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Herbert L Bonkovsky - Top 30 Publications


Clinical, Biochemical, and Genetic Characterization of North American Patients With Erythropoietic Protoporphyria and X-linked Protoporphyria.

Autosomal recessive erythropoietic protoporphyria (EPP) and X-linked protoporphyria (XLP) are rare photodermatoses presenting with variable degrees of painful phototoxicity that markedly affects quality of life. The clinical variability, determinants of severity, and genotype/phenotype correlations of these diseases are not well characterized.

Acute hepatic porphyrias: Recommendations for evaluation and long-term management.

The acute hepatic porphyrias are a group of four inherited disorders, each resulting from a deficiency in the activity of a specific enzyme in the heme biosynthetic pathway. These disorders present clinically with acute neurovisceral symptoms which may be sporadic or recurrent and, when severe, can be life-threatening. The diagnosis is often missed or delayed as the clinical features resemble other more common medical conditions. There are four major subgroups: symptomatic patients with sporadic attacks (<4 attacks/year) or recurrent acute attacks (≥4 attacks/year), asymptomatic high porphyrin precursor excretors, and asymptomatic latent patients without symptoms or porphyrin precursor elevations. Given their clinical heterogeneity and potential for significant morbidity with suboptimal management, comprehensive clinical guidelines for initial evaluation, follow-up, and long-term management are needed, particularly because no guidelines exist for monitoring disease progression or response to treatment. The Porphyrias Consortium of the National Institutes of Health's Rare Diseases Clinical Research Network, which consists of expert centers in the clinical management of these disorders, has formulated these recommendations. These recommendations are based on the literature, ongoing natural history studies, and extensive clinical experience. Initial assessments should include diagnostic confirmation by biochemical testing, subsequent genetic testing to determine the specific acute hepatic porphyria, and a complete medical history and physical examination. Newly diagnosed patients should be counseled about avoiding known precipitating factors. The frequency of follow-up depends on the clinical subgroup, with close monitoring of patients with recurrent attacks who may require treatment modifications as well as those with clinical complications. Comprehensive care should include subspecialist referrals when needed. Annual assessments include biochemical testing and monitoring for long-term complications. These guidelines provide a framework for monitoring patients with acute hepatic porphyrias to ensure optimal outcomes. (Hepatology 2017;66:1314-1322).

Associations of gender and a proxy of female menopausal status with histological features of drug-induced liver injury.

Gender and menopause may contribute to type and severity of drug-induced liver injury (DILI) by influencing host responses to injury. The aim of this study was to assess the associations of gender and female age 50 [a proxy of menopause] with histological features of liver injury in 212 adults enrolled in the Drug-Induced Liver Injury Network (DILIN) registry.

Development of a modified lymphocyte transformation test for diagnosing drug-induced liver injury associated with an adaptive immune response.

Drug-induced liver injury (DILI) is a growing problem. Diagnostic methods to differentiate DILI caused by an adaptive immune response from liver injury of other causes or to identify the responsible drug in patients receiving multiple drugs, herbals and/or dietary supplements (polypharmacy) have not yet been established. The lymphocyte transformation test (LTT) has been proposed as a diagnostic method to determine if a subject with an apparent hypersensitivity reaction has become sensitized to a specific drug. In this test, peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) collected from a subject are incubated with drug(s) suspected of causing the reaction. Cell proliferation, measured by the incorporation of [(3)H]-thymidine into new DNA, is considered evidence of a drug-specific immune response. The objectives of the current studies were to: (1) develop and optimize a modified version of the LTT (mLTT) and (2) investigate the feasibility of using the mLTT for diagnosing DILI associated with an adaptive immune response and identifying the responsible drug. PBMC collected from donors with a history of drug hypersensitivity reactions to specific drugs (manifested as skin rash) were used as positive controls for assay optimization. Following optimization, samples collected from 24 subjects enrolled in the U.S. Drug-Induced Liver Injury Network (DILIN) were tested in the mLTT. Using cytokine and granzyme B production as the primary endpoints to demonstrate lymphocyte sensitization to a specific drug, most samples from the DILIN subjects failed to respond. However, robust positive mLTT responses were observed for two of four samples from three DILIN subjects with hepatitis due to isoniazid (INH). We conclude that the mLTT, as performed here on frozen and thawed PBMC, is not a reliable test for diagnosing DILI caused by all drugs, but that it may be useful for confirming the role of the adaptive immune response in DILI ascribed to INH.

BMP4 promotes metastasis of hepatocellular carcinoma by an induction of epithelial-mesenchymal transition via upregulating ID2.

The role of bone morphogenetic protein 4 (BMP4), a crucial epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) mediator, in the progression of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) patients heretofore has not been elucidated. The present study analyzed BMP4 expression in tumors and paired non-tumorous liver tissue and its correlation with clinicopathological characteristics from two independent cohorts consisting of 420 HCC patients. Functional analysis of BMP4 was performed in Bel-7402 and HCCLM3 HCC cells, and in a murine HCC model. The downstream targets of BMP4 in HCC were screened and confirmed. The results indicated that BMP4 expression was significantly increased in HCC tissue and highly metastatic HCC cells. BMP4 expression was correlated with vein invasion, overall survival and recurrence-free survival of HCC. BMP4 promoted HCC EMT and metastasis in vitro, and consistently in vivo. BMP4 knockdown blocked EMT and tumor metastasis in nude mice. ID2 was up-regulated by recombinant human BMP4, resulting in HCC EMT. Knockdown of ID2 blocked BMP4-induced EMT. In conclusion, BMP4 promotes invasion and metastasis of HCC by an induction of EMT via up-regulating ID2. BMP4 may be a valuable prognostic factor and potential therapeutic target for HCC therapy.

Advances in the management of erythropoietic protoporphyria - role of afamelanotide.

Erythropoietic protoporphyria (EPP) and the phenotypically similar disease X-linked protoporphyria (XLPP) are inherited cutaneous porphyrias characterized clinically by acute non-blistering photosensitivity, intolerance to sunlight, and significantly reduced quality of life. They are due to marked overproduction of protoporphyrin (PP) chiefly by erythroblasts and reticulocytes. In EPP, the underlying genetic defect is in the ferrochelatase gene, which encodes the final enzyme in the heme synthetic pathway. In XLPP, the genetic defect is a gain-of-function mutation, usually a four-base deletion, in the gene that encodes the enzyme 5-aminolevulinic acid synthase-2, the first and rate-controlling enzyme of heme synthesis in developing red blood cells. The excess PP causes acute and painful photosensitivity, being activated by light in the long ultraviolet to blue spectrum (380-420 nm, the Soret band). Although several treatments have been proposed, presently no very effective treatment exists for EPP or XLPP. Afamelanotide (Scenesse(®)) is a first-in-class synthetic analog of α-melanocyte stimulating hormone. Afamelanotide mimics the naturally occurring hormone to increase skin pigmentation by increasing melanin production in melanocytes, resulting in increased sunlight tolerance in those with EPP/XLPP. Afamelanotide is currently approved for use in the European Union and Switzerland, and it is under review in the United States by the Food and Drug Administration for use in patients with EPP/XLPP. This paper provides a review of the clinical characteristics and current therapies for EPP/XLPP. We discuss the pharmacology, clinical efficacy, safety, and tolerability of afamelanotide and summarize the results of several key Phase II and III clinical trials. These data indicate that afamelanotide is a promising therapy for those with these debilitating diseases.

Clinical presentations and outcomes of bile duct loss caused by drugs and herbal and dietary supplements.

Bile duct loss during the course of drug-induced liver injury is uncommon, but can be an indication of vanishing bile duct syndrome (VBDS). In this work, we assess the frequency, causes, clinical features, and outcomes of cases of drug-induced liver injury with histologically proven bile duct loss. All cases of drug-induced liver injury enrolled into a prospective database over a 10-year period that had undergone liver biopsies (n = 363) were scored for the presence of bile duct loss and assessed for clinical and laboratory features, causes, and outcomes. Twenty-six of the 363 patients (7%) with drug-, herbal-, or dietary-supplement-associated liver injury had bile duct loss on liver biopsy, which was moderate to severe (<50% of portal areas with bile ducts) in 14 and mild (50%-75%) in 12. The presenting clinical features of the 26 cases varied, but the most common clinical pattern was a severe cholestatic hepatitis. The implicated agents included amoxicillin/clavulanate (n = 3), temozolomide (n = 3), various herbal products (n = 3), azithromycin (n = 2), and 15 other medications or dietary supplements. Compared to those without, those with bile duct loss were more likely to develop chronic liver injury (94% vs. 47%), which was usually cholestatic and sometimes severe. Five patients died and 2 others underwent liver transplantation for progressive cholestasis despite treatment with corticosteroids and ursodiol. The most predictive factor of poor outcome was the degree of bile duct loss on liver biopsy.

Profiles of miRNAs in serum in severe acute drug induced liver injury and their prognostic significance.

Drug induced liver injury (DILI) is challenging because of the lack of biomarkers to predict mortality. Our aim was to describe miRNA changes in sera of subjects with acute idiosyncratic DILI and determine if levels of miRNAs were associated with 6 month mortality.

Genetic factors that affect nonalcoholic fatty liver disease: A systematic clinical review.

To investigate roles of genetic polymorphisms in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) onset, severity, and outcome through systematic literature review.

Amoxicillin-Clavulanate-Induced Liver Injury.

Amoxicillin-clavulanate (AC) is the most frequent cause of idiosyncratic drug-induced injury (DILI) in the US DILI Network (DILIN) registry. Here, we examined a large cohort of AC-DILI cases and compared features of AC-DILI to those of other drugs.

Hepatotoxicity Associated with the Use of Anti-TNF-α Agents.

Medications to inhibit the actions of tumour necrosis factor alpha have revolutionized the treatment of several pro-inflammatory autoimmune conditions. Despite their many benefits, several serious side effects exist and adverse reactions do occur from these medications. While many of the medications' potential adverse effects were anticipated and recognized in clinical trials prior to drug approval, several more rare adverse reactions were recorded in the literature as the popularity, availability and distribution of these medications grew. Of these potential adverse reactions, liver injury, although uncommon, has been observed in some patients. As case reports accrued over time and ultimately case series developed, the link became better established between this family of medicines and various patterns of liver injury. Interestingly, it appears that the majority of cases exhibit an autoimmune hepatitis profile both in serological markers of autoimmune liver disease and in classic autoimmune features seen on hepatic histopathology. Despite the growing evidence of this relationship, the pathogenesis of this reaction remains incompletely understood, but it appears to depend on characteristics of the medications and the genetic composition of the patients; it is likely more complicated than a simple medication class effect. Because of this still incomplete understanding and the infrequency of the occurrence, treatments have also been limited, although it is clear that most patients improve with cessation of the offending agent and, in certain cases, glucocorticoid use. However, more needs to be done in the future to unveil the underlying mechanisms of this adverse reaction.

Pitfalls in Erythrocyte Protoporphyrin Measurement for Diagnosis and Monitoring of Protoporphyrias.

Laboratory diagnosis of erythropoietic protoporphyria (EPP) requires a marked increase in total erythrocyte protoporphyrin (300-5000 μg/dL erythrocytes, reference interval <80 μg/dL) and a predominance (85%-100%) of metal-free protoporphyrin [normal, mostly zinc protoporphyrin (reference intervals for the zinc protoporphyrin proportion have not been established)]; plasma porphyrins are not always increased. X-linked protoporphyria (XLP) causes a similar increase in total erythrocyte protoporphyrin with a lower fraction of metal-free protoporphyrin (50%-85% of the total).

Recent insights into the biological functions of liver fatty acid binding protein 1.

Over four decades have passed since liver fatty acid binding protein (FABP)1 was first isolated. There are few protein families for which most of the complete tertiary structures, binding properties, and tissue occurrences are described in such detail and yet new functions are being uncovered for this protein. FABP1 is known to be critical for fatty acid uptake and intracellular transport and also has an important role in regulating lipid metabolism and cellular signaling pathways. FABP1 is an important endogenous cytoprotectant, minimizing hepatocyte oxidative damage and interfering with ischemia-reperfusion and other hepatic injuries. The protein may be targeted for metabolic activation through the cross-talk among many transcriptional factors and their activating ligands. Deficiency or malfunction of FABP1 has been reported in several diseases. FABP1 also influences cell proliferation during liver regeneration and may be considered as a prognostic factor for hepatic surgery. FABP1 binds and modulates the action of many molecules such as fatty acids, heme, and other metalloporphyrins. The ability to bind heme is another cytoprotective property and one that deserves closer investigation. The role of FABP1 in substrate availability and in protection from oxidative stress suggests that FABP1 plays a pivotal role during intracellular bacterial/viral infections by reducing inflammation and the adverse effects of starvation (energy deficiency).

Relation of Pre-anthracycline Serum Bilirubin Levels to Left Ventricular Ejection Fraction After Chemotherapy.

Myocardial injury because of oxidative stress manifesting through reductions in left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF) may occur after the administration of anthracycline-based chemotherapy (A-bC). We hypothesized that bilirubin, an effective endogenous antioxidant, may attenuate the reduction in LVEF that sometimes occurs after receipt of A-bC. We identified 751 consecutively treated patients with cancer who underwent a pre-A-bC LVEF measurement, exhibited a serum total bilirubin level <2 mg/dl, and then received a post-A-bC LVEF assessment because of symptomatology associated with heart failure. Analysis of variance, Tukey's Studentized range test, and chi-square tests were used to evaluate an association between bilirubin and LVEF changes. The LVEF decreased by 10.7 ± 13.7%, 8.9 ± 11.8%, and 7.7 ± 11.5% in group 1 (bilirubin at baseline ≤0.5 mg/dl), group 2 (bilirubin 0.6 to 0.8 mg/dl), and group 3 (bilirubin 0.9 to 1.9 mg/dl), respectively. More group 1 patients experienced >15% decrease in LVEF compared with those in group 3 (p = 0.039). After adjusting for age, coronary artery disease/myocardial infarction, diabetes mellitus, hematocrit, and the use of cardioactive medications, higher precancer treatment bilirubin levels and lesser total anthracycline doses were associated with LVEF preservation (p = 0.047 and 0.011, respectively). In patients treated with anthracyclines who subsequently develop symptoms associated with heart failure, pre-anthracycline treatment serum bilirubin levels inversely correlate with subsequent deterioration in post-cancer treatment LVEF. In conclusion, these results suggest that increased levels of circulating serum total bilirubin, an intrinsic antioxidant, may facilitate preservation of LVEF in patients receiving A-bC for cancer.

Leukocyte expression of heme oxygenase-1 hmox1 varies inversely with severity of tricuspid regurgitation in acute pulmonary embolism.

Pulmonary embolism (PE) can cause intracardiac hemolysis and increased plasma hemoglobin and arginase-1, which can worsen pulmonary vasoconstriction. We test the hypothesis that patients with PE that causes tricuspid regurgitation (TR), indicative of higher pulmonary arterial pressures, have decreased leukocyte expression of hmox-1 compared with patients with PE and no TR and patients without PE.

Homeostasis of iron and hepcidin in erythropoietic protoporphyria.

Erythropoietic protoporphyria (EPP) and X-linked protoporphyria (XLP) are genetic abnormalities of heme synthesis that result in excess production of protoporphyrin and that manifest as severe photosensitivity. These disorders are often associated with iron deficiency anaemia (IDA). Our aim was to determine whether hepcidin is increased in EPP/XLP patients, resulting in decreased enteral iron absorption and IDA.

Comparison of functional variants in IFNL4 and IFNL3 for association with HCV clearance.

Genetic polymorphisms within the interferon lambda (IFN-λ) region are strongly associated with hepatitis C virus (HCV) clearance; the IFNL4-ΔG/TT (rs368234815) polymorphism, which controls the generation of IFN-λ4 protein, is more strongly associated with HCV clearance than rs12979860 (the 'IL28B variant'). An IFNL3 3' untranslated region polymorphism (rs4803217) has been proposed as a causal variant that may affect HCV clearance by altering IFNL3 mRNA stability.

Acute Porphyrias.

Porphyrias are a group of eight metabolic disorders characterized by defects in heme biosynthesis. Porphyrias are classified into two major categories: 1) the acute or inducible porphyrias and 2) the chronic cutaneous porphyrias. The acute hepatic porphyrias are further classified into acute intermittent porphyria (AIP), hereditary coproporphyria, variegate porphyria, and porphyria due to severe deficiency of delta-aminolevulinic acid (ALA) dehydratase (ALADP).

Afamelanotide for Erythropoietic Protoporphyria.

Erythropoietic protoporphyria is a severe photodermatosis that is associated with acute phototoxicity. Patients with this condition have excruciating pain and a markedly reduced quality of life. We evaluated the safety and efficacy of an α-melanocyte-stimulating hormone analogue, afamelanotide, to decrease pain and improve quality of life.

On stress and the liver: a chicken and egg conundrum.

Features and Outcomes of 899 Patients With Drug-Induced Liver Injury: The DILIN Prospective Study.

The Drug-Induced Liver Injury Network is conducting a prospective study of patients with DILI in the United States. We present characteristics and subgroup analyses from the first 1257 patients enrolled in the study.

Herbal dietary supplement associated hepatotoxicity: an upcoming workshop and need for research.

Herbal products and the liver: a review of adverse effects and mechanisms.

Herbal products have been used for centuries among indigenous people to treat symptoms and illnesses. Recently, their use in Western countries has grown significantly, rivaling that of prescription medications. Currently, herbal products are used mainly for weight loss and bodybuilding purposes but also to improve well-being and symptoms of chronic diseases. Many people believe that because they are natural, they must be effective and safe; however, these beliefs are erroneous. Few herbal products have been studied in well-designed controlled trials of patients with liver or other diseases, despite testimony to the contrary. Moreover, current highly effective antiviral drugs make efforts to treat hepatitis C with herbal products redundant. Herbal products are no safer than conventional drugs and have caused liver injury severe enough to require transplantation or cause death. Furthermore, their efficacy, safety, and claims are not assessed by regulatory agencies, and there is uncertainty about their reported and unreported contents. We review the history of commonly used herbal products, as well as their purported efficacies and mechanisms and their adverse effects.

Clinically important features of porphyrin and heme metabolism and the porphyrias.

Heme, like chlorophyll, is a primordial molecule and is one of the fundamental pigments of life. Disorders of normal heme synthesis may cause human diseases, including certain anemias (X-linked sideroblastic anemias) and porphyrias. Porphyrias are classified as hepatic and erythropoietic porphyrias based on the organ system in which heme precursors (5-aminolevulinic acid (ALA), porphobilinogen and porphyrins) are chiefly overproduced. The hepatic porphyrias are further subdivided into acute porphyrias and chronic hepatic porphyrias. The acute porphyrias include acute intermittent, hereditary copro-, variegate and ALA dehydratase deficiency porphyria. Chronic hepatic porphyrias include porphyria cutanea tarda and hepatoerythropoietic porphyria. The erythropoietic porphyrias include congenital erythropoietic porphyria (Gűnther's disease) and erythropoietic protoporphyria. In this review, we summarize the key features of normal heme synthesis and its differing regulation in liver versus bone marrow. In both organs, principal regulation is exerted at the level of the first and rate-controlling enzyme, but by different molecules (heme in the liver and iron in the bone marrow). We also describe salient clinical, laboratory and genetic features of the eight types of porphyria.

Hepatitis B and liver transplantation: molecular and clinical features that influence recurrence and outcome.

Hepatitis B virus (HBV) continues to be a major cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide. It is estimated that about 350 million people throughout the world are chronically infected with HBV. Some of these people will develop hepatic cirrhosis with decompensation and/or hepatocellular carcinoma. For such patients, liver transplantation may be the only hope for cure or real improvement in quality and quantity of life. Formerly, due to rapidity of recurrence of HBV infection after liver transplantation, usually rapidly progressive, liver transplantation was considered to be contraindicated. This changed dramatically following the demonstration that hepatitis B immune globulin (HBIG), could prevent recurrent HBV infection. HBIG has been the standard of care for the past two decades or so. Recently, with the advent of highly active inhibitors of the ribose nucleic acid polymerase of HBV (entecavir, tenofovir), there has been growing evidence that HBIG needs to be given for shorter lengths of time; indeed, it may no longer be necessary at all. In this review, we describe genetic variants of HBV and past, present, and future prophylaxis of HBV infection during and after liver transplantation. We have reviewed the extant medical literature on the subject of infection with the HBV, placing particular emphasis upon the prevention and treatment of recurrent HBV during and after liver transplantation. For the review, we searched PubMed for all papers on the subject of "hepatitis B virus AND liver transplantation". We describe some of the more clinically relevant and important genetic variations in the HBV. We also describe current practices at our medical centers, provide a summary and analysis of comparative costs for alternative strategies for prevention of recurrent HBV, and pose important still unanswered questions that are in need of answers during the next decade or two. We conclude that it is now rational and cost-effective to decrease and, perhaps, cease altogether, the routine use of HBIG during and following liver transplantation for HBV infection. Here we propose an individualized prophylaxis regimen, based on an integrated approach and risk-assessment.

MiR-122 decreases HCV entry into hepatocytes through binding to the 3' UTR of OCLN mRNA.

Analysis in silico suggests that occludin (OCLN), a key receptor for HCV, is a candidate target of miR-122; the most abundant hepatic micro RNA. We aimed to determine if miR-122 can decrease HCV entry through binding to the 3' UTR of OCLN mRNA.

Risk factors for severe or fatal drug-induced liver injury from amoxicillin-clavulanic acid.

To identify risk factors for severe liver injury or mortality from drug-induced liver injury (DILI) from amoxicillin-clavulanic acid. To determine if co-administration of potentially hepatotoxic drugs was associated with an increased risk of DILI from amoxicillin-clavulanic acid.

Liver injury from herbals and dietary supplements in the U.S. Drug-Induced Liver Injury Network.

The Drug-Induced Liver Injury Network (DILIN) studies hepatotoxicity caused by conventional medications as well as herbals and dietary supplements (HDS). To characterize hepatotoxicity and its outcomes from HDS versus medications, patients with hepatotoxicity attributed to medications or HDS were enrolled prospectively between 2004 and 2013. The study took place among eight U.S. referral centers that are part of the DILIN. Consecutive patients with liver injury referred to a DILIN center were eligible. The final sample comprised 130 (15.5%) of all subjects enrolled (839) who were judged to have experienced liver injury caused by HDS. Hepatotoxicity caused by HDS was evaluated by expert opinion. Demographic and clinical characteristics and outcome assessments, including death and liver transplantation (LT), were ascertained. Cases were stratified and compared according to the type of agent implicated in liver injury; 45 had injury caused by bodybuilding HDS, 85 by nonbodybuilding HDS, and 709 by medications. Liver injury caused by HDS increased from 7% to 20% (P < 0.001) during the study period. Bodybuilding HDS caused prolonged jaundice (median, 91 days) in young men, but did not result in any fatalities or LT. The remaining HDS cases presented as hepatocellular injury, predominantly in middle-aged women, and, more frequently, led to death or transplantation, compared to injury from medications (13% vs. 3%; P < 0.05).

Acute porphyrias in the USA: features of 108 subjects from porphyrias consortium.

Recent descriptions of the clinical and laboratory features of subjects with acute porphyrias in the US are lacking. Our aim was to describe clinical, biochemical, and genetic features of 108 subjects.