Infectious Diseases - Research Publications
Now showing items 1-12 of 129
The Role of Host Genetics in Susceptibility to Influenza: A Systematic Review
(PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2012-03-15)
BACKGROUND: The World Health Organization has identified studies of the role of host genetics on susceptibility to severe influenza as a priority. A systematic review was conducted to summarize the current state of evidence on the role of host genetics in susceptibility to influenza (PROSPERO registration number: CRD42011001380). METHODS AND FINDINGS: PubMed, Web of Science, the Cochrane Library, and OpenSIGLE were searched using a pre-defined strategy for all entries up to the date of the search. Two reviewers independently screened the title and abstract of 1,371 unique articles, and 72 full text publications were selected for inclusion. Mouse models clearly demonstrate that host genetics plays a critical role in susceptibility to a range of human and avian influenza viruses. The Mx genes encoding interferon inducible proteins are the best studied but their relevance to susceptibility in humans is unknown. Although the MxA gene should be considered a candidate gene for further study in humans, over 100 other candidate genes have been proposed. There are however no data associating any of these candidate genes to susceptibility in humans, with the only published study in humans being under-powered. One genealogy study presents moderate evidence of a heritable component to the risk of influenza-associated death, and while the marked familial aggregation of H5N1 cases is suggestive of host genetic factors, this remains unproven. CONCLUSION: The fundamental question "Is susceptibility to severe influenza in humans heritable?" remains unanswered. Not because of a lack of genotyping or analytic tools, nor because of insufficient severe influenza cases, but because of the absence of a coordinated effort to define and assemble cohorts of cases. The recent pandemic and the ongoing epizootic of H5N1 both represent rapidly closing windows of opportunity to increase understanding of the pathogenesis of severe influenza through multi-national host genetic studies.
Quantifying Susceptibility of CD4(+) Stem Memory T-Cells to Infection by Laboratory Adapted and Clinical HIV-1 Strains
(MDPI AG, 2014-02-01)
CD4+ T cells are principal targets for human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) infection. CD4+ T cell subsets are heterogeneous cell populations, divided by functional and phenotypic differences into naïve and memory T cells. The memory CD4+ T cells are further segregated into central, effector and transitional memory cell subsets by functional, phenotypic and homeostatic characteristics. Defining the distribution of HIV-1 infection in different T cell subsets is important, as this can play a role in determining the size and composition of the viral reservoir. Both central memory and transitional memory CD4+ T cells have been described as long-lived viral reservoirs for HIV. Recently, the newly described stem memory T cell subset has also been implicated as a long-lived HIV reservoir. Using green fluorescent protein (GFP) reporter strains of HIV-1 and multi parameter flow cytometry, we developed an assay to simultaneously quantify the susceptibility of stem memory (TSCM), central memory, effector memory, transitional memory and naïve CD4+ T cell subsets, to HIV-1 infection in vitro. We show that TSCM are susceptible to infection with laboratory adapted and clinical HIV-1 strains. Our system facilitates the quantitation of HIV-1 infection in alternative T cell subsets by CCR5- and CXCR4-using viruses across different HIV-1 subtypes, and will be useful for studies of HIV-1 pathogenesis and viral reservoirs.
Detection of HCV-Specific IFN-gamma Responses in HCV Antibody and HCV RNA Negative Injecting Drug Users
(KOWSAR PUBL, 2014-01-01)
BACKGROUND: Detectable HCV-specific cellular immune responses in HCV antibody and RNA negative people who inject drugs (PWID) raise the question of whether some are resistant to HCV infection. Immune responses from people who have been exposed to hepatitis C virus (HCV) and remain anti-HCV negative are of interest for HCV vaccine development; however, limited research addresses this area. OBJECTIVES: In a cohort of HCV antibody and RNA negative PWID, we assessed whether the presence of HCV-specific IFN-γ responses or genetic associations provide any evidence of protection from HCV infection. PATIENTS AND METHODS: One hundred and ninety-eight participants were examined longitudinally for clinical, behavioral, social, environmental and genetic characteristics (IFNL3 genotype [formally IL-28B] and HLA type). Sixty-one of the 198 participants were HCV antibody and RNA negative, with 53 able to be examined longitudinally for HCV-specific IFN-γ ELISpot T cell responses. RESULTS: Ten of the 53 HCV antibody and RNA negative participants had detectable HCV-specific IFN-γ responses at baseline (18%). The magnitude of IFN-γ responses averaged 131 +/- 96 SFC/106 PBMC and the breadth was mean 1 +/- 1 pool positive. The specificity of responses were mainly directed to E2, NS4b and NS5b. Participants with (10) and without (43) HCV-specific IFN-γ responses did not differ in behavioral, clinical or genetic characteristics (P > 0.05). There was a larger proportion sharing needles (with 70%, without 49%, P = 0.320) and a higher incidence of HCV (with 35.1 per 100 py, 95% CI 14.6, 84.4, without 16.0 per 100 py, 95% CI 7.2, 35.6, P = 0.212) in those with IFN-γ responses, although not statistically significant. Half the participants with baseline IFN-γ responses became HCV RNA positive (5/10), with one of these participants spontaneously clearing HCV. The spontaneous clearer had high magnitude and broad Th1 responses, favorable IFNL3 genotype and favorable HLA types. CONCLUSIONS: This study demonstrated the detection of HCV-specific IFN-γ responses in HCV antibody and RNA negative individuals, with a tendency for HCV-specific IFN-γ responses to be associated with HCV exposure. The potential role of HCV-specific IFN-γ responses in those who remained HCV RNA negative is of value for the development of novel HCV therapeutics.
Vaccination with Conserved Regions of Erythrocyte-Binding Antigens Induces Neutralizing Antibodies against Multiple Strains of Plasmodium falciparum
(PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2013-09-10)
BACKGROUND: A highly effective vaccine against Plasmodium falciparum malaria should induce potent, strain transcending immunity that broadly protects against the diverse population of parasites circulating globally. We aimed to identify vaccine candidates that fulfill the criteria. METHODS: We have measured growth inhibitory activity of antibodies raised to a range of antigens to identify those that can efficiently block merozoite invasion for geographically diverse strains of P. falciparum. RESULTS: This has shown that the conserved Region III-V, of the P. falciparum erythrocyte-binding antigen (EBA)-175 was able to induce antibodies that potently inhibit merozoite invasion across diverse parasite strains, including those reliant on invasion pathways independent of EBA-175 function. Additionally, the conserved RIII-V domain of EBA-140 also induced antibodies with strong in vitro parasite growth inhibitory activity. CONCLUSION: We identify an alternative, highly conserved region (RIV-V) of EBA-175, present in all EBA proteins, that is the target of potent, strain transcending neutralizing antibodies, that represents a strong candidate for development as a component in a malaria vaccine.
Hepatitis C Transmission and Treatment in Contact Networks of People Who Inject Drugs
(PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2013-11-01)
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) chronically infects over 180 million people worldwide, with over 350,000 estimated deaths attributed yearly to HCV-related liver diseases. It disproportionally affects people who inject drugs (PWID). Currently there is no preventative vaccine and interventions feature long treatment durations with severe side-effects. Upcoming treatments will improve this situation, making possible large-scale treatment interventions. How these strategies should target HCV-infected PWID remains an important unanswered question. Previous models of HCV have lacked empirically grounded contact models of PWID. Here we report results on HCV transmission and treatment using simulated contact networks generated from an empirically grounded network model using recently developed statistical approaches in social network analysis. Our HCV transmission model is a detailed, stochastic, individual-based model including spontaneously clearing nodes. On transmission we investigate the role of number of contacts and injecting frequency on time to primary infection and the role of spontaneously clearing nodes on incidence rates. On treatment we investigate the effect of nine network-based treatment strategies on chronic prevalence and incidence rates of primary infection and re-infection. Both numbers of contacts and injecting frequency play key roles in reducing time to primary infection. The change from "less-" to "more-frequent" injector is roughly similar to having one additional network contact. Nodes that spontaneously clear their HCV infection have a local effect on infection risk and the total number of such nodes (but not their locations) has a network wide effect on the incidence of both primary and re-infection with HCV. Re-infection plays a large role in the effectiveness of treatment interventions. Strategies that choose PWID and treat all their contacts (analogous to ring vaccination) are most effective in reducing the incidence rates of re-infection and combined infection. A strategy targeting infected PWID with the most contacts (analogous to targeted vaccination) is the least effective.
Comparative analysis of the complete genome of an epidemic hospital sequence type 203 clone of vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus faecium
BACKGROUND: In this report we have explored the genomic and microbiological basis for a sustained increase in bloodstream infections at a major Australian hospital caused by Enterococcus faecium multi-locus sequence type (ST) 203, an outbreak strain that has largely replaced a predecessor ST17 sequence type. RESULTS: To establish a ST203 reference sequence we fully assembled and annotated the genome of Aus0085, a 2009 vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus faecium (VREfm) bloodstream isolate, and the first example of a completed ST203 genome. Aus0085 has a 3.2 Mb genome, comprising a 2.9 Mb circular chromosome and six circular plasmids (2 kb-130 kb). Twelve percent of the 3222 coding sequences (CDS) in Aus0085 are not present in ST17 E. faecium Aus0004 and ST18 E. faecium TX16. Extending this comparison to an additional 12 ST17 and 14 ST203 E. faecium hospital isolate genomes revealed only six genomic regions spanning 41 kb that were present in all ST203 and absent from all ST17 genomes. The 40 CDS have predicted functions that include ion transport, riboflavin metabolism and two phosphotransferase systems. Comparison of the vancomycin resistance-conferring Tn1549 transposon between Aus0004 and Aus0085 revealed differences in transposon length and insertion site, and van locus sequence variation that correlated with a higher vancomycin MIC in Aus0085. Additional phenotype comparisons between ST17 and ST203 isolates showed that while there were no differences in biofilm-formation and killing of Galleria mellonella, ST203 isolates grew significantly faster and out-competed ST17 isolates in growth assays. CONCLUSIONS: Here we have fully assembled and annotated the first ST203 genome, and then characterized the genomic differences between ST17 and ST203 E. faecium. We also show that ST203 E. faecium are faster growing and can out-compete ST17 E. faecium. While a causal genetic basis for these phenotype differences is not provided here, this study revealed conserved genetic differences between the two clones, differences that can now be tested to explain the molecular basis for the success and emergence of ST203 E. faecium.
Longitudinal Analysis of CCR5 and CXCR4 Usage in a Cohort of Antiretroviral Therapy-Naive Subjects with Progressive HIV-1 Subtype C Infection
(PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2013-06-18)
HIV-1 subtype C (C-HIV) is responsible for most HIV-1 cases worldwide. Although the pathogenesis of C-HIV is thought to predominantly involve CCR5-restricted (R5) strains, we do not have a firm understanding of how frequently CXCR4-using (X4 and R5X4) variants emerge in subjects with progressive C-HIV infection. Nor do we completely understand the molecular determinants of coreceptor switching by C-HIV variants. Here, we characterized a panel of HIV-1 envelope glycoproteins (Envs) (n = 300) cloned sequentially from plasma of 21 antiretroviral therapy (ART)-naïve subjects who experienced progression from chronic to advanced stages of C-HIV infection, and show that CXCR4-using C-HIV variants emerged in only one individual. Mutagenesis studies and structural models suggest that the evolution of R5 to X4 variants in this subject principally involved acquisition of an "Ile-Gly" insertion in the gp120 V3 loop and replacement of the V3 "Gly-Pro-Gly" crown with a "Gly-Arg-Gly" motif, but that the accumulation of additional gp120 "scaffold" mutations was required for these V3 loop changes to confer functional effects. In this context, either of the V3 loop changes could confer possible transitional R5X4 phenotypes, but when present together they completely abolished CCR5 usage and conferred the X4 phenotype. Our results show that the emergence of CXCR4-using strains is rare in this cohort of untreated individuals with advanced C-HIV infection. In the subject where X4 variants did emerge, alterations in the gp120 V3 loop were necessary but not sufficient to confer CXCR4 usage.
High-Resolution Melting Genotyping of Enterococcus faecium Based on Multilocus Sequence Typing Derived Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms
(PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2011-12-16)
We have developed a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) nucleated high-resolution melting (HRM) technique to genotype Enterococcus faecium. Eight SNPs were derived from the E. faecium multilocus sequence typing (MLST) database and amplified fragments containing these SNPs were interrogated by HRM. We tested the HRM genotyping scheme on 85 E. faecium bloodstream isolates and compared the results with MLST, pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) and an allele specific real-time PCR (AS kinetic PCR) SNP typing method. In silico analysis based on predicted HRM curves according to the G+C content of each fragment for all 567 sequence types (STs) in the MLST database together with empiric data from the 85 isolates demonstrated that HRM analysis resolves E. faecium into 231 "melting types" (MelTs) and provides a Simpson's Index of Diversity (D) of 0.991 with respect to MLST. This is a significant improvement on the AS kinetic PCR SNP typing scheme that resolves 61 SNP types with D of 0.95. The MelTs were concordant with the known ST of the isolates. For the 85 isolates, there were 13 PFGE patterns, 17 STs, 14 MelTs and eight SNP types. There was excellent concordance between PFGE, MLST and MelTs with Adjusted Rand Indices of PFGE to MelT 0.936 and ST to MelT 0.973. In conclusion, this HRM based method appears rapid and reproducible. The results are concordant with MLST and the MLST based population structure.
Comparing short versions of the AUDIT in a community-based survey of young people
(BIOMED CENTRAL LTD, 2013-04-04)
BACKGROUND: The 10-item Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT-10) is commonly used to monitor harmful alcohol consumption among high-risk groups, including young people. However, time and space constraints have generated interest for shortened versions. Commonly used variations are the AUDIT-C (three questions) and the Fast Alcohol Screening Test (FAST) (four questions), but their utility in screening young people in non-clinical settings has received little attention. METHODS: We examined the performance of established and novel shortened versions of the AUDIT in relation to the full AUDIT-10 in a community-based survey of young people (16-29 years) attending a music festival in Melbourne, Australia (January 2010).Among those reporting drinking alcohol in the previous 12 months, the following statistics were systematically assessed for all possible combinations of three or four AUDIT items and established AUDIT variations: Cronbach's alpha (internal consistency), variance explained (R2) and Pearson's correlation coefficient (concurrent validity). For our purposes, novel shortened AUDIT versions considered were required to represent all three AUDIT domains and include item 9 on alcohol-related injury. RESULTS: We recruited 640 participants (68% female) reporting drinking in the previous 12 months. Median AUDIT-10 score was 10 in males and 9 in females, and 127 (20%) were classified as having at least high-level alcohol problems according to WHO classification.The FAST scored consistently high across statistical measures; it explained 85.6% of variance in AUDIT-10, correlation with AUDIT-10 was 0.92, and Cronbach's alpha was 0.66. A number of novel four-item AUDIT variations scored similarly high. Comparatively, the AUDIT-C scored substantially lower on all measures except internal consistency. CONCLUSIONS: Numerous abbreviated variations of the AUDIT may be a suitable alternative to the AUDIT-10 for classifying high-level alcohol problems in a community-based population of young Australians. Four-item AUDIT variations scored more consistently high across all evaluated statistics compared to three-item combinations. Novel AUDIT versions may be more effective than many established shortened versions as an alternative screening tool to the AUDIT-10 to measure hazardous or harmful alcohol consumption in this population.
The Spread of Influenza A(H1N1) pdm09 in Victorian School Children in 2009: Implications for Revised Pandemic Planning
(PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2013-02-26)
BACKGROUND: Victoria was the first state in Australia to experience community transmission of influenza A(H1N1)pdm09. We undertook a descriptive epidemiological analysis of the first 1,000 notified cases to describe the epidemic associated with school children and explore implications for school closure and antiviral distribution policy in revised pandemic plans. METHODS: Records of the first 1,000 laboratory-confirmed cases of influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 notified to the Victorian Government Department of Health between 20 May and 5 June 2009 were extracted from the state's notifiable infectious diseases database. Descriptive analyses were conducted on case demographics, symptoms, case treatment, prophylaxis of contacts and distribution of cases in schools. RESULTS: Two-thirds of the first 1,000 cases were school-aged (5-17 years) with cases in 203 schools, particularly along the north and western peripheries of the metropolitan area. Cases in one school accounted for nearly 8% of all cases but the school was not closed until nine days after symptom onset of the first identified case. Amongst all cases, cough (85%) was the most commonly reported symptom followed by fever (68%) although this was significantly higher in primary school children (76%). The risk of hospitalisation was 2%. The median time between illness onset and notification of laboratory confirmation was four days, with only 10% of cases notified within two days of onset and thus eligible for oseltamivir treatment. Nearly 6,000 contacts were followed up for prophylaxis. CONCLUSIONS: With a generally mild clinical course and widespread transmission before its detection, limited and short-term school closures appeared to have minimal impact on influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 transmission. Antiviral treatment could rarely be delivered to cases within 48 hours of symptom onset. These scenarios and lessons learned from them need to be incorporated into revisions of pandemic plans.
The NRTIs Lamivudine, Stavudine and Zidovudine Have Reduced HIV-1 Inhibitory Activity in Astrocytes
(PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2013-04-16)
HIV-1 establishes infection in astrocytes and macroage-lineage cells of the central nervous system (CNS). Certain antiretroviral drugs (ARVs) can penetrate the CNS, and are therefore often used in neurologically active combined antiretroviral therapy (Neuro-cART) regimens, but their relative activity in the different susceptible CNS cell populations is unknown. Here, we determined the HIV-1 inhibitory activity of CNS-penetrating ARVs in astrocytes and macrophage-lineage cells. Primary human fetal astrocytes (PFA) and the SVG human astrocyte cell line were used as in vitro models for astrocyte infection, and monocyte-derived macrophages (MDM) were used as an in vitro model for infection of macrophage-lineage cells. The CNS-penetrating ARVs tested were the nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NRTIs) abacavir (ABC), lamivudine (3TC), stavudine (d4T) and zidovudine (ZDV), the non-NRTIs efavirenz (EFV), etravirine (ETR) and nevirapine (NVP), and the integrase inhibitor raltegravir (RAL). Drug inhibition assays were performed using single-round HIV-1 entry assays with luciferase viruses pseudotyped with HIV-1 YU-2 envelope or vesicular stomatitis virus G protein (VSV-G). All the ARVs tested could effectively inhibit HIV-1 infection in macrophages, with EC90s below concentrations known to be achievable in the cerebral spinal fluid (CSF). Most of the ARVs had similar potency in astrocytes, however the NRTIs 3TC, d4T and ZDV had insufficient HIV-1 inhibitory activity in astrocytes, with EC90s 12-, 187- and 110-fold greater than achievable CSF concentrations, respectively. Our data suggest that 3TC, d4T and ZDV may not adequately target astrocyte infection in vivo, which has potential implications for their inclusion in Neuro-cART regimens.
Hepatitis C Virus Phylogenetic Clustering Is Associated with the Social-Injecting Network in a Cohort of People Who Inject Drugs
(PUBLIC LIBRARY SCIENCE, 2012-10-26)
It is hypothesized that social networks facilitate transmission of the hepatitis C virus (HCV). We tested for association between HCV phylogeny and reported injecting relationships using longitudinal data from a social network design study. People who inject drugs were recruited from street drug markets in Melbourne, Australia. Interviews and blood tests took place three monthly (during 2005-2008), with participants asked to nominate up to five injecting partners at each interview. The HCV core region of individual isolates was then sequenced and phylogenetic trees were constructed. Genetic clusters were identified using bootstrapping (cut-off: 70%). An adjusted Jaccard similarity coefficient was used to measure the association between the reported injecting relationships and relationships defined by clustering in the phylogenetic analysis (statistical significance assessed using the quadratic assignment procedure). 402 participants consented to participate; 244 HCV infections were observed in 238 individuals. 26 genetic clusters were identified, with 2-7 infections per cluster. Newly acquired infection (AOR = 2.03, 95% CI: 1.04-3.96, p = 0.037, and HCV genotype 3 (vs. genotype 1, AOR = 2.72, 95% CI: 1.48-4.99) were independent predictors of being in a cluster. 54% of participants whose infections were part of a cluster in the phylogenetic analysis reported injecting with at least one other participant in that cluster during the study. Overall, 16% of participants who were infected at study entry and 40% of participants with newly acquired infections had molecular evidence of related infections with at least one injecting partner. Likely transmission clusters identified in phylogenetic analysis correlated with reported injecting relationships (adjusted Jaccard coefficient: 0.300; p<0.001). This is the first study to show that HCV phylogeny is associated with the injecting network, highlighting the importance of the injecting network in HCV transmission.