Nov. 15 (UPI) — Scientists have honed in on the cause of a rare condition Hepatitis B virus, or HBV, associated acute liver failure, or ALF, that can kill a patient in a few days.

A study led by researchers from Johns Hopkins University, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that the fatal condition comes from an unusual interaction between a heavily mutated HBV variant and an abnormal reaction of liver patient assisted by antibody-producing B cells.

The researchers analyzed the differences in HBV-ALF and classic acute HBV, to isolate the cause in the rare form.

Researchers took liver samples from four patients with HBV-ALF and examined how the HBV damaged the liver, and replicated it by using gene sequencing and tissue cell analysis technology. In the HBV-ALF, researchers noticed the presence of an HBV core antigen.

The group concluded that the antigen interacted with specific antibodies that helped grow the HBV-ALF in the liver in a way that it didn’t in a classic acute liver disease.

HBV-ALF leads to death or liver transplantation in 80 percent of patients, according to researchers.

The researchers said this is important because practically no studies have been done on molecular pathogenesis of HBV-ALF in the liver. They expect the research to lead to further diagnosis, treatment and prevention of HBV-ALF.

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