Diagnosis, Diagnostics, Immunodiagnosis & Immunodiagnostics:



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January 2003 


6063.  Agarwal N, Handa R, Acharya S K, Wali J P, Dinda A K, Aggarwal P. Study of autoimmune markers in hepatitis C infection. Indian J med Res 2001; 17(2), 132-40.  No abstract.

6064.  Bdour S. Hepatitis C virus infection in Jordanian haemodialysis units: serological diagnosis and genotyping. J Med Microbiol. 2002 Aug;51(8):700-4.


The seroprevalence and genotypes of hepatitis C virus (HCV) were studied in 283 patients attending six haemodialysis units in Jordan. In all, 98 (34.6%) patients were anti-HCV-positive by EIA, 92 (93.9%) of whom were also reactive in an immunoblot assay. The prevalence of anti-HCV was correlated with a history of blood transfusion before the introduction of blood donor screening for HCV and with duration of haemodialysis. HCV RNA was detected in 30 (30.6%) of 98 anti-HCV-positive sera. HCV viraemia was not associated with a particular antibody for the six HCV antigens studied by the immunoblot assay, although reactivity to the core antigens was greater in the HCV RNA-positive sera than in negative sera. Two HCV genotypes (1 and 4) were identified for the first time in Jordan by restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis of HCV 5'-NCR. The predominant genotype was HCV la (12 of 30). Genotypes lb and 4 were detected in 10 and 8 patients, respectively. The antibody response to HCV antigens was genotype-dependent, with a wider range of antibody specificities detected in the immunoblot assay in the 12 patients with genotype 1a infection than in the 8 patients with genotype 4. However, there was no significant difference in the prevalence of antibodies to HCV antigens among patients infected with either genotype 1a or lb. In conclusion, the prevalence of anti-HCV, blood transfusion, duration of dialysis and HCV genotypes suggest possible nosocomial HCV transmission among patients which needs confirmation by phylogenetic analysis of subgenomic HCV regions.

6065.  Choudhury N, Phadke S. Transfusion transmitted disease. Indian J Pediat 2001; 68(10), 951-8.

Transfusion transmitted disease (TTD) is a major challenge to the transfusion services all over the world. The problem of TTD is directly proportionate to the prevalence of the infection in the blood donor community. In India, hepatitis B/C, HIV, malaria, syphilis, cytomegalo virus, parvo-virus B-19 and bacterial infections are important causes of concern. Hepatitis B and C infections are prevalent in India and carrier rate is about 1-5% and %, respectively. Post transfusion hepatitis B/C is a major problem in India (about 10%) because of low viraemia and mutant strain undetectable by routine ELISA. HIV prevalence among blood donors is different in various parts of the country. It may not be so alarming as projected by some agencies. In one study from north India, confirmed HIV positivity was found in 0.2/1000 blood donor. Post transfusion CMV is difficult to prevent but use of leukocyte filters may help to reduce it significantly. Parvo virus B-19 infection in blood donors is 39.9% which may increase morbidity in multitransfused or immunocompromised patients. Current symphilis tests may not be sensitive but it should be continued to exclude high-risk donors. Malaria is a real problem for India due to the lack of a simple and sensitive screening test. Incidence of bacterial contamination is greatly reduce due to improved collection / preservation techniques and use of antibiotics in patients.  


6066.  Czaja AJ, Freese DK. Diagnosis and treatment of autoimmune hepatitis. Hepatology. 2002 Aug;36(2):479-97. No abstract.

6067.  Giachetti C, Linnen JM, Kolk DP, Dockter J, Gillotte-Taylor K, Park M, Ho-Sing-Loy M, McCormick MK, Mimms LT, McDonough SH. Highly sensitive multiplex assay for detection of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 and hepatitis C virus RNA. J Clin Microbiol. 2002 Jul;40(7):2408-19.


Various nucleic acid assays have been developed and implemented for diagnostics and therapeutic monitoring of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) and hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections. The high-throughput, semiautomated assays described here were developed to provide a method suitable for screening plasma specimens for the presence of HIV-1 and HCV RNAs. Three assays were developed: a multiplex HIV-1/HCV assay for simultaneous detection of HIV-1 and HCV, and discriminatory assays for specific detection of HIV-1 and HCV. The assay systems utilize three proprietary technologies: (i) target capture-based sample preparation, (ii) transcription-mediated amplification (TMA), and (iii) hybridization protection assay (HPA). An internal control is incorporated into each reaction to control for every step of the assay and identify random false-negative reactions. The assays demonstrated a sensitivity of at least 100 copies/ml for each target, and they detected with similar sensitivity all major variants of HCV and HIV-1, including HIV-1 group O strains. Assay sensitivity for one virus was not affected by the presence of the other. The specificity of these TMA-driven assays was >or=99.5% in both normal donor specimens and plasma containing potentially interfering substances or other blood-borne pathogens. Statistical receiver operating characteristic plots of 1 - specificity vers us sensitivity data determined very wide analyte cutoff values for each assay at the point at which the assay specificity and sensitivity were both >or=99.5%. The sensitivity, specificity, and throughput capability predict that these assays will be valuable for large-volume plasma screening, either in a blood bank setting or in other diagnostic applications.

6068.  Kalamvoki M, Miriagou V, Hadziyannis A, Georgopoulou U, Varaklioti A, Hadziyannis S, Mavromara P. Expression of immunoreactive forms of the hepatitis C NS5A protein in E. coli and their use for diagnostic assays. Arch Virol. 2002 Sep;147(9):1733-45.


In this study different forms of the hepatitis C virus (HCV) NS5A protein, including a nearly full-length, an amino-terminal and a carboxy-terminal truncated form were produced in E. coli as fusion proteins with the MBP or the GST protein. The chimeric proteins were tested for their reactivity with sera from HCV infected patients by immunoblot and ELISA assays. A panel of 110 sera specimens, including 39 HCV-positive sera, 27 sera from patients with non-HCV-associated liver disease and 44 healthy individuals were analyzed for the presence of antibodies to NS5A. Twenty four (61 %) out of the 39 HCV positive sera, showed reactivity against the nearly full length NS5A, 21 (54 %) against the amino-terminal part of NS5A and 20 (51 %) against the carboxy-terminal part of the NS5A protein in immunoblot assays, suggesting that immunoreactive epitopes are present both at the carboxy- and the amino- terminal part of the protein. None of the 71 HCV-negative serum samples showed any reactivity against the NS5A antigens. With the exception of one patient, similar data were obtained with an ELISA assay based on the use of the nearly full-length NS5A antigen. The data indicate that new forms of NS5A may be potentially valuable antigens for the development of serological assays for HCV.


6069.  Khosla S, Ballard FJ, Conover CA. Use of site-specific antibodies to characterize the circulating form of big insulin-like growth factor II in patients with hepatitis C-associated osteosclerosis. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2002 Aug;87(8):3867-70.


Hepatitis C-associated osteosclerosis (HCAO) is a rare syndrome of adult-onset osteosclerosis. An understanding of the factor(s) leading to the stimulation of bone formation in these patients may provide novel anabolic approaches for the treatment of osteoporosis. We have demonstrated that HCAO patients have a specific increase in circulating big IGF-II (IGF-IIE) and IGF-binding protein-2 (IGFBP-2) levels, and that IGF-IIE and IGFBP-2 circulate together in a bioavailable, 50-kDa complex. Patients with nonislet cell tumor hypoglycemia (NICTH) also have increased circulating IGF-IIE and IGFBP-2 levels. However, HCAO patients do not exhibit hypoglycemia, nor do NICTH patients exhibit obvious osteosclerosis. Thus, to better understand the reason(s) for the differing clinical manifestations of the IGF-IIE excess in the two syndromes, we characterized IGF-IIE in HCAO and NICTH sera using recently developed antibodies (Ab) recognizing either the full-length IGF-IIE 89-amino acid C-terminal extension peptide (IIE(138-156) Ab) or specific cleavage forms of IGF-IIE (IIE(78-88) Ab and IIE(89-101) Ab). The predominant IGF-IIE form in HCAO serum migrated on SDS-PAGE as a single band at approximately 18 kDa that reacted with the IIE(89-101) Ab. On the other hand, the predominant form in NICTH serum migrated as a doublet of 14 and 16 kDa that reacted with the IIE(78-88) Ab. There results are consistent with differential processing of the IGF-IIE precursor at predicted cleavage sites producing IGF-IIE(1-104) and IGF-IIE(1-88) in HCAO and NICTH, respectively. As these two forms may have differing biological activities and/or targeting properties, our findings may explain at least in part the different manifestations of IGF-IIE overproduction in the two syndromes.

6070.      Osiowy C. Sensitive detection of HBsAg mutants by a gap ligase chain reaction assay. J Clin Microbiol. 2002 Jul;40(7):2566-71.


Hepatitis B virus (HBV) surface gene variants have been associated with diagnostic escape and immune escape following vaccination. The most common mutation observed in these variants is a glycine-to-arginine substitution at amino acid 145 (G145R). In order to sensitively detect the presence of this mutant in serum, a new molecular detection system was developed; in this new system, a gap ligase chain reaction (gLCR) assay was coupled with electrochemiluminescence detection of reaction products. The gLCR assay could detect approximately 10 copies of mutant DNA and could discriminate low levels of mutant DNA in the presence of excess wild-type DNA. Detection of the G145R mutant in clinical specimens was evaluated by testing 56 suspect serum specimens. The G145R mutation was observed in 18 of 28 HBV-DNA-positive samples. The approximate percentage of mutant present in each specimen was calculated by comparison with a standard curve of an increasing ratio of mutant DNA to wild-type DNA. Most samples contained a very low percentage of mutant virus (approximately 5%), with an observed range of approximately 3 to 74%. The G145R mutation was most frequently observed in specimens producing a diagnostic anomaly or from transplant patients but was also observed in specimens from vaccinated individuals and specimens in which HBsAg diagnostic escape was suspected. Therefore, the gLCR assay is a sensitive and specific method for detection of G145R mutants, which could be modified to include the detection of other HBV mutants.


6071.  Perrillo RP, Lai CL, Liaw YF, Dienstag JL, Schiff ER, Schalm SW, Heathcote EJ, Brown NA, Atkins M, Woessner M, Gardner SD. Predictors of HBeAg loss after lamivudine treatment for chronic hepatitis B. Hepatology. 2002 Jul;36(1):186-94.


Elevated alanine transaminase (ALT) levels and low serum hepatitis B virus (HBV) DNA predict a higher likelihood of hepatitis B e antigen (HBeAg) loss in patients with chronic hepatitis B treated with interferon. Predictors of HbeAg loss in patients treated with lamivudine are not known. The objective of this analysis of 4 lamivudine-controlled Phase III trials was to determine patient-dependent or laboratory variables that predict HBeAg loss. Predictors of HBeAg loss in patients treated with interferon, lamivudine plus interferon, or placebo are also described. A total of 805 adults with chronic hepatitis B were treated either with lamivudine (n = 406), matching placebo (n = 196), interferon (n = 68), or the combination of lamivudine plus interferon (n = 135). Demographic and baseline disease characteristics were used in stepwise multivariate analyses to identify features that were predictive of lamivudine-induced HBeAg loss. HBeAg loss correlated with increased pretreatment ALT levels in all groups. The rate of HBeAg loss was highest among patients with pretreatment ALT levels greater than 5 times the upper limit of normal (ULN) and was most pronounced in the lamivudine group (56%). Multivariate modeling indicated that elevated baseline ALT levels (P <.001) and histologic activity index (HAI) score (P <.001) were important predictors of HBeAg loss in response to lamivudine. The effect of pretreatment ALT levels on HBeAg loss was similar for Asians and Caucasians. In conclusion, elevated pretreatment ALT levels and/or active histologic disease were the most important predictors of lamivudine-induced HBeAg loss. Asians and Caucasians had similar rates of response to lamivudine at comparable ALT levels.


6072.  Sarman Singh, Mohanty A, Joshi Y K, Dwivedi S N, Deka D. Outcome of hepatitis E virus infection in Indian pregnant women admitted to a tertiary care hospital. Indian J med Res.2001; 113(Feb), 35-9. No abstract.

6073.  Shibolet O, Ilan Y, Gillis S, Hubert A, Shouval D, Safadi R. Lamivudine therapy for prevention of immunosuppressive-induced hepatitis B virus reactivation in hepatitis B surface antigen carriers. Blood. 2002 Jul 15;100(2):391-6.


Viral reactivation in hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) carriers undergoing immunosuppressive therapy is well documented. To evaluate the role of lamivudine prophylaxis in Hepatitis B virus (HBV) carriers treated with immunosuppression for nonhepatic disorders, we reviewed our experience between 1997 and 2000 at Hadassah University Hospital (Jerusalem, Israel). Controls were patients who were HBV carriers and who, between 1990 and 1995, were treated for hematological malignancies but were not treated with lamivudine. Eighteen HBsAg-positive patients were treated with immunosuppression. Fourteen were males, with a mean age of 48 years. Eleven patients had lymphoma; 2 had colonic adenocarcinoma; and 5 had cryoglobulinemia, enophthalmitis, vasculitis, malignant histocytosis, or ulcerative colitis. Fourteen patients were treated with chemotherapy, and 4 with prolonged high-dose corticosteroids. All patients were HBsAg-positive; 4 had hepatitis B e antigen, and 10 had HBV DNA by polymerase chain reaction. Lamivudine was administered to 13 patients in the treatment group 1 to 60 days (mean, 15 days) before immunosuppressive treatment and continued 0.5 to 24 months (mean, 7 months) following initiation of immunosuppression. Mean follow-up after lamivudine administration was 21 months. Three patients died of lymphoma complications and 10 (77%) survived. None of the patients had clinical or serological evidence of HBV reactivation during or after lamivudine prophylaxis. Of 6 patients who presented with liver function test disturbances, 5 improved during combined lamivudine and immunosuppression treatment. At the end of follow-up, HBV DNA became undetectable in 2 of 10 patients. In 2 patients, seroconversion from HBsAg to anti-HBs was observed. In contrast, 2 of 5 control patients had HBV reactivation. Lamivudine prophylaxis in HBsAg carriers receiving immunosuppressive therapy may prevent HBV reactivation and hepatic failure.



6075.  Abdelhamed AM, Kelley CM, Miller TG, Furman PA, Isom HC.  Rebound of hepatitis B virus replication in HepG2 cells after cessation of antiviral treatment. J Virol. 2002 Aug;76(16):8148-60.


Treatment of patients with lamivudine (3TC) results in loss of detectable levels of hepatitis B virus (HBV) DNA from serum; however, the relapse rate, with regard to both reappearance of virus in the bloodstream and hepatic inflammation, is high when therapy is terminated. Although the rebound observed in patients has also been seen in animal hepadnavirus models, rebound has not been analyzed in an in vitro cell culture system. In this study, we used the HBV recombinant baculovirus/HepG2 system to measure the time course of antiviral agent-mediated loss of HBV replication as well as the time course and magnitude of HBV production after release from antiviral treatment. Because of the sensitivity of the system, it was possible to measure secreted virions, intracellular replicative intermediates, and nuclear non-protein-bound HBV DNA and separately analyze individual species of DNA, such as single-stranded HBV DNA compared to the double-stranded form and relaxed circular compared to covalently closed circular HBV DNA. We first determined that HBV replication in the HBV recombinant baculovirus/HepG2 system could proceed for at least 35 days, with a 30-day plateau level of replication, making it possible to study antiviral agent-mediated loss of HBV followed by rebound after cessation of drug treatment. All HBV DNA species decreased in a time-dependent fashion following antiviral treatment, but the magnitude of decline differed for each HBV DNA species, with the covalently closed circular form of HBV DNA being the most resistant to drug therapy. When drug treatment ceased, HBV DNA species reappeared with a pattern that recapitulated the initiation of replication, but with a different time course.


6076.  Barcena Marugan R, Garcia-Hoz F, Vazquez Romero M, Nash R, Mateos M, Gonzalez Alonso R, Garcia Gonzalez M, Garcia Plaza A. Prevention of de novo hepatitis B infection in liver allograft recipients with previous hepatitis B infection or hepatitis B vaccination. Am J Gastroenterol. 2002 Sep;97(9):2398-401.


OBJECTIVES: To assess de novo hepatitis B virus (HBV) transmission from liver donors with HBV serum markers (HBM) to their recipients and the need for HBV vaccination before liver transplantation. METHODS: A total of 108 orthotopic liver transplantations for nonviral disease and the risk of developing de novo hepatitis B based on HBMs before transplantation have been studied. Of the 108 patients, 94 met the study criteria and were divided into two groups: 27 who had HBMs before transplantation (from past infection or by previous vaccination) and 67 who had no HBM. Development of de novo hepatitis B was determined by analytical, serological, and histological parameters. RESULTS: No case (0%) of de novo hepatitis B was detected in the pretransplantation HBM group, whereas there were 10 cases (14.5%) in the other group (p < 0.005). CONCLUSIONS: The presence of pretransplantation HBM in liver transplant recipients protects these patients against the development of de novo hepatitis B. This is especially important considering that there is a high prevalence of donors with positive hepatitis B core antibody (especially in some countries), and that these donors transmit HBV infection to recipients without HBM in a significant number of cases. Thus, vaccination against HBV in patients who are candidates for liver transplantation is fundamental to avoid cases of de novo hepatitis B.

6077.  Bouvier-Alias M, Patel K, Dahari H, Beaucourt S, Larderie P, Blatt L, Hezode C, Picchio G, Dhumeaux D, Neumann AU, McHutchison JG, Pawlotsky JM. Clinical utility of total HCV core antigen quantification: a new indirect marker of HCV replication. Hepatology. 2002 Jul;36(1):211-8.


Hepatitis C virus (HCV) RNA detection, viral load quantification, and HCV genotyping are widely used in clinical practice. Recently, the availability of an anticore antigen (Ag) monoclonal antibody allowed development of an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) detecting and quantifying total HCV core Ag in peripheral blood of HCV-infected patients. The aims of the present study were to investigate the biologic significance of this new marker in HCV infection, to establish the intrinsic performance of the current assay, and to determine its potential utility in the management of HCV-infected patients. A panel of infected sera calibrated to the World Health Organization International Standard and 657 serum samples from infected patients receiving antiviral treatment were studied. We showed that total HCV core Ag quantification is an accurate, precise, and specific indirect marker of HCV replication. We estimated that 1 pg/mL of total HCV core Ag is equivalent to approximately 8,000 HCV RNA international units (IU)/mL, although minor between-patient differences may exist. In conclusion, total HCV core Ag quantification can be used in the various indications of viral load monitoring, including the evaluation of baseline viral load before therapy, the assessment of the virologic response to antiviral treatment, and the study of early viral kinetics during therapy. Nevertheless, the total HCV core Ag assay cannot be used as a marker of viral replication for HCV RNA values below 20,000 IU/mL, limiting its use in the monitoring of late events during and after antiviral treatment.

6078.  Cook IF, Murtagh J. Comparative immunogenicity of hepatitis B vaccine administered into the ventrogluteal area and anterolateral thigh in infants. J Paediatr Child Health. 2002 Aug;38(4):393-6.


OBJECTIVE: To compare the immunological response of hepatitis B vaccine given by intramuscular injection into the anterolateral thigh and ventrogluteal site of infants up to 10 months old at initiation of vaccination. METHODS: An open, randomized study of 200 healthy infants recruited from a single practice in a small regional town in New South Wales was carried out. Infants were vaccinated with hepatitis B vaccine (Engerix-B 10 microg) using a 0 months, 1 month, 6 months regimen, with venous blood being collected from children 4-6 weeks after the last dose of vaccine for quantitative determination of hepatitis B surface antibody (anti-HBs) titre. Infants with anti-HBs titre > or = 100 m IU/mL were considered to be 'good' responders and were unlikely to acquire clinically significant hepatitis B infection. Infants with anti-HBs titre < 100 m IU/mL were considered to be 'poor' responders and were given a booster dose of Engerix-B 20 micro g; serology was repeated for anti-HBs titre 2-3 months after this injection. RESULTS: Quantitative anti-HBs titre was obtained from 177 infants: 171 4-6 weeks after the last dose of vaccine; 87 at the ventrogluteal site (46 boys, 41 girls); and 84 at the anterolateral thigh site (38 boys, 46 girls). Good antibody response (anti-HBs titre > or = 100 m IU/mL) was not significantly different for the two sites (ventrogluteal 96.6%, anterolateral thigh 93.2%), and antibody geometric mean titres (GMT) for anti-HBs were comparable for the two sites (ventrogluteal 2071.2 +/- 5.8m IU/mL, anterolateral thigh 2073.2 +/- 5.2m IU/mL). CONCLUSION: The ventrogluteal and anterolateral thigh vaccination sites in infants are immunologically comparable for hepatitis B vaccine. Presumably the variance of this study with studies of adults reflected the uniform injection of vaccine antigen into muscle tissue in infants.

6079.  Hohn H, Neukirch C, Freitag K, Necker A, Hitzler W, Seliger B, Maeurer MJ. Longitudinal analysis of the T-cell receptor (TCR)-VA and -VB repertoire in CD8+ T cells from individuals immunized with recombinant hepatitis B surface antigen. Clin Exp Immunol. 2002 Aug;129(2):309-17.


Recent studies have suggested that vaccination induces alterations in the T cell receptor (TCR) repertoire. We investigate the diversity of the TCR repertoire after immunization with a recombinant hepatitis B surface vaccine in seven healthy subjects in CD8+ T cells in peripheral blood lymphocytes. Cellular immune responses were monitored over time by sorting CD8 T cells followed by TCR-VA and -VB complementarity determining region 3 (CDR3) analysis. Frequency of individual VB families was determined by flow cytometry. TCR-VA/VB repertoires obtained from CD8+ T cells drawn after vaccination were compared to the TCR repertoire determined prior to vaccination. Monoclonal TCR transcripts could be detected exclusively in CD8+, but not in CD4+ T cells. Such monoclonal TCR transcripts were either stable in some individuals, or could only be detected at certain time points after vaccination. Sorting of monoclonal TCR-VB3+ T cells, which constituted up to 5% of the CD8+ T cell population from one individual, revealed that this T cell clone recognizes an epitope provided by the recombinant hepatitis B vaccine presented by MHC-class I on autologous antigen-presenting cells. Examination of the structural anatomy, defined by the TCR, and the frequency of T cells responding to the immunizing antigen may be helpful to provide surrogate markers to monitor cellular immune responses induced by protein antigens utilized for vaccination.


6080.  Major ME, Mihalik K, Puig M, Rehermann B, Nascimbeni M, Rice CM, Feinstone SM.  Previously infected and recovered chimpanzees exhibit rapid responses that control hepatitis C virus replication upon rechallenge. J Virol. 2002 Jul;76(13):6586-95.


Responses in three chimpanzees were compared following challenge with a clonal hepatitis C virus (HCV) contained in plasma from an animal that had received infectious RNA transcripts. Two of the chimpanzees (Ch1552 and ChX0186) had recovered from a previous infection with HCV, while the third (Ch1605) was a naive animal. All animals were challenged by reverse titration with decreasing dilutions of plasma and became serum RNA positive following challenge. Ch1605 displayed a typical disease profile for a chimpanzee. We observed increasing levels of serum RNA from week 1 postinoculation (p.i.), reaching a peak of 10(6) copies/ml at week 9 p.i., and alanine aminotransferase (ALT) elevations and seroconversion to HCV antibodies at week 10 p.i. In contrast, both Ch1552 and ChX0186 exhibited much shorter periods of viremia (4 weeks), low serum RNA levels (peak, 10(3) copies/ml), and minimal ALT elevations. A comparison of intrahepatic cytokine levels in Ch1552 and Ch1605 showed greater and earlier gamma interferon (IFN-gamma) and tumor necrosis factor alpha responses in the previously infected animal, responses that were 30-fold greater than baseline responses at week 4 p.i. for IFN-gamma in Ch1552 compared to 12-fold in Ch1605 at week 10 p.i. These data indicate (i) that clonal HCV generated from an infectious RNA transcript will lead to a typical HCV infection in naïve chimpanzees, (ii) that there are memory immune responses in recovered chimpanzees that control HCV infection upon rechallenge, and (iii) that these responses seem to be T-cell mediated, as none of the animals had detectable antibody against the HCV envelope glycoproteins. These observations have encouraging implications for the development of a vaccine for HCV.


6081.  Nyamathi A, Robbins WA, Fahey JL, Wiley D, Pekler VA, Longshore D, Robins TA, Singh J, Saab S. Presence and predictors of hepatitis C virus RNA in the semen of homeless men. Biol Res Nurs. 2002 Jul;4(1):22-30.


Although the possibility of sexual transmission of the hepatitis C virus (HCV) remains controversial, little is known of the associations ofpositive semen specimens with potential demographic and behavioral risk factors. Knowledge of these predictors may suggest factors that increase risk of HCV RNA in the semen. Semen and bloodfrom 80 HCV-infected homeless men were evaluatedfor the presence of HCVRNA by means of branch DNA and transcription-mediated amplification analyses. Associations of selected demographic and behavioral characteristics of the participants with presence or absence of HCV in their semen were also assessed. HCV RNA was detected in the semen of 36% of the sample. Associations were found with HCV RNA in semen and older age, higher viral loads of HCV in blood, current alcohol and lifetime methamphetamine use, and having been vaccinated for the hepatitis B virus. Findings suggest that sexual transmission of HCV is plausible and shed light on the need to conduct more in-depth investigations.


6082.  Rapicetta M, Ferrari C, Levrero M. Viral determinants and host immune responses in the pathogenesis of HBV infection. J Med Virol. 2002 Jul;67(3):454-7. Review.


Hepatitis B virus (HBV) is a virus that infects about 350,000,000 people worldwide with a clinical spectrum of acute hepatitis, the healthy carrier state, cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). The outcome of HBV infection is the result of complicated viral-host interactions. As in other infections with non-cythopatic viruses, the immune response is thought to play a crucial role in disease pathogenesis but there is increasing evidence that a variety of viral mechanisms, some depending on the function of virally encoded proteins, have a profound impact on the infected hepatocytes, the liver microenvironment, and host anti-viral responses. Indeed, the virus has evolved multiple mechanisms to ensure its success in infecting a susceptible host. The essential aspects of the life cycle of HBV and the host immune response are reviewed and recent new developments in the molecular virology of HBV, including experimental animal models, in the role of accessory viral proteins in disease pathogenesis and HCC development and in the characterisation of the T cell response in the control of HBV infection, are highlighted. Copyright 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.


6083.  Woitas RP, Sippel M, Althausen EM, Brackmann HH, Kochan B, Matz B, Rockstroh JK, Sauerbruch T, Spengler U. Differential expansion of T-cell receptor variable beta subsets after antigenic stimulation in patients with different outcomes of hepatitis C infection. Immunology. 2002 Jul;106(3):419-27.


Persistent antigenic stimulation during chronic hepatitis C may alter the T-cell receptor variable chain beta (TCR BV) repertoire as well as the cytokine responses of hepatitis C virus (HCV)-specific T lymphocytes. We analysed the distribution of the TCR BV subsets 2.1, 3.1, 5.1, 6.1, 8, 13.1, 13.6, 14.1, 17.1, 21.3 in relation to intracytoplasmic expression of interleukin-2, interferon-gamma, interleukin-4 and interleukin-10. Using flow cytometry, CD45RO+ memory T cells of 27 patients with chronic hepatitis C, eight patients with resolved HCV infection and 16 non-HCV-related controls were studied with and without stimulation by the HCV core, NS3, NS4, NS5a and NS5b proteins. Patients with chronic and resolved hepatitis C differed by larger basal TCR BV2.1+, BV6.1+, BV17.1+ and BV21.3+ subsets in chronic hepatitis C, which were correlated to the numbers of T cells with spontaneous interleukin-2 and interferon-gamma production (r=0.51-0.73, P<0.05). Upon HCV-specific stimulation these subsets did not expand, whereas a marked in vitro expansion of TCR BV8+ T cells in response to all HCV proteins was selectively noted in chronic hepatitis C (P<0.05). This expansion of TCR BV8+ memory T cells was significantly correlated to HCV-induced interleukin-10 expression (r=0.58-0.98, P<0.01). Thus, differential involvement of selected TCR BV subsets may be related to the outcome of HCV infection.



6084.  Mele A, Stroffolini T, Zanetti AR. Hepatitis B in Italy: where we are ten years after the introduction of mass vaccination. J Med Virol. 2002 Jul;67(3):440-3. Review.


In Italy, a program of vaccination against hepatitis B targeted at the immunisation of persons at high risk began in 1983. In 1991, vaccination became mandatory for all newborns and adolescents. Since then, the vaccine has been given to more than 10 million children, with an outstanding record of safety and efficacy. The coverage rate is globally around 94%, with differences between the Northern and Southern regions, with the latter having the lower acceptance rate. According to the National Surveillance System (SEIEVA), the incidence of acute hepatitis B per 10(5) inhabitants declined from 5.4 in 1990 to 2 in 2000. The reduction was even greater among 15-24-year-old individuals, where the incidence rate per 10(5) decreased from 17.3 to 2 in the same period. In parallel with the decline of hepatitis B, hepatitis delta has also declined significantly. Catch-up immunisation of unvaccinated adolescents, as well as an effort to improve the vaccination coverage rate in high-risk groups, are required to ameliorate the efficacy of the vaccination campaign. Routine administration of booster doses of vaccine is not considered necessary to sustain immunity in immunocompetent persons. Copyright 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

6085.  Seto D, West DJ, Ioli VA. Persistence of antibody and immunologic memory in children immunized with hepatitis B vaccine at birth. Pediatr Infect Dis J. 2002 Aug;21(8):793-5.

-Forty-two healthy children immunized with a course of hepatitis B vaccine beginning at birth were tested at 6 years of age for persistence of anti hepatitis B antibody (anti-HBs) and then given a booster dose of vaccine. Although nearly one-half had become seronegative, all retained robust immunologic memory and rapidly regained a protective anti-HBs titer of at least 10 mIU/ml after booster vaccination.


6086.  Starkel P, Cicarelli O, Lerut J, Goubau P, Rahier J, Horsmans Y. Limited lamivudine and long-term hepatitis B immunoglobulin immunoprophylaxis for prevention of hepatitis B recurrence after liver transplantation. Transplantation. 2002 Aug 15;74(3):408-10.


BACKGROUND: No consensus exists concerning dosage and duration of prophylactic hepatitis B immunoglobulin and lamivudine for prevention of hepatitis B recurrence after liver transplantation (LT). METHODS: Lamivudine was discontinued 12 months after LT, maintaining hepatitis B immunoglobulin prophylaxis in eight patients who received lamivudine treatment before LT. RESULTS: At LT, six patients were serum hepatitis B virus (HBV)-DNA negative, whereas two patients had low serum HBV-DNA levels. Hepatitis B surface (HBs) antigen and hepatitis B core antigen stained positively by immunohistochemistry in all hepatectomy specimens. All patients remained recurrence free during the 12 months on combination therapy with normal liver histological examination and negative HBs and HB core staining on biopsy specimens. No relapse occurred after lamivudine withdrawal during a median follow-up of 17.5 months (normal transaminases, negative serum HBs antigen, and HBV-DNA). CONCLUSIONS: Discontinuation of lamivudine 12 months after LT is feasible and safe even in patients with ongoing low viral replication at LT, providing adequate prophylaxis with hepatitis B immunoglobulins.


 April 2003  

6693.      Alberti A, Noventa F, Benvegnu L, Boccato S, Gatta A. Prevalence of liver disease in a population of asymptomatic persons with hepatitis C virus infection.Ann Intern Med. 2002 Dec 17;137(12):961-4.

BACKGROUND: The prevalence of significant liver disease in persons with asymptomatic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is unclear. OBJECTIVE: To determine the prevalence and severity of HCV infection in asymptomatic persons. DESIGN: Population-based cross-sectional study. SETTING: Northeastern Italy. PATIENTS: 4820 apparently healthy Telecom Italy employees or their relatives who underwent screening for cardiovascular risk factors. MEASUREMENTS: Initial screening for anti-HCV by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay followed by HCV RNA testing by polymerase chain reaction and monitoring of alanine aminotransferase levels in viremic persons (92% of viremic persons also had liver biopsies to assess their METAVIR scores). RESULTS: 116 persons (2.4% [95% CI, 1.97% to 2.84%]) were positive for anti-HCV and 85 (1.76% [CI, 1.39% to 2.14%]) were also viremic. The ALT level was persistently normal in 39 (46%) of viremic patients and elevated in 46 (54%). Significant hepatic histologic abnormalities were detected in 19% (CI, 7.21% to 36.4%) of persons with persistently normal ALT levels and in 61% (CI, 45.4% to 74.9%) of viremic persons who had elevated ALT levels (P < 0.001). The prevalence of HCV infection and number of persons with chronic liver fibrosis increased with age (P = 0.003). CONCLUSIONS: Hepatitis Cis histologically active and progressive in up to 40% of asymptomatic persons with HCV infection. The severity of liver disease correlates with abnormal ALT levels and increases with age.

6694.      Apolinario A, Majano PL, Alvarez-Perez E, Saez A, Lozano C, Vargas J, Garcia Monzon C. Increased expression of T cell chemokines and their receptors in chronic hepatitis C: relationship with the histological activity of liver disease. Am J Gastroenterol. 2002 Nov;97(11):2861-70.


OBJECTIVES: Although chemokines seem to be important in certain inflammatory disorders, little is known about the role of these proteins in chronic hepatitis C. METHODS: Expression of selected CXC and CC chemokines and their receptors was assessed by immunohistochemistry and flow cytometry in chronic hepatitis C. Tissue samples from normal liver and that of sustained responders were also evaluated. A comparative analysis between the histological grading and the intrahepatic expression level of chemokines was performed. RESULTS: The majority of liver-derived T lymphocytes expressed CXCR3 and CCR5 chemokine receptors, representing high enrichment over levels of CXCR3 + and CCR5 + T cells in blood from chronic hepatitis C. An intense intrahepatic expression of their respective ligands, the CXC chemokine Mig, and RANTES, was detected in the same patients studied, being restricted to the sinusoidal endothelium and to hepatocytes, respectively. A statistically significant association between the intrahepatic chemokine expression level and the inflammatory activity of chronic hepatitis C was found. Of note was the marked expression of both CXCR3 and its ligand Mig on endothelial cells from portal neovessels in chronic hepatitis C. CONCLUSIONS: Intrahepatic chemokine signaling could play a key role regulating significant pathological events during chronic hepatitis C, opening new avenues for therapeutic interventions based on chemokine activities.

6695.      Barash J, Dushnitzky D, Sthoeger D, Bardenstein R, Barak Y.  Human parvovirus B19 infection in children: uncommon clinical presentations. Isr Med Assoc J. 2002 Oct;4(10):763-5.

BACKGROUND: Human parvovirus B19 is responsible for a variety of clinical syndromes, such as erythema infectiosum, non-immune hydrops fetalis, transient aplastic anemia, and arthropathies. HPV is also suspected of playing a role in the pathogenesis of various chronic inflammatory and autoimmune diseases, such as systemic lupus erythematosus, rheumatoid arthritis, Kawasaki disease and multiple sclerosis. OBJECTIVES: To study the age distribution and clinical presentation of patients hospitalized for human parvovirus B19 infection. METHOD: We reviewed the case records of all pediatric patients with serologic evidence of HPV infection who were admitted during a 20 month period to a major community hospital. RESULTS: Of 128 children tested for HPV, 48 had evidence of acute infection based on the presence of immuno globulin M antibodies; 8 patients who also had positive IgM for other viruses were excluded, thus 40 case records were studied. The mean age of the patients was 5.21 years, but 22 patients were under 4. The clinical presentations included 25 patients with fever, either recurrent or prolonged, accompanied in some by enlarged spleen, liver and lymph nodes, skin rash and arthropathy; the remaining patients were investigated for anemia, skin rash, joint complaints and hepatitis. In addition, HPV infection was documented in several well-defined clinical conditions, such as SLE, vasculitic skin lesions, acute lymphoblastic leukemia, pure red cell aplasia, and optic neuritis. CONCLUSIONS: In a group of 40 pediatric patients exhibiting anti-HPV IgM antibodies, a younger age and less common clinical presentations were observed, furthermore 5 patients had clinical syndromes in which the causative role of HPV infection was not clear.

6696.      Bergamini A, Cepparulo M, Bolacchi F, Araco A, Tisone G, Ombres D, Rocchi G, Angelico M. Ribavirin increases mitogen- and antigen-induced expression of CD40L on CD4+ T cells in vivo.Clin Exp Immunol. 2002 Nov;130(2):293-9.

Here, CD40L expression and cytokine production have been analysed in peripheral blood cells from orthotopic liver transplantation (OLT) recipients treated with ribavirin for recurrent chronic hepatitis C. The study included 18 OLT recipients treated with ribavirin, eight control OLT recipients and 10 healthy controls. FACS analysis showed that baseline expression of CD40L was not different between ribavirin-treated patients and controls. In contrast, after stimulation with both HCV core antigen and phorbol myristate acetate (PMA) plus ionomycin (IO), the expression of CD40L on CD4 lymphocytes was significantly higher in the ribavirin group compared with controls. In the ribavirin group, the increased expression of CD40L significantly correlated with reduction of HCV RNA levels with respect to pretreatment values. Finally, ribavirin treatment was not associated with modification of PMA-IO-induced cytokine production by T lymphocytes and interleukin (IL)-1beta and tumour necrosis-alpha (TNF)-alpha production by CD40L-stimulated monocytes. In conclusion, these data indicate that ribavirin -upmodulates CD40L expression on CD4 T cells, a property which may account in part for its ability to enhance the antiviral activity of interferon-alpha in the treatment of chronic HCV infection.

6697.      Boyle BA. Recent research in HIV infection, part 2. AIDS Read. 2002 Dec;12(12):524-6, 539. No abstract.

6698.      Chang YC, Ho CL, Chen HH, Chang TT, Lai WW, Dai YC, Lee WY, Chow NH. Molecular diagnosis of primary liver cancer by microsatellite DNA analysis in the serum.Br J Cancer. 2002 Dec 2;87(12):1449-53.

Frequent loss of heterozygosity of microsatellites markers on specific chromosomal region have been reported in various types of primary human cancer. The same loss of heterozygosity has also been identified in the matched plasma/serum DNA. Using 109 microsatellite markers representing 24 chromosomal arms, we have examined the loss of heterozygosity in 21 cases of hepatocellular carcinoma, six of cholangiocarcinoma, and 27 cases of chronic hepatitis or cirrhosis. All cases of the hepatocellular carcinoma showed deletion from two to 10 chromosomal arms, while deletion of chromosomes from two to eight regions was detected in five of six cholangiocarcinoma patients. One or more loss of heterozygosity in the paired serum DNA could be detected in 16 of 25 (76.2%) hepatocellular carcinoma patients. In contrast, no alterations in serum DNA test could be found in cholangiocarcinoma patients. Five of seven (71.4%) hepatocellular carcinoma patients with alpha-fetoprotein levels less than 20 ng ml(-1) produced positive serum DNA test. The profiles of 19 microsatellite markers gave a 100% positive predictive value and an 80.8% negative predictive value for hepatocellular carcinoma. In conclusion, we have determined a profile of microsatellite markers appropriate for differential diagnosis of primary liver cancer. The discovery may permit a high-throughput screening of hepatocellular carcinoma at an early stage of disease. Copyright 2002 Cancer Research UK.

6699.      Clark CH, Mahoney JS, Clark DJ, Eriksen LR. Screening for depression in a hepatitis C population: the reliability and validity of the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D).J Adv Nurs. 2002 Nov;40(3):361-9.

RATIONALE: Depression is reported as a serious adverse event of antiviral therapy used to treat patients with hepatitis C (HCV); therefore, there is a need to identify a reliable and valid measure of depressive symptoms for this population. AIMS: To determine reliability, construct validity and predictive validity of the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale (CES-D) in a hepatitis C (HCV) population. ETHICAL ISSUES: Study reviewed/approved by the University Institutional Review Board and informed consent obtained. METHODS: Longitudinal design testing psychometric properties of the CES-D prior to treatment and 4 and 24 weeks postinitiation of treatment. Reliability was tested using Cronbach's coefficient alpha. Construct validity was tested, prior to therapy, using principal components factoring with varimax rotation. Predictive validity was tested using repeated measures analysis of variance (anova) of CES-D scores at 4 and 24 weeks postinitiation of treatment. RESULTS: Non-probability sample, 116 adult HCV patients [62 (53%) males and 54 (47%) females]. Reliability (Cronbach's alpha) = 0.88 pretreatment, 0.89 week 4 and 0.90 week 24. Construct validity testing revealed four factors: negative affect; positive affect; somatic; and depressed affect/somatic. Exception for two items, 'felt sad' and 'couldn't get going', all items loaded distinctly with correlation coefficients in the range of 0.51-0.84. Predictive validity testing revealed a statistically significant effect over time (P < 0.001) in the direction predicted (pretreatment x = 13.97; post 4 weeks x = 19.54 and 24 weeks x = 19.97). CONCLUSIONS: The CES-D is a reliable and valid instrument to screen for depressive symptoms in HCV patients. The instrument detected the predicted increase in depression associated with HCV. Examination of the sensitivity and specificity is needed to determine the most accurate cut-off score.

6700.      Davis GL. Monitoring of viral levels during therapy of hepatitis C. Hepatology. 2002 Nov;36(5 Suppl 1):S145-51.

Alpha interferon therapy of chronic hepatitis C is typically accompanied by a biphasic decrease in hepatitis C virus (HCV) RNA levels: an initial rapid decline during the first 24 to 48 hours, and a second more gradual decline during the following weeks. The rate of second-phase decline correlates with ultimate response to interferon treatment. Thus, assessment of early virological response (EVR) may predict outcome. Data from 2 large clinical trials of peginterferon and ribavirin were combined and analyzed to determine the optimal definition of an EVR which, if not achieved, was associated with a low likelihood of a sustained virological response (SVR). A fall in HCV RNA level to undetectable or by at least 2 log(10) units after 12 weeks was found to be the optimal definition of an EVR. Among 965 patients, 778 (80%) achieved an EVR by week 12, including all except 1 patient with genotypes 2 or 3. Among 187 patients without an EVR, only 3 (1.6%) had an SVR. These findings suggest that patients with genotype 1 who do not achieve an EVR should stop treatment after 12 weeks. Use of an early stopping rule reduces treatment costs by at least 16% and avoids the inconvenience and side effects of treatment in the 19% of patients without an EVR who have little chance of a lasting virological response.

6701.      Di Martino V, Thevenot T, Colin JF, Boyer N, Martinot M, Degos F, Coulaud JP, Vilde JL, Vachon F, Degott C, Valla D, Marcellin P.  Influence of HIV infection on the response to interferon therapy and the long-term outcome of chronic hepatitis B.Gastroenterology. 2002 Dec;123(6):1812-22.

BACKGROUND & AIMS: The outcome of chronic hepatitis B and the efficacy of interferon alfa (IFN-alpha) remain controversial in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-positive patients. We analyzed the influence of HIV coinfection on the response to IFN-alpha therapy, long-term virologic status, progression to cirrhosis, and mortality. METHODS: This was a retrospective follow-up cohort study of 141 consecutive hepatitis B e antigen-positive patients (69 HIV positive) followed up for 45 months. RESULTS: The short-term response to IFN-alpha therapy was not significantly different in HIV-positive and HIV-negative patients (28% vs. 51%; P = 0.06) but was poorer in cases of low CD4 cell count (P = 0.038). The hepatitis B virus (HBV) reactivation rate was higher in HIV-positive patients (P = 0.033) and was associated with low CD4 cell count. The risk of cirrhosis was higher in HIV-positive patients with a CD4 cell count <200/mm(3) (relative risk [RR], 4.57; P = 0.007), in IFN-alpha-untreated patients (RR, 2.63; P = 0.041), in patients older than 33 years (RR, 4.59; P = 0.008), and in cases of high necroinflammatory score at baseline (RR, 1.27; P = 0.010). Cirrhosis-related death was more frequent in HIV-positive patients with low CD4 cell count at baseline (P = 0.041), in alcohol consumers (P = 0.001), in IFN-alpha-untreated patients (P = 0.052), and in patients with high histology activity index at baseline (P = 0.005). CONCLUSIONS: HIV coinfection was associated with poorer response to IFN-alpha therapy, more frequent HBV reactivations, and increased incidence of cirrhosis and cirrhosis-related death in cases of low CD4 count. IFN-alpha therapy decreased the incidence of HBV cirrhosis regardless of HIV status or serologic response.

6702.      Diment J, Calmann M. Alternatives to nucleic acid testing in the blood transfusion service.Lancet. 2002 Nov 9;360(9344):1518-9; author reply 1519-20. No abstract.

6703.      Edlin BR. Prevention and treatment of hepatitis C in injection drug users. Hepatology. 2002 Nov;36(5 Suppl 1):S210-9.

Injection drug users constitute the largest group of persons infected with the hepatitis C virus (HCV) in the United States, and most new infections occur in drug users. Controlling hepatitis C in the U.S. population, therefore, will require developing, testing, and implementing effective prevention and treatment strategies for persons who inject drugs. Fortunately, a substantial body of research and clinical experience exists on the prevention and management of chronic viral diseases among injection drug users. The need to implement interventions to stop the spread of HCV among drug users is critical. The capacity of substance-use treatment programs need to be expanded to accommodate all who want and need treatment. Physicians and pharmacists should be educated in how to provide access to sterile syringes and to teach safe injection techniques, both of which are lifesaving interventions. The treatment of hepatitis C in drug users requires an interdisciplinary approach that brings together expertise in treating hepatitis and caring for drug users. Treatment decisions should be made individually by patients with their physicians, based on a balanced assessment of risks and benefits and the patient's personal

values. Physicians should carefully assess, monitor, and support adherence and mental health in all patients, regardless of whether drug use is known or suspected. Research is needed to better understand how best to prevent and treat hepatitis C in substance users. In the meantime, substantial progress can be made if existing knowledge and resources are brought to bear.

6704.      Fleming J. Current treatments for hepatitis. J Infus Nurs. 2002 Nov-Dec;25(6):379-82.

Common viral agents known to cause inflammation of the liver (hepatitis) are hepatitis A virus (HAV), hepatitis B virus (HBV), and hepatitis C virus (HCV). Some other viral agents that can cause hepatitis are Epstein Barr virus, herpes simplex virus, and cytomegalovirus. Some patients infected with these viral agents progress to develop chronic viral hepatitis. Approximately 45% of chronic hepatitis cases are associated with hepatitis C and approximately 15% are associated with hepatitis B. In addition to being a leading cause of chronic hepatitis, HCV is most frequently associated with liver cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. Although much has been published about HAV and HBV,

health professionals have learned about HCV only in recent years. For this reason, this article will emphasize the epidemiologic challenges and current treatments for hepatitis C; hepatitis A and B will be discussed in brief.

6705.      Fontana RJ, Lok AS. Noninvasive monitoring of patients with chronic hepatitis C. Hepatology. 2002 Nov;36(5 Suppl 1):S57-64.

Hepatic fibrosis is the main determinant of clinical outcomes of chronic hepatitis C. Liver histology is frequently considered the gold standard for assessing hepatic fibrosis. However, liver biopsy is associated with sampling error, interobserver variability, and potential complications. Thus, there is a need for simple, inexpensive, and reliable noninvasive means to assess disease severity in patients with chronic hepatitis C. Clinical examination is unreliable in differentiating different stages of compensated liver disease. Among the routine laboratory tests, decreased platelet count, increase in the ratio of aspartate to alanine aminotransferase (AST/ALT), and prolonged prothrombin time are the earliest indicators of cirrhosis and portal hypertension. Individual serum fibrosis markers have limited accuracy in predicting hepatic fibrosis. Indices composed of a panel of markers correlate better with histological fibrosis, but their reliability requires further validation. Currently, noninvasive monitoring of patients with chronic hepatitis C relies on clinical evaluation, routine laboratory tests, and ultrasound and endoscopic surveillance in patients with cirrhosis. Initial evaluation should focus on assessment of activity and stage of liver disease for prognostication and decisions regarding treatment, and to rule out coinfections and other causes of liver disease. Subsequent follow-up should focus on detection of liver disease progression and the need for treatment. The frequency of monitoring and the tests used will depend on the patient's age, stage of liver disease, and comorbid conditions. There is an urgent need to develop and validate noninvasive tests that can accurately reflect the full spectrum of hepatic inflammation and

fibrosis in chronic hepatitis C.

6706.      Forns X, Ampurdanes S, Llovet JM,Aponte J, Quinto L, Martinez-Bauer E, Bruguera M, Sanchez-Tapias JM, Rodes J. Identification of chronic hepatitis C patients without hepatic fibrosis by a simple predictive model. Hepatology. 2002 Oct;36(4 Pt 1):986-92.

Liver biopsy is required for staging hepatic fibrosis in patients with chronic hepatitis C, but it is an expensive procedure with occasional complications and poor patient acceptance. This cohort study was designed to assess the accuracy of a noninvasive method aimed to discriminate between patients with and without significant liver fibrosis (stages 2-4 versus 0-1). Clinically relevant variables were analyzed in a cohort of 476 consecutive untreated patients (estimation group, 351 patients; validation group, 125 patients) with chronic hepatitis C who underwent a liver biopsy. Multivariate analysis identified age, gamma glutamyl transpeptidase (GGT), cholesterol, platelet count, and prothrombin time as independent predictors of fibrosis. We constructed a model and a score system combining age, GGT, cholesterol, and platelet count that proved useful to identify patients without significant hepatic fibrosis. The area under the ROC curve was 0.86 for the estimation group and 0.81 for the validation group. Using the best cutoff score (less than 4.2), presence of significant fibrosis (F2 to F4) could be excluded with high accuracy (negative predictive value of 96%) in 125 (36%) of 351 patients. Similarly, it could be excluded with the same certainty in 49 (39%) of the 125 patients of the validation group. Only 2 patients with liver fibrosis stage 2 were incorrectly classified. In conclusion, a combination of easily accessible variables accurately predicts the absence of significant fibrosis and might render liver biopsy unnecessary in more than one third of patients with chronic hepatitis C.

6707.      Hagan H, Thiede H, McGough JP, Alexander ER. Hepatitis B vaccination among research participants, Seattle, Washington. Am J Public Health. 2002 Nov;92(11):1756. No abstract

6708.      Hassan MM, Hwang LY, Hatten CJ, Swaim M, Li D, Abbruzzese JL, Beasley P, Patt YZ. Risk factors for hepatocellular carcinoma: synergism of alcohol with viral hepatitis and diabetes mellitus. Hepatology. 2002 Nov;36(5):1206-13.

Risk factors associated with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) are well documented, but the synergisms between these risk factors are not well examined. We conducted a hospital-based, case-control study among 115 HCC patients and 230 non-liver cancer controls. Cases and controls were pathologically diagnosed at The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center and were matched by 5-year age groups, sex, and year of diagnosis. Information on risk factors was collected by personal interview and medical records review. Blood samples were tested for the presence of antibodies to hepatitis C virus antigen (anti-HCV), hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg), and antibodies to hepatitis B core antigen (anti-HBc). Conditional logistic regression was used to determine odds ratios (ORs) by the maximum likelihood method. Multivariate ORs and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were 15.3 (4.3-54.4), 12.6 (2.5-63.1), 4.5 (1.4-14.8), and 4.3 (1.9-9.9) for anti-HCV, HBsAg, heavy alcohol consumption (>/=80 mL ethanol/d), and diabetes mellitus, respectively. Synergistic interactions on the additive model were observed between heavy alcohol consumption and chronic hepatitis virus infection (OR, 53.9; 95% CI, 7.0-415.7) and diabetes mellitus (OR, 9.9; 95% CI, 2.5-39.3). Independent of the effect of HCV, HBV, and diabetes mellitus, heavy alcohol consumption contributes to the majority of HCC cases (32%), whereas 22%, 16%, and 20% were explained by HCV, HBV, and diabetes mellitus, respectively. In conclusion, the significant synergy between heavy alcohol consumption, hepatitis virus infection, and diabetes mellitus may suggest a common pathway for hepatocarcinogenesis. Exploring the underlying mechanisms for such synergisms may indicate new HCC prevention strategies in high-risk individuals.

6709.      Izumi Y, Kaneko A, Oku K, Kimura M, Tanaka S, Tada H, Tatsumi K, Takano T, Hidaka Y, Amino N. Development of liver dysfunction after delivery is possibly due to postpartum autoimmune hepatitis. A report of three cases. J Intern Med. 2002 Oct;252(4):361-7.

Autoimmune diseases, especially autoimmune thyroid disease, frequently develop after delivery due to the immune rebound mechanism. Most cases involve transient dysfunction of affected organs. We examined three patients who developed liver  dysfunction after delivery. They were all diagnosed with definite or probable autoimmune hepatitis using the scoring system of the International Autoimmune Hepatitis Group. Moreover, all of them had anti-CYP2D6 antibodies detected by a sensitive radioligand assay. Our findings strongly suggest that liver dysfunction is induced by postpartum autoimmune hepatitis, and clinicians should be aware of this disease.

6710.      Kamal SM, Fehr J, Roesler B, Peters T, Rasenack JW. Peginterferon alone or with ribavirin enhances HCV-specific CD4 T-helper 1 responses in patients with chronic hepatitis C. Gastroenterology. 2002 Oct;123(4):1070-83.

BACKGROUND & AIMS: Pegylated interferons (IFNs) with or without ribavirin were shown in several studies to improve sustained virologic response compared with standard IFN alpha-2 therapy. This study investigated if the greater efficacy of pegylated IFNs might be related to modulation of immunologic responses. METHODS: Hepatitis C virus (HCV)-specific CD4+ T-cell responses and cytokine production to various HCV proteins (Elispot assay) in peripheral blood were prospectively assessed in 42 patients receiving IFN alpha-2a monotherapy, peginterferon (PEG IFN) alpha-2a monotherapy, or PEG IFN alpha-2a plus ribavirin and correlated to the outcome of therapy. RESULTS: The sustained virologic response rate was significantly higher in the PEG IFN groups (42% in PEG IFN alpha-2a monotherapy and 57% in PEG IFN alpha-2a/ribavirin combination) than in the standard IFN alpha-2a group (14%). The sustained response was 48% in HCV genotype 1 patients treated with PEG IFN alpha-2a/ribavirin therapy. Pretreatment HCV-specific CD4+ responses were either weak or absent. PEG IFN alone or combined with ribavirin induced significant increase in the frequency, strength, and breadth of HCV-specific CD4+ T-cell responses with type 1 predominance; whereas interferon alpha-2a monotherapy was associated with lower, fluctuating, short-lived responses. Sustained responders maintained multispecific HCV-specific CD4+ T-cell responses with enhanced IFN-gamma production. Relapsers and partial responders initially displayed significant HCV-specific CD4+ T-cell responses that waned or were lost. CONCLUSIONS: The efficacy of PEG IFN alpha-2a alone or in combination with ribavirin in inducing high rates of sustained virologic response may be owing to the higher efficacy of PEG IFN in induction and maintenance of significant multispecific HCV-specific CD4+ T-helper 1 responses.

6711.      Kanno A, Kazuyama Y. Immunoglobulin G antibody avidity assay for serodiagnosis of hepatitis C virus infection. J Med Virol. 2002 Oct;68(2):229-33.

It has been reported that the avidity of specific IgG antibody is lower in primary viral infection than in chronic viral infection. However, few studies have been reported on the IgG avidity in hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. In the present study, 36 patients with antibody to HCV (anti-HCV) were examined for IgG avidity by an enzyme immunoassay with or without urea elution. The avidity index was significantly low in patients with primary HCV infection (7.7 +/- 6.8%, mean +/- SD), compared with patients with chronic HCV infection (77.0 +/- 21.8%) and individuals with past HCV infection (44.5 +/- 12.6%). Temporal changes of IgG avidity were examined in six patients with primary HCV infection. The avidity index was low in the acute phase of the infection and then increased with time. These results suggest that the avidity assay for IgG anti-HCV is a useful method for distinguishing primary HCV infection from chronic or past HCV infection. Copyright 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

6712.      Kawai S, Yokosuka O, Imazeki F, Saisho H, Mizuno C. Evaluation of the clinical usefulness of COBAS AMPLICOR HCV MONITOR assay (ver2.0): Comparison with AMPLICOR HCV MONITOR assay (ver1.0) and HCV core protein level. J Med Virol. 2002 Nov;68(3):343-51.

The quantitation of serum levels of hepatitis C virus (HCV) RNA in chronic hepatitis C has been regarded as one of the most important indicators for the outcome of interferon (IFN) therapy. The AMPLICOR HCV MONITOR version 1.0 (AMPLICOR v1.0) assay is widely used for the evaluation of the HCV level. A new generation assay called the COBAS AMPLICOR HCV MONITOR version 2.0 (COBAS v2.0) assay, which is semiautomated and modified to amplify all genotypes equally, has been developed. The aim of this study was to evaluate the clinical relevance of the COBAS v2.0 assay in comparison with the AMPLICOR v1.0 assay and HCV core protein assay in patients with chronic hepatitis C before IFN therapy. HCV RNA was detectable in 230 cases (97.5%) and undetectable in 6 cases (2.5%) by the COBAS v2.0 assay. The RNA levels measured by the AMPLICOR v1.0 assay correlated significantly with those measured by the COBAS v2.0 assay, and the sensitivity of the new version 2.0 assay was better than that of version 1.0, especially in serotype 2. In relation to the outcome of IFN therapy, HCV RNA levels from virologically sustained responders by the AMPLICOR v1.0 assay were 82.3 +/- 22.9 kcopies/ml in serotype 1 and 36.9 +/- 13.4 kcopies/ml in serotype 2, and those from virologically nonsustained responders were 525.2 +/- 48.6 kcopies/ml in serotype 1 and 76.7 +/- 19.5 kcopies/ml in serotype 2.The rates of sustained response to <100 kcopies/ml were 34/63 (54.0%) in serotype 1 and 24/48 (50.0%) in serotype 2. A statistically significant virological response was seen in serotype 1 (P < 0.0001), but not in serotype 2. In contrast, the levels in virologically sustained responders by the COBAS v2.0 assay were 88.2 +/- 20.5 KIU/ml in serotype 1 and 136.8 +/- 40.1 KIU/ml in serotype 2, and those in virologically nonsustained responders were 608.8 +/- 48.4 KIU/ml in serotype 1 and 328.3 +/- 62.8 KIU/ml in serotype 2. The rates of sustained response to <100 KIU/ml were 33/60 (55.0%) in serotype 1 and 21/35 (60.0%) in serotype 2. Statistical significance in virological response was seen in both serotype 1 (P< 0.0001) and serotype 2 (P < 0.05). Although the sensitivity of the HCV core protein assay was lower than that with the COBAS v2.0 assay, the HCV core protein levels also correlated well with the results of the COBAS v2.0 assay. The HCV core protein levels of virologically sustained responders were 37.6 +/- 12.0 pg/ml in serotype 1, 81.3 +/- 37.0 pg/ml in serotype 2, and those of virologically nonsustained responders were 289.9 +/- 23.5 pg/ml in serotype 1, 191.4 +/- 32.1 pg/ml in serotype 2. This assay could predict the outcome of IFN therapy in both serotype 1 (P < 0.0001) and serotype 2 (P < 0.05). Thus, both the COBAS v2.0 assay and the HCV core protein assay showed that the viral load was an indicator of virologically sustained response in serotype 2 and in serotype 1. Copyright 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

6713.      Kobayashi T, Sugawara Y, Shi YZ, Makuuchi M. Telomerase expression and p53 status in hepatocellular carcinoma. Am J Gastroenterol. 2002 Dec;97(12):3166-71.


OBJECTVES: Genomic instability is a driving force for tumorigenesis. Telomerase and p53 play central roles in maintaining genomic integrity. The purpose of this study was to assess the role of telomerase expression and p53 protein overexpression in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). METHODS: Telomerase activity and p53 overexpression were investigated in 63 patients undergoing hepatectomy for HCC by a telomeric repeat amplification protocol and immunohistochemistry, respectively. The associations among telomerase expression, p53 overexpression, and clinicopathological features were analyzed, and independent prognostic factors in the recurrence of HCC after hepatectomy were determined. RESULTS: Telomerase expression did not correlate with clinicopathological features except hepatitis virus status (p = 0.04) and was identified as a significant prognostic variable for HCC recurrence (p = 0.027) along with portal venous invasion (p = 0.001). In contrast, p53 overexpression strongly correlated with tumor differentiation (p < 0.0001) but did not reflect time to recurrence (p = 0.26). Telomerase expression did not correlate with p53 overexpression (p = 0.35). CONCLUSIONS: The reactivation of telomerase was of significant value in predicting the recurrence of HCC after hepatectomy. However, p53 overexpression did not correlate with telomerase expression in HCC, nor did it reflect the time to recurrence.

6714.      Kuehne FC, Bethe U, Freedberg K, Goldie SJ. Treatment for hepatitis C virus in human immunodeficiency virus-infected patients: clinical benefits and cost-effectiveness. Arch Intern Med. 2002 Dec 9-23;162(22):2545-56.

BACKGROUND: Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is an important cause of liver disease in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected patients. OBJECTIVE: To assess the cost-effectiveness of alternative management strategies for chronic HCV in co-infected patients with moderate hepatitis. METHODS: A state-transition model was used to simulate a cohort of HIV-infected patients with a mean CD4 cell count of 350 cells/ micro L and moderate chronic hepatitis C stratified by genotype. Strategies included interferon alfa (48 weeks), pegylated interferon alfa (48 weeks), interferon alfa and ribavirin (24 and 48 weeks), pegylated interferon alfa and ribavirin (48 weeks), and no treatment. Outcomes included life expectancy, quality-adjusted life years (QALYs), and incremental cost-effectiveness ratios. RESULTS: Treatment for moderate chronic HCV with combination therapy using an interferon-based regimen reduced the incidence of cirrhosis and provided gains in quality-adjusted life expectancy ranging from 6.2 to 13.9 months, depending on genotype. Regardless of genotype, the cost-effectiveness of interferon alfa and ribavirin for patients with moderate hepatitis was lower than $50 000 per QALY vs the next best strategy. With genotype 1, pegylated interferon alfa (vs interferon alfa) and ribavirin therapy provided an additional 1.6 quality-adjusted life-months for $40 000 per QALY. Because treatment is more effective with non-1 genotypes, pegylated interferon (vs interferon alfa) and ribavirin provided only 3 additional quality-adjusted life-months for $105 300 per QALY. For patients who were intolerant of ribavirin, monotherapy with pegylated interferon was always the most cost-effective option. CONCLUSIONS: Combination therapy for moderate hepatitis in coinfected patients will increase quality-adjusted life expectancy and have a cost-effectiveness ratio comparable to that of other well-accepted clinical interventions.

6715.      Leifeld L, Cheng S, Ramakers J, Dumoulin FL, Trautwein C, Sauerbruch T, Spengler U.  Imbalanced intrahepatic expression of interleukin 12, interferon gamma, and interleukin 10 in fulminant hepatitis B. Hepatology. 2002 Oct;36(4 Pt 1):1001-8.

In murine models, overexpression of interleukin (IL)-12 and interferon (IFN)-gamma can induce severe liver damage, whereas IL-10 has anti-inflammatory and hepatoprotective properties. To analyze the potential role of these cytokines in human fulminant hepatitis B, we used immunohistochemistry to study expression of IL-12, IFN-gamma, and IL-10 in explant livers of 11 patients with fulminant hepatitis B, 5 patients with fulminant hepatitis due to other etiologies, 37 patients with chronic liver disease (CLD; hepatitis B virus, n = 15; hepatitis C virus, n = 10; primary biliary cirrhosis, n = 12), and 10 normal controls (NCs). Furthermore, cytokine messenger RNA (mRNA) levels were determined in the liver specimens by quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR). In NCs, faint IL-12 expression was detected in only a few Kupffer cells, whereas sinusoidal endothelial cells, hepatic stellate cells, bile ducts, and lymphocytes expressed IL-12 in CLD and, more conspicuously, in fulminant hepatitis B. In contrast, expression of IFN-gamma and IL-10 was restricted to lymphocytes and Kupffer cells, respectively. In fulminant hepatitis B, numbers of IL-12- and IFN-gamma-positive cells markedly exceeded those found in CLD and NCs. A close correlation existed between IL-12 and IFN-gamma expression (r = 0.68; P <.001). In contrast, IL-10 expression was not significantly different in CLD and fulminant hepatitis. The quantitative differences in immunohistologic cytokine expression closely corresponded to the mRNA levels. In conclusion, our data indicate massive induction of the proinflammatory cytokines IL-12 and IFN-gamma in fulminant hepatitis B, which is apparently not counterbalanced by the anti-inflammatory cytokine IL-10. This cytokine imbalance may play an important role in promoting inflammatory reactions leading to massive liver damage in fulminant hepatitis B.

6716.      Marcellin P, Asselah T, Boyer N. Fibrosis and disease progression in hepatitis C. Hepatology. 2002 Nov;36(5 Suppl 1):S47-56.

The progression of fibrosis in chronic hepatitis C determines the ultimate prognosis and thus the need and urgency of therapy. Fibrogenesis is a complex dynamic process, which is mediated by necroinflammation and activation of stellate cells. The liver biopsy remains the gold standard to assess fibrosis. Scoring systems allow a semiquantitative assessment and are useful for cross-sectional and cohort studies and in treatment trials. The rate at which fibrosis progresses varies markedly between patients. The major factors known to be associated with fibrosis progression are older age at infection, male gender, and excessive alcohol consumption. Viral load and genotype do not seem to influence significantly the progression rate. Progression of fibrosis is more rapid in immunocompromised patients. Hepatic steatosis, obesity, and diabetes may also contribute to more rapid progression of fibrosis. There are no tests that reliably predict the rate of progression of fibrosis in an individual patient. High serum alanine aminotransferase (ALT) levels are associated with a higher risk of fibrosis progression, and worsening of fibrosis is uncommon in patients with persistently normal serum aminotransferase levels. Serum markers for fibrosis are not reliable and need to be improved and validated. Liver biopsy provides the most accurate information on the stage of fibrosis and grade of necroinflammation, both of which have prognostic significance. Repeating the liver biopsy, 3 to 5 years after an initial biopsy is the most accurate means of assessing the progression of fibrosis.

6717.      Mazziotti G, Sorvillo F, Morisco F, Carbone A, Rotondi M, Stornaiuolo G, Precone DF, Cioffi M, Gaeta GB, Caporaso N, Carella C.  Serum insulin-like growth factor I evaluation as a useful tool for predicting the risk of developing hepatocellular carcinoma in patients with hepatitis C virus-related cirrhosis: a prospective study. Cancer. 2002 Dec 15;95(12):2539-45.

BACKGROUND: Although experimental studies have demonstrated an important role of

insulin-like growth factor I (IGF-I) in hepatocarcinogenesis, the clinical data about IGF-I in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) are scarce and controversial. To the authors' knowledge, this is the first prospective study investigating the longitudinal correlation between modifications in serum IGF-I levels and the development of HCC in a cohort of patients with hepatitis C virus (HCV)-related cirrhosis. METHODS: One hundred fourteen consecutive patients with HCV-related Child Grade A cirrhosis were followed prospectively at the Second University of Naples for 56.4 +/- 12.0 months with ultrasound examinations of the liver and serum alpha-fetoprotein determination every 6 months. At each clinical evaluation, the severity of disease was graded according to the established Child-Pugh scoring system. Serum IGF-I levels were measured prospectively at the study entry and at least every 12 months throughout follow-up. RESULTS: Twenty patients (19.2%) developed HCC during follow-up. Eleven of these patients had persistent Child Grade A cirrhosis for the whole study, whereas the other 9 patients developed HCC after their cirrhosis progressed from Child Grade A to Grade B. In patients who remained free of HCC for the whole study, serum IGF-I concentrations did not modify significantly during follow-up. Conversely, in patients who developed HCC, IGF-I levels decreased significantly during follow-up (from 72.6 +/- 29.9 microg/L to 33.8 +/- 14.5 microg/L; P = 0.001). In these patients, the significant decrease occurred both in patients with persistent Child Grade A cirrhosis and in patients with cirrhosis that progressed from Child Grade A to Grade B. The reduction in IGF-I level preceded the diagnosis of HCC by 9.3 +/- 3.1 months. CONCLUSIONS: This prospective study demonstrates that, in patients with HCV-related cirrhosis, 1) the development of HCC is accompanied by a significant reduction of serum IGF-I levels independent of the grade of impairment of liver function; and 2) modification of the IGF-I level precedes the morphologic appearance of HCC, permitting a precocious diagnosis of the tumor. Copyright 2002 American Cancer Society.DOI 10.1002/cncr.11002

6718.      McCulloch M, Broffman M, Gao J, Colford JM Jr. Chinese herbal medicine and interferon in the treatment of chronic hepatitis B: a meta-analysis of randomized, controlled trials. Am J Public Health. 2002 Oct;92(10):1619-28.

OBJECTIVES: This meta-analysis was conducted to examine the effectiveness of Chinese herbal medicine (either alone or with interferon alfa) in treating chronic hepatitis B. METHODS: We searched the TCMLARS, AMED, CISCOM, EMBASE, MEDLINE, and Cochrane Collaboration databases and then hand-searched the articles' bibliographies. RESULTS: Chinese herbal medicine significantly increased seroreversion of HBsAg and was equivalent to interferon alfa in seroreversion of HBeAg and hepatitis B virus (HBV) DNA; Chinese herbal medicine combined with interferon alfa significantly increased seroreversion of HBsAg, HBeAg, and HBV DNA. The Chinese herbal medicine active component bufotoxin combined with interferon alfa significantly increased HBeAg and HBV DNA seroreversion. The Chinese herbal medicine active component kurorinone was equivalent to interferon alfa in seroreversion of HBeAg and HBV DNA. CONCLUSIONS: Although the quality of existing studies was poor, these data suggest that further trials of Chinese Herbal Medicine and interferon in chronic hepatitis B infection are justified.

6719.      Menon Y, Singh R, Cuchacovich R, Espinoza LR. Pulmonary involvement in hepatitis B-related polyarteritis nodosa. Chest. 2002 Oct;122(4):1497-8. No abstract.

6720.      Nikolova M, Liubomirova M, Iliev A, Krasteva R, Andreev E, Radenkova J, Minkova V, Djerassi R, Kiperova B, Vlahov ID.  Clinical significance of antinuclear antibodies, anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic antibodies and anticardiolipin antibodies in heroin abusers. Isr Med Assoc J. 2002 Nov;4(11 Suppl):908-10.

BACKGROUND: Different autoantibodies and immunologic abnormalities have been described in heroin abusers positive for human immunodeficiency virus, hepatitis B surface antigen, or hepatitis C virus, as well as in addicts with negative viral markers. OBJECTIVES: To investigate the prevalence of different autoantibodies in heroin addicts. METHODS: We studied 10 heroin addicts (8 males and 2 females aged 18-30 years) with a mean duration of heroin abuse of 46.5 months (range 6-96) for the presence of the following autoantibodies: antinuclear antibodies and anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic antibodies—using indirect immunofluorescent technique; ds-DNA, ss-DNA, Sm, RNP, Ro and La antibodies--using counter immunoelectrophoresis; and immunoglobulins G and M anticardiolipin and beta 2-glycoprotein-I antibodies--using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. All patients were tested for VDRL, HIV, HBsAG and anti-HCV antibodies. RESULTS: Four patients were positive for ANA, of whom two were positive for anti-HCV and two for ANCA. Three patients were positive for IgM aCL, one of whom was positive for IgG beta 2 GPI with clinical data of acute renal failure in the course of heroin coma and antiphospholipid syndrome (deep vein thrombosis) and positive Sm and ds-DNA antibodies, and another had subacute endocarditis and biopsy-proven chronic tubulo-interstitial nephritis (in both these patients aCL gradually fell to normal levels after the cessation of heroin abuse). One patient was HBsAG positive with negative autoantibodies. All patients were HIV and VDRL negative. CONCLUSION: Our data support the importance of ANA and aCL determination as a predictor of some systemic complications in heroin addicts.

6721.      Ostapowicz G, Fontana RJ, Schiodt FV, Larson A, Davern TJ, Han SH, McCashland TM, Shakil AO, Hay JE, Hynan L, Crippin JS, Blei AT, Samuel G, Reisch J, Lee WM. Results of a prospective study of acute liver failure at 17 tertiary care centers in the United States.Ann Intern Med. 2002 Dec 17;137(12):947-54.

BACKGROUND: Because acute liver failure is rare, related data have been sparse. Studies have suggested that viral hepatitis is the most common underlying cause of this condition. OBJECTIVE: To describe the clinical features, presumed causes, and short-term outcomes of acute liver failure. DESIGN: Prospective cohort study. SETTING: 17 tertiary care centers participating in the U.S. Acute Liver Failure Study Group. PATIENTS: 308 consecutive patients with acute liver failure, admitted over a 41-month period. MEASUREMENTS: Detailed clinical and laboratory data collected during hospitalization, including outcome 3 weeks after study admission. RESULTS: 73% of patients were women; median age was 38 years. Acetaminophen overdose was the most common apparent cause of acute liver failure, accounting for 39% of cases. Idiosyncratic drug reactions were the presumptive cause in 13% of cases, viral hepatitis A and B combined were implicated in 12% of cases, and 17% of cases were of indeterminate cause. Overall patient survival at 3 weeks was 67%. Twenty-nine percent of patients had

liver transplantation, and 43% survived without transplantation. Short-term transplant-free survival varied greatly, from 68% for patients with acetaminophen-related liver failure to 25% and 17% for those with other drug reactions and liver failure of indeterminate cause, respectively. Coma grade at admission appeared to be associated with outcome, but age and symptom duration did not. CONCLUSIONS: Acetaminophen overdose and idiosyncratic drug reactions have replaced viral hepatitis as the most frequent apparent causes of acute liver failure. Apparent cause and coma grade at admission were associated with outcome. Although transplantation may improve patient survival, it was unavailable or unnecessary for most patients.

6722.      Pawlotsky JM. Use and interpretation of virological tests for hepatitis C. Hepatology. 2002 Nov;36(5 Suppl 1):S65-73.

Four virological markers of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection are used clinically for management of patients with hepatitis C, namely the HCV genotype, HCV RNA, HCV core antigen, and antibody to HCV (anti-HCV). The diagnosis of acute and chronic hepatitis C is based on both anti-HCV detection using enzyme immunoassays (EIA) and HCV RNA detection using a sensitive molecular biology-based technique. Other virological tools, including HCV genotype determination and HCV RNA quantification, are now used to tailor treatment to the individual patient and to determine its efficacy. This article reviews the kinetics of HCV markers during acute and chronic HCV infection, together with current assays and their practical use in the management of HCV-infected patients.

6723.      Pol S, Lebray P.N-acetylcysteine for paracetamol poisoning: effect on prothrombin. Lancet. 2002 Oct 12;360(9340):1115. No abstract.

6724.      Pradat P, Alberti A, Poynard T, Esteban JI, Weiland O, Marcellin P, Badalamenti S, Trepo C.  Predictive value of ALT levels for histologic findings in chronic hepatitis C: a European collaborative study. Hepatology. 2002 Oct;36(4 Pt 1):973-7.

The aim of this retrospective study was to determine the predictive value of alanine aminotransferase (ALT) levels for histologic findings in patients with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. Data on 864 HCV RNA-positive patients were collected. ALT values were obtained at the time of biopsy (before treatment), and normal ALT values were defined as normal values obtained at serial evaluations during a 6-month period. Histologic results were scored using the METAVIR system. Among all patients, 99% of those with elevated ALT levels had a score of at least F1 (positive predictive value [PPV], 99%) and 88% had a score greater than A1F1. Among patients with persistently normal ALT values, 65% had a score of at least F1 (negative predictive value [NPV], 35%) and 26% had a score greater than A1F1. The receiver operating characteristics analysis indicates that the ALT threshold for the best compromise sensitivity-specificity was about 2.25 times the upper limit of normal (ULN). In conclusion, almost all HCV RNA-positive patients with elevated ALT levels have some degree of fibrosis. However, an important proportion of patients with persistently normal ALT levels also show some histologic signs of fibrosis; the degree of fibrosis is usually mild but is sometimes more marked, and in rare cases cirrhosis may be present. In this subset of patients, the indication of liver biopsy and the potential benefit of therapy need to be further evaluated. These results suggest the need to revisit the algorithm for liver biopsy practice.

6725.      Prokurat A, Kluge P, Chrupek M, Kosciesza A, Rajszys P. Hemangioma of the liver in children: proliferating vascular tumor or congenital vascular malformation? Med Pediatr Oncol. 2002 Nov;39(5):524-9.

BACKGROUND: Hepatic vascular tumors (HVT) are the most common benign liver tumors present in infancy and childhood commonly associated with high output cardiac failure. Pediatric HVT usually are divided into infantile hemangioendothelioma (IHE), cavernous hemangioma (HC), and arteriovenous malformations (AVM). The aim of this study was to analyze clinical and histologic features of pediatric HVT in relation to treatment strategies. PROCEDURE: During last 12 years, 17 children have been treated because of HVT. The diagnosis of HVT was established in all on the basis of clinical and imaging data. A retrospective analysis of clinical records and histopathology divided 17 into: Group 1, neonates; and Group 2, infants and older children. RESULTS: Radiologic imaging revealed the vascular nature of the tumors in all patients. All nine from Group 1 were symptomatic from AVMs and seven were operated upon. Only one of eight children from Group 2 presented symptoms of AVM requiring surgery; four of five in this group had surgery because of the risk of malignancy. Within Group 1, a mixture of proliferating IHE with microscopic features of AVM was found in most. In three neonates with HVT immunologic and clinical features of cytomegalovirus (CMV) hepatitis were noted. In two Group 2 patients, pure HC was present and in another, the diagnosis of angiosarcoma was established after biopsy of a peritoneal metastasis. CONCLUSIONS: HVT in children demonstrate internal morphologic heterogeneity and an age-related behavior of the disease. We also confirm the proliferative nature of all hemangioendotheliomas (HEs) in children. Further studies on the tumorigenesis of these lesions are needed. Copyright 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

6726.      Renou C, Pol S, Halfon P, Caillat-Zucman S. Controversies about the histological features of chronic HCV patients with persistently normal alanine transaminase levels: what can be done about the present definition? Gastroenterology. 2002 Nov;123(5):1748-9. No abstract.

6727.      Requena-Silla Y, Rosenfield CG, Miller LC.  Antiphospholipid antibodies and Down syndrome: a case series. J Pediatr Hematol Oncol. 2002 Oct;24(7):575-8.

To describe the clinical profiles of five patients with Down syndrome and elevated levels of antiphospholipid antibodies. Medical records of all 149 patients screened for anticardiolipin antibodies (aCL) in the pediatric hematology or pediatric rheumatology clinics at New England Medical Center between 1996 and 1998 were retrospectively reviewed, and patients with Down syndrome identified. Thirty-four patients (23%) had elevated IgG titers of aCL antibodies. Of these, five had Down syndrome (15%). Two presented with discoloration of the distal digits, and one each with thrombocytopenia, autoimmune hepatitis, and undifferentiated autoimmune disease. The mothers of two of the four individuals with available family history had experienced frequent miscarriages. An association may exist between Down syndrome and antiphospholipid antibodies, in particular an increased frequency of aCL antibodies. Screening patients with Down syndrome and certain clinical findings may prove useful.


Pathogenesis :

6728.      Agnello V, Mecucci C, Casato M. Regression of splenic lymphoma after treatment of hepatitis C virus infection.N Engl J Med. 2002 Dec 26;347(26):2168-70. No abstract.

6729.      Buendia MA. Genetic alterations in hepatoblastoma and hepatocellular carcinoma: common and distinctive aspects. Med Pediatr Oncol. 2002 Nov;39(5):530-5.

Hepatoblastoma (HB) and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) are two different subtypes of primary tumors arising from liver parenchymal cells. These tumors differ by many histoclinical characteristics, and comparative analysis of genetic alterations in HB and HCC might provide some clues on the molecular oncogenic pathways leading to hepatocyte transformation. Recent outcomes have been provided by the assessment of global genetic changes in tumor cells, using conventional cytogenetic approaches, PCR-based microsatellite analysis and Comparative genomic Hybridization (CGH). Cytogenetic studies of HB, microsatellite analysis of HCC and recent CHG data have outlined common and distinctive characters between the two tumor types. HBs are characterized by a low number of chromosomal changes, consisting mainly of gains at chromosomes 1q, 2, 8q, 17q, and 20. By contrast, HCCs harbor multiple chromosomal abnormalities, predominantly losses, with increased chromosomal instability in tumors associated with hepatitis B virus infection. Common alterations in HB and HCC include gain of chromosomes 1q, 8q, and 17q, and loss of 4q. Another important common feature shared by the two tumor types is the frequent activation of Wnt/beta-catenin signaling by stabilizing mutations of beta-catenin. Immunohistochemical analysis of beta-catenin has demonstrated nuclear/cytoplasmic accumulation of the protein in most HBs and in more than one third of HCCs. Strikingly, beta-catenin mutations are associated with chromosomal stability in both tumor types. Together, these studies define different pathways in liver cell transformation, reflecting various developmental stages and multiple risk factors. A detailed understanding of the molecular hits underlying liver tumorigenesis, combined with clinicopathological parameters, will permit an accurate evaluation of major targets for prognostic and therapeutic intervention. Copyright 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

6730.      Cainelli F, Vento S.  Sequelae and serologic outcome in persons with hepatitis B virus infection. Ann Intern Med. 2002 Oct 1;137(7):619. No abstract.

6731.      Cheney IW, Lai VC, Zhong W, Brodhag T, Dempsey S, Lim C, Hong Z, Lau JY, Tam RC. Comparative analysis of anti-hepatitis C virus activity and gene expression mediated by alpha, beta, and gamma interferons.J Virol. 2002 Nov;76(21):11148-54.

A direct comparison of the inhibitory effects of alpha, beta, and gamma interferons (IFNs) on replication of a hepatitis C virus subgenomic replicon in a hepatoma cell line revealed similarities in antiviral potency. However, alternate IFN-induced antiviral mechanisms were suggested following observations of striking differences between IFN-gamma and IFN-alpha/beta with respect to strength and durability of the antiviral response and the magnitude and pattern of IFN-mediated gene expression.

6732.      Cooper CL, Cameron DW. Review of the effect of highly active antiretroviral therapy on hepatitis C virus (HCV) RNA levels in human immunodeficiency virus and HCV coinfection. Clin Infect Dis. 2002 Oct 1;35(7):873-9.


The effect of anti-human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) treatment on hepatitis C virus (HCV) RNA levels in HIV-HCV-coinfected persons is uncertain. Although it is commonly believed that, with the initiation of HIV treatment, there may be an initial increase followed by a gradual decrease of HCV RNA levels to lower than those at pretreatment, the published studies evaluating this are of small and heterogeneous populations, are limited in follow-up, and have conflicting results. A prospective clinical trial of sufficient size and duration may help clarify this issue. This may be clinically relevant, because lower HCV RNA levels are a predictive factor for favorable response to HCV antiviral therapy.

6733.      Diamond C, Lee JH. Use of antiviral therapy in patients with hepatitis C. Ann Intern Med. 2002 Dec 17;137(12):1012. No abstract.

6734.      Engels EA, Frisch M, Lubin JH, Gail MH, Biggar RJ, Goedert JJ. Prevalence of hepatitis C virus infection and risk for hepatocellular carcinoma and non-Hodgkin lymphoma in AIDS. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2002 Dec 15;31(5):536-41.

Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is highly prevalent in some subpopulations with AIDS. HCV is linked to hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and possibly non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL), but the impact of AIDS on these associations is uncertain. We used U.S. registry data to study HCC and NHL risk in 304,411 adults with AIDS, comparing cohort subgroups with high prevalence (hemophiliacs and injection drug users) or low prevalence (homosexual men, heterosexuals, and others) of HCV infection. The ratio of observed to expected cancer cases (standardized incidence ratio [SIR]) measured risk relative to the general population. Sixty-one HCC cases were observed (SIR, 7.5; 95% confidence interval, 5.7-9.6). Risk for HCC was higher in subgroups with high prevalence of HCV infection than in subgroups with low prevalence of HCV infection (SIR: 11.4 versus 5.5, respectively; p =.004). Subjects developed the following NHL grades: low, 35 cases; intermediate, 1035 cases; high, 784 cases; and unspecified, 1395 cases. For each NHL grade, SIRs were highest in subgroups with low prevalence of HCV infection. These data suggest an effect of HCV infection on HCC risk among adults with AIDS. On the other hand, NHL risk was not higher for groups in whom HCV infection was prevalent.

6735.      Guida M, D'Elia G, Benvestito S, Casamassima A, Micelli G, Quaranta M, Moschetta R, De Lena M, Lorusso V. Hepatitis C virus infection in patients with B-cell lymphoproliferative disorders.Leukemia. 2002 Oct;16(10):2162-3. No abstract.

6736.      Halkic N, Bally F, Gillet M. Organ transplantation in HIV-infected patients. N Engl J Med. 2002 Nov 28;347(22):1801-3. No abstract.

6737.      Hofer H, Bankl HC, Wrba F, Steindl-Munda P, Peck-Radosavljevic M, Osterreicher C, Mueller C, Gangl A, Ferenci P.  Hepatocellular fat accumulation and low serum cholesterol in patients infected with HCV-3a. Am J Gastroenterol. 2002 Nov;97(11):2880-5.

OBJECTIVES: The aim of this study was to prospectively investigate the prevalence of hepatic steatosis in chronic hepatitis C patients with respect to viral genotype, hepatic iron concentration, total body iron, body mass index, and serum lipid parameters. Furthermore, the effect of hepatitis C virus (HCV) eradication by antiviral therapy on serum cholesterol levels was studied. METHODS: Hepatocellular fat and hepatic iron were determined in liver biopsies obtained from 137 interferon-naive patients with chronic hepatitis C (100 men, 37 women, mean age 40.8 +/- 10.7 yr) enrolled in two prospective clinical trials of interferon/ribavirin therapy. Body mass index and fasting cholesterol levels were determined at baseline, during, and after therapy. RESULTS: Marked steatosis (>20% of fat-containing hepatocytes) was found in 74.5% of patients infected with HCV-3a compared with 17.9% in HCV-1 and 21.7% in HCV-4-infected patients (p < 0.01). Steatosis in HCV-3a-infected patients did not correlate with the body mass index, hepatic iron content, ferritin, or transferrin saturation. At baseline, serum cholesterol was lower in patients infected with HCV-3a (147 +/- 42 mg/dl; p < 0.01) compared with HCV-1 (188 +/- 36) or HCV-4 (172 +/- 35). In contrast to HCV-1- or HCV-4-infected patients, serum cholesterol increased in HCV-3a virological responders at the end of treatment and 6 months after therapy (baseline 146 +/- 38, end of treatment 166 +/- 29, p < 0.05, sustained virological response 200 +/- 34, p < 0.01). However, serum cholesterol remained unchanged in HCV-3a nonresponders. CONCLUSIONS: Our data suggest that, in addition to inducing steatosis, HCV-3a lowers serum cholesterol. This metabolic effect is fully reversible after successful HCV-3a eradication. This unique property is not shared by other HCV genotypes.

6738.      Huang JW, Yen CJ, Pai MF, Wu KD, Tsai TJ, Hsieh BS. Association between serum aspartate transaminase and homocysteine levels in hemodialysis patients.Am J Kidney Dis. 2002 Dec;40(6):1195-201.

BACKGROUND: Hyperhomocysteinemia is a common metabolic abnormality in patients undergoing hemodialysis (HD). An impairment of remethylation of homocysteine (Hcy) is seen in these patients but cannot account completely for hyperhomocysteinemia. Homocysteine is derived from transmethylation of methionine that can be metabolized through transamination pathway alternatively. However, the significance of transamination in the metabolism of Hcy in HD patients is not studied. METHODS: A total of 145 patients undergoing HD for more than 3 months were enrolled in the study. Vitamins B were not prescribed routinely to these patients. Among them, 49 patients had positive test results for hepatitis B surface antigen or antihepatitis C virus antibody. Serum Hcy, folic acid, vitamin B12, pyridoxal 5' -phosphate, methionine, and transaminase were measured, and parameters of dialysis adequacy were calculated. Multiple linear regression model was used to analyze the factors determining Hcy levels. RESULTS: All patients had higher Hcy levels (40.3 +/- 28.3 micromol/L) than the upper limit of reference range 15 micromole/L. The levels of vitamin B(12) were all higher than 160 pg/mL (118 pmol/L). Only 9 patients had serum folic acid lower than 3 ng/mL (6.8 nmol/L). The predialysis Hcy levels were correlated with age, HD duration, folic acid, vitamin B12, and aspartate transaminase (AST) levels among all patients or the subgroup of hepatitis noncarriers with linear multiple regression analysis. In hepatitis carriers, AST levels were not associated with Hcy. A cutoff value of AST less than 14 U/L predicted a predialysis Hcy level higher than 27 micromol/L in noncarriers, with a sensitivity of 83.9% and a specificity of 50.2%. CONCLUSION: In addition to vitamin B12 and folic acid, the serum AST levels correlated inversely with predialytic Hcy levels independently in hepatitis noncarrier HD patients. The results suggest that transamination may play an important role in the development of hyperhomocysteinemia when impaired transmethylation is encountered in uremic patients. Copyright 2002 by the National Kidney Foundation, Inc.

6739.      Jacobs RJ, Meyerhoff AS, Koff RS. Re: Arguedas et al.--Hepatitis A prevention analysis.Am J Gastroenterol. 2002 Nov;97(11):2924-5. No abstract.

6740.      Johnson B.Hepatitis C: be positively aware of the risk of transmission and treatment. Posit Aware. 2002 Nov-Dec;13(6):29-31.No abstract..

6741.      Labonte P, Axelrod V, Agarwal A, Aulabaugh A, Amin A, Mak P. Modulation of hepatitis C virus RNA-dependent RNA polymerase activity by structure-based site-directed mutagenesis. J Biol Chem. 2002 Oct 11;277(41):38838-46.

The hepatitis C virus (HCV) encodes an RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (NS5B), which is indispensable for the viral genome replication. Although structural comparison among HCV NS5B, poliovirus 3D-pol, and human immunodeficiency virus-reverse transcriptase RNA-dependent polymerase reveals the canonical palm, fingers, and thumb domains, the crystal structure of HCV NS5B highlights the presence of a unique A1-loop, which extends from the fingers to the thumb domain (amino acids 12-46), providing many contact points for the proposed "closed" conformation of the enzyme. The polymerase also possesses a tunnel, which starts at the active site and terminates on the back surface of the enzyme. This tunnel of 19 A contains five basic amino acids, which may be engaged in NTP trafficking. In the present study, we exploited the crystal structure of the enzyme to elucidate the involvement of these two structural motifs in enzyme activity by site-directed mutagenesis. As predicted, the replacement of leucine 30 located in the Lambda 1-loop is detrimental to the NS5B activity. Heparin-Sepharose column chromatography and analytical ultracentrifugation experiments strongly suggest a local alteration in the structure of the Leu-30 mutant. An analysis of amino acid substitutions in Arg-222 and Lys-151 within the putative NTP tunnel indicates that Arg-222 was critical in delivering NTPs to the active site, whereas Lys-151 was dispensable. Interestingly, the substitution of lysine 151 for a glutamic acid resulted in an enzyme that was consistently more active in de novo synthesis as well as by "copy-back" mechanism of a self-primed substrate when compared with the wild type NS5B enzyme. Burst kinetic analyses indicate that the gain in function of K151E enzyme was primarily the result of the formation of more productive pre-initiation complexes that were used for the elongation reaction. In contrast to the recent observations, both the wild type and mutant enzymes were monomeric in solution, whereas molecules of higher order were apparent in the presence of RNA template.

6742.      Loustaud-Ratti V, Liozon E, Karaaslan H, Alain S, Paraf F, Le Meur Y, Denis F, Vidal E. Interferon alpha and ribavirin for membranoproliferative glomerulonephritis and hepatitis C infection. Am J Med. 2002 Oct 15;113(6):516-9. No abstract.

6743.      Okuda K, Nakanuma Y, Miyazaki M. Cholangiocarcinoma: recent progress. Part 1: epidemiology and etiology. J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2002 Oct;17(10):1049-55.

An attempt is made in this review to update the reader on recent developments and progress in the study of cholangiocarcinoma: a major primary carcinoma of the liver with a very poor prognosis. Knowledge of the cell biology and physiological functions of the cholangiocyte has recently so progressed that our understanding of cholangiocarcinogenetic mechanism is expected to follow. The first part of the review deals with semantic problems, temporal changes in the incidence of cholangiocarcinoma and geographic differences in epidemiology, etiologic factors (particularly opistorchiasis in Thailand and hepatolithiasis in the Far East), and discusses a recently disclosed role of hepatitis C virus infection (30% of cholangiocarcinoma patients have antibodies against hepatitis C virus in Japan).

6744.      Osawa Y, Nagaki M, Banno Y, Brenner DA, Asano T, Nozawa Y, Moriwaki H, Nakashima S. Tumor necrosis factor alpha-induced interleukin-8 production via NF-kappaB and phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase/Akt pathways inhibits cell apoptosis in human hepatocytes. Infect Immun. 2002 Nov;70(11):6294-301.

Tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha) not only induces apoptotic signals but also causes antiapoptotic and regenerative responses in the liver. However, the molecular mechanism(s) of the latter events remains unclear. In the present study, we examined TNF-alpha-induced genes in Hc human normal (unsensitized) hepatocytes by cDNA microarray analysis. Interleukin-8 (IL-8) induction was the most pronounced of the upregulated genes. The IL-8 protein level was also increased. IL-8 belongs to the ELR-CXC chemokine family and appears to exert mitogenic and antiapoptotic functions in other cell systems. IL-8 expression by TNF-alpha was inhibited when two survival signals, nuclear factor kappaB (NF-kappaB) and phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)/Akt, were inhibited by a mutant form of inhibitor of NF-kappaB (IkappaB); by dominant negative (kinase-dead) Akt; or by treatment with LY 294002, an inhibitor of PI3K. TNF-alpha induced apoptosis in Hc cells that were sensitized by inhibition of NF-kappaB and PI3K activation. IL-8 administration protected mice against concanavalin A-induced hepatitis in vivo. IL-8 also rescued the sensitized Hc cells, at least in part, from TNF-alpha-induced apoptosis in vitro. TNF-alpha inhibited DNA synthesis in unsensitized Hc cells in the absence of serum. Exogenous IL-8 reversed, though anti-IL-8 neutralization antibody enhanced, growth inhibition by TNF-alpha. These results indicate that IL-8, the production of which is stimulated by TNF-alpha, inhibits apoptosis of sensitized hepatocytes and releases normal (unsensitized) hepatocytes from growth inhibition induced by TNF-alpha.

6745.      Pande H, Lacy BE, Crowell MD. Inflammatory causes of gastroparesis: report of five cases.Dig Dis Sci. 2002 Dec;47(12):2664-8. No abstract.

6746.      Qian GS, Kuang SY, He X, Groopman JD, Jackson PE. Sensitivity of electrospray ionization mass spectrometry detection of codon 249 mutations in the p53 gene compared with RFLP.Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2002 Oct;11(10 Pt 1):1126-9.


Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) has several major etiological risk factors, including infection with hepatitis viruses and exposure to aflatoxin B(1). A specific missense mutation resulting from a guanine to thymine transversion at the third position of codon 249 in the p53 tumor suppressor gene has been reported in 10-70% of HCCs from areas of high dietary exposure to aflatoxin B(1.) This mutation has not only been detected in tumor samples but has also been measured in DNA isolated from the blood of patients with HCC in two separate studies by two independent methods: RFLP and short oligonucleotide mass analysis (SOMA), an electrospray ionization mass spectrometry technique. To compare the relative sensitivities of these methodologies, a set of serially diluted samples was analyzed by both techniques. The detection limits of RFLP and SOMA were 6% and 2.4% mutant alleles in the presence of wild-type alleles, respectively. When the DNA samples were predigested with HaeIII before SOMA, the detection limit was improved to 0.4% mutant allele in the presence of wild-type alleles. We have therefore found that SOMA is about 2.5-15-fold more sensitive than RFLP for detection of specific p53 mutations. A set of 26 DNA samples from HCC and normal liver was analyzed by RFLP and SOMA, and 5 samples were positive for the p53 mutation. An additional 4 samples were found to be positive for the mutation when SOMA was repeated after HaeIII predigestion.

6747.      Razonable RR, Burak KW, van Cruijsen H, Brown RA, Charlton MR, Smith TF, Espy MJ, Kremers W, Wilson JA, Groettum C, Wiesner R, Paya CV. The pathogenesis of hepatitis C virus is influenced by cytomegalovirus. Clin Infect Dis. 2002 Oct 15;35(8):974-81.

We investigated the effect of beta-herpesviruses on allograft failure and mortality, hepatitis C virus (HCV) replication, and liver histologic characteristics among 92 HCV-infected liver transplant recipients. Reactivation of cytomegalovirus (CMV) but not of human herpesvirus 6 (HHV-6) was independently associated with allograft failure and mortality (risk ratio, 3.71; 95% confidence interval, 1.64-8.39); allograft failure and mortality was observed in 48% of patients with CMV disease, 35% of patients with subclinical CMV infection, and 17% of patients without CMV infection (P=.0275). CMV reactivation was highly predictive of mortality (P<.001), regardless of whether it remained subclinical or evolved into CMV disease. Patients with CMV disease had a higher fibrosis stage (P=.05) and had a trend toward a higher hepatitis activity index (P=.10) and HCV load (P=.10) at 16 weeks after liver transplantation. The pathogenesis of HCV is influenced by its interaction with CMV but not with HHV-6.

6748.      Ressel GW.CDC releases 2002 guidelines for treating STDs: Part II. Human papillomavirus and hepatitis. Am Fam Physician. 2002 Nov 15;66(10):1996, 1999.No abstract.

6749.      Rossi A, Renzetti D, D'Albenzio L, Gianfelice D, Kalyvoka A, Rinaldi O. Case of mania induced by withdrawal of interferon-alpha in a patient affected by bipolar disorder. Psychiatry Clin Neurosci. 2002 Dec;56(6):647-8.No abstract.

6750.      Sarrazin C, Herrmann E, Bruch K, Zeuzem S. Hepatitis C virus nonstructural 5A protein and interferon resistance: a new model for testing the reliability of mutational analyses. J Virol. 2002 Nov;76(21):11079-90.

Presumably due to the capability of the hepatitis C virus (HCV) to evade the antiviral effects of alpha interferon, treatment is ineffective in more than half of chronically genotype HCV type 1 (HCV-1)-infected patients. Previous approaches to correlate the number of amino acid mutations within regions of HCV nonstructural (NS)-5A protein with virologic treatment response provided conflicting results. In the present study, we developed a new mathematical model to investigate NS5A sequences of HCV-1-infected patients. The mean number of all mutations within the complete NS5A protein was significantly higher in virologic responders compared to nonresponders (P = 0.008 and P = 0.0001 for amino acid residues predicted on the surface of the NS5A protein). Differences did not achieve statistical significance for NS5A regions that are currently assumed to be functionally relevant (e.g., the interferon sensitivity-determining region, the RNA-activated protein kinase-binding domain, etc.). Analyses of smoothed mutational frequencies showed that the number of mutations in other NS5A regions correlated with virologic response. Such a correlation was observed for both genuine and randomly generated NS5A sequences. The existence of local accumulations of mutations within genuine NS5A isolates that truly correlated with treatment response was defined by a refined test procedure. Upon considering the predicted residue accessibility, we identified the main focus of mutations correlating with treatment response to be the sequence from amino acids 2350 to 2370. Thus, evaluation of NS5A mutations in correlation with treatment response is improved by consideration of functional and predicted conformational amino acid properties. As shown by simulations with randomly

generated sequences, multiple analyses of simple counts of local NS5A amino acid mutations and correlation with treatment response are insufficient. For improvement of mutational analysis, a refined specific functional data test procedure is proposed.

6751.      Sharma SK, Balamurugan A, Saha PK, Pandey RM, Mehra NK. Evaluation of clinical and immunogenetic risk factors for the development of hepatotoxicity during antituberculosis treatment. Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 2002 Oct 1;166(7):916-9.

Though several risk factors for the development of hepatotoxicity due to antituberculosis drugs have been suggested, involvement of genetic factors is not fully established. We have studied the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II alleles and clinical risk factors for the development of hepatotoxicity in 346 North Indian patients with tuberculosis undergoing antituberculosis treatment. Of these, 56 patients developed drug-induced hepatotoxicity (DIH group), whereas the remaining 290 patients did not (non-DIH group). The DIH group was comparatively older, had lower pretreatment serum albumin, and a higher frequency of moderately/far advanced disease radiographically than the latter. Further, patients with high alcohol intake had threefold higher odds of developing hepatotoxicity. In multivariate logistic regression analysis, older age (odds ratio [OR] 1.2), moderately/far advanced disease (OR 2.0), serum albumin < 3.5 g/dl (OR 2.3), absence of HLA-DQA1*0102 (OR 4.0), and presence of HLA-DQB1*0201 (OR 1.9) were independent risk factors for DIH. Our results suggest that the risk of hepatotoxicity from antituberculosis drugs is influenced by clinical and genetic factors.

6752.      Somjee S, Pai S, Parikh P, Banavali S, Kelkar R, Advani S.  Passive active prophylaxis against Hepatitis B in children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Leuk Res. 2002 Nov;26(11):989-92.

The aim of this study was to assess the antibody response to combined passive active immunisation versus active immunisation along with interferon against Hepatitis B in 60 patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) between 1 and 21 years of age with negative Hepatitis B virus (HBV) serology at presentation. Thirty-one patients received combined passive active immunisation with human specific Hepatitis B immunoglobulin (HEPABIG-VHB Pharmaceuticals) and Hepatitis B vaccine (arm I) and 29 patients received active immunisation along with interferon (arm II). Protective antibody levels were detected in 89.6 and 21% patients, respectively, at the 6-month evaluation. Infection with HBV occurred in 17 and 59% patients, respectively, at the 6-month evaluation. Interferon, thus, failed to serve the role as a vaccine adjuvant. At the 9-month evaluation of patients who received immunoglobulin, protective antibody titers were lost in 8 out of 19 evaluable patients (42%) and of these, 3 patients became HBsAg reactive at this point of time. This study indicated that 47.3% patients undergoing aggressive chemotherapy responded to combined passive active prophylaxis with protective titers of antiHBs at the 9-month evaluation. However, the rate of HBV infection was greatly reduced to 27%. We suggest that usage of passive immunisation in the aggressive phase, followed by active immunisation after cessation of intense chemotherapy would be a better option to increase the rates of protective antibody levels in these immunocompromised patients with leukemia.

6753.      Stancu M, Jones D, Vega F, Medeiros LJ.  Peripheral T-cell lymphoma arising in the liver. Am J Clin Pathol. 2002 Oct;118(4):574-81.

We report 3 cases of primary hepatic peripheral T-cell lymphoma (PTCL). All patients were men, 50 to 57 years of age, who sought care because of systemic symptoms including fever, fatigue, and weight loss. Physical examination revealed hepatomegaly in 2 patients, associated with jaundice in 1. Two patients had abnormal serum liver enzyme levels and coagulation profiles. Imaging studies demonstrated marked hepatomegaly without focal lesions in 1 patient and multiple discrete tumor masses in 2 patients. Tumor infiltrates in biopsy specimens were heterogeneous with a large cell component in 2 cases. An inflammatory background was present in all cases, complicating the histologic recognition of PTCL Immunohistochemical studies showed that all tumors were of T-cell lineage, and 2 cases had monoclonal T-cell receptor gamma chain gene rearrangements. One patient died of disease shortly after diagnosis, and 2 patients treated with multiagent chemotherapy are in clinical remission with 12 and 84 months of clinicalfollow-up, respectively. PTCL may rarely arise in the liver. These neoplasms respond to chemotherapy, suggesting that this disease is curable if diagnosed at an early stage.

6754.      Terui Y, Saito T, Watanabe H, Togashi H, Kawata S, Kamada Y, Sakuta S.  Effect of angiotensin receptor antagonist on liver fibrosis in early stages of chronic hepatitis C. Hepatology. 2002 Oct;36(4 Pt 1):1022. No abstract.

6755.      Thio CL, Seaberg EC, Skolasky R Jr, Phair J, Visscher B, Munoz A, Thomas DL. HIV-1, hepatitis B virus, and risk of liver-related mortality in the Multicenter Cohort Study (MACS). Lancet. 2002 Dec 14;360(9349):1921-6.

BACKGROUND: Although coinfection with HIV-1 and hepatitis B virus (HBV) is common, few long-term studies on liver-disease mortality in coinfected people have been undertaken. Our aim was to examine liver-related mortality among people at risk for HIV-1 and HBV infections. METHODS: We used data from a multicentre, prospective cohort study to classify 5293 men who had sex with men, according to their HIV-1 antibody status, ascertained semiannually, and their hepatitis-B surface antigen status (HBsAg), which we ascertained at baseline. Mortality rates were estimated in terms of person-years and Poisson regression methods were used to test for significance of relative risks. FINDINGS: 326 (6%) men were HBsAg positive, of whom 213 (65%) were HIV-1 positive. Of the 4967 HBsAg negative men, 2346 (47%) were infected with HIV-1. The liver-related mortality rate was 1.1/1000 person years, and was higher in men with HIV-1 and HBsAg (14.2/1000) than in those with only HIV-1 infection (1.7/1000, p<0.001) or only HBsAg (0.8/1000, p<0.001). In coinfected individuals, the liver-related mortality rate was highest with lower nadir CD4+ cell counts and was twice as high after 1996, when highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) was introduced. INTERPRETATION: Individuals coinfected with HIV-1 and HBV, especially those with low CD4+ nadir counts, are at increased risk for liver-related mortality, underscoring the importance of prevention, identification, and comprehensive management of hepatitis B in people infected with HIV-1.

6756.      Thomas DL. Hepatitis C and human immunodeficiency virus infection. Hepatology. 2002 Nov;36(5 Suppl 1):S201-9.

In the United States, an estimated 200,000 persons are infected with both hepatitis C virus (HCV) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). As the lives of HIV-infected persons have been prolonged by use of highly active antiretroviral therapy, liver disease has emerged as an important, and in some settings, the leading cause of morbidity and mortality. Human immunodeficiency virus infection appears to adversely affect all stages of hepatitis C infection, leading to increased viral persistence and accelerated progression of HCV-related liver disease. In turn, hepatitis C may affect the management of HIV infection, increasing the incidence of liver toxicity caused by antiretroviral medications. The medical management of hepatitis C in HIV-infected persons remains controversial, in part because of the complexity of both infections and potential drug interactions, but chiefly because there is so little published information. Nonetheless, the burden of liver disease is too high to delay management of HIV/HCV-coinfected persons while awaiting better data. Instead, the management of hepatitis C today must be based on data generated on persons without HIV and an understanding of both infections. Properly designed studies of therapy in HIV/HCV-coinfected persons are needed to help guide management of these patients in the future.

6757.      Tiffen L, Sheridan S. Improving take-up of hepatitis C services. Nurs Times. 2002 Oct 22-28;98(43):30-2.

Nursing and medical teams from a hepatology clinic and a general practice joined forces to address the issue of non-attendance at appointments by clients with hepatitis C who had been referred to the clinic by the general practice. The aim was to involve clients in the decision-making process. Joint guidelines were developed, taking into account the needs of clients and the aims of both service providers. Before the initiative, 91% of the client group was discharged after repeated non-attendance. After its implementation, this dropped to zero. Effective teamwork and client empowerment are the key strengths of the initiative.

6758.      Welch KJ, Morse A. Improving screening and vaccination for hepatitis B in patients coinfected with HIV and hepatitis C. Am J Gastroenterol. 2002 Nov;97(11):2928-9.No abstract.

6759.      Whiting PW, Clouston A, Kerlin P. Black cohosh and other herbal remedies associated with acute hepatitis. Med J Aust. 2002 Oct 21;177(8):440-3.

Six patients presented with clinical, biochemical and histological evidence of severe hepatitis after taking herbal remedies. One patient required urgent liver transplantation for fulminant hepatic failure after the brief use of black cohosh. Five patients took a combination of herbs and presented with jaundice, fatigue and pruritus. Healthcare providers and members of the public should be aware of the potential adverse effects of these remedies. Wright TL. Treatment of patients with hepatitis C and cirrhosis. Hepatology. 2002 Nov;36(5 Suppl 1):S185-94.

6760.      Yao N, Hong Z, Lau JY. Application of structural biology tools in the study of viral hepatitis and the design of antiviral therapy. Gastroenterology. 2002 Oct;123(4):1350-63.No abstract.

6761.      Young KC, Lin PW, Hsiao WC, Chang TT, Chang YC, Wu HL. Variation of hepatitis C virus load, hypervariable region 1 quasispecies and CD81 hepatocyte expression in hepatocellular carcinoma and adjacent non-cancerous liver. J Med Virol. 2002 Oct;68(2):188-96.

Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is etiologically associated with the development of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) worldwide. HCV has been reported to exist and replicate in both HCC and adjacent non-cancerous liver tissue, but limited information was available on HCV viral load and quasispecies composition in HCC relative to adjacent non-cancerous hepatocytes. Previous study has also suggested CD81, a surface hepatocyte protein, as a receptor for HCV. To clarify the above, HCV-RNA and CD81-RNA titers in 20 paired hepatectomized liver and serum were quantitatively measured by chemiluminescent RT-cPCR. Hypervariable region 1 (HVR-1) variations of parallel specimens were analyzed after subcloning in 6 patients. HCV-RNA levels in serum and non-cancerous liver were markedly higher for HCV genotype 1 than genotype non-1. HCV levels were markedly higher in non-cancerous liver than in HCC (P = 0.001) in a genotype-independent manner, with a mean ratio of 56:1 for non-cancerous tissue to HCC. Both non-cancerous and HCC tissues had the same level of CD81-RNA expression, which was not linked to HCV load. HCV-RNA quantity in both HCC and non-cancerous liver correlated with the number of HVR-1 quasispecies in the tissue, and distinct HVR-1 subclones existed. Copyright 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

6762.      Youssef WI, Tavill AS. Connective tissue diseases and the liver. J Clin Gastroenterol. 2002 Oct;35(4):345-9.

Connective tissue diseases such as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), rheumatoid arthritis, Sjogren's syndrome, and scleroderma are systemic disorders that may have an autoimmune basis. The system manifestations vary, and there is frequent overlap among the syndromes. Liver involvement in patients with connective tissue diseases has been well documented but is generally considered rare. Although advanced liver disease with cirrhosis and liver failure is rare in patients with connective tissue diseases, clinical and biochemical evidence of associated liver abnormalities is common. Previous treatment with potentially hepatotoxic drugs or coincident viral hepatitis has usually been implicated as the main causes of liver disease in patients with connective tissue diseases. However, even after careful exclusion of these etiologies, the question remains whether to classify the patient as having a primary liver disease with associated autoimmune, clinical, and laboratory features or as having liver disease as a manifestation of generalized connective tissue disease. The main example of this pathogenetic dilemma is autoimmune hepatitis and SLE-associated hepatitis, which have been regarded as two different entities, although they have features in common of autoimmune syndromes. Several clinical and histopathologic features have been used to discriminate autoimmune hepatitis from SLE, a relevant diagnostic exercise because complications and therapy are quite different. Although hepatic steatosis and abnormal results on biochemical liver function tests are the most common hepatic abnormalities associated with connective tissue diseases, other less frequent abnormalities have been noted, such as nodular regenerative hyperplasia, portal vein obliteration and portal hypertension, features of primary biliary cirrhosis, and rarely portal fibrosis with abnormal lobular architecture. Vascular disorders of the liver also have been described, such as Budd-Chiari syndrome. Histologic assessment may reveal a variety of subclinical liver diseases. The aim of this contribution is to review the current published data regarding liver involvement in connective tissue diseases.

6763.      Zhu H, Wang SY, Zhang JY, Lian QZ, Peng XX.  Analysis of complement-bound HCV complexes using a novel immuno-capture RT-PCR method. Scand J Immunol. 2002 Nov;56(5):538-42.

Recently, more and more evidence has supported the hypothesis that liver cell injury was immune-mediated in patients with hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection, and that circulating immune complexes (CICs) might play a role in the pathogenesis of chronic hepatitis C (HC). In the present study, we have combined immuno-capture and reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), and developed a quick method of high specificity for the detection of complement-bound HCV-CIC. We found that there were higher frequencies of HCV-C1q CIC than that of HCV-factor B, and there was a deviation of complement from immunoglobulin (Ig) in HCV-CIC. These findings suggest that immuno-capture RT-PCR (iRT-PCR) for the detection of HCV-bound CIC is a valuable method for the analysis of the composition of the immune complexes, and for the understanding of host immune response and immune pathogenesis in HCV-infected individuals.

Vaccines :

6764.      Lohr HF, Pingel S, Bocher WO, Bernhard H, Herzog-Hauff S, Rose-John S, Galle PR. Reduced virus specific T helper cell induction by autologous dendritic cells in patients with chronic hepatitis B - restoration by exogenous interleukin-12. Clin Exp Immunol. 2002 Oct;130(1):107-14.

Insufficient stimulatory capacities of autologous dendritic cells (DC) may contribute in part to impaired T cell stimulation and therefore viral persistence in patients with chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection. In order to characterize the antigen presenting functions of DC from chronic HBV carriers and controls antigen specific T cell responses were analysed. CD34+ peripheral blood progenitor cells were differentiated to immature DC in the presence of GM-CSF, IL-6/IL-6R fusion protein and stem cell factor. Proliferative CD4+ T cell responses and specific cytokine release were analysed in co-cultures of DC pulsed with HBV surface and core antigens or tetanus toxoid and autologous CD4+ T cells. Cultured under identical conditions DC from chronic HBV carriers, individuals with acute resolved hepatitis B and healthy controls expressed similar phenotypical markers but chronic HBV carriers showed less frequent and weaker HBV antigen specific proliferative T helper cell responses and secreted less interferon-gamma while responses to the tetanus toxoid control antigen was not affected. Preincubation with recombinant IL-12 enhanced the HBV specific immune reactivities in chronic HBV patients and controls. In conclusion, the weak antiviral immune responses observed in chronic hepatitis B may result in part from insufficient T cell stimulating capacities of DC. Immunostimulation by IL-12 restored the HBV antigen specific T cell responses and could have some therapeutical benefit to overcome viral persistence.



July 2003 



7235.  Akuta N, Suzuki F, Tsubota A, Suzuki Y, Hosaka T, Someya T, Kobayashi M, Saitoh S, Arase Y, Ikeda K, Kumada H.  Association of amino acid substitution pattern in nonstructural protein 5A of hepatitis C virus genotype2a low viral load and response to interferon monotherapy. J Med Virol. 2003 Mar;69(3):376-83.

Patients with low titer (<0.5 mEq/ml) of hepatitis C virus (HCV) genotype 2a achieve high and sustained response (SR) rates to interferon (IFN) monotherapy, but we also encounter patients who are resistant to therapy. We explored the relationship between response to IFN and virological differences in such patients. We evaluated 159 consecutive naive patients with low titer of HCV genotype 2a who received IFN monotherapy. A case-control study matched for age, sex, and viral load was conducted to examine the substitution patterns in amino acid positions (amino acids) 2163-2254 of nonstructural (NS) 5A between nonresponders to ideal IFN dose (>/=500 million units) (nonresponders; NR) and responder to less than ideal dose. Overall, 82.4% achieved SR. The substitution numbers in amino acids 2193-2254 were higher in SR than NR patients (P < 0.05). High proportions of patients with substitution at amino acid 2205 (mainly threonine [T] instead of alanine [A]), dual amino acids 2169 and 2205 (mainly A-T instead of T-A), and those without substitution at amino acids 2227 were NR (P < 0.05). Four of 7 NR patients achieved SR after receiving a second course of IFN. Their amino acids patterns at positions probably associated with sensitivity to IFN did not change at the start of initial and second therapies except for one patient, and they had lower viral load and were treated with higher IFN dose in the second course compared with the initial course. Our results suggest that substitution patterns in NS5A in patients with low titer of HCV genotype 2a may affect their response to IFN, but the response to therapy may be affected by mechanisms other than substitutions in this region. Copyright 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.


7236.      Alter MJ, Kuhnert WL, Finelli L.  Guidelines for laboratory testing and result reporting of antibody to hepatitis C virus. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. MMWR Recomm Rep. 2003 Feb 7;52(RR-3):1-13, 15; quiz CE1-4.

Testing for the presence of antibody to hepatitis C virus (anti-HCV) is recommended for initially identifying persons with hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection (CDC. Recommendations for prevention and control of hepatitis C virus [HCV] infection and HCV-related chronic disease. MMWR 1998;47[No. RR-19] :1-33). Testing for anti-HCV should include use of an antibody screening assay, and for screening test-positive results, a more specific supplemental assay. Verifying the presence of anti-HCV minimizes unnecessary medical visits and psychological harm for persons who test falsely positive by screening assays and ensures that counseling, medical referral, and evaluation are targeted for patients serologically confirmed as having been infected with HCV. However, substantial variation in reflex supplemental testing practices exists among laboratories, and an anti-HCV-positive laboratory report does not uniformly represent a confirmed positive result. These guidelines expand recommendations for anti-HCV testing to include an option for reflex supplemental testing based on screening-test-positive signal-to-cut-off (s/co) ratios. Use of s/co ratios minimizes the amount of supplemental testing that needs to be performed while improving the reliability of reported test results. These guidelines were developed on the basis of available knowledge of CDC staff in consultation with representatives from the Food and Drug Administration and public health, hospital, and independent laboratories. Adoption of these guidelines by all public and private laboratories that perform in vitro diagnostic anti-HCV testing will improve the accuracy and utility of reported anti-HCV test results for counseling and medical evaluation of patients by health-care professionals and for surveillance by public health departments.

7237.      Arguedas MR, Chen VK, Eloubeidi MA, Fallon MB.   Screening for hepatocellular carcinoma in patients with hepatitis C cirrhosis: a cost-utility analysis. Am J Gastroenterol. 2003 Mar;98(3):679-90.

OBJECTIVES: Screening for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is advocated in cirrhotic patients to optimize early detection and treatment. However, the cost-effectiveness is not well defined. Our objective was to perform a cost-utility analysis from a third-party payer's perspective of no screening, alpha-fetoprotein (AFP) concentration measurement alone, abdominal ultrasound (US) and AFP, abdominal three-phase CT and AFP, and abdominal magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and AFP. METHODS: A Markov model was constructed simulating the natural history of hepatitis C-related cirrhosis in a cohort of patients age 50 yr over a time horizon of their remaining life expectancy. Transition probabilities were obtained from published data and U.S. vital statistics. Costs represented Medicare reimbursement data. Costs and health effects were discounted at a 3% annual rate. RESULTS: Screening with ultrasonography and AFP concentration measurement was associated with an incremental cost-utility ratio of 26,689 US dollars per quality-adjusted life year, whereas screening with abdominal three-phase CT and AFP concentration measurement was associated with an incremental cost-utility ratio of 25,232 US dollars per quality-adjusted life year compared with no screening. Compared with three-phase CT and AFP, magnetic resonance and AFP imaging costs 118,000 US dollars per quality-adjusted life  year. Sensitivity analysis demonstrated that the results are most sensitive to the annual incidence of HCC, proportion of tumors amenable to treatment, and to transplant candidacy, whereas the choice of screening strategy is most sensitive to the test characteristics and cost. CONCLUSIONS: Screening for HCC with CT is a cost-effective strategy in transplant-eligible patients with cirrhosis secondary to chronic hepatitis C viral (HCV) infection, comparable with other commonly accepted screening interventions such as mammography and colonoscopy.

7238.      Bandi L.  Renal manifestations of hepatitis C virus infection. Extrahepatic complications often are silent--and thus overlooked. Postgrad Med. 2003 Feb;113(2):73-6, 86.

Renal involvement often occurs in HCV infection. The most common renal manifestation is MPGN with or without cryoglobulinemia. Patients with glomerulonephritis may have no clinical evidence of systemic or liver involvement. Pathogenesis of HCV-associated MPGN is mediated by glomerular deposition of circulating immune complexes containing HCV and anti-HCV. The treatment of choice for MPGN is IFN-alpha. However, success is limited, and many patients fail to respond or experience relapse on discontinuation of therapy. Newer treatment modalities, such as high-dose IFN-alpha and recombinant IFN alpha-2b and ribavirin combination therapy, have led to improved suppression of HCV RNA levels

7239.      Barrett S, Ryan E, Crowe J.  Serum versus intrahepatic HCV RNA and liver histology in anti-HCV-positive serum PCR-negative individuals. Hepatology. 2003 Jan;37(1):223-4. No abstract available.

7240.      Baughman RP, Koehler A, Bejarano PA, Lower EE, Weber FL Jr.  Role of liver function tests in detecting methotrexate-induced liver damage in sarcoidosis. Arch Intern Med. 2003 Mar 10;163(5):615-20.

BACKGROUND: Methotrexate has become a standard second-line agent for the treatment of sarcoidosis. Because sarcoidosis has a high frequency of liver  involvement, we routinely perform a liver biopsy after each cumulative gram of methotrexate therapy in patients with sarcoidosis in whom we plan to continue therapy. METHODS: Following a previously described protocol for methotrexate therapy, we have performed 100 liver biopsies on 68 patients with chronic sarcoidosis at our institution. On the basis of the liver biopsy results, we identified the following 4 groups: sarcoidosis (47 cases), toxic effects of methotrexate (14 cases), hepatitis C (2 cases), and normal liver tissue (37 cases). RESULTS: We found no difference among the groups in terms of age, weight at time of biopsy, the number of patients receiving corticosteroids at the time of biopsy, cumulative dose of methotrexate, race, or sex. The 14 cases of toxic reactions to methotrexate included 5 patients who had undergone 1 or more previous liver biopsies in which the results did not show toxic effects. We found a significant difference between groups for levels of alkaline phosphatase and asparate aminotransferase at the time of starting (or restarting) methotrexate therapy (analysis of variance, P<.05). This finding was also true for the liver function tests performed at the time of the biopsy (analysis of variance, P<.05). The highest values were for those whose biopsy findings showed sarcoidosis. CONCLUSIONS: Toxic reactions to methotrexate eventually occurred in more than 10% of patients with sarcoidosis treated for more than 2 years with methotrexate. Because of hepatic involvement owing to sarcoidosis, results of serial liver function tests were not useful in determining which patients would have this reaction to methotrexate.

7241.      Berg T, Sarrazin C, Herrmann E, Hinrichsen H, Gerlach T, Zachoval R, Wiedenmann B, Hopf U, Zeuzem S.   Prediction of treatment outcome in patients with chronic hepatitis C: significance of baseline parameters and viral dynamics during therapy. Hepatology. 2003 Mar;37(3):600-9.

In patients with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection scheduled for a 48-week treatment period, premature discontinuation of treatment was previously recommended if HCV-RNA levels remained detectable at week 24 of therapy. Considering the number of side effects and treatment costs, measurement of initial viral decline during therapy may identify virologic nonresponse earlier than 24 weeks. We retrospectively analyzed 260 European patients treated with standard or pegylated interferon alfa (IFN-alpha) and ribavirin for 24 to 48 weeks. Early prediction of virologic response by HCV-RNA decline at weeks 4 and 12 (Versant Quantitative [branched DNA (bDNA) 3.0]; Bayer Diagnostics, Emeryville, CA; and Qualitative [transcription-mediated amplification (TMA)] HCV RNA assay; Bayer Diagnostics) as well as clinical, biochemical, virologic, and histologic baseline parameters were analyzed by logistic regression and receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves. A viral load at treatment week 4 above 450,000 IU/mL and at week 12 above 30,000 IU/mL was 100% predictive for virologic nonresponse in all patients. From multivariate logistic regression analysis of all patients, independent predictors for sustained virologic response were: genotypes 2 and 3 (P <.0001), a low baseline gamma-glutamyltransferase (GGT) level (P <.0001), a high baseline alanine aminotransferase level (P =.002), and a low baseline viral load (P =.04). None of the latter 3 factors were predictive for sustained virologic response when analysis was restricted to the subgroup of genotypes 2- and 3-infected patients. In conclusion, virologic nonresponse can be predicted early at week 12 of treatment independent from the applied therapeutic regimen based on a cutoff level for HCV RNA of 30,000 IU/mL. This algorithm recognizes 53.7% of nonresponders previously identified at week 24 of treatment.

7242.      Bortolotti F, Muratori L, Jara P, Hierro L, Verucchi G, Giacchino R, Barbera C, Zancan L, Guido M, Resti M, Pedditzi S, Bianchi F, Gatta A.  Hepatitis C virus infection associated with liver-kidney microsomal antibody type 1 (LKM1) autoantibodies in children. J Pediatr. 2003 Feb;142(2):185-90.

OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the clinical pattern and evolution of chronic hepatitis C in children with liver/kidney microsomal antibody type 1 autoantibodies (LKM1). STUDY DESIGN: A multicenter, retrospective study, including the following groups of children with hepatitis C virus infection: (1). 21 consecutive LKM1-positive patients, (2). 42 age- and sex- matched LKM1-negative patients, and (3). 4 interferon-induced LKM1-positive cases. LKM1 reactivity to human microsomes and recombinant cytochrome P450IID6 (CYP2D6) was assayed by immunoblotting. RESULTS: Clinical and biochemical features overlapped in LKM1-positive and LKM1-negative children, but a fibrosis score >3 (range 0-6) was significantly more frequent (P =.04) in the former. Reactivity to microsomal protein and CYP2D6 was significantly (P =.02) associated with LKM1 titers >or=1:320 and was found in 39% of patients, including severe cases and both children (of 4 treated) who achieved a sustained alanine aminotransferase (ALT) normalization after steroid treatment. Five of 7 LKM1-positive children treated with interferon had an ALT exacerbation. CONCLUSIONS: LKM1-positive hepatitis C in children is characterized by a wide spectrum of biochemical, serologic, and histologic features. Whether autoimmunity may contribute to liver damage in a subgroup of patients with more severe liver disease, high LKM1 titers, and reactivity to CYP2D6 is a question deserving further investigation.

7243.      Caturelli E, Castellano L, Fusilli S, Palmentieri B, Niro GA, del Vecchio-Blanco C, Andriulli A, de Sio I.   Coarse nodular US pattern in hepatic cirrhosis: risk for hepatocellular carcinoma. Radiology. 2003 Mar;226(3):691-7.

PURPOSE: To determine the prevalence of the coarse nodular ultrasonographic (US) pattern and its prognostic importance in terms of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) risk in hepatic cirrhosis caused by hepatitis B virus (HBV); HBV with hepatitis D virus (HDV), formerly known as hepatitis delta virus; hepatitis C virus (HCV); and alcoholic cirrhosis (ALC) or primary biliary disease (primary biliary cirrhosis [PBC]). MATERIALS AND METHODS: Four hundred two cases of hepatic cirrhosis caused by HBV (94 patients), HDV (100 patients), HCV (100 patients), ALC (63 patients), or PBC (45 patients) were retr ospectively reviewed to identify the US pattern present at diagnosis and its possible association with the cause of the disease and subsequent development of HCC during a mean follow-up of 43.9 months +/- 29.9 (SD). Data were analyzed with the chi2, Fisher exact, and log-rank tests and with the Kaplan-Meier method (all two-tailed). RESULTS: The coarse nodular pattern was found in a significantly higher percentage of patients with HDV-related cirrhosis (51%) compared with those with HBV (9%), HCV (9%), ALC (11%), or PBC (9%) (P <.001). This pattern was associated with a significantly increased risk for HCC in patients with cirrhosis and HBV-, HCV-, and ALC-related disease but not in those with HDV-related disease and PBC. CONCLUSION: The coarse nodular pattern is more often seen in patients with HDV-related cirrhosis, and, in this setting (in contrast to HBV-, HCV-, and ALC-related cirrhosis, as well as in PBC), it does not represent an added risk factor for HCC.

7244.      Cauza E, Peck-Radosavljevic M, Ulrich-Pur H, Datz C, Gschwantler M, Schoniger-Hekele M, Hackl F, Polli C, Rasoul-Rockenschaub S, Muller C, Wrba F, Gangl A, Ferenci P.  Mutations of the HFE gene in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma. Am J Gastroenterol. 2003 Feb;98(2):442-7.

OBJECTIVE: Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a late consequence of severe liver disease. Patients with genetic hemochromatosis may be at risk for HCC, but limited information is available on the relationship of HCC and heterozygosity for the HFE gene mutations. METHODS: HFE mutations (C282Y and H63D) were assessed in 162 consecutive patients (131 men/31 women) with HCC. A total of 159 patients had cirrhosis. The most common etiologies of cirrhosis were chronic viral hepatitis (hepatitis C 39%, hepatitis B 9%) and alcoholic liver disease (36%). RESULTS: Five patients were C282Y homozygotes, four C282Y/H63D compound heterozygotes, and three H63D homozygotes. The C282Y and H63D allele frequencies in HCC were 8.3 (95% confidence limit = 5.3-11.3) and 11.1 (7.8-14.6), respectively, and not different from previously published data in healthy subjects or patients with chronic hepatitis C in Austria. Furthermore, there was no difference in the age at diagnosis in patients with or without HFE gene mutations. C282Y homozygotes had a 19-fold increased risk to develop HCC. In contrast, all other HFE allele constellations were not associated with such a risk. CONCLUSIONS: Except for C282Y homozygotes, HFE gene mutations do not increase the risk to develop HCC in patients with cirrhosis.

7245.      Chalasani N, Gorski JC, Asghar MS, Asghar A, Foresman B, Hall SD, Crabb DW.  Hepatic cytochrome P450 2E1 activity in nondiabetic patients with nonalcoholic steatohepatitis. Hepatology. 2003 Mar;37(3):544-50.

Cytochrome P450 2E1 (CYP2E1) plays an important role in the pathogenesis of nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) in animal models, but its role in the pathogenesis of human NASH is unclear. Therefore, we measured hepatic CYP2E1 activity and its correlates in a cohort of nondiabetic patients with NASH (NDN) and controls to explore its role in the pathogenesis of human NASH. Hepatic CYP2E1 activity was assessed using the oral clearance (CL(PO)) of chlorzoxazone (CHZ) in 20 NDN and 17 age, gender, and body mass index (BMI)-matched controls. The relationship between hepatic CYP2E1 activity and demographic and anthropometric variables; fasting levels of insulin, glucose, lipids, and beta-OH butyrate; insulin resistance; and nocturnal hypoxemia was assessed.Furthermore, expression of CYP2E1 in the peripheral lymphocytes was assessed using rev erse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). The CL(PO) of CHZ was significantly (P =.03) greater in NDN (41 +/- 12 L/h) compared with controls (33 +/- 16 L/h). Lymphocyte CYP2E1 messenger RNA was significantly higher in NDN compared with controls (11.5 x 10(3) +/- 10 x 10(3) vs. 2.6 x 10(3) +/- 1.2 x 10(3) molecules/microg total RNA, respectively, P <.001). On univariate analysis, BMI, respiratory quotient, high-density lipoprotein, triglycerides, insulin, insulin resistance, hypoxemia, and beta-OH butyrate significantly correlated with hepatic CYP2E1 activity. However, on stepwise regression analysis, only nocturnal hypoxemia (r = 0.50, P =.009) and beta-OH butyrate (r = 0.37, P =.04) were independent predictors of hepatic CYP2E1 activity. In conclusion, hepatic CYP2E1 activity and lymphocyte CYP2E1 expression are enhanced in NDN. The significant correlations noted between CYP2E1 and hypoxemia and beta-OH butyrate suggest that these factors play a role in increased CYP2E1 activity that is seen in patients with NASH.

7246.      Chiu HF, Chih TT, Hsian YM, Tseng CH, Wu MJ, Wu YC.  Bullatacin, a potent antitumor Annonaceous acetogenin, induces apoptosis through a reduction of intracellular cAMP and cGMP levels in human hepatoma 2.2.15 cells. Biochem Pharmacol. 2003 Feb 1;65(3):319-27.

Bullatacin, a potential antitumor Annonaceous acetogenin (AA), is isolated from the seed of the Formosa Annona atemoya. We reported previously that bullatacin inhibits the secretion of hepatitis B surface antigen from 2.2.15 cells (human hepatoma HepG2 cells transfected with hepatitis B virus DNA plasmid). In the present study, we determined cell apoptosis by using double-dye staining with fluorescein-isothiocyanate-labeled annexin V and propidium iodide. We found that bullatacin induced apoptosis in 2.2.15 cells in a time-dependent manner; the most significant apoptotic change appeared at 16 hr. Moreover, different concentrations (10(-3) to 1.0 microM) of bullatacin induced apoptosis in a concentration-dependent manner at 16 hr. The determination of intracellular cyclic AMP (cAMP) and cyclic GMP (cGMP) levels in 2.2.15 cells after exposure to bullatacin demonstrated that bullatacin caused both to decrease in a time- and concentration-dependent manner. A time course (0.33, 1, 6, 16, 24hr) study indicated that while both cAMP and cGMP levels decreased early (at 0.33 hr), the most dramatic decline appeared at 6 hr. Meanwhile, the inhibitory effect on cAMP and cGMP levels reached a maximum at 16 hr (90.5+/-3.2 and 47.3+/-12.8%, respectively). The concentration-dependent decrease of both cAMP and cGMP induced by bullatacin was parallel with the magnitude of apoptosis induced by various concentrations (10(-3) to 1.0 microM) of bullatacin. Additionally, the bullatacin-induced apoptosis was inhibited by the addition of cAMP and cGMP elevating agents (forskolin and S-nitrosoglutathione). Our results suggest that a decrease of both cAMP and cGMP levels may play a crucial role in bullatacin-induced apoptosis in 2.2.15 cells.

7247.      Daveau M, Scotte M, Francois A, Coulouarn C, Ros G, Tallet Y, Hiron M, Hellot MF, Salier JP.   Hepatocyte growth factor, transforming growth factor alpha, and their receptors as combined markers of prognosis in hepatocellular carcinoma. Mol Carcinog. 2003 Mar;36(3):130-41.

A change in the balance between proliferation and apoptosis in the course of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) development and progression has been suspected. We wanted to identify related genes whose mRNA levels could provide markers of severity and prognosis after resection. The extent of cell apoptosis, proliferation, and differentiation was measured with a terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase-mediated deoxyuridine 5-triphosphate-biotin nick-end labeling assay, and the Ki-67 index was determined in paired tumor and cirrhotic tissue samples from patients who had undergone HCC resection after diagnosis of hepatitis C-related or alcoholism-related cirrhosis. These patients included two groups with highly versus poorly differentiated tumor cells, and the latter was split into two subgroups of those with versus without early recurrence. The mRNA levels for various apoptosis-related or proliferation-related genes and those for the growth factor/receptor systems were measured by quantitative reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction in paired tumor and cirrhotic liver samples from every patient, and some of the corresponding proteins were detected by immunohistochemistry. In all instances, protein expression was highly heterogeneous within groups and similar between groups. In contrast, some differences in mRNA level between tumor and cirrhotic tissues were quite informative. Low levels of hepatocyte growth factor and transforming growth factor alpha mRNAs were found concomitantly in highly differentiated tumors, whereas overexpression of mRNAs for the cognate receptors c-met and epidermal growth factor receptor were found in poorly differentiated tumors and primarily in patients with early tumor recurrence. These results argue for growth factor-dependent HCC development and provide novel and combined prognosis markers after HCC surgery. Copyright 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

7248.      De Rosa FG, Bonora S, Di Perri G.  Healthy ranges for alanine aminotransferase levels. Ann Intern Med. 2003 Jan 21;138(2):156-7. No abstract available.

7249.      Dufour DR, Talastas M, Fernandez MD, Harris B, Strader DB, Seeff LB.  Low-positive anti-hepatitis C virus enzyme immunoassay results: an important predictor of low likelihood of hepatitis C infection. Clin Chem. 2003 Mar;49(3):479-86.

BACKGROUND: Tests for hepatitis C antibodies (anti-HCV enzyme immunoassays) are usually described as positive or negative. Several studies, mainly in blood donors, have found that specimens with low signal/cutoff (S/C) ratios are commonly negative when tested with a recombinant immunoblot assay (RIBA) or for HCV RNA. METHODS: We retrospectively reviewed 17 418 consecutive anti-HCV results from a screening program for high-risk veterans; 2986 (17.1%) samples were anti-HCV-positive, and 490 (16.4%) had S/C ratios <or=3.7 (low positive).Additional tests were performed in 1814 anti-HCV-positive individuals. RESULTS: RIBA was performed in 263 patients with low-positive anti-HCV; results were negative in 86%, indeterminate in 12%, and positive in 2%. Only 16 of 140 individuals (11%) with low-positive anti-HCV values were HCV RNA-positive, whereas HCV RNA was positive in 90% of 1435 individuals with high-positive anti-HCV values (P <0.0001). Compared with those with high-positive anti-HCV, individuals with low-positive anti-HCV values were older (P <0.0001) and were less likely to have risk factors for HCV (P <0.0001 for most), multiple increased alanine aminotransferase (ALT) activity values (30% vs 81%; P <0.0001), or positive anti-hepatitis B core antigen (19% vs 59%; P <0.0002). Among 634 individuals with high anti-HCV titers and multiple increased ALT activity values, 95% were HCV RNA-positive. CONCLUSIONS: The S/C ratio is important even in high-risk individuals; laboratories should report the S/C ratio along with anti-HCV EIA results and perform supplemental RIBA testing in those with low-positive values to avoid reporting false-positive results.

7250.      Fabris P, Tositti G, Giordani MT, Romano L, Betterle C, Pignattari E, Tagliaferri C, Muratori P, Manfrin V, de Lalla F. Prevalence and clinical significance of circulating cryoglobulins in HIV-positive patients with and without co-infection with hepatitis C virus. J Med Virol. 2003 Mar;69(3):339-43.

Although hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a recognized cause of circulating cryoglobulins, the role of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) in the pathogenesis of cryoglobulinemia has not been investigated extensively. To evaluate the prevalence of circulating cryoglobulins and to assess the relationship with clinical and virological parameters, 162 HIV-positive subjects (84 anti-HCV(+)) were tested for cryoglobulins, C3, C4, RF, autoantibodies, HIV-viral titer, and CD4(+) count. Anti-HCV-positive subjects were tested for HCV-RNA, HCV-viral titer, and HCV genotype. All patients were examined for the presence of signs or symptoms of vasculitis and tested for cryoglobulins using a standard biochemical assay. Cryoglobulins were found in 30 (18.5%) cases. Of the 30 positive cases, 29 (96.7%) were anti-HCV-positive and 28 (93.3%) HCV-RNA-positive. The presence of cryoglobulins was significantly associated (P < 0.01) with HCV-RNA positivity (OR = 27), liver cirrhosis (OR = 16), decreased levels of C3 (OR = 8.6), C4 (OR = 13.6), increased levels of IgG and IgM (OR = 6.1 and 7.9, respectively), and RF positivity (OR = 6.3), but was unrelated to CD4(+) cell count, HIV viral load, diagnosis of AIDS, HCV viral load and the presence of autoantibodies. Interestingly, the presence of cryoglobulins was not significantly associated with signs and symptoms commonly associated with cryoglobulinemia. In conclusion, HIV infection does not seem to play a significant role in the production of circulating cryoglobulins, which strongly correlates with HCV co-infection and liver cirrhosis. Typical signs and symptoms of cryoglobulinemia do not correlate with the detection of circulating cryoglobulins in HIV and HCV patients. Copyright 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

7251.      Fujita N, Kaito M, Takeo M, Iwasa M, Ikoma J, Watanabe S, Adachi Y. Nonimmune complexed HCV RNA titer in serum as a predictor of interferon response in patients with chronic hepatitis C.Am J Gastroenterol. 2003 Mar;98(3):645-52.

OBJECTIVE: Hepatitis C virus (HCV) has been reported to exist in the circulation of patients in various forms such as free virions, immune complexes, and nucleocapsids. To clarify the clinical significance of serum HCV titers according to the forms of virus particles, we evaluated the immune complexed (IC) and nonimmune complexed (NIC) HCV RNA titers in 77 chronic hepatitis patients treated with interferon (IFN). METHODS: IC and NIC forms in pretreatment serum were separated by immunoprecipitation using antihuman immunoglobulin antibody, and quantified by reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction. RESULTS: Serum titers of NIC HCV RNA were correlated with those of whole serum HCV RNA (r = 0.96, p < 0.01) and IC HCV RNA (r = 0.98, p < 0.01), but they were not with the aminotransferase levels, gamma-globulin concentration, and grading or staging of liver histology. Nonresponders to IFN had significantly high NIC HCV RNA titers compared with sustained responders (10(4.93 +/- 0.81) copies/ml vs 10(4.06 +/- 0.69) copies/ml, p < 0.01). It is noteworthy that the relative amount of NIC HCV RNA to whole serum HCV RNA was also significantly higher in nonresponders than in sustained responders (0.66 +/- 0.10 vs 0.50 +/- 0.11, p < 0.0001). Multivariate analysis showed that low NIC HCV RNA titer (p < 0.01) and genotype 2 (p = 0.02) were independent variables contributing to sustained response to IFN, but the whole serum HCV RNA titer was not. CONCLUSIONS: Pretreatment NIC HCV RNA titer is a more reliable predictive marker than genotype or whole serum HCV RNA of a sustained response to IFN monotherapy. This finding suggests that humoral immunity may affect the response to IFN.

7252.      Giannini E, Risso D, Botta F, Chiarbonello B, Fasoli A, Malfatti F, Romagnoli P, Testa E, Ceppa P, Testa R.  Validity and clinical utility of the aspartate aminotransferase-alanine aminotransferase ratio in assessing disease severity and prognosis in patients with hepatitis C virus-related chronic liver disease.Arch Intern Med. 2003 Jan 27;163(2):218-24.

BACKGROUND: The aspartate aminotransferase-alanine aminotransferase ratio (AST/ALT ratio) has been used to noninvasively assess the severity of disease in patients with chronic liver disease (CLD). We previously demonstrated that progressive liver functional impairment is associated with an increase in the AST/ALT ratio. OBJECTIVES: To evaluate the reproducibility and transportability of the AST/ALT ratio in a large cohort of patients with different degrees of hepatitis C virus (HCV)-related CLD, to confirm the correlation between progressive impairment of liver function and increase in the AST/ALT ratio, to evaluate whether diagnostic accuracy of the ALT/AST ratio can be improved by using it with other biochemical variables, and to assess the 1-year prognostic capability of the AST/ALT ratio in patients with liver cirrhosis. PATIENTS AND METHODS: We retrospectively evaluated 252 patients with HCV-related CLD. The AST/ALT ratio was correlated with the degree of liver fibrosis in patients with chronic hepatitis and with the Child-Pugh score in patients with cirrhosis. All patients had undergone monoethylglycinexylidide (MEGX) testing to evaluate liver function. We assessed the prognostic ability of the AST/ALT ratio in a subset of 63 cirrhotic patients who were followed up for at least 1 year. RESULTS: The AST/ALT ratio was more frequently 1 or higher in cirrhotic patients (P<.001). There was a significant correlation between MEGX values and the AST/ALT ratio (r(s) = -0.621, P<.001). Multivariate stepwise logistic analysis showed that AST/ALT ratio, platelet count (PLT), MEGX values, and prothrombin activity were independently associated with the presence of cirrhosis. Combined assessment of the AST/ALT ratio and/or PLT obtained 97.0% positive predictive value and 97.9% negative predictive value for the diagnosis of cirrhosis. The AST/ALT ratio had 81.3% sensitivity and 55.3% specificity in identifying cirrhotic patients who died within 1-year of follow-up. CONCLUSIONS: The AST/ALT ratio is both reproducible and transportable in patients with HCV-related CLD. The AST/ALT ratio is correlated with both histologic stage and clinical evaluation. Progressive liver functional impairment is reflected by an increase in the AST/ALT ratio. Noninvasive evaluation by means of the combined AST/ALT ratio and PLT assessment misclassifies only a few cirrhotic patients. In cirrhotic patients, the AST/ALT ratio provides medium-term prognostic information that is no different from that provided by established prognostic scores.

7253.      Jayshree RS, Sridhar H, Devi GM. Surface, core, and X genes of hepatitis B virus in hepatocellular carcinoma: an in situ hybridization study. Cancer. 2003 Feb 25;99(1):63-7.

BACKGROUND: The incidence of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and the seroprevalence of hepatitis B virus (HBV) in this disease state are significantly higher in South India than in North India. Because data on serologic studies do not project the actual association between the two parameters, this study was undertaken. METHODS: The prevalence of HBV genes in HCC patients was studied using nonisotopic in situ hybridization. Fifty patients from South India were diagnosed with HCC after performing ultrasound-guided fine-needle aspiration biopsies of liver lesions. The diagnosis was confirmed by cell block studies. Sections cut from paraffin-embedded cell blocks made out of the aspirates were probed with digoxigenin-labeled surface, core, and X regions of the viral genome. RESULTS: Nuclear integration of the surface gene was observed in 100% (50 of 50), the core gene was positive in 94% (47 of 50), and the X gene was present in 98% (49 of 50) of the cases. An episomal form of the virus was not found. Serum hepatitis B surface antigen was positive only in 48% (12 of 25) of the patients screened. CONCLUSIONS: We found molecular evidence that HBV is an important contributing factor in the etiology of HCC in SouthIndia. In HCC, the S gene of the virus was the most prevalent followed by the X and C genes. Only integrated forms of the viral DNA were observed. Nonisotopic  in situ hybridization using multiple regions of the viral genome is a good technique for studying this association. It has an added advantage over polymerase chain reaction, of localization of signals in a tumor cell. Cell blocks made from fine-needle aspirates are ideal for in situ hybridization. Copyright 2003 American Cancer Society.

7254.      Jinushi M, Takehara T, Kanto T, Tatsumi T, Groh V, Spies T, Miyagi T, Suzuki T, Sasaki Y, Hayashi N.   Critical role of MHC class I-related chain A and B expression on IFN-alpha-stimulated dendritic cells in NK cell activation: impairment in  chronic hepatitis C virus infection. J Immunol. 2003 Feb 1;170(3):1249-56.

Dendritic cells (DCs) augment effector functions of NK cells, but the underlying mechanisms are not fully understood. Here we show in an in vitro coculture system that human monocyte-derived DCs enhance IFN-gamma production, CD69 expression, and K562 cytolytic ability of NK cells when DCs are prestimulated with various maturation stimuli such as IFN-alpha or LPS. Of interest is the finding that NK cell activation mediated by LPS-stimulated DCs was dependent on IL-12 produced in DC/NK coculture, but that IFN-alpha-stimulated DC-mediated activation was not. Alternatively, MHC class I-related chain A and B (MICA/B), ligands for NKG2D activating receptor, were found to be induced on DCs upon IFN-alpha stimulation and to be responsible for the NK activation because mAb-mediated masking of MICA/B as well as inhibition of direct cell-to-cell contact using transwell insert completely abolished DC-dependent NK cell activation by IFN-alpha. Finally, DCs recovered from chronic hepatitis C virus-infected patients showed defects in the induction of MICA/B and impaired ability to activate NK cells in response to IFN-alpha stimulation. These findings suggested that MICA/B induction on DCs may be one of the mechanisms by which IFN-alpha activates NK cells; this impairment might affect IFN-alpha responsiveness in hepatitis C virus infection.

7255.      Kien F, Abraham JD, Schuster C, Kieny MP.  Analysis of the subcellular localization of hepatitis C virus E2 glycoprotein in live cells using EGFP fusion proteins. J Gen Virol. 2003 Mar;84(Pt 3):561-6.

Hepatitis C virus (HCV) E1 and E2 glycoproteins assemble intracellularly to form a non-covalently linked heterodimer, which is retained in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). To study the subcellular localization of E2 in live cells, the enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP) was fused to the N terminus of E2. Using fluorescence and confocal microscopy, we have confirmed that E2 is located in the ER, where budding of HCV virions is thought to occur. Immunoprecipitation experiments using a conformation-sensitive antibody and a GST pull-down assay showed that fusion of EGFP to E2 interferes neither with its heterodimericassembly with E1, nor with proper folding of the ectodomain, nor with the capacity of E2 to interact with human CD81, indicating that the EGFP-E2 fusion protein is functional. As a tool to study binding of E2 to target cells, we also described the expression of an EGFP-E2 fusion protein at the cell surface.

7256.      Levine PH, Delgado Y, Theise ND, West AB.  Stellate-cell lipidosis in liver biopsy specimens. Recognition and significance. Am J Clin Pathol. 2003 Feb;119(2):254-8.

Hepatic stellate-cell lipidosis due to hypervitaminosis A can lead to cirrhosis, which can be averted by restricting vitamin A intake. Other causes, including the use of synthetic retinoids, have been postulated. We studied the frequency and etiology of stellate-cell lipidosis in patients undergoing liver biopsy for reasons other than vitamin A abuse. Fourteen cases (1.1%) were identified retrospectively among 1,235 nontransplant liver biopsy specimens examined from January 1995 through December 1999. Diagnostic criteria included the following: lipid-laden cells in the space of Disse; small, dark, crescent-shaped nuclei with inconspicuous nucleoli; and wispy cytoplasmic strands separating fat droplets. Patient details, reason for biopsy, and medication use were studied. Reasons for biopsy included hepatitis C (10 cases), abnormal liver enzyme levels (2 cases) , methotrexate use (1 case), and alcohol abuse (1 case). Hypervitaminosis A was not suspected clinically in the 5 patients who used oral vitamin A or 3 who used topical tretinoin (Retin-A). In 6 patients, no cause of stellate-cell lipidosis was discerned. Stellate-cell lipidosis should be reported to alert clinicians to a potentially preventable form of liver injury.

7257.      Ma CL, Fang DX, Chen HB, Li FQ, Jin HY, Li SQ, Tan WG.  A mutation specific polymerase chain reaction for detecting hepatitis B virus genome mutations at nt551. World J Gastroenterol. 2003 Mar;9(3):509-12.

AIM: The hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) is considered to be one of the best markers for the diagnosis of acute and chronic HBV infection. But in some patients, this antigen cannot be detected by routine serological assays despite the presence of virus. One of the most important explanations for the lack of detectable HBsAg is that mutations which occur within the "a" determinant of HBVS gene can alter expression of HBsAg and lead to changes of antigenicity and immunogenicity of HBsAg accordingly. As a result, these mutants cannot be detected by diagnosis assays. Thus, it is essential to find out specific and sensitive methods to test the new mutants and further investigate their distribution. This study is to establish a method to investigate the distribution of the HBsAg mutant at nt551. METHODS: A mutation specific polymerase chain reaction (msPCR) was established for amplifying HBV DNA with a mutation at nt551. Four sets of primer pairs, P551A-PPS, P551G-PPS, P551C-PPS and P551T-PPS, with the same sequences except for one base at 3' terminus were designed and synthesized according to the known HBV genome sequences and the popular HBV subtypes, adr and adw, in China. At the basis of regular PCR method, we explored the specific conditions for amplifying HBV DNAs with a mutation at nt551 by regulating annealing temperature and the concentration of these primers. 126 serum samples from patients of hepatitis B were collected, among which 16 were positive for HBV S DNA in the nested PCR amplification. These 16 HBV S DNAs were detected by using the msPCR method. RESULTS: When the annealing temperature was raised to 71 degrees, nt551A and nt551G were amplified specifically by P551A-PPS and P551G-PPS; At 72 degrees and 5 pmole of the primers (each) in reaction of 25 microl volume, nt551C and nt551T were amplified specifically by P551C-PPS and P551T-PPS. 16 of HBV S gene fragments were characterized by using this method. 14 of them were positive for nt551A, one was positive for nt551G, and the other one was positive for nt551T. The results were confirmed by nucleotide sequencing. CONCLUSION: The mutation specific polymerase chain reaction is a specific and sensitive method for detecting the mutations of HBV genome at nt551.

7258.      Matsukura S, Soejima H, Nakagawachi T, Yakushiji H, Ogawa A, Fukuhara M, Miyazaki K, Nakabeppu Y, Sekiguchi M, Mukai T.   CpG methylation of MGMT and hMLH1 promoter in hepatocellular carcinoma associated with hepatitis viral infection. Br J Cancer. 2003 Feb 24;88(4):521-9.

Inactivations of DNA repair genes, O(6)-methylguanine-DNA methyltransferase (MGMT) and hMLH1, by promoter hypermethylation have been reported in several types of primary human neoplasia. This epigenetic inactivation mechanism remains elusive in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). To investigate the relation between the expression of MGMT and hMLH1 and the CpG methylation within their promoters in HCCs with or without hepatitis viral infection, we performed immunohistochemistry and urea/bisulphite sequencing on 46 HCCs, corresponding noncancerous tissues, and 20 normal liver tissues. MGMT- and hMLH1-negative HCCs were 60.9% (28 out of 46) and 21.8% (10 out of 46), respectively. HCCs lacking both proteins were 10.9% (five out of 46). The frequency and extent of CpG methylation in the MGMT promoter increased along with hepatitis viral infection and pathological progression. MGMT-negative tumours showed very frequent and widespread methylation in the promoter compared with MGMT-positive tumours. Half of the hMLH1-negative HCCs showed promoter hypermethylation. These data suggested that MGMT gene silencing in a subset of HCCs was likely caused by epigenetic alteration, such as promoter hypermethylation, and that the promoter hypermethylation silenced the hMLH1 gene in half of the hMLH1-negative tumours. A correlation between the promoter methylation status and viral infection, although it was weak, intimated that hepatitis viral infections could play a role in the CpG methylation of the MGMT promoter.

7259.      Myers RP, De Torres M, Imbert-Bismut F, Ratziu V, Charlotte F, Poynard T.  Biochemical markers of fibrosis in patients with chronic hepatitis C: a comparison with prothrombin time, platelet count, and age-platelet index. Dig Dis Sci. 2003 Jan;48(1):146-53.

As an alternative to liver biopsy, an index of five biochemical markers (alpha2-macroglobulin, apolipoprotein A1, haptoglobin, total bilirubin, gamma-glutamyl-transpeptidase) has been shown to predict the severity of hepatitis C-related fibrosis. The objective of this study was to compare this index with other markers frequently used for this purpose (prothrombin time, platelets, age-platelet index). In 323 hepatitis C-infected patients, the discriminative values of these markers for F2-F4 fibrosis (by the METAVIR classification) were compared. By multiple logistic regression analysis, only the five-marker index (P < 0.0001) and prothrombin time (P = 0.02) were independently predictive of F2-F4 fibrosis. For this outcome, the area under the receiver operating characteristic curve was significantly higher for the five-marker index (0.836 +/- 0.024) than the age-platelet index (P = 0.002), and the platelet count and prothrombin time (P < 0.001), indicating greater diagnostic value. The addition of the latter markers to the five-marker index proved unhelpful for increasing its accuracy. In conclusion, an index of five biochemical markers accurately predicts significant hepatitis C-related fibrosis and is superior to traditional markers.

7260.      Rossi E, Adams L, Prins A, Bulsara M, de Boer B, Garas G, MacQuillan G, Speers D, Jeffrey G.   Validation of the FibroTest biochemical markers score in assessing liver fibrosis in hepatitis C patients. Clin Chem. 2003 Mar;49(3):450-4.

BACKGROUND: Determining the stage of fibrosis by liver biopsy is important in managing patients with hepatitis C virus infection. We investigated the predictive value of the proprietary FibroTest score to accurately identify significant fibrosis in Australian hepatitis C patients. METHODS: Serum obtained from 125 confirmed hepatitis C patients before antiviral therapy was analyzed for haptoglobin, alpha(2)-macroglobulin, apolipoprotein A1, bilirubin, and gamma-glutamyltransferase activity, and the FibroTest score was computed. Liver fibrosis pathology was staged according to a defined system on a scale of F0 to F4. We used predictive values and a ROC curve to assess the accuracy of FibroTest scores. RESULTS: The prevalence of significant fibrosis defined by liver biopsy was 0.38. The most useful single test for predicting significant fibrosis was serum alpha(2)-macroglobulin (cutoff value, 2.52 g/L; sensitivity, 75%; specificity, 67%). The negative predictive value of a FibroTest score <0.1 was 85%, and the positive predictive value of a score >0.6 was 78%. Although 33 of the 125 patients had FibroTest scores <0.1 and were therefore deemed unlikely to have fibrosis, 6 (18%) had significant fibrosis. Conversely, of the 24 patients with scores >0.6 who were likely to have significant fibrosis, 5 (21%) had mild fibrosis. Of the 125 patients in the cohort, 57 (46%) could have avoided liver biopsy, but discrepant results were recorded in 11 of those 57 (19%). CONCLUSION: The FibroTest score could not accurately predict the presence or absence of significant liver fibrosis.


7261.      Ruhl CE, Everhart JE.  Determinants of the association of overweight with elevated serum alanine aminotransferase activity in the United States. Gastroenterology. 2003 Jan;124(1):71-9.

BACKGROUND & AIMS: In the absence of other causes, overweight and obesity increase the risk of liver disease. We examined whether central adiposity and metabolic markers explain the association of body mass index (BMI as kg/m(2)) with abnormal serum alanine aminotransferase (ALT) activity in a national, population-based study. METHODS: Adult participants (5724) in the third U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (1988-1994) underwent anthropometric measures and phlebotomy after an overnight fast. Participants with excessive alcohol consumption, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, iron overload, or known diabetes were excluded. RESULTS: Elevated ALT levels were found in 2.8% of the population. In univariate analysis, factors associated with elevated ALT levels (P < 0.05) included younger age, male sex, Mexican-American ethnicity, and higher BMI, waist-to-hip circumference ratio (WHR), and fasting serum  leptin, triglyceride, insulin, and glucose concentrations. The proportion of elevated ALT activity due to overweight and obesity (BMI > or =25 kg/m(2)) was 65%. In multivariate logistic regression analysis, control for WHR, demographic factors, and glucose concentration diminished but did not eliminate the association of higher BMI with elevated ALT activity. After adding leptin and insulin concentrations, abnormal ALT activity was most strongly associated with higher WHR (odds ratio [OR], 1.32; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.12-1.56) and leptin (OR, 1.12; 95% CI, 1.01-1.24) and insulin (OR, 1.27; 95% CI, 1.01-1.60) concentrations, whereas BMI was not independently related. CONCLUSIONS: In this large, national, population-based study, central adiposity, hyperleptinemia, and hyperinsulinemia were the major determinants of the association of overweight with elevated serum ALT activity.

7262.      Sedlaczek N, Hasilik A, Neuhaus P, Schuppan D, Herbst H.  Focal overexpression of insulin-like growth factor 2 by hepatocytes and cholangiocytes in viral liver cirrhosis. Br J Cancer. 2003 Mar 10;88(5):733-9.

Insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-2 is overexpressed in hepatocellular carcinoma and accompanying dysplastic lesions. IGF-2 signalling is mediated through IGF-1 receptor (IGF-1R), while mannose 6-phosphate/insulin-like growth factor-2 receptor (M6P/IGF-2R) controls pericellular levels of free IGF-2. We studied, by in situ hybridisation and immunohistology, 18 liver specimens with cirrhosis of different aetiology without neoplastic or dysplastic lesions. Immunohistology was also performed for insulin receptor IGF-1R and IGF-binding proteins 3 and 4. High focal levels of IGF-2 RNA were found in some hepatocytes of all livers with HBV- or HCV-induced cirrhosis (n=10), but in only one of the cirrhoses with nonviral aetiology (n=8). IGF-2 was overexpressed in biliary duct epithelial cells in one case. Compared with noncirrhotic liver, all cirrhotic specimens showed reduced hepatocellular expression of M6P/IGF-2R protein, which contrasted with enhanced expression in perisinusoidal cells. Immunostaining for the other antigens did not reveal significant differences. Upregulation of IGF-2 in some hepatocytes may lead to high focal IGF-2 levels sufficient to saturate local IGF-2 binding capacities, and may result in an increased susceptibility to cellular dedifferentiation and, ultimately, liver cancer. Downregulation of hepatocellular M6P/IGF-2R and upregulation of IGF-2 seem to be early events in hepatocarcinogenesis prior to the appearance of morphologically distinct  dysplastic lesions. Elevated focal IGF-2 transcript levels may therefore indicate an increased risk for hepatocellular and cholangiocellular carcinomas.

7263.      Shehab TM, Orrego M, Chunduri R, Lok AS.  Identification and management of hepatitis C patients in primary care clinics. Am J Gastroenterol. 2003 Mar;98(3):639-44.

OBJECTIVE: Previous survey-based research suggested that hepatitis C patients receive suboptimal care in primary care settings. The aim of our study was to define the actual level of care hepatitis C patients receive in primary care clinics. METHODS: Medical records of 229 hepatitis C antibody-positive (group 1), 229 hepatitis C antibody-negative (group 2), and 229 patients not tested for hepatitis C antibody (group 3) were reviewed to assess the indications for hepatitis C testing and the subsequent management and referral of hepatitis C antibody-positive patients diagnosed in primary care clinics. In addition, the compliance of primary care physicians with hepatitis C screening and testing guidelines was assessed. RESULTS: Only 16% of group 1 and 10% of group 2 patients were tested for hepatitis C based on physician-identified risk factors. Only 1% of group 3 patients had documented discussion of hepatitis C risk factors during their initial visit with a primary care physician. The majority of hepatitis C antibody-positive patients was appropriately evaluated in primary care clinics, and most (77%) hepatitis C RNA-positive patients with elevated liver enzymes were referred for subspecialty care. Of the 59 patients who underwent liver biopsy, 40% had bridging fibrosis or cirrhosis. CONCLUSIONS: Hepatitis C testing is rarely initiated in primary care clinics based on physician-identified risk factors. Interventions should be developed to optimize early diagnosis of hepatitis C as significant liver disease may be presentdespite the absence of symptoms.

7264.      Shim YH, Yoon GS, Choi HJ, Chung YH, Yu E.  p16 Hypermethylation in the early stage of hepatitis B virus-associated hepatocarcinogenesis. Cancer Lett. 2003 Feb 20;190(2):213-9.

Abnormality of the p16 expression is involved in the pathogenesis of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), and hypermethylation of p16 gene is known as a major p16 inactivation mechanism. Cirrhotic nodule (CN) is now regarded as a preneoplastic lesion that is frequently associated with microscopic foci of HCC through dysplastic nodules (DNs). This observation clearly supports a multistep hepatocarcinogenesis from CNs through DNs. We thus examined the methylation status of p16 gene in HCCs surrounded by DNs and CNs to define the significance of p16 hypermethylation in the early stage of hepatocarcinogenesis. We tested 24 hepatitis B virus (HBV)-associated CNs, 37 DNs, and 18 HCCs within DNs that were microdissected from paraffin-embedded tissue sections. Frequency of p16 hypermethylation was significantly high in HCCs within DNs (15/18. 83.3%) and it increased from CNs (15/24. 62.5%) through DNs (26/37, 70.3%). Interestingly, 11 out of 12 (91.7%) HCC associated with methylation-positive DNs revealed hypermethylation of p16, and 18 out of 23 (78.2%) DNs associated with methylation-positive CNs showed p16 hypermethylation. These data suggest that p16 hypermethylation in the early stages, CNs and DNs may predispose to HCC. In addition, p16 methylation status of five cell lines with or without HBV infection was examined to test whether the high frequency of hypermethylation is related to HBV infection. HBV-infected cell lines were exclusively methylation-positive. These data suggest that high frequency of hypermethylation may be associated with hepatitis B virus infection.

7265.      Sorvillo F, Mazziotti G, Carbone A, Morisco F, Cioffi M, Rotondi M, Stornaiuolo G, Amato G, Gaeta GB, Caporaso N, Carella C.  Increased serum reverse triiodothyronine levels at diagnosis of hepatocellular carcinoma in patients with compensated HCV-related liver cirrhosis. Clin Endocrinol (Oxf). 2003 Feb;58(2):207-12.

OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to investigate changes in thyroid hormone  metabolism in relation to the development of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in patients with HCV-related liver cirrhosis. MATERIALS AND METHODS: The study group (Group A) comprised 31 patients (25 M, 6 F; median age 62.1 years, range 54.0-81.5 years) affected by HCV-related liver cirrhosis with superimposed HCC. Acute and chronic systemic disease, other than cirrhosis, inducing 'euthyroid sick syndrome' was excluded in all patients. Serum TSH, FT4, FT3, rT3, and thyroxine-binding globulin (TBG) levels were retrospectively evaluated in frozen aliquots drawn at the time of tumour diagnosis and every 6 months for 3-7 years before HCC diagnosis. The control group (Group B) comprised 29 patients affected by HCV-related liver cirrhosis without HCC, matched for sex, age and grade ofliver dysfunction. RESULTS: At the time of HCC diagnosis, all patients in Group A were euthyroid with serum TSH, FT4, FT3 and TBG values not significantly different from those of cirrhotic patients of Group B. However, at diagnosis Group A patients had serum rT3 values that were significantly higher than those in Group B (35.0 ng/dl, range 12.0-162.0 vs. 19.0 ng/dl, range 10.0-51.0; Group A vs. Group B; P < 0.001). Serum rT3 values above the normal range were found in 12 patients in Group A (38.7%) but in only one of the patients from Group B (3.4%) (chi2 10.2; P = 0.001). The serum rT3 levels were not significantly correlated to the Child grade of liver cirrhosis (rho 0.1; P = 0.5). The intrasubject analysis demonstrated that a significant increase in serum rT3 levels occurred at the time of HCC diagnosis but serum FT4, FT3 and TSH values did not change significantly. A receiver operating curve (ROC) demonstrated that a 6-monthly increase in serum rT3 levels of at least +22.5% identified patients with HCC with a diagnostic accuracy of 81.7%. CONCLUSIONS: Our study has demonstrated that development of hepatocellular carcinoma is accompanied by a significant increase in serum rT3 levels in patients with low-grade HCV-related liver cirrhosis who had no other illness causing the 'euthyroid sick syndrome'.

7266.      Van Thiel DH, George M, Brems J, Holt D, Zhu Q, Edelstein S, Amiral J, Tarasuk G, Leone N.  Antiphospholipid antibodies before and after liver transplantation. Am J Gastroenterol. 2003 Feb;98(2):460-5.

OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to determine whether liver transplantation of patients with antiphospholipid antibodies (APA) is 1) adversely affected with vascular thrombosis and 2) whether such antibodies persist post transplantation. METHODS: Twelve patients with APA awaiting transplant were identified and characterized biochemically and immunologically. Each had the level of APA determined using commercially available enzyme-linked immunoassay kits before, during, and after liver transplantation. RESULTS: No patient in this series experienced a transplant-related vascular thrombosis. The titer of APA fell to levels at or below those present in normals and remained low in two of 12 or undetectable in 10 of 12 patients 1 yr after liver transplantation. CONCLUSIONS: We reached the following conclusions: 1) Antiphospholipid positivity does not identify patients at high risk for post-transplant vascular thrombosis. 2) The levels of antiphospholipid present in sera pretransplant fell during transplantation and remained low or undetectable 1 month and 1 yr post transplantation.

7267.      Vecchi M, Folli C, Donato MF, Formenti S, Arosio E, de Franchis R.  High rate of positive anti-tissue transglutaminase antibodies in chronic liver disease. Role of liver decompensation and of the antigen source. Scand J Gastroenterol. 2003 Jan;38(1):50-4.

BACKGROUND: Since the recognition of tissue transglutaminase (tTG) as the target antigen of anti-endomysium antibodies, several ELISA assays using either guinea pig or human recombinant tTG have been developed. The aim of the study was to compare the behaviour of anti-tTG and anti-endomysium antibodies assays in coeliacs and in patients with chronic liver disease. METHODS: 34 patients (24 women, 34.9 +/- 12.5 years) with coeliac disease and 41 with chronic liver disease (14 women, 57 +/- 11.2 years), including 19 cirrhotics, were evaluated for anti-endomysium antibodies by indirect immunofluorescence and for anti-Ttg IgA antibodies by ELISA, using guinea pig liver or human recombinant transglutaminase. RESULTS: The pre valences of anti-tTG and anti-endomysium antibodies were 100% in patients with coeliac disease at diagnosis, 75% and 64.3% in patients on a gluten-free diet. All liver disease patients were negative for anti-endomysium antibodies, while 11 (26.8%) were positive for anti-tTG. All these patients had liver cirrhosis and represented 57.9% of all cirrhotics. The presence of anti-tTG was associated with higher Child-Pugh scores. The use of human transglutaminase determined a reduction in the rate of positive results; however, the rate of positive anti-tTG was still 17.1% in all liver disease patients and 31.6% in cirrhotics. CONCLUSIONS: Our data confirm that anti-tTG have a similar sensitivity compared with anti-endomysium antibodies assay in coeliacs. However, a high prevalence of positive anti-tTG results is observed in cirrhotic patients, even when human recombinant tTG is used. The high prevalence of positive results among cirrhotic patients is associated with more advanced liver disease.

7268.      Velazquez RF, Rodriguez M, Navascues CA, Linares A, Perez R, Sotorrios NG, Martinez I, Rodrigo L.  Prospective analysis of risk factors for hepatocellular carcinoma in patients with liver cirrhosis. Hepatology. 2003 Mar;37(3):520-7.

Better knowledge of the risk factors associated with the appearance of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) could improve the efficacy of surveillance programs. A total of 463 patients aged 40 to 65 years with liver cirrhosis in Child-Pugh class A or B were included in a program of early diagnosis. The predictive value of different risk factors was evaluated using the Kaplan-Meier method and Cox regression model. Thirty-eight patients developed HCC. In the multivariate analysis, 4 variables showed an independent predictive value for the development of HCC: age 55 years or older, antibody to hepatitis C virus (anti-HCV) positivity, prothrombin activity 75% or less, and platelet count less than 75  10(3)/mm(3). According to the contribution of each of these factors to the final model, a score ranging between 0 and 4.71 points was constructed to allow the division of patients into 2 different risk groups. The low-risk group included those with a score of 2.33 points or less (n = 270; 4 with HCC; cumulative incidence of HCC at 4 years, 2.3%), and the high-risk group included those with a score greater than 2.33 (n = 193; 34 with HCC; cumulative incidence of HCC at 4 years, 30.1%) (P =.0001). In conclusion, a simple score made up of 4 clinical and biological variables allowed us to distinguish 2 groups of cirrhotic patients at high and low risk for the development of HCC. We believe this score can be useful in establishing a subset of cirrhotic patients in whom a surveillance program for early detection of HCC could be unjustified.

7269.      Yuce A, Kocak N, Demir H, Gurakan F, Ozen H, Saltik IN, Ozcay F.  Evaluation of diagnostic parameters of Wilson's disease in childhood. Indian J Gastroenterol. 2003 Jan-Feb;22(1):4-6.

BACKGROUND: Wilson's disease (WD) is an autosomal recessive disorder with variable clinical presentation. Its diagnosis depends on a combination of clinical and laboratory findings. We evaluated the sensitivity of various diagnostic tests in children with WD and high liver copper concentrations. METHODS: Thirty-three children (6-15 years old, 19 male) with confirmed WD (hepatic copper >250 mcirog/g dry weight) were evaluated retrospectively. Eyes were examined with biomicroscope for Kayser-Fleischer rings and urinary copper content was determined in 30 patients. Serum ceruloplasmin levels were measured and liver tissue samples were stained with orcein in all. RESULTS: All patients presented with hepatic disease. Four patients also had neurological involvement. Hepatic copper concentration was between 250 and 1200 microg/g. Eighteen patients had liver cirrhosis, 9 chronic hepatitis, and 6 had massive hepatic necrosis on liver biopsy or necropsy. The sensitivity of various tests evaluated was: 100% (30/30) for urinary copper excretion, 88% (29/33) for orcein staining on liver tissues, 82% (27/33) for ceruloplasmin levels, and 63% (19/30) for presence of Kayser-Fleischer ring. Kayser-Fleischer ring was present in all patients with neurological manifestations and in 58% of patients with only hepatic presentation. CONCLUSIONS: 24-hour urinary copper excretion seems to be the most sensitive test for diagnosis of WD, particularly when liver biopsy cannot be performed due to coagulation abnormalities.

7270.      Zech B, Kurtenbach A, Krieger N, Strand D, Blencke S, Morbitzer M, Salassidis K, Cotten M, Wissing J, Obert S, Bartenschlager R, Herget T, Daub H.   Identification and characterization of amphiphysin II as a novel cellular interaction partner of the hepatitis C virus NS5A protein. J Gen Virol. 2003 Mar;84(Pt 3):555-60.

The hepatitis C virus (HCV) NS5A protein is highly phosphorylated by cellular protein kinases. To study how NS5A might be integrated in cellular kinase signalling, we isolated phosphoproteins from HuH-7 hepatoma cells that specifically interacted with recombinant NS5A protein. Subsequent mass spectrometry identified the adaptor protein amphiphysin II as a novel interaction partner of NS5A. Mutational analysis revealed that complex formation is primarily mediated by a proline-rich region in the C-terminal part of NS5A, which interacts with the amphiphysin II Src homology 3 domain. Importantly, we could further demonstrate specific co-precipitation and cellular co-localization of endogenous amphiphysin II with NS5A in HuH-7 cells carrying a persistently replicating subgenomic HCV replicon. Although the NS5A-amphiphysin II interaction appeared to be dispensable for replication of these HCV RNAs in cell culture, our results indicate that NS5A-amphiphysin II complex formation might be of physiological relevance for the HCV life cycle.



7271.      Gaud U, Langer B, Petropoulou T, Thomas HC, Karayiannis P.  Changes in hypervariable region 1 of the envelope 2 glycoprotein of hepatitis C virus in children and adults with humoral immune defects. J Med Virol. 2003 Mar;69(3):350-6.

The N-terminal end of the hepatitis C virus (HCV) envelope glycoprotein E2 contains a stretch of 27 amino acids that exhibit increased variability. This hypervariable region 1 (HVR-1), as it is normally referred to, is thought to contain epitopes that come under humoral immune attack. In the present study, 10 patients (5 children and 5 adults) with humoral immune defects and chronic HCV infection were investigated, to see how HVR-1 sequences behave over time in these patients who are unable to produce antibodies. Amplicons of this region showed little or no variation at all over time, indicating that quasispecies variation in this region is driven by the host's humoral immune response. Copyright 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

7272.      Geier A, Dietrich CG, Gartung C.  Antiviral therapy in HBe-Ag-positive hepatitis B with normal aminotransferase levels. Hepatology. 2003 Mar;37(3):712-3 No abstract available.

7273.      Hu Y, Shahidi A, Park S, Guilfoyle D, Hirshfield I.  Detection of extrahepatic hepatitis C virus replication by a novel, highly sensitive, single-tube nested polymerase chain reaction. Am J Clin Pathol. 2003 Jan;119(1):95-100.

We established a cell culture system for the replication of hepatitis C virus (HCV) by using human T and B leukemia cell lines. These 2 cell lines were infected in vitro by using HCV-positive pooled patient serum samples. HCV RNA was extracted from infected cell lines at different times after infection, and a sequence of the virus 5' untranslated region was analyzed. Hepatitis C minus-strand RNA was detected in the infected cell lines by highly strand-specific rTth (recombinant Thermus thermophilus DNA polymerase)-based reverse transcription followed by a novel, highly sensitive, single-tube nested polymerase chain reaction (PCR) method. PCR products were analyzed by direct DNA sequencing. These results indicate that the HCV can replicate in T and B lymphocytes. This model should represent a valuable tool for the detailed study of the initial steps of the HCV replication cycle and for the evaluation of antiviral molecules.

7274.      Ma SP, Sakugawa H, Makino Y, Tadano M, Kinjo F, Saito A.   The complete genomic sequence of hepatitis delta virus genotype IIb prevalent in Okinawa, Japan. J Gen Virol. 2003 Feb;84(Pt 2):461-4.

The Miyako Islands, located in the southernmost part of Japan, have been reported to be endemic for hepatitis delta virus (HDV). The majority of HDV patients in this area exhibit a relatively mild course of infection that evolves into a quiescent cirrhotic condition. The entire nucleotide sequence of the Miyako isolate (L215) of HDV obtained from a cirrhotic patient infected with HDV was determined. This isolate, L215, comprises 1682 nt and encodes 213 aa of the hepatitis delta antigen. Phylogenetic analysis showed that L215 is closely related to the Taiwanese genotype IIb HDV isolate. In addition, the predicted folding structure of the antigenomic RNA substrate was different from those of the published genotype II sequences.

7275.      Okamoto N, Yotsuyanagi H, Ooka S, Matsui T, Suzuki Kurokawa M, Suzuki M, Iino S, Nishioka K, Kato T.  Autoantibodies to CD69 in patients with chronic hepatitis type C: a candidate marker for predicting the response to interferon therapy. Intervirology. 2003;46(1):56-65.

OBJECTIVE: To understand the autoimmunity associated with chronic hepatitis C (CHC), we investigated autoantibodies (autoAbs) to CD69. METHODS: With this aim, we tested the reactivity of serum samples from patients with CHC and asymptomatic carriers of hepatitis C virus (HCV), as well as from patients with chronic hepatitis B (CHB) and autoimmune hepatitis (AIH), to recombinant CD69 molecules. RESULTS: Frequencies of anti-CD69 autoAbs were 38.7% in CHC, 15.8% in AIH and 12.3% in CHB. None of the tested asymptomatic HCV carriers had autoAbs to CD69. It is important clinically that the presence of anti-CD69 autoAbs was found to be associated with a poor response to interferon-alpha (IFN-alpha) therapy. In the epitope analysis, multiple epitopes were mapped on CD69, indicating antigen-driven production of the autoAbs. CONCLUSION: We evidenced existence of anti-CD69 autoAbs in patients with CHC, and found that the anti-CD69 autoAb may have potential for predicting responses to IFN-alpha therapy. Copyright 2003 S. Karger AG, Basel

7276.      Pasquier C, Bujan L, Daudin M, Righi L, Berges L, Thauvin L, Berrebi A, Massip P, Puel J, Izopet J.   Intermittent detection of hepatitis C virus (HCV) in semen from men with human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) and HCV. J Med Virol. 2003 Mar;69(3):344-9.

HCV is usually transmitted via the blood, but HCV RNA has been detected recently in seminal fluid. This study was done to study HCV seminal shedding and factors that could influence the presence of HCV in the seminal fluid of men coinfected with HCV and HIV-1. HCV and HIV-1 genomes were assayed in multiple paired blood and semen samples obtained from 35 men enrolled in an assisted medical procreation protocol. HCV RNA was found intermittently in semen samples from 9 patients (25.7%). Samples from 9 men with HCV RNA in their semen and 26 men without were compared to further analyze these parameters. No correlation was found between HCV RNA in the seminal fluid and age, HCV virus load, the duration of HIV-1 infection, HIV treatment, the CD4(+) cell count, HIV-1 virus load or HIV-1 detection in the semen. The intermittent detection of HCV RNA in semen samples support the systematic search for HCV RNA in semen and the use of processed spermatozoa in assisted medical procreation of infertile HCV serodiscordant couples. Copyright 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

7277.      Santamaria E, Avila MA, Latasa MU, Rubio A, Martin-Duce A, Lu SC, Mato JM, Corrales FJ.  Functional proteomics of nonalcoholic steatohepatitis: mitochondrial proteins as targets of S-adenosylmethionine. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2003 Mar 18;100(6):3065-70.

Recent work shows that S-adenosylmethionine (AdoMet) helps maintain normal liver function as chronic hepatic deficiency results in spontaneous development of steatohepatitis and hepatocellular carcinoma. The mechanisms by which these nontraditional functions of AdoMet occur are unknown. Here, we use knockout mice deficient in hepatic AdoMet synthesis (MAT1A(-/-)) to study the proteome of the liver during the development of steatohepatitis. One hundred and seventeen protein spots, differentially expressed during the development of steatohepatitis, were selected and identified by peptide mass fingerprinting. Among them, 12 proteins were found to be affected from birth, when MAT1A(-/-) expression is switched on in WT mouse liver, to the rise of histological lesions, which occurs at approximately 8 months. Of the 12 proteins, 4 [prohibitin 1 (PHB1), cytochrome c oxidase I and II, and ATPase beta-subunit] have known roles in mitochondrial function. We show that the alteration in expression of PHB1 correlates with a loss of mitochondrial function. Experiments in isolated rat hepatocytes indicate that AdoMet regulates PHB1 content, thus suggesting ways by which steatohepatitis may be induced. Importantly, we found the expression of these mitochondrial proteins was abnormal in obob mice and obese patients who are at risk for nonalcoholic steatohepatitis.

7278.      Wong RH, Yeh CY, Hsueh YM, Wang JD, Lei YC, Cheng TJ.   Association of hepatitis virus infection, alcohol consumption and plasma vitamin A levels with urinary 8-hydroxydeoxyguanosine in chemical workers. Mutat Res. 2003 Mar 3;535(2):181-6.

Urinary 8-hydroxydeoxyguanosine (8-OHdG) DNA adduct has been used as a biomarker in epidemiological studies. However, the determinants for urinary 8-OHdG have not been clearly identified. We tested urinary 8-OHdG levels in 205 male workers who had been exposed to vinyl chloride monomer (VCM). Epidemiological information was obtained by an interviewer-administered questionnaire. Hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) and anti-hepatitis C antibody (anti-HCV) were also determined by immunoassay. Plasma antioxidants including Vitamins A and E, alpha- and beta-carotenes were assayed by high performance liquid chromatography. Median of urinary 8-OHdG level was 9.8 ng/mg creatinine (range, 1.4-60.1). Multiple linear regression analysis showed that alcohol drinkers had higher urinary 8-OHdG than those who did not, but there was no dose-response between the amount of alcohol consumption and urinary 8-OHdG. Workers with positive HBsAg, anti-HCV and elevated plasma Vitamin A level were independently associated with higher levels of urinary 8-OHdG, whereas age, smoking, body mass index, plasma alpha- and beta-carotenes, Vitamin E levels, or VCM exposure did not show such an association. The results suggest that active inflammation of hepatitis B and C, alcohol consumption and higher Vitamin A level can induce oxidative stress. Thus, we conclude that potential determinants need to be considered in epidemiological studies when urinary 8-OHdG is used as a biomarker.




7279.      Williams IT, Goldstein ST, Tufa J, Tauillii S, Margolis HS, Mahoney FJ.  Long term antibody response to hepatitis B vaccination beginning at birth and to subsequent booster vaccination. Pediatr Infect Dis J. 2003 Feb;22(2):157-63.

BACKGROUND: Few studies have examined the long term persistence of antibody after hepatitis B immunization beginning at birth and the response to a subsequent challenge with a booster dose of vaccine. METHODS: Two groups of children received hepatitis B vaccine on a schedule of birth and 1 and 6 months of age. Group 1 received recombinant vaccine and a booster dose at 5 years of age. Group 2 received plasma-derived vaccine and a booster dose at 9 years of age. Group 1 children were tested for antibody after the primary vaccine series. All children were tested for antibody before administration of the booster dose and at 2 and 4 weeks and 1 year after the booster. In addition all children were tested for markers of hepatitis B virus infection. RESULTS: Antibody testing conducted after the primary series for children in Group 1 (n = 70) showed that 90% had protective antibody concentrations at 13 months of age, and testing before the booster dose showed that 41% had protective antibody concentrations. All children with protective antibody concentrations after the primary series had an anamnestic antibody response to the booster dose. In Group 2 (n = 41) 39% of children had protective antibody concentrations before the booster dose, and 93% had an anamnestic antibody response to the booster dose. One year after the booster dose there were 26-fold and 11-fold declines in antibody concentration in Groups 1 and 2, respectively. CONCLUSIONS: A primary vaccination series with either plasma-derived or recombinant hepatitis B vaccine affords long term protection for children when vaccinated beginning soon after birth.




7280.      Chen LK, Hwang SJ, Tsai ST, Luo JC, Lee SD, Chang FY.  Glucose intolerance in Chinese patients with chronic hepatitis C. World J Gastroenterol. 2003 Mar;9(3):505-8.

AIM: To investigate the prevalence and the risk factors of glucose intolerance in Chinese patients with chronic hepatitis C and to evaluate the relationship between interferon (IFN) treatment and glucose intolerance in these patients. METHODS: Prospective cross-sectional study was done to evaluate the prevalence of glucose intolerance in Chinese patients with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection from the outpatient clinic of Department of Family Medicine, Taipei Veterans General Hospital. Chronic hepatitis C was defined as persistent presence of anti-HCV and persistent elevation of liver transaminase for at least 1.5 folds for at least 6 months. Moreover, patients were further categorized into normal fasting glucose and glucose intolerance (diabetes mellitus (DM) and impaired fasting glucose) according to the diagnostic criteria of American Diabetic Association. RESULTS: Totally, 359 Chinese patients with chronic hepatitis C were enrolled (212 males and 147 females, mean age=58.1+/-13.0 years). One hundred and twenty-three patients (34.3 %) had received various forms of IFN treatment. One hundred and twenty-five patients (34.6 %) had glucose intolerance, including 99 patients (27.6 %) with DM and 26 patients (7.0 %) with impaired fasting glucose. In comparison with those with normal fasting glucose levels, patients with chronic hepatitis C with glucose intolerance were significantly older, had a significantly higher body mass index, and they were more likely to suffer from obesity, to have family history of diabetes and to have had previous IFN treatment. Stepwise multivariate logistic regression revealed significantly that age >=57 years, obesity, previous history of IFN treatment and the presence of family history of diabetes were independent risk factors associated with the presence of glucose intolerance in chronic hepatitis C patients. CONCLUSION: In conclusion, 34.6 % of Chinese patients with chronic hepatitis C had glucose intolerance. Chronic hepatitis C patients who were older in age, obese, had previous IFN treatment history and had family history of diabetes were prone to develop glucose intolerance. To our knowledge, this is the first population-based report to confirm that interferon treatment to be an independent risk factor to develop glucose intolerance.

7281.      Gonzalez-Candelas F, Bracho MA, Moya A.  Molecular epidemiology and forensic genetics: application to a hepatitis C virus transmission event at a hemodialysis unit. J Infect Dis. 2003 Feb 1;187(3):352-8.

Molecular phylogenetic analyses are frequently used in epidemiologic testing, although only occasionally in forensics. Their acceptability is hampered by a lack of statistical confidence in the conclusions. However, maximum likelihood testing provides a sound statistical framework for the testing of phylogenetic hypotheses relevant for forensic analysis. We present the results of applying this method to a small hepatitis C outbreak produced in a hospital hemodialysis unit that involved 6 patients. Polymerase chain reaction products from a 472-nt fragment of the E1-E2 region, including the hypervariable region, HVR-1, of the hepatitis C virus genome were cloned, and an average of 10 clones/patient and from 11 additional control patients were sequenced. The method allows astatistical evaluation that the likelihood of each sample belonging or not to a given group, a question of relevance in many forensic and epidemiological analyses of molecular sequences.

7282.      Ji X, Cheung R, Cooper S, Li Q, Greenberg HB, He XS.  Interferon alfa regulated gene expression in patients initiating interferon treatment for chronic hepatitis C. Hepatology. 2003 Mar;37(3):610-21.

Interferon alfa (IFN-alpha) is an approved therapeutic agent for chronic hepatitis C. To directly characterize the effects of IFN-alpha in humans, we used microarrays to profile gene expression in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) from hepatitis C patients treated with IFN-alpha. Seven patients were studied using two strategies: (1) in vivo: PBMCs were collected immediately before the first dose of IFN-alpha, and 3 and 6 hours after the dose; (2) ex vivo: PBMCs that were collected before the first IFN-alpha dose were incubated with IFN-alpha for 3 and 6 hours. The microarray datasets were analyzed with significance analysis of microarrays (SAM) to identify genes regulated by IFN-alpha. We identified 516 named genes up-regulated at least 2-fold, at a false discovery rate (FDR) of less than 1%. In vivo and ex vivo studies generated similar results. No genes were identified as regulated differently between these 2 experimental conditions. The up-regulated genes belonged to a broad range of functional pathways and included multiple genes thought to be involved in the direct antiviral effect of IFN-alpha. Of particular interest, 88 genes directly relating to functions of immune cells were up-regulated, including genes involved in antigen processing and presentation, T-cell activation, lymphocyte trafficking, and effector functions, suggesting that IFN-alpha up-regulates multiple genes involving different aspects of immune responses to enhance immunity against hepatitis C virus. In conclusion, IFN-alpha-inducible genes can be identified in human PBMCs in vivo as well as ex vivo. Signature changes associated with different treatment outcomes may be found among these genes.

7283.      Kapadia SB, Brideau-Andersen A, Chisari FV.   Interference of hepatitis C virus RNA replication by short interfering RNAs. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2003 Feb 18;100(4):2014-8.

Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is a major cause of chronic liver disease, which can lead to the development of liver cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. Current therapy of patients with chronic HCV infection includes treatment with IFNalpha in combination with ribavirin. Because most treated patients do not resolve the infection, alternative treatment is essential. RNA interference (RNAi) is a recently discovered antiviral mechanism present in plants and animals that induces  double-stranded RNA degradation. Using a selectable subgenomic HCV replicon cell culture system, we have shown that RNAi can specifically inhibit HCV RNA replication and protein expression in Huh-7 cells that stably replicate the HCV genome, and that this antiviral effect is independent of IFN. These results suggest that RNAi may represent a new approach for the treatment of persistent HCV infection.

7284.      Setchell KD, Heubi JE, Bove KE, O'Connell NC, Brewsaugh T, Steinberg SJ, Moser A, Squires RH Jr.   Liver disease caused by failure to racemize trihydroxycholestanoic acid: gene mutation and effect of bile acid therapy. Gastroenterology. 2003 Jan;124(1):217-32.

BACKGROUND & AIMS: Inborn errors of bile acid metabolism may present as neonatal cholestasis and fat-soluble vitamin malabsorption or as late onset chronic liver disease. Our aim was to fully characterize a defect in bile acid synthesis in a 2-week-old African-American girl presenting with coagulopathy, vitamin D and E deficiencies, and mild cholestasis and in her sibling, whose liver had been used for orthotopic liver transplantation (OLT). METHODS: Bile acids were measured by mass spectrometry in urine, bile, serum, and feces of the patient and in urine from the unrelated recipient. RESULTS: Liver biopsy specimens showed neonatal hepatitis with giant cell transformation and hepatocyte necrosis; peroxisomes were reduced in number. High concentrations of (25R)3alpha,7alpha,12alpha-trihydroxy-5beta-cholestanoic acid in the urine, bile, and serum established a pattern similar to that of Zellweger syndrome and identical to the Alligator mississippiensis. Serum phytanic acid was normal, whereas pristanic acid was markedly elevated. Biochemical, MRI, and neurologic findings were inconsistent with a generalized defect of peroxisomal function and were unique. Analysis of the urine from the recipient of the deceased sibling's liver confirmed the same bile acid synthetic defect. A deficiency in 2-methylacyl-CoA racemase, which is essential for conversion of (25R)THCA to its 25S-isomer, the substrate to initiate peroxisomal beta-oxidation to primary bile acids, was confirmed by DNA analysis revealing a missense mutation (S52P) in the gene encoding this enzyme. Long-term treatment with cholic acid normalized liver enzymes and prevented progression of symptoms. CONCLUSIONS: This genetic defect further highlights bile acid synthetic defects as a cause of neonatal cholestasis.

October 2003 

7965.  Abravaya K, Huff J, Marshall R, Merchant B, Mullen C, Schneider G, Robinson J. Molecular beacons as diagnostic tools: technology and applications. Clin Chem Lab Med. 2003 Apr;41(4):468-74. 


Molecular beacons are single-stranded, fluorophore-labeled nucleic acid probes that are capable of generating a fluorescent signal in the presence of target, but are dark in the absence of target. Molecular beacons allow multiplex detection of PCR products in real time in a homogeneous assay format. Real time detection is inherently quantitative and affords a greater dynamic range than end-point detection methods. Reactions in a homogeneous assay format are sealed before amplification takes place, providing improved contamination control. A single cycler/reader instrument, coupled with automated sample preparation, results in higher throughput and greater ease of use. A multiplex qualitative assay that detects Chlamydia trachomatis and Neisseria gonorrhoeae, along with an internal control, has been developed. High specificity is achieved through careful selection of primers, probes and assay conditions. Quantitative HIV, HCV, and HBV viral load assays, with sensitivities of 50 copies/ml, 20 IU/ml, and 50 copies/ml, respectively, are achievable. The viral load assays are designed to quantitate all subtype and genotype specimens equivalently. A molecular beacon assay has been designed to detect a single nucleotide polymorphism in the beta2 adrenergic receptor gene.

7966.  Afdhal NH. Diagnosing fibrosis in hepatitis C: is the pendulum swinging from biopsy to blood tests? Hepatology. 2003 May;37(5):972-4. Review. No abstract

7967.  Angermayr B, Cejna M, Karnel F, Gschwantler M, Koenig F, Pidlich J, Mendel H, Pichler L, Wichlas M, Kreil A, Schmid M, Ferlitsch A, Lipinski E, Brunner H, Lammer J, Ferenci P, Gangl A, Peck-Radosavljevic M. Child-Pugh versus MELD score in predicting survival in patients undergoing transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt. Gut. 2003 Jun;52(6):879-85.


BACKGROUND: In patients undergoing transjugular intrahepatic portosystemic shunt (TIPS), prognostic scores may identify those with a poor prognosis or even those with a clear survival benefit. The Child-Pugh score (CPS) is well established but several drawbacks have led to development of the model of end stage liver disease (MELD). AIM: The aim of the study was to compare the predictive power of CPS and MELD, to validate the original MELD formula, and to assess the predictive value of the determinants used in the two prognostic scores outside of a study setting. PATIENTS: A total of 501 patients underwent elective TIPS placement and 475 patients fulfilled the inclusion criteria. METHODS: Data of all patients undergoing elective TIPS in one university hospital and four community hospitals in Vienna, Austria, between 1991 and 2001, were analysed retrospectively. The main statistical tests were Cox proportional hazards regression model, the log rank test, Kaplan-Meier analysis, and concordance c statistics. RESULTS: Median follow up was 5.2 years and median survival was 4.6 years. During follow up, 230 patients died, 75 within three months after TIPS placement. In stepwise proportional hazards analyses, independent predictors of death were creatinine level, bilirubin level, age, and refractory ascites. MELD was better in predicting survival in a stepwise Cox model but both scores were equally predictive in c statistics for one month, three month, and one year survival. Renal function was the strongest independent predictor of survival. CONCLUSIONS: Although MELD was the primary predictor of overall survival in multivariate analysis, c statistics showed that both scores can be used for patients undergoing TIPS with equal accuracy. For assessing prognosis in patients undergoing TIPS implantation, there seems little reason to replace the well established Child-Pugh score.


7968.  Anzola M, Cuevas N, Lopez-Martinez M, Saiz A, Burgos JJ, de Pancorbo MM. Frequent loss of p53 codon 72 Pro variant in hepatitis C virus-positive carriers with hepatocellular carcinoma. Cancer Lett. 2003 Apr 25;193(2):199-205.


Codon 72 exon 4 polymorphism of the p53 gene has been implicated in cancer risk and it has been suggested that it may have an impact on the clinical outcome of the disease. Our objective was to evaluate the association between p53 polymorphism at codon 72 and hepatocellular carcinoma. The p53 codon 72 genotype was examined in 97 biopsy samples from 67 Basque patients histologically diagnosed with hepatocellular carcinoma. Blood samples collected from 111 Basque residents were examined as a control group. The polymorphism was examined by both single strand conformation polymorphism analysis and allele specific polymerase chain reaction. Fisher's exact test was used to evaluate the data. The results showed that there were no statistically significant differences in the frequency of codon 72 polymorphism genotype between patients with liver cancer and healthy controls. We found a frequent loss of proline allele in hepatitis C virus (HCV)-positive carriers. In conclusion, the lack of a significant relationship between this polymorphism and risk of hepatocellular carcinoma suggests that it does not predispose towards hepatocarcinogenesis in this population. We suggest that the frequent loss of the proline allele in HCV-associated carcinogenesis of the liver plays some role in hepatocarcinogenesis.

7969.  Arndt T, Kuhn D, Herbst H, Linnemann M, Nikolaidis N. Increased carbohydrate-deficient transferrin of unknown etiology in a 15-year-old male patient with autoimmune hepatitis type 1. Clin Chem. 2003 Jun;49(6 Pt 1):1025-6. No abstract

7970.  Auroux J, Lamarque D, Roudot-Thoraval F, Deforges L, Chaumette MT, Richardet JP, Delchier JC. Gastroduodenal ulcer and erosions are related to portal hypertensive gastropathy and recent alcohol intake in cirrhotic patients. Dig Dis Sci. 2003 Jun;48(6):1118-23.


Gastroduodenal ulcers and gastroduodenal erosions are particularly frequent in cirrhotic patients, but their precise cause is unclear. The aim of this study was to identify pathogenic factors associated with ulcers and erosions in patients with cirrhosis. We studied 64 consecutive patients with cirrhosis referred for gastroscopy. The severity of portal hypertensive gastropathy was graded with an endoscopic score. H. pylori status was determined by histological examination of gastric biopsy samples or by the [13C] urea breath test. The daily alcohol intake within the preceding week was recorded. The Child-Pugh score was determined. Fifteen patients had gastroduodenal ulcer and 20 had gastroduodenal erosions. Cirrhosis was related to alcohol in 44 patients and hepatitis B or C virus in 14 patients. The portal hypertensive gastropathy was graded as severe in 12 patients and mild in 25 patients. H. pylori infection, found in 37 patients, was not related to the gastroduodenal lesions. Univariate and multivariate analysis showed the links between gastroduodenal erosions and hypertensive gastropathy and recent heavy drinking. Gastroduodenal ulcer was independently associated only with the severity of the gastropathy. In conclusion, in these patients with cirrhosis, the presence of astroduodenal

ulcer was significantly related to hypertensive gastropathy but not to H. pylori infection. Recent alcohol intake favored the occurrence of gastroduodenal erosions.


7971.  Ballot E, Bruneel A, Labas V, Johanet C. Identification of rat targets of anti-soluble liver antigen autoantibodies by serologic proteome analysis. Clin Chem. 2003 Apr;49(4):634-43.


BACKGROUND: Anti-soluble liver antigen (SLA) autoantibodies are specific for autoimmune hepatitis type 1 and are the only immunologic marker found in 15-20% of hepatitis cases previously considered cryptogenic. Anti-SLA antibodies react with the 100 000g supernatant from rat liver homogenate, but the molecular targets remain controversial. METHODS: We characterized anti-SLA targets by one- and two-dimensional immunoblotting analysis. The recognized proteins were identified by peptide mass fingerprint analysis after matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight (MALDI-TOF) mass spectrometry. RESULTS: Three proteins of 35 kDa and pI 6.0, 50 kDa and pI between 6.0 and 6.5, and 58 kDa and pI between 6.5 and 7.0 were stained more intensely by anti-SLA positive-sera than by control sera. After in-gel tryptic digestion, MALDI-TOF analysis of the generated peptides enabled the clear identification of N-hydroxyarylamine sulfotransferase, isoforms of alpha-enolase, and isoforms of catalase. CONCLUSIONS: Possible antigens for anti-SLA antibodies include a sulfotransferase, alpha-enolase(s), and catalase(s). Two-dimensional electrophoresis combined with mass spectrometry offers a versatile tool to identify molecular targets of autoantibodies and thus to improve diagnostic

tools and the understanding of the immune process.

7972.      Berg T, Pascu M, Moller B. Prediction of spontaneous viral clearance in acute hepatitis C by viral load measurements. Hepatology. 2003 Jun;37(6):1495-6; author reply 1496. No abstract

7973.      Bolondi L. Screening tests for hepatocellular carcinoma. Hepatology. 2003 Jun;37(6):1493; author reply 1493. No abstract

7974.      Bosy-Westphal A, Ruschmeyer M, Czech N, Oehler G, Hinrichsen H, Plauth M, Lotterer E, Fleig W, Muller MJ. Determinants of hyperhomocysteinemia in patients with chronic liver disease and after orthotopic liver transplantation. Am J Clin Nutr. 2003 May;77(5):1269-77.


BACKGROUND: Homocysteine metabolism may be impaired in chronic liver disease, possibly contributing to fibrogenesis and disease complications. OBJECTIVE: The goal was to investigate the prevalence and determinants of basal and postprandial hyperhomocysteinemia in patients with chronic liver disease and after orthotopic liver transplantation (OLT). DESIGN: This was a cross-sectional study of 323 patients with chronic liver disease (93 with hepatitis, 8 with fatty liver, 168 with cirrhosis, and 54 after OLT) and 25 healthy control subjects. Portohepatovenous gradients of total homocysteine (tHcy) and methionine and postload methionine and tHcy kinetics before and after 10 d of supplementation with folate plus vitamin B-6 were investigated in subgroups. RESULTS: Basal hyperhomocysteinemia was observed in all patient groups (34% of patients with hepatitis, 50% with fatty liver, 54% with cirrhosis, and 52% after OLT). It was more frequently seen in patients with elevated plasma creatinine concentrations and at advanced stages of liver disease. Mean plasma folate was normal in patients with liver disease, but vitamin B-12 was elevated in cirrhosis and vitamin B-6 was low after OLT. There were significant negative associations between tHcy and folic acid or vitamin B-12 concentrations in control subjects and in patients with hepatitis and after OLT. No systematic association between portohepatovenous differences in tHcy and methionine concentrations was found. Cirrhosis was accompanied by impaired methionine clearance. After vitamin supplementation, the area under the tHcy curve improved in cirrhosis at nearly unchanged basal tHcy concentrations. CONCLUSIONS: Basal

hyperhomocysteinemia is seen in approximately 50% of patients with cirrhosis and after OLT. Basal tHcy concentrations do not change significantly after supplementation with folate and vitamin B-6, but postprandial Hcy metabolism improves.

7975.  Brunetti G, Delmastro M, Nava S, Pignatti P, Bossi A, Gatti M, Furione M. Detection of HCV-RNA in bronchoalveolar lavage from a woman with pulmonary fibrosis. Respir Med. 2003 Jun;97(6):736-8. No abstract

7976.  Burchell AN, Calzavara LM, Myers T, Schlossberg J, Millson M, Escobar M, Wallace E, Major C. Voluntary HIV testing among inmates: sociodemographic, behavioral risk, and attitudinal correlates. J Acquir Immune Defic Syndr. 2003 Apr 15;32(5):534-41.


We sought to determine the prevalence and correlates of self-reported HIV testing among inmates in correctional centers in Ontario, Canada. A cross-sectional survey was conducted with a stratified random sample of 597 male and female adult inmates. The participation rate was 89%. Descriptive statistics and multiple logistic regression were used to analyze HIV testing. Fifty-eight percent had ever been tested, and 21% had voluntarily tested while incarcerated in the past year. Having ever been tested was more common among those at risk for HIV through injection drug use (IDU) or sexual behavior. Testing while incarcerated in the past year was independently associated with being single (OR = 2.6), frequent IDU (OR = 4.0), not having casual sex partners prior to incarceration (OR = 0.53), a history of hepatitis (OR = 2.4), previous HIV testing (OR = 3.7), a close relationship with an HIV-positive person in the outside community (OR = 1.7), knowing an HIV-positive person inside (OR = 2.7), a perceived chance of being infected during incarceration (OR = 2.2), and support of mandatory testing (OR = 2.0). The predominant motivations for testing while incarcerated were IDU or fears of infection inside, possibly through contact with blood, during fights, or even by casual contact. Voluntary HIV

testing in prison should be encouraged, and inmates should receive appropriate counseling and information to allow realistic assessment of risk.

7977.  Cadranel JF, Di Martino V, Dorent R, Bernard B, Hoang C, Myara A, Pauwels A, Ghoussoub JJ, Perrin M, Grippon P, Thabut D, Trivin F, Huraux JM, Gandjbakhch I, Opolon P, Lunel F. Effects of ursodeoxycholic acid (ursodiol) treatment on chronic viral hepatitis in heart transplant patients: results of a prospective, double-blind, placebo-randomized study. Transplantation. 2003 Apr 15;75(7):977-82.


BACKGROUND: Chronic viral hepatitis averages 15% to 20% in heart transplant patients. Several studies have shown that ursodiol may improve liver biochemistry in patients with chronic hepatitis. We used a double-blind randomized controlled trial to evaluate the effect of ursodiol in heart transplant patients with chronic viral hepatitis. METHODS: Thirty heart patients with chronic viral hepatitis B, C, or non-A-G received ursodiol, 800 mg per day (group 1), and 30 received placebo (group 2) for 12 months. Endpoints were improvement in liver biochemical tests and in total Knodell score. Intent-to-treat and per-protocol analyses were performed. RESULTS: At entry, both groups were comparable for all of the studied parameters. During the study period, serum alanine aminotransferase, aspartate aminotransferase, and gamma-glutamyl transpeptidase variations were not different between group 1 and group 2 patients. Knodell score improved in 20% of group 1 patients and in 43% of group 2 patients (NS). Adverse events or mortality were not different in the two groups during the study period. Similar results were observed by intent-to-treat and per-protocol analyses. CONCLUSIONS: A 12-month course of ursodiol therapy had no effect on liver enzymes or liver histology in heart transplant patients with chronic hepatitis.


7978.  Cengiz C, Akarca US, Goker E, Yuce G. Detection of mutant p53 in hepatocellular cancer from Turkey and its correlation with clinicopathologic parameters. Dig Dis Sci. 2003 May;48(5):865-9.


The samples of hepatocellular carcinoma from Turkey, a country with a high  prevalence of hepatitis B virus and hepatitis C virus, but low dietary exposure to aflatoxin B1, were examined in order to detect the frequency of mutant p53 and its association with clinical and pathological data. Fifty-two samples of hepatocellular cancer from the patients who were diagnosed in our clinic were included in this study. The mutant p53 protein was searched for by specific enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Of 52 patients with hepatocellular carcinoma, 26 (50%) had the mutant p53. The incidence of p53 mutation in hepatocellular cancer patients with chronic liver disease due to hepatitis B virus infection was significantly higher than in those with chronic liver disease due to alcohol, indicating that not alcohol but hepatitis B virus, in fact induces the mutations in p53 gene. In addition, it has been shown that the p53 mutation was significantly associated with the diameter of tumor nodule and the degree of cellular differentiation in hepatocellular cancer. The p53 mutation rate found in our study is concordant for a geography where hepatitis B virus and hepatitis C virus are common. Hepatitis B virus and possibly hepatitis C virus, but not alcohol, should be responsible, to a degree, for the mutational change in p53 protein in hepatocellular cancer patients with chronic liver disease. The p53 mutation is a late event in hepatocarcinogenesis because it is related with cellular differentiation and tumor diameter. The specific ELISA can be a useful screening test in future studies to select the patients for gene therapy using wild-type p53.

7979.  Chan MT, Gin T, Chui AK, Lau WY. Pitfalls of indocyanine green dye elimination to assess graft function during liver transplantation. Anesth Analg. 2003 Jun;96(6):1839-40; author reply 1840-1. No abstract

7980.  Erdtmann L, Franck N, Lerat H, Le Seyec J, Gilot D, Cannie I, Gripon P, Hibner U, Guguen-Guillouzo C. The hepatitis C virus NS2 protein is an inhibitor of CIDE-B-induced apoptosis. J Biol Chem. 2003 May 16;278(20):18256-64. Epub 2003 Feb 20.


Chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection frequently leads to liver cancer. To determine the viral factor(s) potentially involved in viral persistence, we focused our work on NS2, a viral protein of unknown function. To assign a role for NS2, we searched for cellular proteins that interact with NS2. Performing a two-hybrid screen on a human liver cDNA library, we found that NS2 interacted with the liver-specific pro-apoptotic CIDE-B protein. Binding specificity of NS2 for CIDE-B was confirmed by cell-free assays associated with colocalization studies and coprecipitation experiments on human endogenous CIDE-B. CIDE-B, a member of the novel CIDE family of apoptosis-inducing factors, has been reported to show strong cell death-inducing activity in its C-terminal domain. We show that this CIDE-B killing domain is involved in the NS2 interaction. NS2 binding was sufficient to inhibit CIDE-B-induced apoptosis because an NS2 deletion mutant unable to interact with CIDE-B in vitro lost its capacity to interfere with CIDE-B cell death activity. Although it has been reported that CIDE-B-induced apoptosis is characterized by mitochondrial localization, the precise apoptotic mechanism remained unknown. Here, we show that CIDE-B induced cell death in a caspase-dependent manner through cytochrome c release from mitochondria. Furthermore, we found that NS2 counteracted the cytochrome c release induced by CIDE-B. In vivo, the CIDE-B protein level was extremely low in adenovirus-infected transgenic mice expressing the HCV polyprotein compared with that in wild-type mice. We suggest that NS2 interferes with the CIDE-B-induced death pathway and participates in HCV strategies to subvert host cell defense.

7981.  Gehrke SG, Riedel HD, Herrmann T, Hadaschik B, Bents K, Veltkamp C, Stremmel W. UbcH5A, a member of human E2 ubiquitin-conjugating enzymes, is closely related to SFT, a stimulator of iron transport, and is up-regulated in hereditary hemochromatosis. Blood. 2003 Apr 15;101(8):3288-93. Epub 2002 Dec 12.


SFT, a stimulator of iron (Fe) transport, has been described as a transmembrane protein that facilitates the uptake of ferrous and ferric iron in mammalian cells. This study was initiated to investigate the 5' regulatory region of SFT and its role in the etiology of hereditary hemochromatosis. Sequence analyses of the putative 5' regulatory region revealed that the SFT cDNA sequence corresponds to intron 6/exon 7 of UbcH5A, a member of E2 ubiquitin-conjugating enzymes, which is involved in the iron-dependent ubiquitination of the hypoxia-inducible factor (HIF) by the von Hippel-Lindau tumor suppressor (pVHL) E3 ligase complex. Further mRNA expression studies using a sequence-specific reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) assay showed that UbcH5A is significantly up-regulated in the liver of iron-overloaded patients with hereditary hemochromatosis, as previously published for SFT. However, in vitro studies on HepG2 cells failed to demonstrate any significant UbcH5A regulation in response to iron loading or iron chelation. In conclusion, in vivo mRNA expression data previously obtained for SFT might be attributed to UbcH5A. The role of UbcH5A and the ubiquitination pathway in the etiology of hereditary hemochromatosis remains to be elucidated further.

7982.  Gelatti U, Donato F, Tagger A, Fantoni C, Portolani N, Ribero ML, Martelli C, Trevisi P, Covolo L, Simonati C, Nardi G; Brescia HCC Study. Etiology of hepatocellular carcinoma influences clinical and pathologic features but not patient survival. Am J Gastroenterol. 2003 Apr;98(4):907-14.


OBJECTIVE: We investigated the relation between hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) etiology and biological and clinical parameters indicative of severity of liver disease and/or tumor characteristics and patient survival. METHODS: We prospectively recruited 384 patients (82.3% male) with first diagnosis of HCC from 1995 to 1998 in Brescia, Italy. Etiology was assessed by interviewing patients regarding their history of alcohol intake and by testing sera for hepatitis B surface antigen and anti-hepatitis C virus (HCV) antibodies and HCV RNA. RESULTS: Heavy alcohol intake (>60 g of ethanol per day for at least 1 decade) was found in 33.1% of cases, hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection in 9.4%, HCV in 19.8%, hemochromatosis in 1.3%, alcohol and HBV in 12.0%, alcohol and HCV in 16.1%, HBV and HCV in 3.1%, and no factor in 5.2%. Patients with HBV infection with or without heavy alcohol intake were significantly younger than the others (61.7 vs 64.7 yr, p < 0.001). The proportion of males was significantly higher in patients with heavy alcohol intake alone than in the other patient groups (93.7% vs 77.3%, p < 0.001). Among patients with HCV infection with or without heavy alcohol intake, fewer patients had maximum tumor diameter > 5 cm than the others (12% vs 29.1%, p < 0.001). Eighty patients (20.8%) were alive at the end of follow-up (median survival, 17.7 months), and no differences were observed in survival rates by HCC risk factor. CONCLUSIONS: Although some differences were observed in severity of liver disease or tumor characteristics according to etiology, patient survival was not influenced by HCC etiology.

7983.  Golia P, Talal A. Editorial comment: diagnosis of acute HIV infection in hepatitis C treatment nonresponders--is extra vigilance required? AIDS Read. 2003 Jun;13(6):288-90. No abstract.

7984.  Gunn RA, Murray PJ, Brennan CH, Callahan DB, Alter MJ, Margolis HS. Evaluation of screening criteria to identify persons with hepatitis C virus infection among sexually transmitted disease clinic clients: results from the San Diego Viral Hepatitis Integration Project. Sex Transm Dis. 2003 Apr;30(4):340-4.


BACKGROUND: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 1.8% of the US population is infected with hepatitis C virus (HCV), and most are unaware of their infection. GOAL: The goal was to evaluate risk-based HCV screening criteria for clients attending an urban sexually transmitted disease (STD) clinic. STUDY DESIGN: This was a cross-sectional study of HCV prevalence among all STD clinic clients during an 8-month period (September 1999 through April 2000) in San Diego, California. RESULTS: HCV prevalence was 4.9% (165/3367). Clients who reported that they were injecting drug users (IDUs) were much more likely to be HCV-positive than other clients (51% versus 2%; P < 0.001). Selective screening of IDUs, sex partners of IDUs, and persons having received a blood transfusion before 1992 would have identified 70% of HCV-infected clients while screening only 12% of the clinic's attendees. The HCV prevalence among clients with a history of a bacterial STD (in the past 5 years) and no other major risk factors was only 2.5%. CONCLUSION: In STD clinics, integrating risk-based screening into routine clinic services is an efficient way to identify HCV-infected persons.

7985.  Hezode C, Lonjon I, Roudot-Thoraval F, Pawlotsky JM, Zafrani ES, Dhumeaux D. Impact of moderate alcohol consumption on histological activity and fibrosis in patients with chronic hepatitis C, and specific influence of steatosis: a prospective study. Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2003 Apr15;17(8):1031-7.


AIM: To evaluate the effects of minimal to moderate alcohol consumption on the severity of histological lesions in patients with chronic hepatitis C. METHODS: Daily alcohol intake (none, 1-20, 21-30, 31-50 g/day) and histological activity and fibrosis were recorded in 260 patients with chronic hepatitis C. RESULTS: The proportion of patients with moderate (A2) or marked (A3) activity increased gradually from 53.8% in abstinent patients to 86.5% for an intake between 31 and 50 g/day (P = 0.003). In multivariate analysis, age > 40 years, alcohol intake between 31 and 50 g/day and moderate or severe steatosis were independently related to histological activity. The proportion of patients with moderate (F2) or marked (F3) fibrosis or cirrhosis (F4) gradually increased from 29.0% in abstinent patients to 67.6% for an intake between 31 and 50 g/day (P < 0.001). Multivariate analysis also showed that alcohol intake between 31 and 50 g/day, moderate or severe steatosis and histological activity were independently related to fibrosis. The deleterious effect of alcohol intake on histological lesions differed according to gender. CONCLUSIONS: This study demonstrates that both activity and fibrosis gradually increase according to the amount of alcohol ingested, and that even moderate alcohol consumption, as low as 31-50 g/day in men and 21-50 g/day in women, may aggravate histological lesions in patients with chronic hepatitis C.

7986.  Ho SK, Yam WC, Leung ET, Wong LP, Leung JK, Lai KN, Chan TM. Rapid quantification of hepatitis B virus DNA by real-time PCR using fluorescent hybridization probes. J Med Microbiol. 2003 May;52(Pt 5):397-402.


A highly sensitive and rapid assay has been developed to quantify hepatitis B virus (HBV) DNA, based on the fluorescence resonance energy transfer principle and real-time PCR, using the LightCycler and a pair of specific fluorescent hybridization probes. This LightCycler real-time PCR assay (LC-PCR) detected HBV DNA in a linear range from 10(1) to 10(8) copies per reaction (250-2.5 x 10(9) copies ml(-1)), with a rapid PCR cycling time of 35 min. The assay was validated with two EUROHEP HBV DNA standards (ad and ay subtypes) and exhibited low intra-assay (< 6 %) and inter-assay (< 16 %) variation for both subtypes over the complete range of 7 orders of magnitude. The assay was evaluated clinically using serum samples from 120 HBsAg(+) individuals and 45 healthy controls who were negative for both HBsAg and anti-HBc. Levels of HBV DNA were measured in these samples using both the LC-PCR and Digene Hybrid Capture II HBV DNA (HCII) assays. The prevalence rates for HBV DNA in the HBsAg(+) serum samples were respectively 95 % (114/120) and 56 % (67/120) by LC-PCR and HCII (P < 0.01). All 67 HCII-positive samples tested positive with LC-PCR, while the 47 discordant samples showed low levels of HBV DNA (down to 265 copies ml(-1)), detectable only by the more sensitive LC-PCR assay. Levels of HBV DNA as measured by the two assays showed good correlation (r = 0.902; P < 0.001). The level of HBV DNA was significantly higher in HBeAg(+) than anti-HBe(+) samples (median 1.5 x 10(7) vs 4.6 x 10(4) copies ml(-1); P < 0.01). It is concluded that this LC-PCR assay is clinically useful for the rapid, sensitive and accurate measurement of HBV DNA.

7987.  Hu TH, Huang CC, Lin PR, Chang HW, Ger LP, Lin YW, Changchien CS, Lee CM, Tai MH. Expression and prognostic role of tumor suppressor gene PTEN/MMAC1/TEP1 in hepatocellular carcinoma. Cancer. 2003 Apr 15;97(8):1929-40.


BACKGROUND: Inactivation of the tumor suppressor gene PTEN/MMAC1/TEP1, located on chromosome 10q23, is a common event in advanced stages of diverse human malignancies. However, the prognostic role of PTEN expression in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) has not been characterized. METHODS: One hundred five resected specimens were collected from patients with HCC. Expression levels of PTEN and p53 in clinical samples were analyzed by immunohistochemistry. RESULTS: Immunohistochemical analysis of 105 HCC tissue specimens revealed that decreased or absence of PTEN immunostaining was found in 43 specimens (40.9%). Reduced PTEN expression levels were correlated with increased tumor grade (P = 0.017), advanced disease stage (P = 0.016), and elevated serum alpha-fetoprotein (alphaFP) levels (P = 0.001). Kaplan-Meier analysis indicated that patients with reduced PTEN levels had shorter overall survival (P = 0.001) and higher recurrence rates (P = 0.0007) compared with patients who had intact PTEN expression. Examining p53 expression unveiled an inverse correlation between p53 overexpression and reduced PTEN expression in patients with HCC (P = 0.004). In addition, patients with p53 overexpression had shorter overall survival compared with patients who were without p53 overexpression (P = 0.0014). Univariate and multivariate analyses revealed that reduced PTEN expression was an independent prognostic factor for survival in patients with HCC. CONCLUSIONS: The current study demonstrated that reduced PTEN expression levels are involved in the pathogenesis of HCC. Moreover, decreased PTEN expression was correlated with tumor progression, high alphaFP levels, p53 overexpression, and poor prognosis in patients with HCC. Copyright 2003 American Cancer Society.

7988.  James C, Trouette H, Marit G, Cony-Makhoul P, Mahon FX. Histological features of acute hepatitis after imatinib mesylate treatment. Leukemia. 2003 May;17(5):978-9. No abstract

7989.  Jeong SY, Kim KJ, Kim DJ, Oh SW, Choi EY. Sandwich ELISA for measurement of cytosolic aspartate aminotransferase in sera from patients with liver diseases. Clin Chem. 2003 May;49(5):826-9. No abstract

7990.  Kono Y, Hayashida K, Tanaka H, Ishibashi H, Harada M. High-density lipoprotein binding rate differs greatly between genotypes 1b and 2a/2b of hepatitis C virus. J Med Virol. 2003 May;70(1):42-8.


The hepatitis C virus (HCV) virion is associated with lipoproteins and immunoglobulins in the sera of patients with chronic hepatitis C; however, an accurate binding rate of HCV to lipoproteins or immunoglobulins has not yet been elucidated. Therefore, the accurate binding rate of HCV to low-density lipoproteins (LDL), high-density lipoproteins (HDL), and immunoglobulins was measured quantitatively by a real-time PCR assay. The immunoglobulin binding rate of HCV was found to be greater than 97.5% in most patients, as compared with an LDL binding rate of greater than 80% in most patients. In contrast, the HDL binding rate was greater than 98% in the genotype 2a/2b patients, while it varied in the genotype 1b patients. The genotype 2a/2b HCV not only had a higher LDL binding rate but also had a strikingly higher HDL binding rate than that of the genotype 1b HCV. These lipoprotein binding rates correlated neither to any patient's variables, including the serum apolipoprotein levels, nor to the viral load or the hypervariable region 1 (HVR 1) amino acid sequences. Most of the HCV

virions in the sera of such patients have been shown to be associated simultaneously with immunoglobulins and LDL and/or HDL, but not exclusively. Copyright 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

7991.  Lohr HF, Pingel S, Weyer S, Fritz T, Galle PR. Individual and common antigen-recognition sites of liver-derived T cells in patients with autoimmune hepatitis. Scand J Immunol. 2003 Apr;57(4):384-90.


Autoimmune hepatitis (AIH) is characterized by dense T-cell infiltrations in the liver tissue, but little is known how T cells influence the pathogenesis. To address this question, the distribution of T-cell receptor variable beta-chain (TCR Vbeta) transcripts of peripheral blood and liver-infiltrating T cells from previously untreated patients with newly diagnosed acute exacerbated AIH was investigated. Furthermore, the lengths and sequences of complementary-determining region 3 (CDR3) were studied. Reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) analysis and CDR3 spectratyping revealed multiple clonal expansions of liver-infiltrating T cells but not peripheral T cells within various TCR Vbeta families. Further analysis of overexpressed TCR Vbeta transcripts using TCR beta-chain-joining element (TCR Jbeta)-specific primers in a nested PCR showed characteristic Vbeta/Jbeta combinations. Subsequent sequencing of CDR3 regions from PCR products confirmed the clonality of T-cell expansions and the usage of common and individual CDR3 motifs. In conclusion, the clonality of expanded T cells within the liver tissue during early clinical manifestation of untreated AIH indicated that autoantigen-specific T cells accumulate at the inflammation site. Individual and common CDR3 motifs argued for predominant epitopes that were recognized by liver-infiltrating T cells in AIH patients.

7992.  Marrero JA, Su GL, Wei W, Emick D, Conjeevaram HS, Fontana RJ, Lok AS. Des-gamma carboxyprothrombin can differentiate hepatocellular carcinoma from nonmalignant chronic liver disease in american patients. Hepatology. 2003 May;37(5):1114-21.


Mortality due to hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) has not improved over the last 20 years. This is in part due to the poor performance of available tumor markers leading to delays in diagnosis. Des-gamma carboxy-prothrombin (DCP) has been reported to be more sensitive and specific for the diagnosis of HCC in Japanese patients compared with alpha-fetoprotein (AFP). We conducted a cross-sectional case control study to evaluate whether DCP is more sensitive and specific than AFP for differentiating HCC from nonmalignant liver disease in a cohort of American patients from a single referral center. Four groups were studied: G1, normal healthy subjects; G2, patients with noncirrhotic chronic hepatitis; G3, patients with compensated cirrhosis; and G4, patients with histologically proven HCC. A total of 207 subjects were enrolled. Both DCP and AFP levels increased progressively from G1 to G4, but DCP values had less overlap among the groups than AFP. ROC curve indicated that a DCP value of 125 mAU/mL yielded the best sensitivity (89%; 95% CI, 77%-95%) and specificity (95%; 95% CI, 82%-96%) for differentiating patients with HCC from those with cirrhosis and chronic

hepatitis. The optimal AFP cutoff value was 11 ng/mL and was inferior to the DCP value of 125 mAU/mL, the area under the ROC curves being 0.928 versus 0.810, respectively (P =.002). In conclusion, DCP was more sensitive and specific than AFP for differentiating HCC from nonmalignant chronic liver disease. Prospective studies to evaluate the role of DCP in early HCC are underway.

7993.  McKeown C, Thaker U, Cubitt WD, Novelli V. Retrospective screening for hepatitis C in a tertiary paediatric referral centre. Commun Dis Public Health. 2003 Apr;6(1):40-3.


The true prevalence of hepatitis C virus in children in the UK is not known and targeted screening is not standard practice despite an anticipated rise in new cases due to vertical transmission. An extension of the Department of Health's 'look-back' exercise was undertaken in order to determine the prevalence of hepatitis C virus in high-risk patient groups who were transfused with blood and/or blood products before 1991. Five hundred and ninety-five patients transfused between 1971-91 were traced and offered counselling and testing. Blood samples from 405 were analysed for the presence of HCV antibodies and/or HCV RNA by RT-PCR and eight patients were found to be positive. The HCV seroprevalence rate in this cohort was 1.97% and the HCV genome detection rate was 1.72%. In view of the long-term complications from this infection and the availability of potentially effective anti-viral agents, we feel that targeted screening is of value in this setting.

7994.  Mommeja-Marin H, Mondou E, Blum MR, Rousseau F. Serum HBV DNA as a marker of efficacy during therapy for chronic HBV infection: analysis and review of the literature. Hepatology. 2003 Jun;37(6):1309-19. Review.


Currently, compounds under evaluation for treatment of chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection are evaluated with liver histology as the primary end point for efficacy. However, because of practical limitations in serial liver biopsies, there is a need for alternate markers to assess efficacy over shorter periods of time. Considering the direct correlation between viral replication and disease progression during human immunodeficiency virus and hepatitis C virus infection, we explored whether such a correlation exists for HBV infection. We reviewed the literature and conducted an analysis to investigate the relationship between absolute or treatment-induced changes in HBV DNA levels and other accepted markers of disease activity. A total of 26 prospective studies met our selection criteria, including 33 evaluable treatment arms. The study treatments consisted of nucleosides and/or interferon regimens and control arms. We found statistically significant and consistent correlations between viral load level or change and histologic grading and biochemical and serologic response. Our analysis suggests that a treatment-induced reduction in HBV DNA level can be used for assessing efficacy of treatment regimens. Further, we observed that quantitative HBV DNA has a broader dynamic range than histology, allowing demonstration of differences between 2 active treatments of unequal potency. The analysis showed stronger results in studies using nucleoside regimens and in hepatitis B e antigen (HBeAg)-positive patients. In conclusion, the goal of anti-HBV therapy should be profound and durable viral suppression, as defined by very sensitive assays. Additional prospective studies are needed to precisely determine the desirable level of viremia to attain.

7995.  Nardacci R, Lo Iacono O, Ciccosanti F, Falasca L, Addesso M, Amendola A, Antonucci G, Craxi A, Fimia GM, Iadevaia V, Melino G, Ruco L, Tocci G, Ippolito G, Piacentini M.  Transglutaminase type II plays a protective role in hepatic injury. Am J Pathol. 2003 Apr;162(4):1293-303.


The up-regulation of "tissue" transglutaminase (TG2) gene has been shown to occur in various pathologies and can lead to severe liver injury; however, its role in the onset of liver damage has not yet been clarified. To address this issue, we have used two experimental settings: carbon tetrachloride (CCl(4))-induced liver injury in wild-type and TG2 knockout mice; and liver biopsies obtained from a large cohort of hepatitis C virus (HCV)-infected patients. Mice lacking TG2 failed to clear the hepatic necrotic tissue formed in response to prolonged CCl(4) exposure (5 weeks) and 60% of them died before the end of the treatment. By contrast, wild-type mice were able to recover after the toxic insult. CCl(4)-treated TG2 null mice showed a derangement of the hepatic lobular architecture and a progressive accumulation of extracellular matrix (ECM) components and inflammatory cells which were not observed in the liver of control animals. Consistent with this protective role, we observed that TG2 levels were much higher (up to 15-fold) during the initial stages of liver fibrosis in HCV-infected individuals (METAVIR = F2) compared with uninfected controls, in which the enzyme protein localized in the hepatocytes facing the periportal infiltrate. By contrast, the enzyme levels decreased in the advanced stages (METAVIR = F3 and F4) and their localization was limited to the ECM. Our data demonstrate that TG2 plays a protective role in the liver injury by favoring tissue stability and repair.

7996.  Nolte FS, Green AM, Fiebelkorn KR, Caliendo AM, Sturchio C, Grunwald A, Healy M. Clinical evaluation of two methods for genotyping hepatitis C virus based on analysis of the 5' noncoding region. J Clin Microbiol. 2003 Apr;41(4):1558-64.


We compared the performance characteristics of a standardized direct sequencing method (TRUGENE HCV 5'NC; Visible Genetics Inc., Toronto, Ontario, Canada) and a reverse hybridization line probe assay (INNO-LiPA HCV II; Bayer Corp., Tarrytown, N.Y.) for genotyping of hepatitis C virus (HCV). Both methods are based on detection of sequence heterogeneity in the 5' noncoding (5'NC) region. Concordance between the genotyping methods was assessed by testing 172 samples representing the six major genotypes. Sequence analysis of the more phylogenetically informative nonstructural 5B (NS5B) region was also done with 148 (86%) samples to confirm the accuracy of and resolve discrepancies between the 5'NC genotyping results. The sensitivities of the methods were assessed by using the 5'NC amplicon from both the qualitative and quantitative AMPLICOR HCV tests (Roche Diagnostics Corp., Indianapolis, Ind.). The ability of the methods to detect mixed-genotype infections was determined with mixtures of two different genotypes at relative concentrations ranging from 1 to 50%. Both 5'NC methods were able to genotype 99.4% of the samples with type agreement for 99.5% and subtype agreement for 68.2% of the samples. No or ambiguous subtype results

were found by the line probe assay for 16.5% and by the TRUGENE 5'NC test for 17.1% of the samples. Discrepancies occurred between the line probe assay and NS5B results at the type level for 1.4% of the samples and at the subtype level for 14.2% of the samples. Discrepancies also occurred between the TRUGENE 5'NC and NS5B results at the type level for 2% of the samples and at the subtype level for 8.1% of the samples. We also found two distinct strains of HCV classified as type 2 by analysis of the 5'NC region that were type 1 by analysis of the NS5B region. The sensitivities of the two 5'NC genotyping methods were comparable and dependent on the amplification test used ( approximately 10(3) IU/ml with the qualitative HCV RNA tests and approximately 10(5) IU/ml with the quantitative HCV RNA tests). Genotype mixtures were successfully identified at a relative concentration of 5% by the line probe assay and 10% by the TRUGENE 5'NC test. In conclusion, the performance characteristics of the 5'NC methods were similar and both methods produced accurate results at the genotype level but neither method should be used for subtyping.

7997.  Olga OZ, Nikolai DY. Invasive and non-invasive monitoring of hepatitis C virus-induced liver fibrosis: alternatives or complements? Curr Pharm Biotechnol. 2003 Jun;4(3):195-209. Review.


Chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection results in the development of liver fibrosis and cirrhosis in 20 to 25% of patients. The main task of the physician when examining a patient with a verified HCV infection is to identify the activity of inflammatory and necrotic processes in the liver, as well as the stage of fibrosis, and the reversibility of detected changes. Along with other clinical and laboratory parameters, this plays a major role in forecasting the course of hepatitis, as well as determines the therapeutic approach in each specific case. Liver biopsy remains the best way to assess the severity of chronic hepatitis C. The risk of developing cirrhosis depends on the stage (degree of fibrosis) and the grade (degree of inflammation and necrosis) observed in the initial liver biopsy. Non-invasive diagnostic approaches attempt to evaluate the serum markers of fibrogenesis. Biochemical markers of fibrosis scoring include thrombocyte counts, the prothrombin time, ratio of alaninaminotransferase (ALT) and aspartataminotransferase (AST) levels, the level of g-glutamyl transferase and the quantity of blood serum albumin. Another set of markers is based on the detection of molecular junctions that activate fibrosis, or participate in the generation of the liver extracellular matrix. The most applicable include hyaluronic acid (HA), type IV collagen (IV-C), N-terminal propeptide of type III procollagen (PIIIP), metalloproteinases (MMP), inhibitors of metalloproteinases (TIMP), and growth-transforming factor betta (GTFbeta). The review discusses the clinical significance of each of the criteria and possibility of their combination in the non-invasive monitoring of liver fibrosis.

7998.  Peiris JS, Chu CM, Cheng VC, Chan KS, Hung IF, Poon LL, Law KI, Tang BS, Hon TY, Chan CS, Chan KH, Ng JS, Zheng BJ, Ng WL, Lai RW, Guan Y, Yuen KY; HKU/UCH SARS Study Group. Clinical progression and viral load in a community outbreak of coronavirus-associated SARS pneumonia: a prospective study. Lancet. 2003 May 24;361(9371):1767-72.


BACKGROUND: We investigated the temporal progression of the clinical, radiological, and virological changes in a community outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). METHODS: We followed up 75 patients for 3 weeks managed with a standard treatment protocol of ribavirin and corticosteroids, and assessed the pattern of clinical disease, viral load, risk factors for poor clinical outcome, and the usefulness of virological diagnostic methods. FINDINGS: Fever and pneumonia initially improved but 64 (85%) patients developed recurrent fever after a mean of 8.9 (SD 3.1) days, 55 (73%) had watery diarrhoea after 7.5 (2.3) days, 60 (80%) had radiological worsening after 7.4 (2.2) days, and respiratory symptoms worsened in 34 (45%) after 8.6 (3.0) days. In 34 (45%) patients, improvement of initial pulmonary lesions was associated with appearance of new radiological lesions at other sites. Nine (12%) patients developed spontaneous pneumomediastinum and 15 (20%) developed acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) in week 3. Quantitative reverse-transcriptase (RT) PCR of nasopharyngeal aspirates in 14 patients (four with ARDS) showed peak viral load at day 10, and at day 15 a load lower than at admission. Age and chronic hepatitis B virus infection treated with lamivudine were independent significant risk factors for progression to ARDS (p=0.001). SARS-associated coronavirus in faeces was seen on RT-PCR in 65 (97%) of 67 patients at day 14. The mean time to seroconversion was 20 days. INTERPRETATION: The consistent clinical progression, shifting radiological infiltrates, and an inverted V viral-load profile suggest that worsening in week 2 is unrelated to uncontrolled viral replication but may be related to immunopathological damage.

7999.  Raghuraman S, Subramaniam T, Daniel D, Sridharan G, Abraham P. Occurrence of false positives during testing for antibodies to hepatitis C virus among volunteer blood donors in India. J Clin Microbiol. 2003 Apr;41(4):1788-90.


The hepatitis C virus antibody statuses of only 11 (21.5%) of 51 initially reactive samples from volunteer blood donors could be confirmed by using additional screening and confirmatory assays; 23 (45%) were negative by all subsequent assays. Seventeen samples (33.3%) gave variable results in the different assays. The core and NS5 antigens were most immunogenic. An algorithm for serological screening of volunteer blood donors in blood banks of developing countries is suggested.

8000.  Riley NE, Li J, McPhaul LW, Bardag-Gorce F, Lue YH, French SW. Heat shock proteins are present in mallory bodies (cytokeratin aggresomes) in human liver biopsy specimens. Exp Mol Pathol. 2003 Apr;74(2):168-72.


Mallory bodies (MBs) are aggresomes, composed of cytokeratin and various other proteins, which form in diseased liver because of disruption in the ubiquitin-proteasome protein degradation pathway. Heat shock proteins (hsp's) are thought to be involved in this process because it was discovered that MB formation is induced by heat shock in drug-primed mice. It has been reported that ubiquitin and a mutant form of ubiquitin (UBB(+1)) are found in aggresomes formed in the neurons in Alzheimer's disease and in the liver MBs in various liver diseases. In addition, hsp 70 has been found in aggresomes in Alzheimer's and in MBs in drug-primed mice. Therefore, we hypothesized that hsp's might be involved in MB formation in human liver diseases. Liver biopsy sections were double-stained using ubiquitin and hsp 70 or 90b antibodies. Both hsps 70 and 90b were found in MBs in all liver diseases investigated including primary billiary cirrhosis, nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, hepatitis B and C, idiopathic cirrhosis, alcoholic hepatitis, and hepatocellular carcinoma. Ubiquitin and the hsp's colocalized in all MBs in the diseased liver sections. These results indicate that hsp involvement in MB formation is similar to that seen in aggresome formation in other conformational diseases.

8001.  Sadeyen JR, Tourne S, Shkreli M, Sizaret PY, Coursaget P. Insertion of a foreign sequence on capsid surface loops of human papillomavirus type 16 virus-like particles reduces their capacity to induce neutralizing antibodies and delineates a conformational neutralizing epitope. Virology. 2003 Apr 25;309(1):32-40.


The aims of this study were to generate chimeric human papillomavirus (HPV)-16 L1 virus-like particles (VLPs) in order to identify immunogenic domains and conformational neutralizing epitopes, and to characterize the regions where a foreign epitope could be introduced. We hypothesized that these regions could be on L1 protein loops since they are exposed on the surface of VLPs. The aims of this study were achieved by mutating HPV-16 L1 proteins. Six amino acids encoding for the epitope 78-83 (DPASRE) of the hepatitis B core (HBc) antigen were introduced within the different loops of the L1 protein at positions 56/57, 140/141, 179/180, 266/267, 283/284 or 352/353. All these chimeric L1 proteins were capable of self-assembly into VLPs. The antigenicity and immunogenicity of some of these VLPs were reduced compared to the levels observed with wild-type VLPs. All were nevertheless able to induce neutralizing antibodies. VLPs with insertion at position 266/267 induced lower levels of neutralizing antibodies, suggesting the involvement of residues situated on FG loop in L1 neutralizing epitopes. All the chimeric L1 proteins except the one with insertion at position 56/57 were also able to induce anti-HBc antibodies, thus suggesting exposure of the HBc epitope on the VLP surface. Taken together, our findings indicate the possibility of designing HPV-derived vectors that are less immunogenic and suggest positions for insertion of defined immune epitopes or cell ligands into L1 protein to be exposed on the surface of VLPs.

8002.  Serra JJ, Monte GU, Mello ES, Coral GP, Avila LF, Parga JR, Ramires JA, Rochitte CE. Images in cardiovascular medicine. Cardiac sarcoidosis evaluated by delayed-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging. Circulation. 2003 May 27;107(20):e188-9. No abstract

8003.  Soresi M, Bonfissuto G, Magliarisi C, Riili A, Terranova A, Di Giovanni G, Bascone F, Carroccio A, Tripi S, Montalto G. Ultrasound detection of abdominal lymph nodes in chronic liver diseases. A retrospective analysis. Clin Radiol. 2003 May;58(5):372-7


AIM: To retrospectively evaluate the prevalence of lymph nodes of the hepato-duodenal ligament in a group of patients with chronic liver disease of various aetiologies and to investigate what clinical, aetiological and laboratory data may lead to their appearance. MATERIALS AND METHODS: One thousand and three patients (554 men, 449 women) were studied, including 557 with chronic hepatitis and 446 with liver cirrhosis. The presence of lymph nodes near the trunk of the portal vein, hepatic artery, celiac axis, superior mesenteric vein and pancreas head was investigated using ultrasound. RESULTS: Lymph nodes were detected in 394 out of the 1003 study patients (39.3%); their number ranged from one to four, with a diameter ranging between 0.8 and 4 cm. The highest prevalence was in the subgroup of patients with primary biliary cirrhosis (87.5%), followed by patients with hepatitis C virus (HCV; 42%), patients with HCV and hepatitis B virus (HBV; 41.3%), autoimmune hepatitis (40%), and HBV alone (21.2%). In the alcoholic and idiopathic subgroups prevalence was 9.5%, while in the non-alcoholic steatohepatitis and haemochromatosis subgroups it was 0%. HCV RNA was present in 97 out of 103 lymph node-positive patients and in 141 out of 168 lymph node-negative HCV-negative patients (p<0.003). Lymphadenopathy frequency increased as the liver disease worsened (chi(2) MH=74.3; p<0.0001). CONCLUSION: Despite the limitations of a retrospective study, our data indicate a high prevalence of lymphadenopathy in liver disease patients; ultrasound evidence of lymph nodes of the hepato-duodenal ligament in a given liver disease may most likely suggest a HCV or an autoimmune aetiology and a more severe histological picture.

8004.  Thabut D, Simon M, Myers RP, Messous D, Thibault V, Imbert-Bismut F, Poynard T.  Noninvasive prediction of fibrosis in patients with chronic hepatitis C. Hepatology. 2003 May;37(5):1220-1; author reply 1221. No abstract

8005.  Ulsenheimer A, Gerlach JT, Gruener NH, Jung MC, Schirren CA, Schraut W, Zachoval R, Pape GR, Diepolder HM. Detection of functionally altered hepatitis C virus-specific CD4 T cells in acute and chronic hepatitis C. Hepatology. 2003 May;37(5):1189-98.


Chronic hepatitis C is characterized by a weak or absent hepatitis C virus (HCV)-specific CD4(+) T-cell response in terms of antigen-specific proliferation or interferon gamma (IFN-gamma) secretion. To clarify whether this is due to the absence or functional impairment of antigen-specific CD4(+) T cells we developed an assay that relies on the induced expression of the T-cell activation marker CD25 and is therefore independent from cytokine secretion or proliferation. In 10 of 20 patients with chronic hepatitis C, a significant number of antigen-specific activated CD4(+) T cells (mean 1.06%/patient; range, 0% to 5.2% of CD4(+) T cells) could be shown, whereas antigen-specific proliferation was present in only 1 of 20 patients. IFN-gamma secretion was absent in all 13 patients tested. However, significant antigen-specific interleukin 10 (IL-10) and transforming growth factor beta (TGF-beta) secretion was present in 6 of 10

and 3 of 10 patients, respectively. In 8 patients with acute hepatitis C, irrespective of disease outcome, HCV-specific CD4(+) T cells were detected in all patients and at a significantly higher frequency (mean 3.7%/patient; range, 1.16% to 7.17%) in the first weeks of disease. A chronic course of disease was associated either with a loss of both IFN-gamma secretion and proliferation, resembling an anergic state, or a loss of T-cell proliferation followed by a rapid decline in IFN-gamma-producing cells, corresponding to exhaustion of the specific immune response. In conclusion, functional changes of HCV-specific CD4(+) T cells or failure to develop a long-lasting T-helper response may contribute to chronic hepatitis C viral persistence.

8006.  Zanetti AR, Romano L, Brunetto M, Colombo M, Bellati G, Tackney C. Total HCV core antigen assay: a new marker of hepatitis C viremia for monitoring the progress of therapy. J Med Virol. 2003 May;70(1):27-30.


The ability of the total hepatitis C virus (HCV) core antigen assay was evaluated for monitoring the therapeutic responses of HCV-infected patients

-treated with interferon. The ability to detect and quantitate an independent structural protein component of HCV, in the presence of circulating antibodies, makes this assay a valuable new tool in diagnosis and treatment monitoring. Measurement of total core antigen showed a strong dynamic correlation with HCV RNA data and may serve as an alternative direct marker of viral infection. In addition, with the advent of additional treatment protocols, a rapid, reliable assay for changes in HCV load may permit more frequent patient assessment and tailoring of the therapeutic regimen. Copyright 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.


8007.  Elazar M, Cheong KH, Liu P, Greenberg HB, Rice CM, Glenn JS. Amphipathic helix-dependent localization of NS5A mediates hepatitis C virus RNA replication. J Virol. 2003 May;77(10):6055-61.


We identified an N-terminal amphipathic helix (AH) in one of hepatitis C virus (HCV)'s nonstructural proteins, NS5A. This AH is necessary and sufficient for membrane localization and is conserved across isolates. Genetically disrupting the AH impairs HCV replication. Moreover, an AH peptide-mimic inhibits the membrane association of NS5A in a dose-dependent manner. These results have exciting implications for the HCV life cycle and novel antiviral strategies.

8008.  Huang YS, Chern HD, Su WJ, Wu JC, Chang SC, Chiang CH, Chang FY, Lee SD. Cytochrome P450 2E1 genotype and the susceptibility to antituberculosis drug-induced hepatitis. Hepatology. 2003 Apr;37(4):924-30.


Most cases with antituberculosis drug-induced hepatitis have been attributed to isoniazid. Isoniazid is metabolized by hepatic N-acetyltransferase (NAT) and cytochrome P450 2E1 (CYP2E1) to form hepatotoxins. However, the role of CYP2E1 in this hepatotoxicity has not yet been reported. The aim of this study was to evaluate whether the polymorphism of the CYP2E1 gene is associated with antituberculosis drug-induced hepatitis. A total of 318 tuberculosis patients who received antituberculosis treatment were followed prospectively. Their CYP2E1 and NAT2 genotypes were determined using a polymerase chain reaction with restriction fragment length polymorphism method. Twenty-one healthy volunteers were recruited for CYP2E1 phenotype study using a chlorzoxazone test. Forty-nine (15.4%) patients were diagnosed to have drug-induced hepatotoxicity. Patients with homozygous wild genotype CYP2E1 c1/c1 had a higher risk of hepatotoxicity (20.0%; odds ratio [OR], 2.52) than those with mutant allele c2 (CYP2E1 c1/c2 or c2/c2, 9.0%, P =.009). If CYP2E1 c1/c2 or c2/c2 genotype combined with rapid acetylator status was regarded as the reference group, the risk of hepatotoxicity increased from 3.94 for CYP2E1 c1/c1 with rapid acetylator status to 7.43 for CYP2E1 c1/c1 with slow acetylator status. After adjustment for acetylator status and age, the CYP2E1 c1/c1 genotype remained an independent risk factor for hepatotoxicity (OR, 2.38; P =.017). Furthermore, under the administration of isoniazid, the volunteers with CYP2E1 c1/c1 genotype had higher CYP2E1 activity than those with other genotypes had and, hence, might produce more hepatotoxins. In conclusion, CYP 2E1 genetic polymorphism may be associated with susceptibility to antituberculosis drug-induced hepatitis.

8009.  Kleinman SH, Kuhns MC, Todd DS, Glynn SA, McNamara A, DiMarco A, Busch MP; Retrovirus Epidemiology Donor Study. Frequency of HBV DNA detection in US blood donors testing positive for the presence of anti-HBc: implications for transfusion transmission and donor screening. Transfusion. 2003 Jun;43(6):696-704.


BACKGROUND: An estimate of the rate of HBV DNA-positive, anti-HBc-positive units is important for evaluating the need for anti-HBc donor screening, especially in the context of HBV NAT. STUDY DESIGN AND METHODS: HBsAg EIA-nonreactive, anti-HBc-reactive (Corzyme, Abbott Laboratories) specimens were retrieved from a repository and were retested for anti-HBc (with PRISM HBcore, Abbott Laboratories, currently under FDA review) and anti-HBs (with PRISM Ausab, Abbott Laboratories, research assay). HBV DNA testing using a PCR assay with a greater than 95 percent detection rate of less than 50 copies per mL was performed on a subset of specimens that were PRISM HBcore-reactive and were anti-HBs- negative or reactive at less than 100 IU per L. RESULTS: A total of 395 of 1231 specimens eligible by our serologic criteria were tested by PCR. Four anti-HBs-negative specimens were PCR-positive with estimated HBV DNA copy numbers of 10 per 30 copies per mL in two specimens and 50 to 100 copies per mL in two others. The HBV DNA detection rate in anti-HBs-negative specimens was 3.7 percent, and the projected rate among all Corzyme-reactive specimens was 0.24 percent, leading to an estimated yield of 1 HBV DNA-positive, anti-HBc-positive unit in 49,000 units that were otherwise eligible for transfusion (95% CI, 1 in 16,600-1 in 152,600). CONCLUSIONS: Anti-HBc screening detects HBsAg EIA-negative, HBV-infected donors at a rate comparable to the estimated residual risk for HBV window-period infections. The low viral load in the HBV DNA-positive samples suggests that minipool NAT will not detect most potentially infectious units from anti-HBc-positive donors.

8010.  Nascimbeni M, Mizukoshi E, Bosmann M, Major ME, Mihalik K, Rice CM, Feinstone SM, Rehermann B. Kinetics of CD4+ and CD8+ memory T-cell responses during hepatitis C virus rechallenge of previously recovered chimpanzees. J Virol. 2003 Apr;77(8):4781-93.


The immunological correlates of hepatitis C virus (HCV)-specific immunity are not well understood. Antibodies to HCV structural proteins do not appear to play a key role in clearance of the virus and do not persist after recovery. Here, we studied the kinetics of the cellular immune responses of three HCV-recovered chimpanzees during rechallenge with increasing doses of homologous HCV. Although HCV envelope antibodies remained undetectable throughout the rechallenge, all animals mounted rapid HCV-specific T-cell responses. The pattern of the cellular immune response in blood and liver correlated with the virological outcome. The animal that most rapidly cleared circulating HCV as determined by nested reverse transcription-PCR (RT-PCR) displayed the most vigorous and sustained response of gamma interferon (IFN-gamma)-producing and proliferating CD4(+) T cells in the blood. Vigorous CD4(+) T-cell proliferation during viremia was followed by an increased frequency and a phenotypic and functional change of the tetramer(+) CD8(+) T-cell population. The second animal cleared HCV initially with strong peripheral and intrahepatic CD4(+) T-cell responses but experienced low-level HCV recrudescence 12 weeks later, when HCV-specific T cells became undetectable. The third animal maintained minute amounts of circulating HCV, detectable only by nested RT-PCR, in the face of a weak IFN-gamma(+) T-cell response. Collectively, the results suggest protective rather than sterilizing immunity after recovery from hepatitis C. The rate of HCV clearance following reexposure depends on the cellular immune response, the quality and quantity of which may vary among chimpanzees that recovered from HCV infection.

8011.  Ogata N, Ichida T, Aoyagi Y, Kitajima I. Development of peptide nucleic acid mediated polymerase chain reaction clamping (PMPC)--direct sequencing method for detecting lamivudine-resistant hepatitis B virus (HBV) variants with high sensitivity and specificity. Rinsho Byori. 2003 Apr;51(4):313-9.


Reduced sensitivity of HBV to lamivudine, which causes a viral breakthrough during treatment, is attributed to mutations within the tyrosine-methionine-aspartate(YMDD) locus in the reverse transcriptase(rt) domain of HBV polymerase, mainly a methionine(rtM204) substitution. The sensitive detection of such mutations before or early in treatment could assist in optimizing antiviral treatment. For this purpose, we developed peptide nucleic acid(PNA) mediated polymerase chain reaction(PCR) clamping(PMPC) with a PNA probe targeting the YMDD locus. We first tested this method for its sensitivity and specificity in detecting a mutant on HBV DNA standards consisting of serial copy number ratios of a known lamivudine-resistant, mutant clone with rtM204I(ATT) to a wild-type clone with rtM204(ATG). The sensitivity was 0.1 to 0.01% in the coexistence of wild-type clones and the specificity was guaranteed by direct sequencing of the products. We next applied this method to HBV DNA specimens extracted from serum from 4 chronic hepatitis B patients treated with lamivudine. Two of these exhibited a break-through of the HBV mutant with rtM204I(ATT), while the other 2 did not. Before treatment, all 4 patients showed HBV with rtM204I encoded by ATA. During treatment, HBV with the rtM204I(ATT) emerged in the 2 breakthrough patients more than 3 months before the breakthrough, whereas this and other known lamivudine-resistant viruses did not appear in the 2 non-breakthrough patients. Thus, our PMPC-direct sequencing method is highly sensitive and reliable for the early identification of lamivudine-resistant HBV that causes a viral breakthrough. 

8012.  Poljak M, Seme K, Marin IJ, Babic DZ, Matcic M, Meglic J. Frequency of the 32-base pair deletion in the chemokine receptor CCR5 gene is not increased in hepatitis C patients. Gastroenterology. 2003 May;124(5):1558-60; author reply 1560-1. No abstract

8013.  Ruhl CE, Everhart JE.  Relation of elevated serum alanine aminotransferase activity with iron and antioxidant levels in the United States. Gastroenterology. 2003 Jun;124(7):1821-9.

BACKGROUND & AIMS: Oxidative stress is thought to play a role in liver injury. Hepatic iron may promote liver injury, whereas antioxidant vitamins and minerals may inhibit it, but few clinical studies have examined such relationships. We analyzed the associations of serum iron measures and antioxidant concentrations with abnormal serum alanine transaminase (ALT) activity in a large, national, population-based study. METHODS: A total of 13,605 adult participants in the third U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES III), 1988-1994, underwent phlebotomy. Exclusions included excessive alcohol consumption, hepatitis B and C, and iron overload. RESULTS: Elevated ALT levels were found in 3.1% of the population. In univariate analysis, factors associated with abnormal ALT levels (P < 0.05) included higher transferrin saturation and iron and selenium concentrations, and lower vitamin C, alpha and beta carotene, and lutein/zeaxanthin concentrations. In multivariate logistic regression analyses, elevated ALT level was associated positively with increasing deciles of transferrin saturation (odds ratio [OR] per decile, 1.10; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.03-1.18) and iron concentration (OR, 1.13; 95% CI, 1.06-1.21). Abnormal ALT level was associated negatively with increasing deciles of alpha carotene (OR, 0.82; 95% CI, 0.72-0.94), beta carotene (OR, 0.91; 95% CI, 0.86-0.96), beta cryptoxanthin (OR, 0.91; 95% CI, 0.84-0.99), lutein/zeaxanthin (OR, 0.90; 95% CI, 0.84-0.96), and a variable combining the 5 carotenoid measures (OR, 0.89; 95% CI, 0.83-0.95). Vitamin C was associated inversely, but only at the highest concentrations. CONCLUSIONS: In this large, national, population-based study, the risk for apparent liver injury was associated with increased iron and decreased antioxidants, particularly carotenoids.

8014.  Zhu H, Zhao H, Collins CD, Eckenrode SE, Run Q, McIndoe RA, Crawford JM, Nelson DR, She JX, Liu C. Gene expression associated with interferon alfa antiviral activity in an HCV replicon cell line. Hepatology. 2003 May;37(5):1180-8.


Interferon alfa (IFN-alpha)-based treatment is the only therapeutic option for chronic hepatitis C viral infection. However, the molecular mechanisms of IFN-alpha antiviral activity are not completely understood. The recent development of an HCV replicon cell culture system provides a feasible experimental model to investigate the molecular details of IFN-induced direct antiviral activity in hepatocytes. In this report, we show that IFN-alpha can effectively inhibit HCV subgenomic RNA replication and suppress viral nonstructural protein synthesis. Using cDNA microarray analysis, we also show that the replicon cells have different gene expression profile compared with the parental hepatoma cells (Huh7). IFN-alpha can induce a number of responsive genes in the replicon cells. One of the genes, 6-16 (G1P3), can enhance IFN-alpha antiviral efficacy. In addition, we demonstrate that IFN-alpha can significantly activate STAT3 in hepatoma cells, suggesting that this pathway plays a role in IFN-alpha signaling. In conclusion, our results indicate that IFN-alpha antiviral activity is associated with activation of STAT3-signaling pathway and intracellular gene activation. Our results also suggest that IFN-alpha-induced target genes may play an important role in IFN-alpha anti-HCV activity.


8015.  Soroosh P, Shokri F, Azizi M, Jeddi-Tehrani M. Analysis of T-cell receptor beta chain variable gene segment usage in healthy dult responders and nonresponders to recombinant hepatitis B vaccine. cand J Immunol. 2003 May;57(5):423-31.


One to 10 per cent of healthy adult individuals do not produce protective levels of anti-hepatitis B surface (HBs) antibodies, following a standard vaccination protocol. Lack of an HBs antigen (Ag)-specific T-cell repertoire is amongst the possible defects, which may lead to humoral unresponsiveness and is the main objective of this study. We analysed TcR BV (T-cell receptor beta chain variable) gene usage in T lymphocytes from nine healthy adult responders and six nonresponders to recombinant HB vaccine, before and after booster vaccination. CD4+ and CD8+ T-cell populations were isolated from peripheral blood mononuclear cells by magnetic beads, and the expression of TcR BV genes in each population was investigated by reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction and hybridization with specific probe. When the usage of each TcR BV gene within CD4+ and CD8+ T cells of the responders was compared with that of nonresponders, statistically significant difference (P < 0.01) was noted for BV5S2-3 gene family in CD4+ T cells of nonresponders. Furthermore, individual vaccinees were shown to overexpress several TcR BV genes. To characterize the T-cell repertoire and determine their clonal nature, analysis of CDR3 length polymorphism was performed. Our results show that T-cell response to HBsAg is generally oligoclonal and involves multiple BV families. Furthermore, overexpressed individual TcR BV genes and CDR3 length distributions in response to HBsAg are subject-dependent. In conclusion, our results are not in line with the notion that defective TcR repertoire may be an explanation for unresponsiveness to recombinant HBsAg vaccine.



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