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Concept: Liver function tests


Elevation of aspartate aminotransferase (AST) and alanine aminotransferase (ALT) is prominent in acute dengue illness. The World Health Organization (WHO) 2009 dengue guidelines defined AST or ALT ≥ 1000 units/liter (U/L) as a criterion for severe dengue. We aimed to assess the clinical relevance and discriminatory value of AST or ALT for dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF) and severe dengue.

Concepts: Malaria, World Health Organization, EC 2.6.1, Fever, Liver function tests, Aspartate transaminase, Alanine transaminase, Dengue fever


BACKGROUND: Cichorium glandulosum Boiss. et Huet is used for treatment of liver disorders, and its effects are attributed to sesquiterpenes. This study aims to investigate the hepatoprotective effects of a sesquiterpene-rich fraction (SRF) from the aerial part of C. glandulosum on carbon tetrachloride (CCl4)-induced acute hepatotoxicity in mice, and on priming with Bacillus Calmette–Guerin (BCG) followed by lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced immunological liver injury in mice. METHODS: SRF was suspended in water and administered to mice at 0.05, 0.10 and 0.20 g/kg body weight for 7 consecutive days. An active control drug (bifendate pills) was suspended in distilled water and administered to mice at 0.40 g/kg body weight for 7 consecutive days. Hepatotoxicity was induced by intraperitoneal injection of 0.1% CCl4 (0.2 mL/mouse) at 13 h before the last drug administration, or by tail intravenous injection of BCG (0.2 mL/mouse) before the first drug administration and LPS (0.2 mL/mouse; 8 mug) at 15 h before the last drug administration. Blood samples and the livers were collected for evaluation of the biochemical parameters of aspartate aminotransferase (AST), alanine aminotransferase (ALT) and total bilirubin (TBIL). RESULTS: SRF significantly reduced the impact of CCl4 toxicity. The highest dose of SRF (0.20 g/kg) was the most effective, reflected by significant reductions in the levels of AST (P = 0.001), ALT (P = 0.000) and TBIL (P = 0.009). The serum enzymatic levels induced by BCG and subsequent LPS injection were significantly and dose-dependently restored by SRF, reflected by significant reductions in the levels of AST (P = 0.003), ALT (P = 0.003) and TBIL (P = 0.007) for the highest dose of SRF (0.20 g/kg). CONCLUSION: SRF is hepatoprotective in animal models of chemical and immunological acute liver injury.

Concepts: Bilirubin, Chemical pathology, Liver, Aspartate transaminase, Hepatology, Hepatotoxicity, Alanine transaminase, Liver function tests


Steatotic grafts are excluded for use in partial liver transplantation (LT) due to increased risk of primary non-function. This study investigated the effects of suramin, a polysulfonated naphthylurea, on the outcome of steatotic partial LT. Rat livers were harvested after acute ethanol treatment (6 g/kg, i.g.), reduced in size to ~1/3, and transplanted. Serum alanine aminotransferase (ALT) and total bilirubin, and hepatic necrosis and apoptosis were significantly higher after transplantation of fatty partial grafts (FPG) than lean partial grafts (LPG). Suramin (5 mg/kg, i.p.) decreased ALT by ~60%, hyperbilirubinemia by 75%, necrosis by 83%, and apoptosis by 70% after FPG transplantation. Hepatic cellular 5-bromo-2'-deoxyuridine (BrdU) incorporation increased to 28% in LPG but was only 2% in FPG at 48 h and mitotic index increased to 7% in LPG but was only 0.2% in FPG, indicating suppressed regeneration in FPG. Suramin increased BrdU incorporation and mitotic index to 43% and 9%, respectively, in FPG. All FPG recipients died within 5 days. Suramin recovered survival of FPG to 62%. TNFα mRNA was 2.2-fold higher in FPG than in LPG and was associated with activation of caspase-8 and -3 in FPG. Suramin decreased TNFα and caspase activation in FPG. TGF-β, phospho-Smad2/3 and p21Cip1 were significantly higher in FPG than in LPG and suramin blocked TGF-β formation and its down-stream signaling pathway. Taken together, suramin improves the outcome of FPG transplantation, most likely by inhibition of TNFα and TGF-β formation.

Concepts: Alanine transaminase, Apoptosis, Hepatology, Liver function tests, Jaundice, Bilirubin, Cirrhosis, Liver


Liver failure, whether arising directly from acute liver failure or from decompensated chronic liver disease is an increasing problem worldwide and results in many deaths. In the UK only 10% of individuals requiring a liver transplant receive one. Thus the need for alternative treatments is paramount. A BioArtificial Liver machine could temporarily replace the functions of the liver, buying time for the patient’s liver to repair and regenerate. We have designed, implemented and tested a clinical-scale BioArtificial Liver machine containing a biomass derived from a hepatoblastoma cell-line cultured as three dimensional organoids, using a fluidised bed bioreactor, together with single-use bioprocessing equipment, with complete control of nutrient provision with feedback BioXpert recipe processes, and yielding good phenotypic liver functions. The methodology has been designed to meet specifications for GMP production, required for manufacture of advanced therapy medicinal products (ATMPs). In a porcine model of severe liver failure, damage was assured in all animals by surgical ischaemia in pigs with human sized livers (1.2-1.6 kg liver weights). The BioArtificial liver (UCLBAL) improved important prognostic clinical liver-related parameters, eg, a significant improvement in coagulation, reduction in vasopressor requirements, improvement in blood pH and in parameters of intracranial pressure (ICP) and oxygenation.

Concepts: Acute liver failure, Liver dialysis, Blood, Intracranial pressure, Liver function tests, Liver disease, Hepatology, Liver


Objective To develop and externally validate risk prediction equations to estimate absolute and conditional survival in patients with colorectal cancer. Design Cohort study.Setting General practices in England providing data for the QResearch database linked to the national cancer registry.Participants 44 145 patients aged 15-99 with colorectal cancer from 947 practices to derive the equations. The equations were validated in 15 214 patients with colorectal cancer from 305 different QResearch practices and 437 821 patients with colorectal cancer from the national cancer registry.Main outcome measures The primary outcome was all cause mortality and secondary outcome was colorectal cancer mortality.Methods Cause specific hazards models were used to predict risks of colorectal cancer mortality and other cause mortality accounting for competing risks, and these risk estimates were combined to obtain risks of all cause mortality. Separate equations were derived for men and women. Several variables were tested: age, ethnicity, deprivation score, cancer stage, cancer grade, surgery, chemotherapy, radiotherapy, smoking status, alcohol consumption, body mass index, family history of bowel cancer, anaemia, liver function test result, comorbidities, use of statins, use of aspirin, clinical values for anaemia, and platelet count. Measures of calibration and discrimination were determined in both validation cohorts at 1, 5, and 10 years.Results The final models included the following variables in men and women: age, deprivation score, cancer stage, cancer grade, smoking status, colorectal surgery, chemotherapy, family history of bowel cancer, raised platelet count, abnormal liver function, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic renal disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, prescribed aspirin at diagnosis, and prescribed statins at diagnosis. Improved survival in women was associated with younger age, earlier stage of cancer, well or moderately differentiated cancer grade, colorectal cancer surgery (adjusted hazard ratio 0.50), family history of bowel cancer (0.62), and prescriptions for statins (0.77) and aspirin (0.83) at diagnosis, with comparable results for men. The risk equations were well calibrated, with predicted risks closely matching observed risks. Discrimination was good in men and women in both validation cohorts. For example, the five year survival equations on the QResearch validation cohort explained 45.3% of the variation in time to colorectal cancer death for women, the D statistic was 1.86, and Harrell’s C statistic was 0.80 (both measures of discrimination, indicating that the scores are able to distinguish between people with different levels of risk). The corresponding results for all cause mortality were 42.6%, 1.77, and 0.79.Conclusions Risk prediction equations were developed and validated to estimate overall and conditional survival of patients with colorectal cancer accounting for an individual’s clinical and demographic characteristics. These equations can provide more individualised accurate information for patients with colorectal cancer to inform decision making and follow-up.

Concepts: Liver function tests, Lung cancer, Renal failure, Platelet, Liver, Cancer staging, Colorectal cancer, Cancer


These updated guidelines on the management of abnormal liver blood tests have been commissioned by the Clinical Services and Standards Committee (CSSC) of the British Society of Gastroenterology (BSG) under the auspices of the liver section of the BSG. The original guidelines, which this document supersedes, were written in 2000 and have undergone extensive revision by members of the Guidelines Development Group (GDG). The GDG comprises representatives from patient/carer groups (British Liver Trust, Liver4life, PBC Foundation and PSC Support), elected members of the BSG liver section (including representatives from Scotland and Wales), British Association for the Study of the Liver (BASL), Specialist Advisory Committee in Clinical Biochemistry/Royal College of Pathology and Association for Clinical Biochemistry, British Society of Paediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition (BSPGHAN), Public Health England (implementation and screening), Royal College of General Practice, British Society of Gastrointestinal and Abdominal Radiologists (BSGAR) and Society of Acute Medicine. The quality of evidence and grading of recommendations was appraised using the AGREE II tool. These guidelines deal specifically with the management of abnormal liver blood tests in children and adults in both primary and secondary care under the following subheadings: (1) What constitutes an abnormal liver blood test? (2) What constitutes a standard liver blood test panel? (3) When should liver blood tests be checked? (4) Does the extent and duration of abnormal liver blood tests determine subsequent investigation? (5) Response to abnormal liver blood tests. They are not designed to deal with the management of the underlying liver disease.

Concepts: Medical tests, Blood test, Hepatology, Blood, Liver, Liver function tests, Medical test, Medicine


Patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) who take methotrexate (MTX) are advised to limit their alcohol intake due to potential combined hepatotoxicity. However, data are limited to support this. The aim of this study was to quantify the risk of developing abnormal liver blood tests at different levels of alcohol consumption, using routinely collected data from primary care.

Concepts: Paracetamol, Rifampicin, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Ankylosing spondylitis, Psoriatic arthritis, Rheumatology, Liver function tests, Rheumatoid arthritis


Background Elucidation of the genetic factors underlying chronic liver disease may reveal new therapeutic targets. Methods We used exome sequence data and electronic health records from 46,544 participants in the DiscovEHR human genetics study to identify genetic variants associated with serum levels of alanine aminotransferase (ALT) and aspartate aminotransferase (AST). Variants that were replicated in three additional cohorts (12,527 persons) were evaluated for association with clinical diagnoses of chronic liver disease in DiscovEHR study participants and two independent cohorts (total of 37,173 persons) and with histopathological severity of liver disease in 2391 human liver samples. Results A splice variant (rs72613567:TA) in HSD17B13, encoding the hepatic lipid droplet protein hydroxysteroid 17-beta dehydrogenase 13, was associated with reduced levels of ALT (P=4.2×10-12) and AST (P=6.2×10-10). Among DiscovEHR study participants, this variant was associated with a reduced risk of alcoholic liver disease (by 42% [95% confidence interval {CI}, 20 to 58] among heterozygotes and by 53% [95% CI, 3 to 77] among homozygotes), nonalcoholic liver disease (by 17% [95% CI, 8 to 25] among heterozygotes and by 30% [95% CI, 13 to 43] among homozygotes), alcoholic cirrhosis (by 42% [95% CI, 14 to 61] among heterozygotes and by 73% [95% CI, 15 to 91] among homozygotes), and nonalcoholic cirrhosis (by 26% [95% CI, 7 to 40] among heterozygotes and by 49% [95% CI, 15 to 69] among homozygotes). Associations were confirmed in two independent cohorts. The rs72613567:TA variant was associated with a reduced risk of nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, but not steatosis, in human liver samples. The rs72613567:TA variant mitigated liver injury associated with the risk-increasing PNPLA3 p.I148M allele and resulted in an unstable and truncated protein with reduced enzymatic activity. Conclusions A loss-of-function variant in HSD17B13 was associated with a reduced risk of chronic liver disease and of progression from steatosis to steatohepatitis. (Funded by Regeneron Pharmaceuticals and others.).

Concepts: Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, Hepatology, Hepatitis C, Liver, Alanine transaminase, Liver function tests, Hepatitis, Cirrhosis


The optimal management of treatment for patients at intermediate risk of a common duct stone (including increased liver function tests but bilirubin <4 mg/dL and no cholangitis) is a matter of debate. Many stones migrate spontaneously into the duodenum, making preoperative common duct investigations unnecessary.

Concepts: Jaundice, Bile, Hepatology, Liver disease, Clinical trial, Bilirubin, Liver function tests, Liver


Liver function test (LFT) increase is an early sign of acetaminophen (APAP) toxicity. Typically, when an acute overdose patient is evaluated and has an initial undetectable APAP level and normal liver enzymes, the patient is not treated with N-acetylcysteine, and liver enzymes are not expected to increase later. We report a case of moderate LFT increase despite normal LFTs and an undetectable APAP level after delayed presentation of an APAP ingestion. A 22-year-old male with no medical history ingested 15-25 hydrocodone/APAP tablets (5 mg/500 mg). His suicide note and his bunkmate corroborated the overdose time. He arrived at the emergency department 16 hours after ingestion. At that time, his APAP level was <10 μg/mL, and his liver enzymes were normal [aspartate transaminase (AST) 31 U/L and alanine transaminase (ALT) 34 U/L]. Twenty-nine hours after ingestion, the psychiatry team obtained LFTs (AST 45, ALT 61). He had persistent nausea and diffuse abdominal pain. On repeat analysis, the APAP level at 36 hours was found to be <10 μg/mL, AST 150, and ALT 204. After 2 more days of increasing LFTs and persistent abdominal pain and nausea, the toxicology department was consulted, the patient was transferred to the medicine department, and intravenous N-acetylcysteine was started 66 hours after ingestion. He was treated for 16 hours and had a significant decline in LFTs and symptom resolution. His prothrombin time, bilirubin, lactate, creatinine, and mental status were normal throughout the admission. Other cases of LFT increase were excluded. Our case report illustrates that a moderate increase in liver transaminase may occur despite an initial undetectable APAP level and normal transaminases after a delayed presentation. In our case, no serious clinical effects were reported.

Concepts: Liver disease, Hepatology, Bilirubin, Chemical pathology, Liver, Alanine transaminase, Aspartate transaminase, Liver function tests