Rapid liver and spleen stiffness improvement in compensated advanced chronic liver disease patients treated with oral antivirals

2017 Therapeutic Advances in Gastroenterology 10;8 (619-629)

BACKGROUND: We aimed to investigate the early changes in liver and spleen stiffness measurement (LSM, SSM) in hepatitis C virus (HCV) patients with compensated advanced chronic liver disease (cACLD) treated with new antivirals (DAA) to elucidate factors determining the initial change in stiffness and its implications for the long-term follow up of HCV-cured patients. METHODS: A total of 41 patients with cACLD who started DAA therapy underwent LSM and SSM at baseline, week 4, end of treatment (EOT), 24 and 48 weeks of follow up using transient elastography. RESULTS: LSM improved rapidly during the first 4 weeks of treatment (baseline: 20.8kPa; week 4: 17.5kPa, p = 0.002), with no significant changes between week 4 and EOT (18.3kPa, p = 0.444) and between EOT and 48-week follow up (14.3kPa, p = 0.148). Likewise, SSM improved rapidly (baseline: 45.7kPa; week 4: 33.8kPa, p = 0.047), with no significant changes between week 4 and EOT (30.8kPa, p = 0.153) and between EOT and 48-week follow up (31.2kPa, p = 0.317). A higher decrease in LSM was observed in patients with baseline ALT twofold upper limit normal (2 x ULN) than in those with ALT < 2 x ULN (-5.7kPa versus -1.6kPa). Patients who presented a decrease in LSM 10% during treatment compared with those with LSM < 10% decrease, showed lower SSM values, higher platelet counts and lower bilirubin levels at 24-week follow up. Those with decrease in SSM 10%, presented a higher increase in platelets than those with SSM < 10% change (p = 0.015). CONCLUSIONS: LSM and SSM decrease very rapidly during DAA treatment in cACLD patients suggesting that it most probably reflects a reduction in inflammation rather than in fibrosis. cACLD patients should be maintained under surveillance independently of stiffness changes, because advanced fibrosis can still be present.