Editor-in-Chief & Deputy Editor 2019-2021





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Selection criteria for liver transplantation in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma. Eastern and western experiences, and perspectives for the future

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Ever since the initial description of the Milan criteria, used for selecting patients with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) for liver transplantation (LT), there has been a clear need to go further than solely morphological criteria. Tumours exceeding the Milan criteria, but presenting favourable biological behaviour, might still allow for comparable overall- and disease-free survivals after LT. As it is well established that the presence of microvascular invasion is a major factor that influences HCC recurrence after LT, several serum and tissue biomarkers in addition to imaging studies are attracting wider attention as more refined tools for selecting HCC patients for LT. A thorough review of the recent literature on the subject was conducted. In the future a combination of systemic inflammation markers, biomarkers and morphological criteria may be key to more accurate prediction of HCC recurrence after LT. This may allow LT in patients whose HCC tumours exceed the Milan criteria but have favourable biological behaviour. Further prospective studies are required in order to improve patient selection for transplantation in HCC and these could help a move towards more transparent and improved management. (Acta gastroenterol. belg., 2019, 82, 314-318). [Product Details...]

Systematic review and meta-analysis : diagnostic accuracy of faecal immunochemical testing for haemoglobin (FIT) in detecting colorectal cancer for both symptomatic and screening population

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Background : Colorectal cancer (CRC) is one of the most common cancers worldwide. A non-invasive test, with high sensitivity and specificity is essential for early detection, improved outcome and avoidance of unnecessary invasive tests. This study aims to evaluate the accuracy of the faecal immunochemical testing for haemoglobin (FIT) in the detection of CRC, both in symptomatic and screening population and to summarise the available evidence to date. Methods : Search strategy was initially developed in MEDLINE and adapted for use in other databases. Studies were included if they had fulfilled the criteria. QUADAS-2 tool was used for quality assessment and data analysis performed using STATA 15 software. Results : A total of 17 out of 92 articles were included in the final analysis. Within the symptomatic group (n= 6755), the overall pooled sensitivity and specificity of FIT to detect CRC was 0.90 (95% CI 0.87-0.92) and 0.87 (95% CI 0.83-0.90) respectively. In the screening population (n=24197), the pooled sensitivity and specificity of FIT to detect CRC was 0.69 (95% CI 0.54-0.81) and 0.94 (95% CI 0.94-0.95) respectively. Most analytics were comparable with cut off less than 20μg/g feces providing optimal sensitivity and specificity for symptomatic and screening populations respectively. Conclusion : For the detection of CRC within the screening population, FIT has high specificity and sensitivity. In the symptomatic group, FIT’s high sensitivity (90%) supports its role as a triage test to guide the selection of patients who require urgent lower gastrointestinal tract evaluation. (Acta gastroenterol. belg., 2019, 82, 291-299). [Product Details...]

The potential of glycomics as prognostic biomarkers in liver disease and liver transplantation

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The study of glycomics is a novel and fascinating approach for the development of biomarkers. It has become clear that in the field of liver disease specific glycomic patters are present in specific disease states, which has led to the development of diagnostic biomarkers. In this manuscript, we will describe two new applications of this technology for the development of prognostic biomarkers. The first biomarker is associated with the risk of hepatocellular carcinoma development in patients with compensated cirrhosis. The second biomarker is present in perfusate and is related to the risk of primary non function occurrence after liver transplantation. The technology used for these biomarkers could easily be implemented on routine capillary electrophoresis equipment. (Acta gastroenterol. belg., 2019, 82, 309-313). [Product Details...]

The role and indications of albumin in advanced liver disease

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Low serum albumin is common in cirrhosis and is associated with a reduced survival. Moreover, in this setting, the native isoform of albumin can be severely reduced due to several posttranscriptional changes that impair the non-oncotic properties of the molecule. Due to its oncotic power, albumin acts as a powerful plasma expander. As such, it can antagonize the consequences of effective hypovolemia deriving from the systemic hemodynamics abnormalities that characterize advanced cirrhosis. Indeed, the current established indications to the use of albumin in this context pertain to conditions deriving from an acute drop of effective volemia. Recent advances have shown that the pathophysiological background of decompensated cirrhosis is characterized by a sustained systemic inflammatory and pro-oxidant state deriving by an abnormal bacterial translocation from the gut. These abnormalities ultimately lead to the multiorgan dysfunction. In this cascade of events, long-term albumin administration could act against several pathogenic factors through its non-oncotic properties, thus representing a potential multi-target mechanistic treatment. Over the last year, two randomized clinical trials on this topic were published. The ANSWER Trial demonstrated that the long-term albumin administration in patients with decompensated cirrhosis improves overall survival, reduces the incidence of complications and the need of hospitalizations and ameliorates the quality of life, being cost-effective. The MACHT trial challenged these results, but the differences between the two studies (sample size, baseline severity of cirrhosis, length of follow-up and amount of albumin administered) could explain its variant results, providing the basis for further insights into this matter. (Acta gastroenterol. belg., 2019, 82, 301-308). [Product Details...]

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