1. Liver Disease Center, Beijing YouAn Hospital, Capital Medical University, Beijing China 100069.
2. Beijing Municipal Key Laboratory of Liver Failure and Artificial Liver Treatment & Research, Beijing YouAn Hospital, Capital Medical University, Beijing China 100069.
Background & Aims: Accurately identifying liver necroinflammation was essential for the timely implementation of antiviral therapy in chronic hepatitis B(CHB) patients. The sphingolipids were involved in various chronic inflammatory processes. This study aimed to evaluate the association between serum sphingolipids and liver necroinflammation in CHB patients.
Methods: The study prospectively enrolled patients with a diagnosis of chronic hepatitis B who were subsequently treated with nucleos(t)ide analogs (NAs). Liver biopsy was performed at baseline and 5-year follow-up, and serum sphingolipid levels were measured by ultra-high-performance liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry.
Results: A total of 70 CHB patients were enrolled with baseline liver necroinflammation of 27(38.6%) G1, 23(32.9%) G2, and 20(28.6%) G ≥ 3, respectively. A total of 126 liver biopsies were performed on the study population over a 5-year period, of which 80 (63.5%) G<2 and 46 (36.5%) G≥2. Serum ALT, ALP, SM d16:0/16:1, SM d16:0/17:1, SM d18:0/17:0 and Cer d18:2/22:0 showed significant differences between two groups (P<0.01). Multivariate analysis showed that serum ALT (OR 1.006, 95% CI: 1.000-1.011), SM d16:0/16:1 (OR 1.552, 95% CI: 1.150-2.093), Cer d18:2/22:0 (OR 0.003, 95% CI: 0.000-0.173) were associated with G ≥ 2. In the subgroup of patients with normal serum ALT, serum Cer d18:2/22:0 was lower in patients with G ≥ 2 than that with G < 2. After 5 years, alleviated inflammation was accompanied by decreased serum SM d16:0/16:1 and increased serum Cer d18:2/22:0 in patients with baseline G ≥ 2.
Conclusions: Lower serum Cer d18:2/22:0 could reflect hepatic necroinflammation (G ≥ 2) in CHB patients including those with normal serum ALT, and its elevation predicts the inflammation improvement after NAs treatment.
Keywords: sphingolipid, Ceramide, liver necroinflammation, chronic hepatitis B