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Sex Hormone Receptor May Explain Higher Risk of Hepatocellular Carcinoma in Men

Interaction between hepatitis B virus (HBV) and the androgen receptor in the liver promotes viral replication and triggers cell changes that lead to development of hepatocellular carcinoma, according to a study in mice described in the May 19, 2010 issue of Science Translational Medicine. Since men have more active androgen receptors than women, these findings help explain why men with hepatitis B are more prone to liver cancer, and suggest that blocking androgen receptors in the liver might be an effective treatment.

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EASL 2010: Measurable Neurocognitive Impairment Persists after Episodes of Hepatic Encephalopathy in People with Liver Cirrhosis

Changes in working memory, psychomotor speed, and other neurocognitive measures persist in patients with hepatic encephalopathy due to decompensated liver cirrhosis, according to research presented at the 45th Annual Meeting of the European Association for the Study of the Liver (EASL 2010) last month in Vienna. A related study presented at the Digestive Disease Week conference (DDW 2010) last week in New Orleans found that more than half of people with compensated cirrhosis (mostly due to hepatitis C) showed signs of neurocognitive impairment, indicating that mild hepatic encephalopathy is common even among individuals without severe liver disease.

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Bone Loss and Vitamin D Deficiency Are Common among People with Liver Cirrhosis

People with liver cirrhosis -- a potential outcome of chronic hepatitis B or C -- frequently experience bone loss, or reduced bone mineral density (BMD), and often have low vitamin D levels, according to an Indian study published in the July 28, 2009 issue of World Journal of Gastroenterology.

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EASL 2010: MARS and Prometheus Artificial Liver Devices Offer Some Benefits for Patients with Liver Failure, but Did Not Improve Survival

An out-of-body liver dialysis device known as the Molecular Adsorbents Recirculating System (MARS) -- which takes over some lost filtering function in people with liver failure -- reduced levels of toxic substances in the blood and improved symptoms of hepatic encephalopathy in patients with acute-on-chronic liver failure, though it did not significantly extend survival, according to a late-breaker presentation at the 45th Annual Meeting of the European Association for the Study of the Liver (EASL 2010) this month in Vienna. Another study found that the Prometheus extracorporeal liver support system also did not improve survival overall, though it did help specific groups of patients.

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EASL 2009: Does HBV Viral Load Level Predict Development of Liver Fibrosis?

Two studies presented at the 44th Annual Meeting of the European Association for the Study of the Liver (EASL 2009) last month in Copenhagen looked at the association between HBV DNA level and development of fibrosis, with findings suggesting that the role of HBV viral load differs for hepatitis B "e" antigen (HBeAg) negative and HBeAg positive individuals.

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Appetite-regulating Hormone Ghrelin May Inhibit Inflammation and Liver Fibrosis

Ghrelin, an appetite-regulating hormone produced primarily in the stomach, reduced liver fibrosis, inflammation, and oxidative stress in rats and protected them from both chronic and acute liver injury, according to a study published in the March 2010 issue of Hepatology. Researchers also found that ghrelin levels were lower in chronic hepatitis patients with advanced fibrosis. If confirmed in future studies, ghrelin may have potential as an anti-fibrotic therapy.

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Two Studies Look at Promising Therapies for Liver Cancer: Sorafenib and Doxorubicin

Two recently published studies produced promising data on experimental therapies for HCC: the systemic chemotherapy drug sorafenib (Nexavar), and combination therapy using doxorubicin-eluting beads plus radiofrequency ablation.

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