Abstract Objective. While marked changes in the frequency of hepatobiliary malignancies, most notably hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and intrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma (ICC), have been observed in different populations, no such data have been reported for Germany. We aimed to provide epidemiological data on recent trends in liver-related mortality, specifically mortality from hepatobiliary malignancies, in Germany. Material and methods. We used incidence and mortality data to determine changes in the frequency of malignant and non-malignant liver disease in Germany over the past 30 years. Results. While overall liver disease mortality has slightly declined in Germany, deaths from hepatobiliary malignancies have declined in women, but remained constant in men. Among hepatobiliary malignancies, ICC stands out, because mortality has more than tripled both in men and women between 1998 and 2008. This is mirrored by a marked increase in new cases reported to local cancer registries, that is, incidence. Over the same time period, HCC and extrahepatic cholangiocarcinoma (ECC) have remained largely constant while gall bladder cancers (GBC) have declined twofold. The rapid rise in ICC is in line with finding from different regions worldwide, but in contrast to recent data from Denmark and France, two of Germany's direct neighbors. Conclusions. The incidence of and mortality from ICC are rising markedly in Germany. The risk factors underlying this trend are as yet unclear.
Approximately 60%-80% of patients with primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) have concurrent ulcerative colitis (UC). Previous genome-wide association studies (GWAS) in PSC have detected a number of susceptibility loci that also show associations in UC and other immune-mediated diseases. We aimed to systematically compare genetic associations in PSC with genotype data in UC patients with the aim of detecting new susceptibility loci for PSC. We performed combined analyses of GWAS for PSC and UC comprising 392 PSC cases, 987 UC cases, and 2,977 controls and followed up top association signals in an additional 1,012 PSC cases, 4,444 UC cases, and 11,659 controls. We discovered novel genome-wide significant associations with PSC at 2q37 [rs3749171 at G-protein-coupled receptor 35 (GPR35); P = 3.0 × 10(-9) in the overall study population, combined odds ratio [OR] and 95% confidence interval [CI] of 1.39 (1.24-1.55)] and at 18q21 [rs1452787 at transcription factor 4 (TCF4); P = 2.61 × 10(-8) , OR (95% CI) = 0.75 (0.68-0.83)]. In addition, several suggestive PSC associations were detected. The GPR35 rs3749171 is a missense single nucleotide polymorphism resulting in a shift from threonine to methionine. Structural modeling showed that rs3749171 is located in the third transmembrane helix of GPR35 and could possibly alter efficiency of signaling through the GPR35 receptor.
By refining the analysis of a PSC GWAS by parallel assessments in a UC GWAS, we were able to detect two novel risk loci at genome-wide significance levels. GPR35 shows associations in both UC and PSC, whereas TCF4 represents a PSC risk locus not associated with UC. Both loci may represent previously unexplored aspects of PSC pathogenesis.
Patients with primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) are at increased risk for developing cholangiocarcinoma (CCA). Patients with PSC also can have inflammatory bowel diseases (IBDs) or features of autoimmune hepatitis (AIH), and therefore are treated with azathioprine. Azathioprine has been associated with an increased risk for malignancy, therefore we investigated whether azathioprine use affects the risk of CCA in persons with PSC.
We performed a retrospective study of well-defined patients with PSC using data collected from 3 large-volume, tertiary care centers in Germany and Norway. We analyzed data from 638 patients (70% men; 5900 patient-years of follow-up evaluation); 91 patients had received azathioprine therapy (considered to be effective at 90 days after first intake). Risk analysis was performed using the Cox proportional hazard model when risks competing with study end points were present.
Of patients who received azathioprine treatment, 3.3% developed CCA, compared with 6.8% of patients without azathioprine treatment. However, azathioprine did not significantly affect the risk for CCA (hazard ratio, 0.96; 95% confidence interval, 0.29-3.13; P = .94). The only factor associated with an increased risk of CCA was age 35 years or older at PSC diagnosis (hazard ratio, 3.87; 95% confidence interval, 1.96-7.67; P
Primary sclerosing cholangitis (PSC) is a chronic cholestatic liver disease characterized by inflammation and fibrosis of the bile ducts. Both environmental and genetic factors contribute to its pathogenesis. To further clarify its genetic background, we investigated susceptibility loci recently identified for ulcerative colitis (UC) in a large cohort of 1,186 PSC patients and 1,748 controls. Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) tagging 13 UC susceptibility loci were initially genotyped in 854 PSC patients and 1,491 controls from Benelux (331 cases, 735 controls), Germany (265 cases, 368 controls), and Scandinavia (258 cases, 388 controls). Subsequently, a joint analysis was performed with an independent second Scandinavian cohort (332 cases, 257 controls). SNPs at chromosomes 2p16 (P-value 4.12 × 10(-4) ), 4q27 (P-value 4.10 × 10(-5) ), and 9q34 (P-value 8.41 × 10(-4) ) were associated with PSC in the joint analysis after correcting for multiple testing. In PSC patients without inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), SNPs at 4q27 and 9q34 were nominally associated (P