Melbourne Medical School Collected Works - Research Publications
Now showing items 1-12 of 780
The forecasting of dynamical Ross River virus outbreaks: Victoria, Australia
Ross River virus (RRV) is Australia's most epidemiologically important mosquito-borne disease. During RRV epidemics in the State of Victoria (such as 2010/11 and 2016/17) notifications can account for up to 30% of national RRV notifications. However, little is known about factors which can forecast RRV transmission in Victoria. We aimed to understand factors associated with RRV transmission in epidemiologically important regions of Victoria and establish an early warning forecast system. We developed negative binomial regression models to forecast human RRV notifications across 11 Local Government Areas (LGAs) using climatic, environmental, and oceanographic variables. Data were collected from July 2008 to June 2018. Data from July 2008 to June 2012 were used as a training data set, while July 2012 to June 2018 were used as a testing data set. Evapotranspiration and precipitation were found to be common factors for forecasting RRV notifications across sites. Several site-specific factors were also important in forecasting RRV notifications which varied between LGA. From the 11 LGAs examined, nine experienced an outbreak in 2011/12 of which the models for these sites were a good fit. All 11 LGAs experienced an outbreak in 2016/17, however only six LGAs could predict the outbreak using the same model. We document similarities and differences in factors useful for forecasting RRV notifications across Victoria and demonstrate that readily available and inexpensive climate and environmental data can be used to predict epidemic periods in some areas. Furthermore, we highlight in certain regions the complexity of RRV transmission where additional epidemiological information is needed to accurately predict RRV activity. Our findings have been applied to produce a Ross River virus Outbreak Surveillance System (ROSS) to aid in public health decision making in Victoria.
Changes in infection-related hospitalizations in children following pandemic restrictions: an interrupted time-series analysis of total population data.
(Oxford University Press (OUP), 2021-05-31)
BACKGROUND: Infectious diseases are a leading cause of hospitalization during childhood. The various mitigation strategies implemented to control the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic could have additional, unintended benefits for limiting the spread of other infectious diseases and their associated burden on the health care system. METHODS: We conducted an interrupted time-series analysis using population-wide hospitalization data for the state of Victoria, Australia. Infection-related hospitalizations for children and adolescents (aged <18 years, total source population ∼1.4 million) were extracted using pre-defined International Classification of Diseases 10th Revision Australian Modification (ICD-10-AM) codes. The change in weekly hospitalization rates (incidence rate ratio, IRR) for all infections following the introduction of pandemic-related restrictions from 15 March 2020 was estimated. RESULTS: Over 2015-19, the mean annual incidence of hospitalization with infection among children less than 18 years was 37 per 1000 population. There was an estimated 65% (95% CI 62-67%) reduction in the incidence of overall infection-related hospitalizations associated with the introduction of pandemic restrictions. The reduction was most marked in younger children (at least 66% in those less than 5 years of age) and for lower respiratory tract infections (relative reduction 85%, 95% CI 85-86%). CONCLUSIONS: The wider impacts of pandemic mitigation strategies on non-COVID-19 infection-related hospitalizations are poorly understood. We observed marked and rapid decreases in hospitalized childhood infection. In tandem with broader consequences, sustainable measures, such as improved hand hygiene, could reduce the burden of severe childhood infection post-pandemic and the social and economic costs of hospitalization.
IDOL regulates systemic energy balance through control of neuronal VLDLR expression.
(Springer Science and Business Media LLC, 2019-11)
Liver X receptors limit cellular lipid uptake by stimulating the transcription of Inducible Degrader of the LDL Receptor (IDOL), an E3 ubiquitin ligase that targets lipoprotein receptors for degradation. The function of IDOL in systemic metabolism is incompletely understood. Here we show that loss of IDOL in mice protects against the development of diet-induced obesity and metabolic dysfunction by altering food intake and thermogenesis. Unexpectedly, analysis of tissue-specific knockout mice revealed that IDOL affects energy balance, not through its actions in peripheral metabolic tissues (liver, adipose, endothelium, intestine, skeletal muscle), but by controlling lipoprotein receptor abundance in neurons. Single-cell RNA sequencing of the hypothalamus demonstrated that IDOL deletion altered gene expression linked to control of metabolism. Finally, we identify VLDLR rather than LDLR as the primary mediator of IDOL effects on energy balance. These studies identify a role for the neuronal IDOL-VLDLR pathway in metabolic homeostasis and diet-induced obesity.
Integration in oncogenes plays only a minor role in determining the in vivo distribution of HIV integration sites before or during suppressive antiretroviral therapy.
(Public Library of Science (PLoS), 2021-04)
HIV persists during antiretroviral therapy (ART) as integrated proviruses in cells descended from a small fraction of the CD4+ T cells infected prior to the initiation of ART. To better understand what controls HIV persistence and the distribution of integration sites (IS), we compared about 15,000 and 54,000 IS from individuals pre-ART and on ART, respectively, with approximately 395,000 IS from PBMC infected in vitro. The distribution of IS in vivo is quite similar to the distribution in PBMC, but modified by selection against proviruses in expressed genes, by selection for proviruses integrated into one of 7 specific genes, and by clonal expansion. Clones in which a provirus integrated in an oncogene contributed to cell survival comprised only a small fraction of the clones persisting in on ART. Mechanisms that do not involve the provirus, or its location in the host genome, are more important in determining which clones expand and persist.
Human immune responses to infective stage larval-specific chitinase of filarial parasite, Onchocerca volvulus, Ov-CHI-1.
(Springer Science and Business Media LLC, 2003-03-14)
BACKGROUND: Ov-CHI-1 is a chitinase specifically expressed in the infective stage larvae of the human filarial parasite Onchocerca volvulus. Evidence has show that it could be a vaccine candidate, however, there is no data available regarding the immunological status of people naturally exposed to infective stage larvae and thus provoked by this antigen. METHOD: We analysed the Ov-CHI-1-specific immune response present in four endemic foci of human onchocerciasis (Ecuador, Nigeria, Togo and Cameroon) by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays and T-cell proliferation assays. RESULTS: In these foci of infection, antibodies to Ov-CHI-1 were found to be present in only 22% of individuals from Ecuador, but were detected in 42-62% of infected individuals in the three foci from West Africa (Nigeria, Togo and Cameroon). There was found to be no relationship between antibody level and age, gender, or infection intensity as indicated by microfilarial density and numbers of skin nodules. The isotype response to Ov-CHI-1 was dominated by the presence of IgG3, IgG1 was present to a lesser extent. Our results show a positive correlation between N- and C-termini of Ov-CHI-1 in their ability to provoke humoral and cellular immune responses in the human. Peripheral blood mononuclear cell (PBMC) proliferative responses to Ov-CHI-1 when assayed, were found to be significantly higher in the individuals from endemic areas and there was a statistically elevated response to Ov-CHI-1 in the infected individuals when compared to putative immune individuals. CONCLUSION: Ov-CHI-1 is an antigen that we have found strongly induces both humoral and cellular immune responses in humans.
A Large Proportion of P. falciparum Isolates in the Amazon Region of Peru Lack pfhrp2 and pfhrp3: Implications for Malaria Rapid Diagnostic Tests
(PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2010-01-25)
BACKGROUND: Malaria rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) offer significant potential to improve the diagnosis of malaria, and are playing an increasing role in malaria case management, control and elimination. Peru, along with other South American countries, is moving to introduce malaria RDTs as components of malaria control programmes supported by the Global Fund for AIDS, TB and malaria. The selection of the most suitable malaria RDTs is critical to the success of the programmes. METHODS: Eight of nine microscopy positive P. falciparum samples collected in Iquitos, Peru tested negative or weak positive using HRP2-detecting RDTs. These samples were tested for the presence of pfhrp2 and pfhrp3 and their flanking genes by PCR, as well as the presence of HRP proteins by ELISA. To investigate for geographic extent of HRP-deleted parasites and their temporal occurrence a retrospective study was undertaken on 148 microscopy positive P. falciparum samples collected in different areas of the Amazon region of Peru. FINDINGS: Eight of the nine isolates lacked the pfhrp2 and/or pfhrp3 genes and one or both flanking genes, and the absence of HRP was confirmed by ELISA. The retrospective study showed that 61 (41%) and 103 (70%) of the 148 samples lacked the pfhrp2 or pfhrp3 genes respectively, with 32 (21.6%) samples lacking both hrp genes. CONCLUSIONS: This is the first documentation of P. falciparum field isolates lacking pfhrp2 and/or pfhrp3. The high frequency and wide distribution of different parasites lacking pfhrp2 and/or pfhrp3 in widely dispersed areas in the Peruvian Amazon implies that malaria RDTs targeting HRP2 will fail to detect a high proportion of P. falciparum in malaria-endemic areas of Peru and should not be used. RDTs detecting parasite LDH or aldolase and quality microscopy should be use for malaria diagnosis in this region. There is an urgent need for investigation of the abundance and geographic distribution of these parasites in Peru and neighbouring countries.
Infection-induced plasmablasts are a nutrient sink that impairs humoral immunity to malaria
(Nature Research, 2020-05-18)
Plasmodium parasite–specific antibodies are critical for protection against malaria, yet the development of long-lived and effective humoral immunity against Plasmodium takes many years and multiple rounds of infection and cure. Here, we report that the rapid development of short-lived plasmablasts during experimental malaria unexpectedly hindered parasite control by impeding germinal center responses. Metabolic hyperactivity of plasmablasts resulted in nutrient deprivation of the germinal center reaction, limiting the generation of memory B cell and long-lived plasma cell responses. Therapeutic administration of a single amino acid to experimentally infected mice was sufficient to overcome the metabolic constraints imposed by plasmablasts and enhanced parasite clearance and the formation of protective humoral immune memory responses. Thus, our studies not only challenge the current model describing the role and function of blood-stage Plasmodium-induced plasmablasts but they also reveal new targets and strategies to improve anti-Plasmodium humoral immunity.
Setting Our Sights on Infectious Diseases
(American Chemical Society, 2020-01-01)
In May 2019, the Wellcome Centre for Anti-Infectives Research (WCAIR) at the University of Dundee, UK, held an international conference with the aim of discussing some key questions around discovering new medicines for infectious diseases and a particular focus on diseases affecting Low and Middle Income Countries. There is an urgent need for new drugs to treat most infectious diseases. We were keen to see if there were lessons that we could learn across different disease areas and between the preclinical and clinical phases with the aim of exploring how we can improve and speed up the drug discovery, translational, and clinical development processes. We started with an introductory session on the current situation and then worked backward from clinical development to combination therapy, pharmacokinetic/pharmacodynamic (PK/PD) studies, drug discovery pathways, and new starting points and targets. This Viewpoint aims to capture some of the learnings.
HMOX1 gene promoter alleles and high HO-1 levels are associated with severe malaria in Gambian children.
(Public Library of Science (PLoS), 2012)
Heme oxygenase 1 (HO-1) is an essential enzyme induced by heme and multiple stimuli associated with critical illness. In humans, polymorphisms in the HMOX1 gene promoter may influence the magnitude of HO-1 expression. In many diseases including murine malaria, HO-1 induction produces protective anti-inflammatory effects, but observations from patients suggest these may be limited to a narrow range of HO-1 induction, prompting us to investigate the role of HO-1 in malaria infection. In 307 Gambian children with either severe or uncomplicated P. falciparum malaria, we characterized the associations of HMOX1 promoter polymorphisms, HMOX1 mRNA inducibility, HO-1 protein levels in leucocytes (flow cytometry), and plasma (ELISA) with disease severity. The (GT)(n) repeat polymorphism in the HMOX1 promoter was associated with HMOX1 mRNA expression in white blood cells in vitro, and with severe disease and death, while high HO-1 levels were associated with severe disease. Neutrophils were the main HO-1-expressing cells in peripheral blood, and HMOX1 mRNA expression was upregulated by heme-moieties of lysed erythrocytes. We provide mechanistic evidence that induction of HMOX1 expression in neutrophils potentiates the respiratory burst, and propose this may be part of the causal pathway explaining the association between short (GT)(n) repeats and increased disease severity in malaria and other critical illnesses. Our findings suggest a genetic predisposition to higher levels of HO-1 is associated with severe illness, and enhances the neutrophil burst leading to oxidative damage of endothelial cells. These add important information to the discussion about possible therapeutic manipulation of HO-1 in critically ill patients.
Plasmodium Infection Is Associated with Impaired Hepatic Dimethylarginine Dimethylaminohydrolase Activity and Disruption of Nitric Oxide Synthase Inhibitor/Substrate Homeostasis.
(Public Library of Science (PLoS), 2015-09)
Inhibition of nitric oxide (NO) signaling may contribute to pathological activation of the vascular endothelium during severe malaria infection. Dimethylarginine dimethylaminohydrolase (DDAH) regulates endothelial NO synthesis by maintaining homeostasis between asymmetric dimethylarginine (ADMA), an endogenous NO synthase (NOS) inhibitor, and arginine, the NOS substrate. We carried out a community-based case-control study of Gambian children to determine whether ADMA and arginine homeostasis is disrupted during severe or uncomplicated malaria infections. Circulating plasma levels of ADMA and arginine were determined at initial presentation and 28 days later. Plasma ADMA/arginine ratios were elevated in children with acute severe malaria compared to 28-day follow-up values and compared to children with uncomplicated malaria or healthy children (p<0.0001 for each comparison). To test the hypothesis that DDAH1 is inactivated during Plasmodium infection, we examined DDAH1 in a mouse model of severe malaria. Plasmodium berghei ANKA infection inactivated hepatic DDAH1 via a post-transcriptional mechanism as evidenced by stable mRNA transcript number, decreased DDAH1 protein concentration, decreased enzyme activity, elevated tissue ADMA, elevated ADMA/arginine ratio in plasma, and decreased whole blood nitrite concentration. Loss of hepatic DDAH1 activity and disruption of ADMA/arginine homeostasis may contribute to severe malaria pathogenesis by inhibiting NO synthesis.
Visions by Women in Molecular Imaging Network: Antiracism and Allyship in Action
Recent events in America in 2020 have stimulated a worldwide movement to dismantle anti-Black racism in all facets of our lives. Anti-Black racism is, as defined by the Movement for Black Lives, a "term used to specifically describe the unique discrimination, violence, and harm imposed on and impacting Black people specifically." In science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), we have yet to achieve the goal and responsibility to ensure that the field reflects the diversity of our lived experiences. Members of the Women in Molecular Imaging Network (WIMIN) have come together to take a stand on diversity, equity, and inclusion in the field of molecular imaging. We strongly condemn oppression in all its forms and strive to identify and dismantle barriers that lead to inequities in the molecular imaging community and STEM as a whole. In this series coined "Visions" (Antiracism and Allyship in Action), we identify and discuss specific actionable items for improving diversity and representation in molecular imaging and ensuring inclusion of all members of the community, inclusive of race, disability, ethnicity, religion, or LGBTQ+ identity. Although the issues highlighted here extend to other under-recruited and equity-seeking groups, for this first article, we are focusing on one egregious and persistent form of discrimination: anti-Black racism. In this special article, Black women residing in America present their lived experiences in the molecular imaging field and give candid insights into the challenges, frustrations, and hopes of our Black friends and colleagues. While this special article focuses on the experiences of Black women, we would like the readers to reflect on their anti-Blackness toward men, transgender, nonbinary, and gender non-conforming people. From the vulnerability we have asked of all our participants, these stories are meant to inspire and invoke active antiracist work among the readership. We present strategies for dismantling systemic racism that research centers and universities can implement in the recruitment, retention, mentorship, and development of Black trainees and professionals. We would like to specifically acknowledge the Black women who took the time to be interviewed, write perspectives, and share their lived experiences in hopes that it will inspire genuine and lasting change.