have a potential causative link with EBV. The data surrounding EBV and AiLD are scarce. The lack of evidence surrounding EBV in AiLD may also be reflective of the rarity of these conditions. EBV infection has also been linked to other autoimmune conditions, which are often found to be concomitant with AiLD. This paper will critically examine the literature surrounding the link between EBV infection and AiLD development. The current evidence is far from being conclusive of the theory of a link between EBV and AiLD.
PMCID: PMC3368154  PMID: 22693505
16.  Reduced fibrosis in recurrent HCV with tacrolimus, azathioprine and steroids versus tacrolimus: randomised trial long term outcomes 
Gut  2013;63(6):1005-1013.
Early results of a randomised trial showed reduced fibrosis due to recurrent HCV hepatitis with tacrolimus triple therapy (TT) versus monotherapy (MT) following transplantation for HCV cirrhosis. We evaluated the clinical outcomes after a median 8 years of follow-up, including differences in fibrosis assessed by collagen proportionate area (CPA).
103 consecutive liver transplant recipients with HCV cirrhosis receiving cadaveric grafts were randomised to tacrolimus MT (n=54) or TT (n=49) with daily tacrolimus (0.1 mg/kg divided dose), azathioprine (1 mg/kg) and prednisolone (20 mg), the last tailing off to zero by 6 months. Both groups had serial transjugular biopsies with hepatic venous pressure gradient (HVPG) measurement. Time to reach Ishak stage 4 was the predetermined endpoint. CPA was measured in all biopsies. Factors associated with HCV recurrence were evaluated. Clinical decompensation was the first occurrence of ascites/hydrothorax, variceal bleeding or encephalopathy.
No significant preoperative, peri-operative or postoperative differences between groups were found. During 96 months median follow-up, stage 4 fibrosis was reached in 19 MT/11 TT with slower fibrosis progression in TT (p=0.009). CPA at last biopsy was 12% in MT and 8% in TT patients (p=0.004). 14 MT/ three TT patients reached HVPG≥10 mm Hg (p=0.002); 10 MT/three TT patients, decompensated. Multivariately, allocated MT (p=0.047, OR 3.23, 95% CI 1.01 to 10.3) was independently associated with decompensation: 14 MT/ seven TT died, and five MT/ four TT were retransplanted.
Long term immunosuppression with tacrolimus, azathioprine and short term prednisolone in HCV cirrhosis recipients resulted in slower progression to severe fibrosis assessed by Ishak stage and CPA, less portal hypertension and decompensation, compared with tacrolimus alone.
—Randomised study for immunosuppression regimen in liver transplantation.
PMCID: PMC4033276  PMID: 24131637
17.  Heparin-like effect contributes to the coagulopathy in patients with acute liver failure undergoing liver transplantation 
Liver International  2009;29(5):754-759.
Liver transplantation (LT) in cirrhotics is characterized by severe coagulopathy, associated with a well documented heparin-like effect (HLE) seen by thromboelastography (TEG™) after reperfusion. The amount of HLE present in patients with acute liver failure (ALF) and its role in their bleeding tendency before LT has not been investigated.
To investigate the presence and extent of HLE in patients with ALF undergoing LT and to compare the extent of HLE in this group with a group of cirrhotics undergoing LT.
Material and Methods
Ten consecutive ALF and 10 cirrhotic patients undergoing LT were included. TEG™ (with and without heparinase I), surrogate total thrombin generation (TTG) derived by TEG™ and haemodynamic variables were recorded for every stage of the LT. HLE was defined as a correction of r+k times on TEG™ of more than 50% by the addition of heparinase I.
Before incision, patients with ALF showed a significantly greater HLE compared with patients with cirrhosis (r+k time: 66 min corrected to 29 vs 45 min corrected to 32 min, P=0.001). After reperfusion, all the patients showed extensive HLE, without any difference between the two groups. Despite the greater HLE, patients with ALF showed similar TTG compared with the cirrhotic group. By the end of the operation, the extent of the HLE was greatly reduced in both the groups.
Before transplantation, patients with ALF have a greater HLE than patients with liver cirrhosis. However, this did not affect the thrombin generation calculated by TEG™ and resolved after transplantation.
PMCID: PMC2711256  PMID: 19220741
acute liver failure; coagulation; heparin-like effect; liver transplantation; thromboelastography
18.  Primary Biliary Cirrhosis Associated with Systemic Sclerosis: Diagnostic and Clinical Challenges 
Patients with primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC) often have concurrent limited systemic sclerosis (SSc). Conversely, up to one-fourth of SSc patients are positive for PBC-specific antimitochondrial antibodies (AMA). The mechanisms responsible for the co-occurrence of these diseases are largely unknown. Genetic, epigenetic, environmental, and infectious factors appear to be important for the pathogenesis of the disease, but the hierarchy of events are not well defined. Patients with SSc and PBC have an increased morbidity and mortality compared with the general population, but whether the presence of both diseases in an affected individual worsens the prognosis and/or outcome of either disease is not clear. Some case reports suggested that the presence of SSc in PBC patents is associated with a more favorable prognosis of the liver disease, whereas others report an increased mortality in patients with PBC and SSc compared to patients with PBC alone. This paper discusses the features of patients with PBC-associated SSc. Our aims are to clarify some of the pathogenetic, diagnostic, and clinical challenges that are currently faced in the routine management of these patients. We also intend to provide some practical hints for practitioners that will assist in the early identification of patients with PBC-associated SSc.
PMCID: PMC3236477  PMID: 22187566
19.  Validation of Tikhonov adaptively regularized gamma variate fitting with 24-h plasma clearance in cirrhotic patients with ascites 
The aim was to compare late-time extrapolation of plasma clearance (CL) from Tikhonov adaptively regularized gamma variate fitting (Tk-GV) and from mono-exponential (E1) fitting.
Ten 51Cr-ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid bolus IV studies in adults—8 with ascites—assessed for liver transplantation, with 12–16 plasma samples drawn from 5-min to 24-h, were fit with Tk-GV and E1 models and CL results were compared using Passing-Bablok fitting.
The 24-h CL(Tk-GV) values ranged from 11.4 to 79.7 ml/min. Linear regression of 4- versus 24-h CL(Tk-GV) yielded no significant departure from a slope of 1, whereas the 4- versus 24-h CL(E1) slope, 1.56, was significantly increased. For CL(Tk-GV-24-h) versus CL(E1-24-h), there was a biased slope and intercept (0.85, 5.97 ml/min). Moreover, the quality of fitting of 24-h data was significantly better for Tk-GV than for E1, as follows. For 10 logarithm of concentration curves, higher r values were obtained for each Tk-GV fit (median 0.998) than for its corresponding E1 fit (median 0.965), with p < 0.0001 (paired t-test of z-statistics from Fisher r-z transformations). The E1 fit quality degraded with increasing V/W [volume of distribution (l) per kg body weight, p = 0.003]. However, Tk-GV fit quality versus V/W was uncorrelated (p = 0.8).
CL(E1) values were dependent on sample time and the quality of fit was poor and degraded with increasing ascites, consistent with current opinion that CL(E1) is contraindicated in ascitic patients. CL(Tk-GV) was relatively more accurate and the good quality of fit was unaffected by ascites. CL(Tk-GV) was the preferred method for the accurate calculation of CL and was useful despite liver failure and ascites.
PMCID: PMC3218286  PMID: 21881927
Renal function; Tikhonov regularization; Minimization of errors; Gamma variate; Ascites
20.  Cytomegalovirus glycoprotein-B vaccine with MF59 adjuvant in transplant recipients: a phase 2 randomised placebo-controlled trial 
Lancet  2011;377(9733):1256-1263.
Cytomegalovirus end-organ disease can be prevented by giving ganciclovir when viraemia is detected in allograft recipients. Values of viral load correlate with development of end-organ disease and are moderated by pre-existing natural immunity. Our aim was to determine whether vaccine-induced immunity could do likewise.
We undertook a phase-2 randomised placebo controlled trial in adults awaiting kidney or liver transplantation at the Royal Free Hospital, London, UK. Exclusion criteria were pregnancy, receipt of blood products (except albumin) in the previous 3 months, and simultaneous multiorgan transplantation. 70 patients seronegative and 70 seropositive for cytomegalovirus were randomly assigned from a scratch-off randomisation code in a 1:1 ratio to receive either cytomegalovirus glycoprotein-B vaccine with MF59 adjuvant or placebo, each given at baseline, 1 month and 6 months later. If a patient was transplanted, no further vaccinations were given and serial blood samples were tested for cytomegalovirus DNA by real-time quantitative PCR (rtqPCR). Any patient with one blood sample containing more than 3000 cytomegalovirus genomes per mL received ganciclovir until two consecutive undetectable cytomegalovirus DNA measurements. Safety and immunogenicity were coprimary endpoints and were assessed by intention to treat in patients who received at least one dose of vaccine or placebo. This trial is registered with, NCT00299260.
67 patients received vaccine and 73 placebo, all of whom were evaluable. Glycoprotein-B antibody titres were significantly increased in both seronegative (geometric mean titre 12 537 (95% CI 6593–23 840) versus 86 (63–118) in recipients of placebo recipients; p<0·0001) and seropositive (118 395; 64 503–217 272) versus 24 682 (17 909–34 017); p<0·0001) recipients of vaccine. In those who developed viraemia after transplantation, glycoprotein-B antibody titres correlated inversely with duration of viraemia (p=0·0022). In the seronegative patients with seropositive donors, the duration of viraemia (p=0·0480) and number of days of ganciclovir treatment (p=0·0287) were reduced in vaccine recipients.
Although cytomegalovirus disease occurs in the context of suppressed cell-mediated immunity post-transplantation, humoral immunity has a role in reduction of cytomegalovirus viraemia. Vaccines containing cytomegalovirus glycoprotein B merit further assessment in transplant recipients.
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Grant R01AI051355 and Wellcome Trust, Grant 078332. Sponsor: University College London (UCL).
PMCID: PMC3075549  PMID: 21481708
21.  Modelling cytomegalovirus replication patterns in the human host: factors important for pathogenesis 
Human cytomegalovirus can cause a diverse range of diseases in different immunocompromised hosts. The pathogenic mechanisms underlying these diseases have not been fully elucidated, though the maximal viral load during infection is strongly correlated with the disease. However, concentrating on single viral load measures during infection ignores valuable information contained during the entire replication history up to the onset of disease. We use a statistical model that allows all viral load data sampled during infection to be analysed, and have applied it to four immunocompromised groups exhibiting five distinct cytomegalovirus-related diseases. The results show that for all diseases, peaks in viral load contribute less to disease progression than phases of low virus load with equal amount of viral turnover. The model accurately predicted the time of disease onset for fever, gastrointestinal disease and pneumonitis but not for hepatitis and retinitis, implying that other factors may be involved in the pathology of these diseases.
PMCID: PMC1634765  PMID: 16822758
virus replication; models; disease
22.  Dystonia with Brain Manganese Accumulation Resulting From SLC30A10 Mutations: A New Treatable Disorder 
Movement Disorders  2012;27(10):1317-1322.
The first gene causing early-onset generalized dystonia with brain manganese accumulation has recently been identified. Mutations in the SLC30A10 gene, encoding a manganese transporter, cause a syndrome of hepatic cirrhosis, dystonia, polycythemia, and hypermanganesemia.
We present 10-year longitudinal clinical features, MRI data, and treatment response to chelation therapy of the originally described patient with a proven homozygous mutation in SLC30A10.
The patient presented with early-onset generalized dystonia and mild hyperbilirubinemia accompanied by elevated whole-blood manganese levels. T1-sequences in MRI showed hyperintensities in the basal ganglia and cerebellum, characteristic of manganese deposition. Treatment with intravenous disodium calcium edetate led to clinical improvement and reduction of hyperintensities in brain imaging.
We wish to highlight this rare disorder, which, together with Wilson's disease, is the only potentially treatable inherited metal storage disorder to date, that otherwise can be fatal as a result of complications of cirrhosis. © 2012 Movement Disorder Society
PMCID: PMC3664426  PMID: 22926781
dystonia; hypermanganesemia; cirrhosis; polycythemia; SLC30A10
23.  The Royal Free Hospital Score: A Calibrated Prognostic Model for Patients With Cirrhosis Admitted to Intensive Care Unit. Comparison With Current Models and CLIF-SOFA Score 
Prognosis for patients with cirrhosis admitted to intensive care unit (ICU) is poor. ICU prognostic models are more accurate than liver-specific models. We identified predictors of mortality, developed a novel prognostic score (Royal Free Hospital (RFH) score), and tested it against established prognostic models and the yet unvalidated Chronic Liver Failure-Sequential Organ Failure Assessment (CLIF-SOFA) model.
Predictors of mortality were defined by logistic regression in a cohort of 635 consecutive patients with cirrhosis admitted to ICU (1989–2012). The RFH score was derived using a 75% training and 25% validation set. Predictive accuracy and calibration were evaluated using area under the receiver operating characteristic (AUROC) and goodness-of-fit χ2 for the RFH score, as well as for SOFA, Model for End-Stage Liver Disease (MELD), Acute Physiology and Chronic Health Evaluation (APACHE II), and Child-Pugh. CLIF-SOFA was applied to a recent subset (2005–2012) of patients.
In-hospital mortality was 52.3%. Mortality improved over time but with a corresponding reduction in acuity of illness on admission. Predictors of mortality in training set, which constituted the RFH score, were the following: bilirubin, international normalized ratio, lactate, alveolar arterial partial pressure oxygen gradient, urea, while variceal bleeding as indication for admission conferred lesser risk. Classification accuracy was 73.4% in training and 76.7% in validation sample and did not change significantly across different eras of admission. The AUROC for the derived model was 0.83 and the goodness-of-fit χ2 was 3.74 (P=0.88). AUROC for SOFA was 0.81, MELD was 0.79, APACHE II was 0.78, and Child-Pugh was 0.67. In 2005–2012 cohort, AUROC was: SOFA: 0.74, CLIF-SOFA: 0.75, and RFH: 0.78. Goodness-of-fit χ2 was: SOFA: 6.21 (P=0.63), CLIF-SOFA: 9.18 (P=0.33), and RFH: 2.91 (P=0.94).
RFH score demonstrated good discriminative ability and calibration. Internal validation supports its generalizability. CLIF-SOFA did not perform better than RFH and the original SOFA. External validation of our model should be undertaken to confirm its clinical utility.
PMCID: PMC3978197  PMID: 24492755
24.  Liver transplantation: immunosuppression and oncology 
Purpose of review
Long-term survival of liver transplant recipients is threatened by increased rates of de-novo malignancy and recurrence of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), both events tightly related to immunosuppression.
Recent findings
There is accumulating evidence linking increased exposure to immunosuppressants and carcinogenesis, particularly concerning calcineurin inhibitors (CNIs), azathioprine and antilymphocyte agents. A recent study including 219 HCC transplanted patients showed that HCC recurrence rates were halved if a minimization of CNIs was applied within the first month after liver transplant. With mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) inhibitors as approved immunosuppressants for liver transplant patients, pooled data from several retrospective studies have suggested their possible benefit for reducing HCC recurrence.
Randomized controlled trials with sufficiently long follow-up are needed to evaluate the influence of different immunosuppression protocols in preventing malignancy after LT. Currently, early minimization of CNIs with or without mTOR inhibitors or mycophenolate seems a rational strategy for patients with risk factors for de-novo malignancy or recurrence of HCC after liver transplant. A deeper understanding of the immunological pathways of rejection and cancer would allow for designing more specific and safer drugs, and thus to prevent cancer after liver transplant.
PMCID: PMC4025587  PMID: 24685671
cancer; hepatocellular carcinoma; immunosuppression; liver transplantation; malignancy
25.  Cost-effectiveness of noninvasive liver fibrosis tests for treatment decisions in patients with chronic hepatitis C 
Hepatology (Baltimore, Md.)  2014;60(3):832-843.
The cost-effectiveness of noninvasive tests (NITs) as alternatives to liver biopsy is unknown. We compared the cost-effectiveness of using NITs to inform treatment decisions in adult patients with chronic hepatitis C (CHC). We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to calculate the diagnostic accuracy of various NITs using a bivariate random-effects model. We constructed a probabilistic decision analytical model to estimate health care costs and outcomes (quality-adjusted life-years; QALYs) using data from the meta-analysis, literature, and national UK data. We compared the cost-effectiveness of four treatment strategies: testing with NITs and treating patients with fibrosis stage ≥F2; testing with liver biopsy and treating patients with ≥F2; treat none; and treat all irrespective of fibrosis. We compared all NITs and tested the cost-effectiveness using current triple therapy with boceprevir or telaprevir, but also modeled new, more-potent antivirals. Treating all patients without any previous NIT was the most effective strategy and had an incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER) of £9,204 per additional QALY gained. The exploratory analysis of currently licensed sofosbuvir treatment regimens found that treat all was cost-effective, compared to using an NIT to decide on treatment, with an ICER of £16,028 per QALY gained. The exploratory analysis to assess the possible effect on results of new treatments, found that if SVR rates increased to >90% for genotypes 1-4, the incremental treatment cost threshold for the “treat all” strategy to remain the most cost-effective strategy would be £37,500. Above this threshold, the most cost-effective option would be noninvasive testing with magnetic resonance elastography (ICER = £9,189). Conclusions: Treating all adult patients with CHC, irrespective of fibrosis stage, is the most cost-effective strategy with currently available drugs in developed countries. (Hepatology 2014;60:832–843)
PMCID: PMC4265295  PMID: 25043847

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