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Journal: Clinical and molecular hepatology


Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is the most common chronic liver disease whose prevalence has reached global epidemic proportions. Although the disease is relatively benign in the early stages, when severe clinical forms, including nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), cirrhosis and even hepatocellular carcinoma, occur, they result in worsening the long-term prognosis. A growing body of evidence indicates that NAFLD develops from a complex process in which many factors, including genetic susceptibility and environmental insults, are involved. In this review, we focused on the genetic component of NAFLD, with special emphasis on the role of genetics in the disease pathogenesis and natural history. Insights into the topic of the genetic susceptibility in lean individuals with NAFLD and the potential use of genetic tests in identifying individuals at risk are also discussed.

Concepts: Steatosis, Hepatitis, Cirrhosis, Fatty liver, Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease


The liver plays a crucial role in coagulation cascade. Global hemostatic process is profoundly influenced by the presence of liver disease and its complications. Patients with cirrhosis have impaired synthesis of most of the factors involved in coagulation and fibrinolysis process due to a reduced liver function and altered platelet count secondary to portal hypertension. Altered routine tests and thrombocytopenia were considered in the past as associated with increased risk of bleeding. These concepts explain both the routine use of plasma and/or platelets transfusion in patients with liver cirrhosis, especially before invasive procedures, and why these patients were considered “auto-anticoagulated”. New recent evidences show that patients with liver cirrhosis have a more complex hemostatic alteration. Despite the presence of altered levels of factors involved in primary hemostasis, coagulation and fibrinolysis, patients with stable cirrhosis have a rebalanced hemostatic, which however can easily be altered by decompensation or infection, both in hemorrhagic or thrombotic direction. Patients with cirrhosis have an increased risk of venous thrombotic events (namely portal vein thrombosis) while bleeding seems to be related to the grade of portal hypertension rather than to a hemostatic imbalance. The use of anticoagulants both as treatment or prophylaxis is safe, reduces the rate of portal vein thrombosis and decompensation, and improves survival. Standard laboratory coagulation tests are unable to predict bleeding and are inadequate for the assessment of hemostatic status in these patients, hence more comprehensive tests are required to guide the management of thrombotic and bleeding complications.

Concepts: Hepatology, Hepatic portal vein, Thrombosis, Liver, Coagulation, Platelet, Blood, Hemostasis


Ultraselective conventional transarterial chemoembolization (cTACE), defined as cTACE at the most distal portion of the subsubsegmental hepatic artery, is mainly performed for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) ≤5 cm. Distal advancement of a microcatheter enables injection of a larger volume of iodized oil into the portal vein in the limited area under non-physiological hemodynamics. As a result, the reversed portal flow into the tumor through the drainage route of the tumor that occurs when the hepatic artery is embolized is temporarily blocked. By adding gelatin sponge slurry embolization, both the hepatic artery and portal vein are embolized and not only complete necrosis of the tumor but also massive peritumoral necrosis can be achieved. Ultraselective cTACE can cure small HCCs including less hypervascular tumor portions and replace surgical resection and radiofrequency ablation in selected patients.


Donation after circulatory death (DCD) is an increasing source of liver grafts for transplantation, yet outcomes have been inferior compared to donation after brain death liver transplantation. These worse outcomes are mainly due to the severe graft injury resulting from mandatory warm ischemia during DCD organ recovery. New evidence, however, indicates that improved donor selection and surgical techniques can decrease the risk of graft failure and ischemic cholangiopathy (IC). Under current best practices, DCD organs are retrieved with the super-rapid technique, optimizing timing and protecting the liver graft from detrimental warm ischemia. Graft viability is influenced by both the quantity and quality of warm ischemia, which is unique to each donor and causes various degrees of pathophysiologic consequences. Evidence also shows that the choice of preservation solution and premortem heparin administration influences graft viability. Additionally, although the precise mechanism of IC remains unknown, stasis of blood during donor warm ischemia may cause the formation of microthrombi in the peribiliary vascular plexus and ischemia of the bile duct. Importantly, thrombolytic protocols show a possible preventive modality for IC. Finally, while ex vivo machine perfusion technology has gained an interest in DCD liver transplantation, further studies are necessary to evaluate the effectiveness of this evolving field to improve graft quality and transplant outcomes.


Stereotactic body radiation therapy (SBRT) is used as an alternative ablative treatment in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) not suitable for curative treatments. The purpose of this prospective study was to evaluate the long-term efficacy of SBRT for small (≤5 cm) HCCs.


The role of serum myokine levels in sarcopenia and the outcome of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) patients are not clear. This study investigated the serum levels of myostatin, follistatin, and interleukin-6 (IL-6) in HCC patients and their association with sarcopenia and survival.


The current standard of care for severe alcoholic hepatitis (SAH) has several limitations in that only up to one-third of patients are eligible for steroid therapy. Additionally, steroids have their own issues: a portion of patients do not respond, while there is doubtful long-term benefit in those who do and a large proportion are ineligible to receive steroids entirely and hence have no definitive options for treatment. As such, there is a large gap between the problem and the available solutions. Alcohol causes dysbiosis and also disrupts gut barrier function, consequently promoting the translocation of microbial lipopolysaccharide into the portal circulation and liver. Therefore, probiotics, prebiotics, antibiotics, or transplantation of gut microbiota are likely to attenuate the dysbiosis-related liver insult. Fecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) is expected to have a role in managing alcoholic liver disease in general and SAH in particular by correcting dysbiosis, the primary insult. Results from mouse studies have suggested beyond doubt that alcohol-related liver injury is transferrable and also treatable by adopting FMT from suitable donors. Initial human trials from our center have affirmed benefits in human subjects with SAH as well, with both improvements in disease severity and as well as the rate of survival. Further studies addressing the head-to-head comparison of steroids and FMT are ongoing. Available preliminary data are promising and FMT and/or gut microbial modulation might become the standard of care in the near future for managing alcohol-related liver diseases, especially alcoholic hepatitis, with greater applicability, improved acceptability, and minimal side effects.


Hepatitis B virus (HBV) cannot be eliminated completely from infected hepatocytes because of the presence of intrahepatic covalently closed circular DNA (cccDNA). As chronic hepatitis B (CHB) can progress to cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), it is important to manage CHB to prevent HCC development in high-risk patients with high viral replicative activity or advanced fibrosis. Serum biomarkers are noninvasive and valuable for the management of CHB. Hepatitis B core-related antigen (HBcrAg) correlates with serum HBV DNA and intrahepatic cccDNA. In CHB patients with undetectable serum HBV DNA or loss of HBsAg, HBcrAg still can be detected and the decrease in HBcrAg levels is significantly associated with hopeful outcomes. Therefore, HBcrAg can predict HCC occurrence or recurrence. Measurement of the Mac-2 binding protein glycosylation isomer (M2BPGi) has been introduced for the evaluation of liver fibrosis. Because elevated M2BPGi in CHB is related to liver fibrosis and the prediction of HCC development, monitoring its progression is essential. Because alpha fetoprotein (AFP) has insufficient sensitivity and specificity for early-stage HCC, a combination of AFP plus protein induced by vitamin K absence factor II, or AFP plus Lens culinaris agglutinin-reactive fraction of alpha-fetoprotein might improve the diagnosis of HCC development. Additionally, Dickkopf-1 and circulating immunoglobulin G antibodies are the novel markers to diagnose HCC or assess HCC prognosis. This review provides an overview of novel HBV biomarkers used for the management of intrahepatic viral replicative activity, liver fibrosis, and HCC development.


This study aimed to compare the diagnostic performances of Liver Imaging Reporting and Data System (LI-RADS) 2018 and Korean Liver Cancer Association-National Cancer Center (KLCA-NCC) 2018 criteria on magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) for the noninvasive diagnosis of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in high-risk patients.


Cytoglobin (Cygb), a stellate cell-specific globin, has recently drawn attention due to its association with liver fibrosis. In the livers of both humans and rodents, Cygb is expressed only in stellate cells and can be utilized as a marker to distinguish stellate cells from hepatic fibroblast-derived myofibroblasts. Loss of Cygb accelerates liver fibrosis and cancer development in mouse models of chronic liver injury including diethylnitrosamine-induced hepatocellular carcinoma, bile duct ligation-induced cholestasis, thioacetamide-induced hepatic fibrosis, and choline-deficient L-amino acid-defined diet-induced non-alcoholic steatohepatitis. This review focuses on the history of research into the role of reactive oxygen species and nitrogen species in liver fibrosis and discusses the current perception of Cygb as a novel radical scavenger with an emphasis on its role in hepatic stellate cell activation and fibrosis.