NK-CD11c+ Cell Crosstalk in Diabetes Enhances IL-6-Mediated Inflammation during Mycobacterium tuberculosis Infection
In this study, we developed a mouse model of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) using streptozotocin and nicotinamide and identified factors that increase susceptibility of T2DM mice to infection by Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb). All Mtb-infected T2DM mice and 40% of uninfected T2DM mice died within 10 months, whereas all control mice survived. In Mtb-infected mice, T2DM increased the bacterial burden and pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokine and chemokine production in the lungs relative to those in uninfected T2DM mice and infected control mice. Levels of IL-6 also increased. Anti-IL-6 monoclonal antibody treatment of Mtb-infected acute- and chronic-T2DM mice increased survival (to 100%) and reduced pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokine expression. CD11c+ cells were the major source of IL-6 in Mtb-infected T2DM mice. Pulmonary natural killer (NK) cells in Mtb-infected T2DM mice further increased IL-6 production by autologous CD11c+ cells through their activating receptors. Anti-NK1.1 antibody treatment of Mtb-infected acute-T2DM mice increased survival and reduced pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokine expression. Furthermore, IL-6 increased inflammatory cytokine production by T lymphocytes in pulmonary tuberculosis patients with T2DM. Overall, the results suggest that NK-CD11c+ cell interactions increase IL-6 production, which in turn drives the pathological immune response and mortality associated with Mtb infection in diabetic mice.
In vivo correction of anaemia in beta-thalassemic mice by gammaPNA-mediated gene editing with nanoparticle delivery
The blood disorder, beta-thalassaemia, is considered an attractive target for gene correction. Site-specific triplex formation has been shown to induce DNA repair and thereby catalyse genome editing. Here we report that triplex-forming peptide nucleic acids (PNAs) substituted at the gamma position plus stimulation of the stem cell factor (SCF)/c-Kit pathway yielded high levels of gene editing in haematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) in a mouse model of human beta-thalassaemia. Injection of thalassemic mice with SCF plus nanoparticles containing gammaPNAs and donor DNAs ameliorated the disease phenotype, with sustained elevation of blood haemoglobin levels into the normal range, reduced reticulocytosis, reversal of splenomegaly and up to 7% beta-globin gene correction in HSCs, with extremely low off-target effects. The combination of nanoparticle delivery, next generation gammaPNAs and SCF treatment may offer a minimally invasive treatment for genetic disorders of the blood that can be achieved safely and simply by intravenous administration.
Within the field of addiction research, individuals tend to operate within silos of knowledge focused on specific drug classes. The discovery that tobacco dependence develops in a progression of stages and that the latency to the onset of withdrawal symptoms after the last use of tobacco changes over time have provided insights into how tobacco dependence develops that might be applied to the study of other drugs. As physical dependence on tobacco develops, it progresses through previously unrecognized clinical stages of wanting, craving and needing. The latency to withdrawal is a measure of the asymptomatic phase of withdrawal, extending from the last use of tobacco to the emergence of withdrawal symptoms. Symptomatic withdrawal is characterized by a wanting phase, a craving phase, and a needing phase. The intensity of the desire to smoke that is triggered by withdrawal correlates with brain activity in addiction circuits. With repeated tobacco use, the latency to withdrawal shrinks from as long as several weeks to as short as several minutes. The shortening of the asymptomatic phase of withdrawal drives an escalation of smoking, first in terms of the number of smoking days/month until daily smoking commences, then in terms of cigarettes smoked/day.The discoveries of the stages of physical dependence and the latency to withdrawal raises the question, does physical dependence develop in stages with other drugs? Is the latency to withdrawal for other substances measured in weeks at the onset of dependence? Does it shorten over time? The research methods that uncovered how tobacco dependence emerges might be fruitfully applied to the investigation of other addictions.
Seasonal Variations and Trends in Hospitalization for Peptic Ulcer Disease in the United States: A 12-Year Analysis of the Nationwide Inpatient Sample
BACKGROUND: Peptic ulcer disease (PUD) is a major public health burden significantly impacting the cost of hospitalization in the United States (US). We examined the trends, characteristics, complications, cost, and seasonality of PUD-related hospitalizations from 2000 to 2011.
METHODS: With the use of the Nationwide Inpatient Sample from 2000 through 2011, we identified PUD-related hospitalizations using the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-9), 9th Revision, and the Clinical Modification code 531.00 to 534.91 as the principal discharge diagnosis. The total number of hospitalizations for each calendar month of the year were added over a 12-year period, and this number was divided by the number of days in that particular month to obtain the mean hospitalizations per day for each month.
RESULTS: The study found that 351,921 hospitalizations with the primary discharge diagnosis of peptic ulcer disease (PUD) occurred in the US between 2000 and 2011. This number dropped significantly from 49,524 to 17,499 between 2000 and 2011, and the rate of PUD-related mortality decreased from 4.3% to 3.1%. The mean age of the study population was 66.2 +/- 17.4 years; 52.3% were males, and 56.8% were white. The number of hospitalizations in the US peaked in the spring season (916/day), and reached a nadir in the fall season (861/day). The mean cost of PUD hospitalization increased significantly from $11,755 in 2001 to $13,803 in 2011 (relative increase of 17%; p < 0.001).
CONCLUSION: The incidence of PUD and its mortality has decreased significantly in the last decade, but its economic burden on the healthcare system remains high. A seasonal pattern of PUD hospitalization showed a peak in PUD-related admissions in the spring season and a trough in the fall season.
INTRODUCTION: Endotracheal intubation is a common intervention in critical care patients undergoing helicopter emergency medical services (HEMS) transportation. Measurement of endotracheal tube (ETT) cuff pressures is not common practice in patients referred to our service. Animal studies have demonstrated an association between the pressure of the ETT cuff on the tracheal mucosa and decreased blood flow leading to mucosal ischemia and scarring. Cuff pressures greater than 30 cmH2O impede mucosal capillary blood flow. Multiple prior studies have recommended 30 cmH2O as the maximum safe cuff inflation pressure. This study sought to evaluate the inflation pressures in ETT cuffs of patients presenting to HEMS.
METHODS: We enrolled a convenience sample of patients presenting to UMass Memorial LifeFlight who were intubated by the sending facility or emergency medical services (EMS) agency. Flight crews measured the ETT cuff pressures using a commercially available device. Those patients intubated by the flight crew were excluded from this analysis as the cuff was inflated with the manometer to a standardized pressure. Crews logged the results on a research form, and we analyzed the data using Microsoft Excel and an online statistical analysis tool.
RESULTS: We analyzed data for 55 patients. There was a mean age of 57 years (range 18-90). The mean ETT cuff pressure was 70 (95% CI= [61-80]) cmH2O. The mean lies 40 cmH2O above the maximum accepted value of 30 cmH2O (p < 0.0001). Eighty-four percent (84%) of patients encountered had pressures above the recommended maximum. The most frequently recorded pressure was >120 cmH2O, the maximum pressure on the analog gauge.
CONCLUSION: Patients presenting to HEMS after intubation by the referral agency (EMS or hospital) have ETT cuffs inflated to pressures that are, on average, more than double the recommended maximum. These patients are at risk for tracheal mucosal injury and scarring from decreased mucosal capillary blood flow. Hospital and EMS providers should use ETT cuff manometry to ensure that they inflate ETT cuffs to safe pressures.
Transient RUNX1 Expression during Early Mesendodermal Differentiation of hESCs Promotes Epithelial to Mesenchymal Transition through TGFB2 Signaling
The transition of human embryonic stem cells (hESCs) from pluripotency to lineage commitment is not fully understood, and a role for phenotypic transcription factors in the initial stages of hESC differentiation remains to be explored. From a screen of candidate factors, we found that RUNX1 is selectively and transiently upregulated early in hESC differentiation to mesendodermal lineages. Transcriptome profiling and functional analyses upon RUNX1 depletion established a role for RUNX1 in promoting cell motility. In parallel, we discovered a loss of repression for several epithelial genes, indicating that loss of RUNX1 impaired an epithelial to mesenchymal transition during differentiation. Cell biological and biochemical approaches revealed that RUNX1 depletion specifically compromised TGFB2 signaling. Both the decrease in motility and deregulated epithelial marker expression upon RUNX1 depletion were rescued by reintroduction of TGFB2, but not TGFB1. These findings identify roles for RUNX1-TGFB2 signaling in early events of mesendodermal lineage commitment.
Alcoholic liver disease occurs due to chronic, heavy drinking and is driven both by metabolic alterations and immune cell activation. Women are at a higher risk than men for developing alcohol induced liver injury and this dimorphism is reflected in animal models of alcoholic liver disease. The importance of adipose tissue in alcoholic liver disease is emerging. Chronic alcohol consumption causes adipose tissue inflammation, which can influence liver injury. Sex differences in body fat composition are well known. However, it is still unclear if alcohol-induced adipose tissue inflammation occurs in a sex-dependent manner. Here we have employed the clinically relevant NIAAA model of chronic-binge alcohol consumption to investigate this sexual dimorphism. We report that female mice have greater liver injury than male mice despite lower alcohol consumption. Chronic-binge alcohol induces adipose tissue inflammation in vivo in female mice, which is illustrated by increased expression of TNFalpha, IL-6, and CCL2, compared to only IL-6 induction in male adipose tissue. Further, macrophage activation markers such as CD68 as well as the pro-inflammatory activation markers CD11b and CD11c were higher in female adipose tissue. Interestingly, alcohol induced expression of TLR2, 3, 4, and 9 in female but not male adipose tissue, without affecting the TLR adaptor, MyD88. Higher trends of serum endotoxin in female mice may likely contribute to adipose tissue inflammation. In vitro chronic alcohol-mediated sensitization of macrophages to endotoxin is independent of sex. In summary, we demonstrate for the first time that there is a sexual dimorphism in alcohol-induced adipose tissue inflammation and female mice exhibit a higher degree of inflammation than male mice.
A widely employed germ cell marker is an ancient disordered protein with reproductive functions in diverse eukaryotes
The advent of sexual reproduction and the evolution of a dedicated germline in multicellular organisms are critical landmarks in eukaryotic evolution. We report an ancient family of GCNA (germ cell nuclear antigen) proteins that arose in the earliest eukaryotes, and feature a rapidly evolving intrinsically disordered region (IDR). Phylogenetic analysis reveals that GCNA proteins emerged before the major eukaryotic lineages diverged; GCNA predates the origin of a dedicated germline by a billion years. Gcna gene expression is enriched in reproductive cells across eukarya - either just prior to or during meiosis in single-celled eukaryotes, and in stem cells and germ cells of diverse multicellular animals. Studies of Gcna-mutant C. elegans and mice indicate that GCNA has functioned in reproduction for at least 600 million years. Homology to IDR-containing proteins implicated in DNA damage repair suggests that GCNA proteins may protect the genomic integrity of cells carrying a heritable genome.
The spindle midzone harbors both microtubules and proteins necessary for furrow formation and the completion of cytokinesis. However, the mechanisms that mediate the temporal and spatial recruitment of cell division factors to the spindle midzone and midbody remain unclear. Here we describe a mechanism governed by the conserved RNA-binding protein ATX-2/Ataxin-2, which targets and maintains ZEN-4 at the spindle midzone. ATX-2 does this by regulating the amount of PAR-5 at mitotic structures, particularly the spindle, centrosomes, and midbody. Preventing ATX-2 function leads to elevated levels of PAR-5, enhanced chromatin and centrosome localization of PAR-5-GFP, and ultimately a reduction of ZEN-4-GFP at the spindle midzone. Codepletion of ATX-2 and PAR-5 rescued the localization of ZEN-4 at the spindle midzone, indicating that ATX-2 mediates the localization of ZEN-4 upstream of PAR-5. We provide the first direct evidence that ATX-2 is necessary for cytokinesis and suggest a model in which ATX-2 facilitates the targeting of ZEN-4 to the spindle midzone by mediating the posttranscriptional regulation of PAR-5.
Distinct Differences on Neointima Formation in Immunodeficient and Humanized Mice after Carotid or Femoral Arterial Injury
Percutaneous coronary intervention is widely adopted to treat patients with coronary artery disease. However, restenosis remains an unsolved clinical problem after vascular interventions. The role of the systemic and local immune response in the development of restenosis is not fully understood. Hence, the aim of the current study was to investigate the role of the human immune system on subsequent neointima formation elicited by vascular injury in a humanized mouse model. Immunodeficient NOD.Cg-PrkdcscidIL2rgtm1Wjl(NSG) mice were reconstituted with human (h)PBMCs immediately after both carotid wire and femoral cuff injury were induced in order to identify how differences in the severity of injury influenced endothelial regeneration, neointima formation, and homing of human inflammatory and progenitor cells. In contrast to non-reconstituted mice, hPBMC reconstitution reduced neointima formation after femoral cuff injury whereas hPBMCs promoted neointima formation after carotid wire injury 4 weeks after induction of injury. Neointimal endothelium and smooth muscle cells in the injured arteries were of mouse origin. Our results indicate that the immune system may differentially respond to arterial injury depending on the severity of injury, which may also be influenced by the intrinsic properties of the arteries themselves, resulting in either minimal or aggravated neointima formation.
www.common-metrics.org: a web application to estimate scores from different patient-reported outcome measures on a common scale
BACKGROUND: Recently, a growing number of Item-Response Theory (IRT) models has been published, which allow estimation of a common latent variable from data derived by different Patient Reported Outcomes (PROs). When using data from different PROs, direct estimation of the latent variable has some advantages over the use of sum score conversion tables. It requires substantial proficiency in the field of psychometrics to fit such models using contemporary IRT software. We developed a web application ( http://www.common-metrics.org ), which allows estimation of latent variable scores more easily using IRT models calibrating different measures on instrument independent scales.
RESULTS: Currently, the application allows estimation using six different IRT models for Depression, Anxiety, and Physical Function. Based on published item parameters, users of the application can directly estimate latent trait estimates using expected a posteriori (EAP) for sum scores as well as for specific response patterns, Bayes modal (MAP), Weighted likelihood estimation (WLE) and Maximum likelihood (ML) methods and under three different prior distributions. The obtained estimates can be downloaded and analyzed using standard statistical software.
CONCLUSIONS: This application enhances the usability of IRT modeling for researchers by allowing comparison of the latent trait estimates over different PROs, such as the Patient Health Questionnaire Depression (PHQ-9) and Anxiety (GAD-7) scales, the Center of Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D), the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), PROMIS Anxiety and Depression Short Forms and others. Advantages of this approach include comparability of data derived with different measures and tolerance against missing values. The validity of the underlying models needs to be investigated in the future.
A unique feature of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is the presence of anti-citrullinated protein antibodies (ACPA). Several risk factors for RA are known to increase the expression or activity of peptidyl arginine deiminases (PADs), which catalyze citrullination and, when dysregulated, can result in hypercitrullination. However, the consequence of hypercitrullination is unknown and the function of each PAD has yet to be defined. Th cells of RA patients are hypoglycolytic and hyperproliferative due to impaired expression of PFKFB3 and ATM, respectively. Here, we report that these features are also observed in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) from healthy at-risk individuals (ARIs). PBMCs of ARIs are also hypercitrullinated and produce more IL-2 and Th17 cytokines but fewer Th2 cytokines. These abnormal features are due to impaired induction of PTPN22, a phosphatase that also suppresses citrullination independently of its phosphatase activity. Attenuated phosphatase activity of PTPN22 results in aberrant expression of IL-2, ATM, and PFKFB3, whereas diminished nonphosphatase activity of PTPN22 leads to hypercitrullination mediated by PADs. PAD2- or PAD4-mediated hypercitrullination reduces the expression of Th2 cytokines. By contrast, only PAD2-mediated hypercitrullination can increase the expression of Th17 cytokines. Taken together, our data depict a molecular signature of preclinical RA that is triggered by impaired induction of PTPN22.
Comment on: Identification and Correction of Mechanisms Underlying Inherited Blindness in Human iPSC-Derived Optic Cups. [Cell Stem Cell. 2016]
A gene-centered C. elegans protein-DNA interaction network provides a framework for functional predictions
Transcription factors (TFs) play a central role in controlling spatiotemporal gene expression and the response to environmental cues. A comprehensive understanding of gene regulation requires integrating physical protein-DNA interactions (PDIs) with TF regulatory activity, expression patterns, and phenotypic data. Although great progress has been made in mapping PDIs using chromatin immunoprecipitation, these studies have only characterized ~10% of TFs in any metazoan species. The nematode C. elegans has been widely used to study gene regulation due to its compact genome with short regulatory sequences. Here, we delineated the largest gene-centered metazoan PDI network to date by examining interactions between 90% of C. elegans TFs and 15% of gene promoters. We used this network as a backbone to predict TF binding sites for 77 TFs, two-thirds of which are novel, as well as integrate gene expression, protein-protein interaction, and phenotypic data to predict regulatory and biological functions for multiple genes and TFs.
A Pilot Competency Matrix for Data Management Skills: A Step toward the Development of Systematic Data Information Literacy Programs
Initial work in identifying data management or data information literacy skills generally went as far as identifying a list of proposed competencies without further differentiation between those competencies, whether by discipline, complexity, or use case. This article describes a significant innovation upon existing competencies by identifying a scaffolding (built upon existing competencies) that moves students progressively from undergraduate training through post graduate coursework and research to post-doctoral work and into the early years of data stewardship. The scaffolding ties together existing research that has been completed in research data management skills and data information literacy with research into the outcomes that are desirable for individuals to present in data management at each of the levels of education. Competencies are aligned according to application (personal, team, research enterprise) in such a way that the skills attained at the undergraduate level give students moving on to graduate work greater familiarity with data management and therefore greater likelihood of success at the graduate and then post graduate and data steward levels.
IMPORTANCE: Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is associated with significant morbidity in children and adolescents, and the therapeutic efficacy of available treatment options is limited. The role of vitamin D supplementation in pediatric IBS is unclear as the vitamin D status of pediatric patients with IBS is unknown. Equally, the relationship of vitamin D status with psychosomatic symptoms in children and adolescents is unclear.
AIM: To characterize the vitamin D status of pediatric patients with IBS using a case-control study design.
HYPOTHESIS: Serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D] concentration will be similar between patients with IBS and controls.
SUBJECTS AND METHODS: A retrospective case-controlled study of 116 controls (age 14.6 ± 4.3 y), female (n = 67; 58%) and 55 subjects with IBS (age 16.5 ± 3.1y), female (n = 44; 80%). Overweight was defined as BMI of ≥85th but <95th >percentile, and obesity as BMI ≥95th percentile. Vitamin D deficiency was defined as 25(OH)D of/L, while seasons of vitamin D draw were categorized as summer, winter, spring, and fall. Major psychosomatic manifestations included in the analysis were depression, anxiety, and migraine.
RESULTS: More than 50% of IBS subjects had vitamin D deficiency at a cut-off point of/L (53% vs. 27%, p = 0.001); and >90% of IBS subjects had vitamin D deficiency at a cut-off point of/L (93% vs. 75%, p = 0.006). IBS subjects had significantly lower mean 25(OH)D: 53.2 ± 15.8 nmol/L vs. 65.2 ± 28.0 nmol/L, p = 0.003; and albumin: 6.2 ± 0.6 vs. 6.5 ± 0.6 μmol/L, p = 0.0.01. IBS subjects with migraine had significantly lower mean 25(OH)D concentration compared to controls (p = 0.01). BMI z-score was similar between the controls and IBS subjects (0.5 ± 1.4 vs. 1.2 ± 2.9, p = 0.11).
CONCLUSIONS: Pediatric patients with IBS had significantly lower 25(OH)D concentration compared to controls despite having similar mean BMI values as controls. Only 7% of the children and adolescents with IBS were vitamin D sufficient, and >50% of the subjects with IBS had vitamin D deficiency. This is a much higher prevalence of vitamin D deficiency compared to IBD and other malabsorption syndromes. Monitoring for vitamin D deficiency should be part of the routine care for patients with IBS. Randomized control trials are warranted to determine the role of adjunctive vitamin D therapy in pediatric IBS.
Agreement between Rheumatologist and Patient-reported Adherence to Methotrexate in a US Rheumatoid Arthritis Registry
OBJECTIVE: Rheumatologists have limited tools to assess medication adherence. The extent to which methotrexate (MTX) adherence is overestimated by rheumatologists is unknown.
METHODS: We deployed an Internet survey to patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) participating in a US registry. Patient self-report was the gold standard compared to MTX recorded in the registry.
RESULTS: Response rate to the survey was 44%. Of 228 patients whose rheumatologist reported current MTX at the time of the most recent registry visit, 45 (19.7%) had discontinued (n = 19, 8.3%) or missed > /= 1 dose in the last month (n = 26, 11.4%). For the subgroup whose rheumatologist also confirmed at the next visit that they were still taking MTX (n = 149), only 2.6% reported not taking it, and 10.7% had missed at least 1 dose.
CONCLUSION: MTX use was misclassified for 13%-20% of patients, mainly because of 1 or more missed doses rather than overt discontinuation. Clinicians should be aware of suboptimal adherence when assessing MTX response.
Differences in Problems Paying Medical Bills between African Americans and Whites from 2007 and 2009: the Underlying Role of Health Status
OBJECTIVES: Although the proportion of people reporting problems paying medical bills has declined in the aftermath of the Great Recession, it is unclear if this decline has been caused by self-rationing of care, particularly among disadvantaged groups. We examined African American-White differences in problems paying medical bills prevalence along with factors which may account for observed differences.
DESIGN: We used cross-sectional data from 2007 (N = 13,064) and 2010 (N = 11,873) waves of the nationally representative, Health Tracking Household Survey. Logistic regression analyses, accounting for complex survey design and weights, were performed to compute population-based estimates.
RESULTS: Overall, the prevalence of problems paying medical bills was 18.3 % in 2007 and 19.8 % in 2010. African Americans more frequently reported having problems paying medical bills than Whites. Among African Americans, problems paying medical bills decreased from 30 % in 2007 to 25 % in 2010, which was largely explained by fewer problems reported by those in poor/fair health. Problems paying medical bills significantly declined from 44 % in 2007 to 33 % in 2010 for African Americans in poor/fair health, but remained almost constant for those in good health and very good/excellent health.
CONCLUSION: Our findings suggest that African Americans in poor health may be rationing or forgoing necessary care as a result of the recession, which could increase existing health disparities and future health spending. Efforts to reduce racial/ethnic disparities may depend on the extent to which the lingering effects of the Great Recession are mitigated.
Girls and Boys Born before 28 Weeks Gestation: Risks of Cognitive, Behavioral, and Neurologic Outcomes at Age 10 Years
OBJECTIVES: To compare the prevalence of cognitive, neurologic, and behavioral outcomes at 10 years of age in 428 girls and 446 boys who were born extremely preterm.
STUDY DESIGN: A total of 889 of 966 eligible children previously enrolled in the multicenter Extremely Low Gestational Age Newborns Study from 2002-2004 were evaluated at 10 years of age. Children underwent a neuropsychological battery and testing for autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and parents reported on their child's behavior, development, and seizures.
RESULTS: Of the children, 28% of boys and 21% of girls exhibited moderate to severe impairment on summary measures of cognitive abilities. Boys had a higher prevalence of impairment than girls in nearly all measures of cognition, were more than twice as likely to have microcephaly (15% in boys, 8% in girls), and require more often assistive devices to ambulate (6% in boys, 4% in girls). In contrast, boys and girls had comparable risk for a history of seizure (identified in 10% of the cohort) or epilepsy (identified in 7% of the cohort). The boy-to-girl ratio of ASD (9% in boys, 5% in girls) was lower than expected compared with the overall US autism population.
CONCLUSIONS: In this contemporary cohort of children born extremely premature and evaluated at school age, boys had higher prevalence of cognitive, neurologic, and behavioral deficits than girls. The ratio of boys to girls among those with ASD deserves further study as does the perinatal environmental-genetic interactions that might contribute to male preponderance of deficits in this high-risk sample.
Decade-Long Trends in Liver Transplant Waitlist Removal Due to Illness Severity: The Impact of Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Policy
BACKGROUND: The central tenet of liver transplant organ allocation is to prioritize the sickest patients first. However, a 2007 Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services regulatory policy, Conditions of Participation (COP), which mandates publically reported transplant center performance assessment and outcomes-based auditing, critically altered waitlist management and clinical decision making. We examine the extent to which COP implementation is associated with increased removal of the "sickest" patients from the liver transplant waitlist.
STUDY DESIGN: This study included 90,765 adult (aged 18 years and older) deceased donor liver transplant candidates listed at 102 transplant centers from April 2002 through December 2012 (Scientific Registry of Transplant Recipients). We quantified the effect of COP implementation on trends in waitlist removal due to illness severity and 1-year post-transplant mortality using interrupted time series segmented Poisson regression analysis.
RESULTS: We observed increasing trends in delisting due to illness severity in the setting of comparable demographic and clinical characteristics. Delisting abruptly increased by 16% at the time of COP implementation, and likelihood of being delisted continued to increase by 3% per quarter thereafter, without attenuation (p < 0.001). Results remained consistent after stratifying on key variables (ie, Model for End-Stage Liver Disease and age). The COP did not significantly impact 1-year post-transplant mortality (p = 0.38).
CONCLUSIONS: Although the 2007 Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services COP policy was a quality initiative designed to improve patient outcomes, in reality, it failed to show beneficial effects in the liver transplant population. Patients who could potentially benefit from transplantation are increasingly being denied this lifesaving procedure while transplant mortality rates remain unaffected. Policy makers and clinicians should strive to balance candidate and recipient needs from a population-benefit perspective when designing performance metrics and during clinical decision making for patients on the waitlist.