Severe Alcoholic Hepatitis

Severe Alcoholic Hepatitis (sAH)

Alcoholic hepatitis arises when the cause of the acute liver decompensation appears to be directly related to excessive consumption of alcohol. Severe alcoholic hepatitis, or sAH, is defined as progressive inflammatory liver disease, leading to an acute form of alcohol-induced liver injury that occurs with the consumption of large amounts of alcohol in patients with relatively mild, underlying chronic alcoholic liver disease.

Various degrees of fibrosis and hepatitis are present in sAH patients. Those patients with characteristics of acute alcoholic hepatitis, or AAH, and a Maddrey Discriminant Function (a calculation used to predict the prognosis of alcoholic hepatitis) of ≥32 are deemed to have sAH. Other AAH patients (non-AAH Liver Disease) may have underlying chronic liver disease due to other etiologies, but the cause of their acute decompensation is considered to be related to excessive alcohol consumption. In sAH, there appears to be sufficient hepatocyte mass to allow hepatic regeneration and reversal of the decompensation. It can be discriminated from patients with end-stage liver disease by measurements of liver size using imaging techniques such as ultrasound or CT scan as they tend to present with enlarged livers, rather than with the shrunken livers characteristic of subjects with end-stage liver disease.

Treatment options for patients with sAH are limited. In particular sAH patients with a Maddrey Discriminant Function of >32 have a poor prognosis, with 90-day survival of around 50%. Regimens that have been used for at least the last 40 years, including corticosteroids, theophylline with corticosteroids, pentoxifylline and infliximab, have had no significant effect on the long-term survival of patients with sAH. Steroid use has been associated with an increased rate of infections, a frequent complication of liver failure. Other contraindications to steroid use in patients with sAH include active gastrointestinal bleeding, renal failure, acute pancreatitis, active tuberculosis, uncontrolled diabetes and psychosis. Subjects who do not respond to seven days of steroid therapy have a particularly dismal prognosis, with six-month survival rates of less than 25%. A major study of more than 1,100 subjects with a clinical diagnosis of sAH demonstrated a reduction in 28-day mortality in subjects administered steroids that did not reach statistical significance, with no improvement in survival at 90 days or one year. This study also revealed no survival benefit at any time point for pentoxifylline relative to placebo. Under current guidelines, transplantation is generally not recommended for subjects with sAH.

The Department of Health and Human Services in the U.S. estimates that for 2014 the number of hospital admissions related to sAH in the U.S. was approximately 102,000, with approximately 15,000 of these admissions identifying sAH as the primary diagnosis. In addition, approximately 323,000 hospital admissions occurred in 2014 related to alcoholic cirrhosis, alcohol liver damage not-otherwise-specified or alcoholic fatty liver, with approximately 50,000 hospital admissions identifying these conditions as the primary diagnosis. We believe that a subset of these patients have a form of non-sAH Liver Disease that may be treatable with the ELAD System. Incidence rates for both sAH and non-sAH Liver Disease appear to be similar in Europe.