Evaluation of high-throughput methodology for multi-gene screening in patients with Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD)

Fisher, Leslie Reginald (Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2011-12)

Thesis (MScMedSc)--Stellenbosch University, 2011.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) is the most prevalent chronic liver disease in Western countries and is considered the hepatic manifestation of the Metabolic Syndrome (MetS). Its heterogeneous nature ranges from hepatic steatosis through steatohepatitis to advanced fibrosis and cirrhosis where the ingestion of significant amounts of alcohol has been excluded. The disease profile of NAFLD and its necro-inflammatory subset Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis (NASH) were described in the parent study, which provided a clinically well-characterised patient cohort for the present investigation. South African patients with NASH had significantly higher mean serum cholesterol and triglyceride levels than those with fatty liver only. The objective of this study was to implement a high-throughput real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) method in our laboratory to enable the assessment of cardiovascular genetic risk factors in NAFLD patients. The specific aims were to determine the clinical utility and perform analytical validation of each mutation included in the multi-gene cardiovascular disease (CVD) screening assay. The Pathology Supported Genetic Testing (PSGT) concept developed at our department provides a practical approach to personalized medicine. The CVD multi-gene screen analyses key metabolic pathways relating to atherogenic dyslipidaemia, chronic inflammation, hypercoagulation and iron dysregulation implicated in insulin resistance, which is known to be a universal factor in the pathogenesis of NAFLD. Deleterious low-penetrance mutations in the APOE (APOE2 and E4 alleles), MTHFR (677C>T and 1298A>C), F2 (20210G>A), FV (1691G>A, Leiden) and HFE (C282Y and H63D) genes were included for analysis due to their important role as genetic contributors to these biological processes. A total of 178 patients diagnosed with NAFLD and 75 controls were studied using direct DNA sequencing and a RT-PCR system for mutation detection. In addition, two patients with high ferritin levels were included as case studies. A significant association was found between HFE mutations and elevated Alanine Transaminase (ALT) levels in the NAFLD population (p = 0.04). This discovery is interpreted as the identification of a subset of patients at greater risk of developing progressive liver damage who would benefit most from genetic testing to direct more aggressive therapy at an earlier stage. The necessity of an integrative, systems-based network approach was demonstrated to more accurately distinguish between Hereditary Haemochromatosis (HH) and Insulin Resistance-associated Hepatic Iron Overload (IR-HIO) syndrome in obese patients. The PSGT approach to personalized medicine facilitates diagnosis of CVD subtypes, prevention of cumulative risk and the formulation of gene-based intervention programs tailored to the needs of the patient. These findings support the clinical utility of the CVD multi-gene test to guide chronic disease risk management in patients with NAFLD. The HFE mutation detection component of this test is of particular relevance in directing an effective treatment strategy in patients with a medical history of CVD and/or high iron stores.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Nie-Alkoholiese Vettige Lewer Siekte (NAFLD) is die mees algemene kroniese lewer siekte in Westerse lande en word bestempel as die hepatiese manifestasie van die Metaboliese Sindroom (MetS). Die heterogene natuur van NAFLD strek van hepatiese steatose deur steatohepatietis tot gevorderde fibrose en sirrose waar grootskaalse alkohol inname uitgesluit is. Die siekte-profiel van NAFLD en sy nekro-inflammatoriese subtipe Nie-Alkoholiese Steatohepatietis (NASH) is reeds beskryf in die ouer studie, wat ‗n klinies goed-gekarakteriseerde pasiënt groep vir die huidige ondersoek daar gestel het. Suid-Afrikaanse pasiënte met NASH het beduidend hoër gemiddelde serum cholesterol en trigliseried vlakke in vergelyking met slegs vettige lewer. Die doel van hierdie studie was om ‗n hoë deurvoer rieëltyd polimerase kettingreaksie (RT-PCR) metode in ons laboratorium te implimenteer om kardiovaskulêre genetiese risiko faktore in NAFLD pasiënte te ondersoek. Die spesifieke mikpunte was om die kliniese nut en analitiese geldigheid van elke mutasie wat ingesluit is in die multi-geen kardiovaskulêre siekte (KVS) siftings toets vas te stel. Die Patologie Ondersteunde Genetiese Toetsing (PSGT) konsep wat by ons departement ontwikkel is, verskaf ‗n praktiese benadering tot persoonlike medisyne. Die KVS multi-geen toets analiseer belangrike metaboliese weë verwant aan atherogene dyslipidemie, kroniese inflammasie, oormatige bloedstolling en yster disregulering wat betrokke is by insulien weerstand wat bekend is as ‗n universele factor in the patogenese van NAFLD. Nadelige lae-penetrasie mutasies in die APOE (APOE2 en E4 allele), MTHFR (677C>T en 1298A>C) F2 (20210G>A), FV (1691G>A, Leiden) en HFE (C282Y en H63D) gene was ingesluit vir analise as gevolg van hul belangrike rol as genetiese bydraers tot die bogenoemde biologiese prosesse. ‗n Totaal van 178 pasiënte gediagnoseer met NAFLD en 75 kontroles is bestudeer deur gebruik te maak van direkte DNA volgordebepaling en ‗n RT-PCR metode vir mutasie opsporing. Twee pasiënte met verhoogde ferritien vlakke is ook as gevalle studies ingesluit. ‗n Beduidende assosiasie is gevind tussen HFE mutasies en verhoogde Alanien Transaminase (ALT) vlakke in die NAFLD studiepopulasie (p = 0.04) wat aanduidend is van ‗n subgroup van pasiënte wat die meeste baat sal vind uit genetiese toetsing om meer aggressiewe behandeling te rig op' n vroeër stadium. Die noodsaaklikheid van 'n geïntegreerde, stelsels-gebaseerde netwerk benadering is gewys om meer akkuraat te onderskei tussen Oorerflike Hemochromatose (HH) en Insulien Weerstand-geassosieerde Hepatiese Yster Oorlading (IR-HIO) sindroom in vetsugtige pasiënte. Die PSGT benadering tot persoonlike medisyne formuleer geen-gebaseerde intervensie programme aangepas tot die behoeftes van die pasiënt ek maak diagnose van KVS-subtipes en voorkoming van kumulatiewe risiko moontlik. Hierdie bevindinge ondersteun die kliniese nut van die KVS multi-geen toets om riglyne vir die risikobestuur van kroniese siektes soos NAFLD daar te stel. Die HFE mutasie opsporings komponent van hierdie toets is van besondere belang om 'n effektiewe strategie vir die behandeling van pasiënte met 'n mediese geskiedenis van KVS en/of hoë yster vlakke daar te stel.

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