Sapena, V., M. Enea, F. Torres, C. Celsa, J. Rios, G. E. M. Rizzo, P. Nahon, Z. Mariño, R. Tateishi, T. Minami, et al., "Hepatocellular carcinoma recurrence after direct-acting antiviral therapy: an individual patient data meta-analysis.", Gut, vol. 71, issue 3, pp. 593-604, 2022. Abstract

OBJECTIVE: The benefit of direct-acting antivirals (DAAs) against HCV following successful treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) remains controversial. This meta-analysis of individual patient data assessed HCC recurrence risk following DAA administration.

DESIGN: We pooled the data of 977 consecutive patients from 21 studies of HCV-related cirrhosis and HCC, who achieved complete radiological response after surgical/locoregional treatments and received DAAs (DAA group). Recurrence or death risk was expressed as HCC recurrence or death per 100 person-years (100PY). Propensity score-matched patients from the ITA.LI.CA. cohort (n=328) served as DAA-unexposed controls (no-DAA group). Risk factors for HCC recurrence were identified using random-effects Poisson.

RESULTS: Recurrence rate and death risk per 100PY in DAA-treated patients were 20 (95% CI 13.9 to 29.8, I=74.6%) and 5.7 (2.5 to 15.3, I=54.3), respectively. Predictive factors for recurrence were alpha-fetoprotein logarithm (relative risk (RR)=1.11, 95% CI 1.03 to 1.19; p=0.01, per 1 log of ng/mL), HCC recurrence history pre-DAA initiation (RR=1.11, 95% CI 1.07 to 1.16; p<0.001), performance status (2 vs 0, RR=4.35, 95% CI 1.54 to 11.11; 2 vs 1, RR=3.7, 95% CI 1.3 to 11.11; p=0.01) and tumour burden pre-HCC treatment (multifocal vs solitary nodule, RR=1.75, 95% CI 1.25 to 2.43; p<0.001). No significant difference was observed in RR between the DAA-exposed and DAA-unexposed groups in propensity score-matched patients (RR=0.64, 95% CI 0.37 to 1.1; p=0.1).

CONCLUSION: Effects of DAA exposure on HCC recurrence risk remain inconclusive. Active clinical and radiological follow-up of patients with HCC after HCV eradication with DAA is justified.

Abdelkhalek, Z. S., M. S. Abdalla, M. M. Fathy, T. M. Elbaz, A. O. Abdelaziz, M. M. Nabeel, H. I. Shousha, A. H. Kamel, and M. H. Kamel, "Role of circulating microRNA-21 and microRNA-215 in the diagnosis of hepatitis C related hepatocellular carcinoma.", Journal of infection in developing countries, vol. 15, issue 7, pp. 997-1003, 2021. Abstract

INTRODUCTION: Several micro ribonucleic acids (miRNAs) are deregulated in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Others are linked to clinical pathological features of HCC. The goal of this study was to investigate whether miRNA-21 and miRNA-215 gene expression could be used as a non-invasive diagnostic tool to diagnose HCC.

METHODOLOGY: The gene expression of mature miRNA -21 and miRNA -215 in serum was analysed retrospectively using singleplex TaqMan two-step stem-loop quantitative real-time reverse-transcription PCR in 40 patients with HCC, 40 with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) with cirrhosis and 40 apparently healthy controls.

RESULTS: Expression of miRNA -21 was significantly more down regulated in patients with HCC than in those with non-cirrhotic HCV (P = 0.007; odds ratio = 5; 95% confidence interval 1.6-15.4). The receiver operating curve analysis of the ability of miRNA-21 expression to discriminate between HCC and non-cirrhotic HCV revealed an area under the curve of 0.712 with 70% sensitivity and 68% specificity at a cut-off of ≤ 1.4468. Thus, the expression level of miRNA -21 could discriminate HCC from non-cirrhotic HCV. Significant positive correlation was observed between expression levels of microRNA-21 and miRNA -215 (r = 0.783, p < 0.001), but no association was observed between expression level of miR-215 and HCC or chronic HCV (p = 0.474).

CONCLUSIONS: MiRNA-21 may be a useful, non-invasive tool for diagnosing HCC. Non-cirrhotic HCV patients have five times the risk of developing HCC when the miRNA -21 level ≤ 1.4468.

Shousha, H. I., A. O. Abdelaziz, M. M. Nabeel, D. A. H. Omran, A. H. Abdelmaksoud, T. M. Elbaz, A. Salah, S. T. E. G. Harb, K. A. Hosny, A. Osman, et al., "infection and the occurrence, characteristics, and survival of patients with hepatocellular carcinoma: an observational study over a decade.", Pathogens and global health, vol. 116, issue 2, pp. 119-127, 2022. Abstract

infection (SMI) is suspected to be directly and indirectly involved in hepato-carcinogenesis. This study evaluated the association of a previous SMI with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) development, patients, tumor characteristics, treatment outcomes, and survival. This observational study included patients with HCC with and without previous SMI who presented to the multidisciplinary HCC clinic, Kasr-Alainy hospital (November 2009 to December 2019). It also included 313 patients with liver cirrhosis without HCC. Clinical and laboratory features of the patients (complete blood count, liver/renal functions , alpha-fetoprotein, and hepatitis B/C status), tumor characteristics (Triphasic CT and/or dynamic MRI), liver stiffness (transient elastography), HCC treatment outcome, and overall survival were studied. This study included 1446 patients with HCC; 688(47.6%) composed group-1, defined by patients having a history of SMI, and 758(52.4%) were in group-2 and without history of SMI. Male sex, smoking, diabetes mellitus, splenomegaly, deteriorated performance status, synthetic liver functions, and platelet count were significantly higher in group-1. The groups did not differ with regard to liver stiffness, tumor characteristics, or the occurrence of post-HCC treatment hepatic decompensation or recurrence. HCC treatment response was better in group-2. Group-1 showed lower sustained virological response to hepatitis C direct-acting antivirals (DAAs) compared with group-2 (60% versus 84.3%, respectively, P = 0.027). Prior SMI was associated with HCC (adjusted odds ratio = 1.589, 95% confidence interval = 1.187-2.127), and it was concluded that it increases the risk of HCC. In addition, it significantly affects the performance status, laboratory characteristics, response to DAAs, and overall survival.

Omran, D., M. AlSoda, E. Bahbah, G. Esmat, H. Shousha, A. Elgebaly, M. A. Ghaffar, M. Alsheikh, E. El Sayed, shimaa afify, et al., "Predictors of severity and development of critical illness of Egyptian COVID-19 patients: A multicenter study.", PloS one, vol. 16, issue 9, pp. e0256203, 2021. Abstract

OBJECTIVES: We conducted the present multicenter, retrospective study to assess the epidemiological, clinical, laboratory, and radiological characteristics associated with critical illness among patients with COVID-19 from Egypt.

METHODS: The present study was a multicenter, retrospective study that retrieved the data of all Egyptian cases with confirmed COVID-19 admitted to hospitals affiliated to the General Organization for Teaching Hospitals and Institutes (GOTHI) through the period from March to July 2020. The diagnosis of COVID-19 was based on a positive reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) laboratory test.

RESULTS: This retrospective study included 2724 COVID-19 patients, of whom 423 (15.52%) were critically ill. Approximately 45.86% of the critical group aged above 60 years, compared to 39.59% in the non-critical group (p = 0.016). Multivariate analysis showed that many factors were predictors of critically illness, including age >60 years (OR = 1.30, 95% CI [1.05, 1.61], p = 0.014), low oxygen saturation (OR = 0.93, 95% CI [0.91, 0.95], p<0.001), low Glasgow coma scale (OR = 0.75, 95% CI [0.67, 0.84], p<0.001), diabetes (OR = 1.62, 95% CI [1.26, 2.08], p<0.001), cancer (OR = 2.47, 95% CI [1.41, 4.35], p = 0.002), and serum ferritin (OR = 1.004, 95% CI [1.0003, 1.008], p = 0.031).

CONCLUSION: In the present report, we demonstrated that many factors are associated with COVID-19 critical illness, including older age groups, fatigue, elevated temperature, increased pulse, lower oxygen saturation, the preexistence of diabetes, malignancies, cardiovascular disease, renal diseases, and pulmonary disease. Moreover, elevated serum levels of ALT, AST, and ferritin are associated with worse outcomes. Further studies are required to identify independent predictors of mortality for patients with COVID-19.

Shousha, H. I., N. Madbouly, shimaa afify, N. Asem, E. fouad, R. Maher, S. S. Moussa, A. Abdelazeem, E. M. Youssif, K. Y. Harhira, et al., "Anxiety, depression and coping strategies among chronic medical patients with coronavirus disease-2019: a multicenter follow-up cohort study.", Journal of mental health (Abingdon, England), pp. 1-9, 2021. Abstract

BACKGROUND: Studies have shown that COVID-19 patients experience high levels of anxiety, depression, and stress during the pandemic. Patients adopt different coping strategies to reduce their psychological distress.

AIM: To compare the immediate and long-term psychological impact of COVID-19 disease on patients with and without chronic medical illnesses (CMI) and identify coping styles of both groups during the peak of COVID-19 disease in Egypt.

METHODS: This is a cohort follow-up study, that included an online survey consisting of General Health Questionnaire-12, Taylor Manifest Anxiety Scale, Beck Depression Inventory and Brief-COPE scale. The Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Checklist was completed after 6 months. Questionnaires were distributed to adult patients with a confirmed diagnosis of SARS-CoV-2 virus infection during their quarantine in Egypt.

RESULTS: There was no significant difference between the two groups regarding anxiety and depression during the acute infection. Patients without CMI relied significantly on the use of informational support to cope with COVID-19 disease. Patients with CMI continued to show significant depressive symptoms after 6 months without significant PTSD symptoms.

CONCLUSIONS: COVID-19 has similar immediate psychological impact on patients with and without CMI. However, patients with CMI continue to show depression on long-term follow-up.

Shousha, H. I., shimaa afify, R. Maher, N. Asem, E. fouad, E. F. Mostafa, M. A. Medhat, A. Abdalazeem, H. Elmorsy, M. M. Aziz, et al., "Hepatic and gastrointestinal disturbances in Egyptian patients infected with coronavirus disease 2019: A multicentre cohort study.", World journal of gastroenterology, vol. 27, issue 40, pp. 6951-6966, 2021. Abstract

BACKGROUND: Various liver and gastrointestinal involvements occur in patients with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) at variable prevalence. Most studies report mild liver function disturbances correlated with COVID-19 severity, though liver failure is unusual.

AIM: To study liver and gastrointestinal dysfunctions in Egyptian patients with COVID-19 and their relation to disease outcomes.

METHODS: This multicentre cohort study was conducted on 547 Egyptian patients from April 15, 2020 to July 29, 2020. Consecutive polymerase chain reaction-confirmed COVID-19 cases were included from four quarantine hospitals affiliated to the Egyptian ministry of health. Demographic information, laboratory characteristics, treatments, fibrosis-4 (FIB-4) index, COVID-19 severity, and outcomes were recorded and compared according to the degree of liver enzyme elevation and the presence of gastrointestinal symptoms. Follow-ups were conducted until discharge or death. Regression analyses were performed to determine the independent factors affecting mortality.

RESULTS: This study included 547 patients, of whom 53 (9.68%) died during hospitalization and 1 was discharged upon his request. Patients' mean age was 45.04 ± 17.61 years, and 21.98% had severe or critical COVID-19. Alanine aminotransferase (ALT) and aspartate aminotransferase (AST) were available for 430 and 428 patients, respectively. In total, 26% and 32% of patients had elevated ALT and AST, respectively. Significant liver injury with ALT or AST elevation exceeding 3-fold was recorded in 21 (4.91%) and 16 (3.73%) patients, respectively. Male gender, smoking, hypertension, chronic hepatitis C, and lung involvement were associated with elevated AST or ALT. AST was elevated in 50% of patients over 60-years-old. FIB-4 was significantly higher in patients admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU), those with more severe COVID-19, and non-survivors. The independent variables affecting outcome were supplementary vitamin C intake (1 g daily capsules) [odds ratio (OR): 0.05, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.008-0.337]; lung consolidation (OR: 4.540, 95%CI: 1.155-17.840); ICU admission (OR: 25.032, 95%CI: 7.110-88.128); and FIB-4 score > 3.25 (OR: 10.393, 95%CI: 2.459-43.925). Among 60 (13.98%) patients with gastrointestinal symptoms, 52 (86.67%) had diarrhoea. Patients with gastrointestinal symptoms were predominantly females with higher body mass index, and 50 (83.40%) patients had non-severe COVID-19.

CONCLUSION: Few Egyptian patients with COVID-19 developed a significant liver injury. The independent variables affecting mortality were supplementary vitamin C intake, lung consolidation, ICU admission, and FIB-4 score.

shimaa afify, B. Eysa, F. A. Hamid, O. M. Abo-Elazm, M. A. Edris, R. Maher, A. Abdelhalim, M. M. Abdel Ghaffar, D. A. Omran, and H. I. Shousha, "Survival and outcomes for co-infection of chronic hepatitis C with and without cirrhosis and COVID-19: A multicenter retrospective study.", World journal of gastroenterology, vol. 27, issue 42, pp. 7362-7375, 2021. Abstract

BACKGROUND: Chronic liver disease, particularly cirrhosis, is associated with worse outcomes in patients infected with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

AIM: To assess outcomes of COVID-19 infection among patients with pre-existing hepatitis C with or without liver cirrhosis.

METHODS: This multicenter, retrospective cohort study included all cases of confirmed co-infection of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 and chronic hepatitis C with or without liver cirrhosis who were admitted to six hospitals (Al-Sahel Hospital, Al-Matareya Hospital, Al-Ahrar Hospital, Ahmed Maher Teaching Hospital, Al-Gomhoreya Hospital, and the National Hepatology and Tropical Medicine Research Institute) affiliated with the General Organization for Teaching Hospitals and Institutes in Egypt. Patients were recruited from May 1, 2020, to July 31, 2020. Demographic, laboratory, imaging features, and outcomes were collected. Multivariate regression analysis was performed to detect factors affecting mortality.

RESULTS: This retrospective cohort study included 125 patients with chronic hepatitis C and COVID-19 co-infection, of which 64 (51.20%) had liver cirrhosis and 40 (32.00%) died. Fever, cough, dyspnea, and fatigue were the most frequent symptoms in patients with liver cirrhosis. Cough, sore throat, fatigue, myalgia, and diarrhea were significantly more common in patients with liver cirrhosis than in non-cirrhotic patients. There was no difference between patients with and without cirrhosis regarding comorbidities. Fifteen patients (23.40%) with liver cirrhosis presented with hepatic encephalopathy. Patients with liver cirrhosis were more likely than non-cirrhotic patients to have combined ground-glass opacities and consolidations in CT chest scans: 28 (43.75%) 4 (6.55%), respectively ( value < 0.001). These patients also were more likely to have severe COVID-19 infection, compared to patients without liver cirrhosis: 29 (45.31%) 11 (18.04%), respectively ( value < 0.003). Mortality was higher in patients with liver cirrhosis, compared to those with no cirrhosis: 33 (51.56%) 9 (14.75%), respectively ( value < 0.001). All patients in Child-Pugh class A recovered and were discharged. Cirrhotic mortality occurred among decompensated patients only. A multivariate regression analysis revealed the following independent factors affecting mortality: Male gender (OR 7.17, 95%CI: 2.19-23.51; value = 0.001), diabetes mellitus (OR 4.03, 95%CI: 1.49-10.91; value = 0.006), and liver cirrhosis (OR 1.103, 95%CI: 1.037-1.282; value < 0.0001). We found no differences in liver function, COVID-19 disease severity, or outcomes between patients who previously received direct-acting antiviral therapy (and achieved sustained virological response) and patients who did not receive this therapy.

CONCLUSION: Patients with liver cirrhosis are susceptible to higher severity and mortality if infected with COVID-19. Male gender, diabetes mellitus, and liver cirrhosis are independent factors associated with increased mortality risk.

AbdelGhaffar, M. M., D. Omran, A. Elgebaly, E. I. Bahbah, shimaa afify, M. AlSoda, M. El-Shiekh, E. S. ElSayed, S. S. Shaaban, S. AbdelHafez, et al., "Prediction of mortality in hospitalized Egyptian patients with Coronavirus disease-2019: A multicenter retrospective study.", PloS one, vol. 17, issue 1, pp. e0262348, 2022. Abstract

We aimed to assess the epidemiological, clinical, and laboratory characteristics associated with mortality among hospitalized Egyptian patients with COVID-19. A multicenter, retrospective study was conducted on all polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-confirmed COVID-19 cases admitted through the period from April to July 2020. A generalized linear model was reconstructed with covariates based on predictor's statistical significance and clinically relevance. The odds ratio (OR) was calculated by using stepwise logistic regression modeling. A total of 3712 hospitalized patients were included; of them, 900 deaths were recorded (24.2%). Compared to survived patients, non-survived patients were more likely to be older than 60 years (65.7%), males (53.6%) diabetic (37.6%), hypertensive (37.2%), and had chronic renal insufficiency (9%). Non-survived patients were less likely to receive azithromycin (p <0.001), anticoagulants (p <0.001), and steroids (p <0.001). We found that age ≥ 60 years old (OR = 2.82, 95% CI 2.05-3.86; p <0.0001), diabetes mellitus (OR = 1.58, 95% CI 1.14-2.19; p = 0.006), hypertension (OR = 1.69, 95% CI 1.22-2.36; p = 0.002), chronic renal insufficiency (OR = 3.15, 95% CI 1.84-5.38; p <0.0001), tachycardia (OR = 1.65, 95% CI 1.22-2.23; p <0.001), hypoxemia (OR = 5.69, 95% CI 4.05-7.98; p <0.0001), GCS <13 (OR 515.2, 95% CI 148.5-1786.9; p <0.0001), the use of therapeutic dose of anticoagulation (OR = 0.4, 95% CI 0.22-0.74, p = 0.003) and azithromycin (OR = 0.16, 95% CI 0.09-0.26; p <0.0001) were independent negative predictors of mortality. In conclusion, age >60 years, comorbidities, tachycardia, hypoxemia, and altered consciousness level are independent predictors of mortality among Egyptian hospitalized patients with COVID-19. On the other hand, the use of anticoagulants and azithromycin is associated with reduced mortality.

Kamal, M. M., A. O. Abdelaziz, H. N. El-Baz, G. M. Mohamed, S. S. Saleh, M. M. Nabeel, T. M. Elbaz, R. Lithy, and H. I. Shousha, "Plasma cell-free DNA integrity index and hepatocellular carcinoma treated or not with direct-acting antivirals: A case-control study.", Arab journal of gastroenterology : the official publication of the Pan-Arab Association of Gastroenterology, vol. 23, issue 1, pp. 39-44, 2022. Abstract

BACKGROUND AND STUDY AIMS: The clinical value of the cell-free DNA (cf-DNA) integrity index as a diagnostic biomarker of hepatitis C virus (HCV)-related hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) was investigated and correlated with alpha-fetoprotein (AFP).

PATIENTS AND METHODS: This case-control study was conducted on 160 patients with HCV genotype 4-related liver cirrhosis. Group 1 consisted of 80 patients with HCC, including 40 patients naïve to direct-acting antivirals (DAAs) and 40 patients who received DAAs and achieved sustained virological response. Group 2 comprised 80 patients with cirrhosis without HCC. Plasma cf-DNA integrity index using ALU 115 and ALU 247 sequences was assessed using SYBR Green-based real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). The cf-DNA integrity index was calculated as the ratio of Q247/Q115 where Q115 and Q247 are the ALU-qPCR results obtained using ALU 115 and ALU 247, respectively.

RESULTS: Patients with HCC had significantly lower plasma cf-DNA integrity index than those with liver cirrhosis. No significant difference in the cf-DNA integrity index was observed between patients with HCC who received DAAs and those who did not. Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analysis revealed an area under the ROC curve of 0.965 and 0.886 for detecting HCC using the cf-DNA integrity index and AFP, respectively. The combination of the cf-DNA integrity index and AFP improved the sensitivity from 81.6% to 94.7%, positive predictive value from 93.4% to 94.7%, negative predictive value from 84.4% to 94.9%, and accuracy from 88.4% to 94.8%.

CONCLUSION: The cf-DNA integrity index can predict the occurrence of HCV genotype 4-related HCC. No significant difference in the cf-DNA integrity index was observed between patients with HCC who received DAAs and those without previous DAAs. The combination of the cf-DNA integrity index and AFP provides better HCC prediction accuracy.

Elshaarawy, O., R. A. ELaziz, N. Zayed, A. Hany, Z. Hammam, S. Mueller, A. Yosry, and H. I. Shousha, "Acoustic radiation force impulse to measure liver stiffness and predict hepatic decompensation in pregnancy with cirrhosis: A cohort study.", Arab journal of gastroenterology : the official publication of the Pan-Arab Association of Gastroenterology, vol. 23, issue 2, pp. 89-94, 2022. Abstract

BACKGROUND AND STUDY AIMS: Pregnancy in association with cirrhosis is a rather uncommon and highly risky situation for both mother and child. We aim to study all factors and the utility of liver stiffness (LS) measurement by Acoustic Radiation Force Impulse elastography (ARFI) to predict hepatic decompensation in pregnant cirrhotic patients.

PATIENTS AND METHODS: We prospectively recruited 224 pregnant women at the multidisciplinary clinic of liver disease with pregnancy, Cairo University. LS was measured using ARFI (Siemens ACUSON S3000 ultrasound system) during the second trimester and 8-12 weeks post-delivery. The outcome of pregnancy and the incidence of hepatic decompensation were assessed.

RESULTS: Our cohort comprised 128 normal pregnancies, 37 patients with pregnancy-related liver disease (Intrahepatic cholestasis (n = 6), preeclampsia (n = 23), and hyperemesis gravidarum (n = 8)) and 59 patients with an established chronic liver disease not related to pregnancy. In all patients, LS significantly decreased after delivery from 1.19 m/s to 0.94 m/s (P < 0.001). In multivariate analysis, LS was an independent predictor for the outcome of pregnancy in all patients (odds ratio (OR) = 5.442 (3.01-6.82), cut-off = 1.21 m/s). Patients with cirrhosis, mean LS was 1.57 ± 0.66 m/s and 26 (44%) patients had hepatic decompensation (hepatocellular jaundice (n = 8), ascites (n = 9) and variceal bleeding (n = 6)). In multivariate analysis; LS, platelets, albumin, and bilirubin were independent predictors of decompensation post-delivery and the OR for LS was 6.141(4.32-7.98). The optimal cut off value of LS to predict decompensation was 1.46 m/s (8.4 kPa) with AUROC of 0.827.

CONCLUSION: LS can be used to predict hepatic decompensation after delivery in pregnant women with manifest cirrhosis.