Background & aims: The development of accurate non-invasive tests to detect and measure the extent of fibrosis and disease activity in patients with non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) - the progressive phenotype of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) - is of great clinical importance. Herein, we aimed to validate the performance of PRO-C3 and ADAPT for the detection of moderate/severe fibrosis within the CENTAUR screening population.
Methods: PRO-C3 was assessed in plasma from the screening population of the phase IIb CENTAUR study (NCT02217475) in adults with NASH and liver fibrosis. The relation between PRO-C3 and histologic features of NASH was evaluated, as well as the demographics of patients with high and low levels of PRO-C3. The diagnostic ability of PRO-C3, as a standalone marker or incorporated into ADAPT, to identify patients with F≥2 and NASH was estimated using receiver-operating characteristic analysis and logistic regression models.
Results: A total of 517 individuals with matched biopsy and PRO-C3 measurements were included. Patients with PRO-C3 levels ≥20.2 ng/ml showed increased levels of insulin, HOMA-IR, alanine aminotransferase (ALT), aspartate aminotransferase (AST), alkaline phosphatase, and platelet count compared to patients with low PRO-C3 (p <0.05). PRO-C3 increased stepwise with increasing liver fibrosis, lobular inflammation, hepatocyte ballooning, steatosis, and NAFLD activity score (p <0.05), and could distinguish between NAFL and NASH (p <0.0001). PRO-C3 was independently associated with fibrosis and NASH when adjusted for clinical confounders. ADAPT outperformed Fibrosis-4, AST-to-platelet ratio index, and AST/ALT ratio as a predictor of advanced fibrosis and NASH (p <0.001).
Conclusion: PRO-C3 was associated with NAFLD activity score and fibrosis. ADAPT outperformed other non-invasive scores for detecting NASH. These data support the use of PRO-C3 and ADAPT as diagnostic tools to identify patients with NASH eligible for inclusion in clinical trials.
Clinical trial number: NCT02217475 LAY SUMMARY: PRO-C3 is a serological biomarker associated with liver disease activity and fibrosis. Its performance for the detection of disease activity and fibrosis is improved when it is incorporated into the ADAPT score. Herein, we showed that ADAPT was better at selecting patients with non-alcoholic steatohepatitis for inclusion in clinical trials than other non-invasive scores.
Keywords: ADAPT; CENTAUR; PRO-C3; extracellular matrix; neoepitope; non-alcoholic fatty liver disease; non-alcoholic steatohepatitis; serological markers; type III collagen.
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