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Comparison of liver biopsies before and after direct-acting antiviral therapy for hepatitis C and correlation with clinical outcome

Authors: Saldarriaga, Omar A.; Dye, Bradley; Pham, Judy; Wanninger, Timothy G.; Millian, Daniel; Kueht, Michael; Freiberg, Benjamin; Utay, Netanya; Stevenson, Heather L.

Online: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-021-93881-7

Issue: Sci Rep. 2021 Jul 15;11(1):14506.


Direct-acting antivirals (DAA) have replaced interferon (IFN)-based therapies for hepatitis C virus. In this retrospective clinical study, we examined differences in histopathologic features in paired liver biopsies collected from the same patient before and after DAA and correlated these findings with clinical outcome. Biopsies (n = 19) were evaluated by quantitative imaging analysis to measure steatosis and fibrosis. Most patients had decreased steatosis in their post-treatment, follow-up biopsies. However, one patient had a striking increase in steatosis (from 0.86 to 6.32%) and later developed decompensated cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). This patient had a marked increase in fibrosis between biopsies, with a CPA of 6.74 to 32.02. Another patient, who already had bridging fibrosis at the time of her pre-treatment biopsy, developed cholangiocarcinoma after DAA. Even though the overall inflammatory activity in the post-treatment biopsies significantly decreased after treatment, 60% of patients had persistent portal lymphocytic inflammation. In summary, DAAs decreased steatosis and hepatic inflammation in most patients, although some may have persistence of lymphocytic portal inflammation. Patients known to have advanced fibrosis at treatment initiation and who have other risk factors for ongoing liver injury, such as steatosis, should be followed closely for the development of adverse outcomes, such as portal hypertension and primary liver cancers.