Infectious Diseases - Research Publications
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The clinical utility of fluorodeoxyglucose-positron emission tomography for investigation of fever in immunocompromised children
AIM: Fever in immunocompromised children presents significant challenges. We aimed to determine the clinical impact of fluorodeoxyglucose-positron emission tomography (FDG-PET) in combination with computed tomography (CT) in children with malignancy or following haematopoietic stem cell transplantation with prolonged or recurrent fever. METHODS: Immunocompromised children who underwent FDG-PET/CT for investigation of prolonged or recurrent fever were identified from hospital databases. The clinical impact of the FDG-PET/CT was considered 'high' if it contributed to any of the following: diagnosis of a new site infection/inflammation, change to antimicrobials or chemotherapy, or additional investigations or specialist consult contributing to final diagnosis. RESULTS: Fourteen patients underwent an FDG-PET/CT for prolonged or recurrent fever. Median age was 11 years and 46% had diagnosis of acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. The median absolute neutrophil count on the day of FDG-PET/CT was 0.47 cells/μL. The clinical impact of FDG-PET/CT was 'high' in 11 (79%) patients, contributing to rationalisation of antimicrobials in three, and cessation of antimicrobials in five. Compared to conventional imaging, FDG PET/CT identified seven additional sites of clinically significant infection/inflammation in seven patients. Of the 10 patients who had a cause of fever identified, FDG-PET/CT contributed to the final diagnosis in six (60%). CONCLUSION: This study has identified potential utility for FDG-PET/CT in immunocompromised children with prolonged or recurrent fever. Further prospective studies are needed to compare FDG-PET/CT versus conventional imaging, to identify the optimal timing of FDG-PET/CT and to study the role of subsequent scans to monitor response to therapy.
Superoxide dismutase from Helicobacter pylori suppresses the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines during in vivo infection
BACKGROUND: Helicobacter pylori has undergone considerable adaptation to allow chronic persistence within the gastric environment. While H. pylori-associated diseases are driven by an excessive inflammation, severe gastritis is detrimental to colonization by this pathogen. Hence, H. pylori has developed strategies to minimize the severity of gastritis it triggers in its host. Superoxide dismutase (SOD) is well known for its role in protecting against oxidative attack; less recognized is its ability to inhibit immunity, shown for SOD from mammalian sources and those of some bacterial species. This study examined whether H. pylori SOD (HpSOD) has the ability to inhibit the host immune response to these bacteria. MATERIALS AND METHODS: The ability of recombinant HpSOD to modify the response to LPS was measured using mouse macrophages. A monoclonal antibody against HpSOD was generated and injected into H. pylori-infected mice. RESULTS: Addition of HpSOD to cultures of mouse macrophages significantly inhibited the pro-inflammatory cytokine response to LPS stimulation. A monoclonal antibody was generated that was specific for SOD from H. pylori. When injected into mice infected with H. pylori for 3 months, this antibody was readily detected in both sera and gastric tissues 5 days later. While treatment with anti-HpSOD had no effect on H. pylori colonization at this time point, it significantly increased the levels of a range of pro-inflammatory cytokines in the gastric tissues. This did not occur with antibodies against other antioxidant enzymes. CONCLUSIONS: SOD from H. pylori can inhibit the production of pro-inflammatory cytokine during in vivo infection.
Low sensitivity and frequent cross-reactions in commercially available antibody detection ELISA assays for Taenia solium cysticercosis.
(London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, 2018-01)
OBJECTIVE: To evaluate the diagnostic performance of two commercially available ELISA kits, Novalisa® and Ridascreen® , for the detection of antibodies to Taenia solium, compared to serological diagnosis of neurocysticercosis (NCC) by LLGP-EITB (electro-immunotransfer blot assay using lentil-lectin purified glycoprotein antigens). METHODS: Archive serum samples from patients with viable NCC (n = 45) or resolved, calcified NCC (n = 45), as well as sera from patients with other cestode parasites (hymenolepiasis, n = 45 and cystic hydatid disease, n = 45), were evaluated for cysticercosis antibody detection using two ELISA kits, Novalisa® and Ridascreen® . All NCC samples had previously tested positive, and all samples from heterologous infections were negative on LLGP-EITB for cysticercosis. Positive rates were calculated by kit and sample group and compared between the two kits. RESULTS: Compared to LLGP-EITB, the sensitivity of both ELISA assays to detect specific antibodies in patients with viable NCC was low (44.4% and 22.2%), and for calcified NCC, it was only 6.7% and 4.5%. Sera from patients with cystic hydatid disease were highly cross-reactive in both ELISA assays (38/45, 84.4%; and 25/45, 55.6%). Sera from patients with hymenolepiasis cross-reacted in five cases in one of the assays (11.1%) and in only one sample with the second assay (2.2%). CONCLUSIONS: The performance of Novalisa® and Ridascreen® was poor. Antibody ELISA detection cannot be recommended for the diagnosis of neurocysticercosis.
Overexpression of a newly identified d-amino acid transaminase in Mycobacterium smegmatis complements glutamate racemase deletion.
Glutamate racemase (MurI) has been proposed as a target for anti-tuberculosis drug development based on the inability of ΔmurI mutants of Mycobacterium smegmatis to grow in the absence of d-glutamate. In this communication, we identify ΔmurI suppressor mutants that are detected during prolonged incubation. Whole genome sequencing of these ΔmurI suppressor mutants identified the presence of a SNP, located in the promoter region of MSMEG_5795. RT-qPCR and transcriptional fusion analyses revealed that the ΔmurI suppressor mutant overexpressed MSMEG_5795 14-fold compared to the isogenic wild-type. MSMEG_5795, which is annotated as 4-amino-4-deoxychorismate lyase (ADCL) but which also has homology to d-amino acid transaminase (d-AAT), was expressed, purified and found to have d-AAT activity and to be capable of producing d-glutamate from d-alanine. Consistent with its d-amino acid transaminase function, overexpressed MSMEG_5795 is able to complement both ΔmurI deletion mutants and alanine racemase (Δalr) deletion mutants, thus confirming a multifunctional role for this enzyme in M. smegmatis.
HBV, HCV, and HBV/HCV co-infection among HIV-positive patients in Hunan province, China: Regimen selection, hepatotoxicity, and antiretroviral therapy outcome
Co-infection with hepatitis B (HBV) and C (HCV) is common among people living with HIV (PLHIV). This study investigates the impacts of hepatitis co-infection on antiretroviral therapy (ART) outcomes and hepatotoxicity in PLHIV. The cohort study included 1984 PLHIV. Hepatotoxicity was defined by elevated alanine aminotransferase (ALT) levels. ART outcomes were measured by CD4 cell counts, viral load, and mortality rate in patients. Among 1984 PLHIV, 184 (9.3%) were co-infected with HBV and 198 (10.0%) with HCV and 54 (2.7%) were co-infected with HBV and HCV. Of these patients, 156 (7.9%) had ALT elevation ≥ grade 1 at baseline. During the course of ART, the mortality rate and its adjusted hazard ratio (AHR) in PLHIV who were co-infected with HCV (2.6/100 person-years [py], AHR = 2.3, 95%CI 1.1-4.7) was higher than for patients with mono-infected HIV, as it was for those with an elevated ALT (4.4/100 py, AHR = 3.8, [1.7-8.2]) at baseline compared to those with normal ALT. After 6-12 months of ART, the incidence of hepatotoxicity among all the patients was 3.7/100 py. The risk of hepatotoxicity was higher in HCV co-infected (18.6/100 py, adjusted odds ratio [AOR] = 12.4, [8.1-18.2]) than HIV mono-infected patients, and for all regimens (nevirapine: 30.0/100 py, 34.2, 7.3-47.9; zidovudine/stavudine: 24.7/100 py, 22.1, 7.1-25.5; efavirenz: 14.5/100 py, 9.4, 3.5-19.2; lopinavir/ritonavir: 40.1/100 py, 52.2, 9.5-88.2) except tenofovir (4.3/100 py, 4.9, 0.8-9.5). Patients with HBV/HCV co-infected had high hepatotoxicity (10.0/100 py, 6.3, 1.2-23.3) over the same period. Patients with HCV co-infection and HBV/HCV co-infection demonstrated higher hepatotoxicity rate compared with HIV mono-infected patients in China.
Using preceding hospital admissions to identify children at risk of developing acute rheumatic fever
AIMS: New Zealand (NZ) Māori and Pacific children have high rates of acute rheumatic fever (ARF). Around 150 new cases arise each year. As part of the national ARF prevention programme, funding is available to improve housing. To obtain maximum benefit from interventions, an effective tool is needed for targeting high-risk children. This study aimed to assess the effectiveness of using hospitalisations for identifying children at risk of subsequent ARF. METHODS: Three potentially avoidable hospitalisation (PAH) groups were investigated, including diseases thought to be influenced by housing. All were developed using expert opinion or systematic reviews. These were: (i) the PAH conditions associated with the housing environment (PAHHE) group; (ii) the Crowding group; and (iii) the Ministry of Health (MoH) group. We analysed NZ public hospital discharge data (2000-2014). The prevalence of ARF among patients hospitalised in each group was calculated to estimate sensitivity and potential effectiveness. The number needed to screen (NNS) to identify one ARF case was estimated as a measure of efficiency. RESULTS: Nearly one-third of ARF patients experienced a PAH as children (before developing ARF). Sensitivity for detecting future ARF ranged from <5% (MoH group) to 27% (PAHHE group). NNS ranged from 502.4 (PAHHE) to 707.5 (MoH). CONCLUSIONS: Because ARF is relatively rare, observing hospitalisations is not particularly efficient for targeting prevention activities for this condition alone. However, housing interventions are likely to improve multiple outcomes; thus, the hospital setting is still useful for identifying at-risk children who could benefit from such programmes.
HBeAg levels at week 24 predict response to 8years of tenofovir in HBeAg-positive chronic hepatitis B patients
BACKGROUND: Hepatitis B e antigen (HBeAg) seroconversion is a treatment endpoint for HBeAg-positive CHB, and a necessary precursor to HBsAg loss. Biomarkers that predict serological outcomes would be useful. AIM: To evaluate the utility of measuring HBeAg levels for predicting HBeAg seroconversion and HBsAg loss under long-term tenofovir (TDF) therapy. METHODS: A total of 266 patients were enrolled into a phase III study of TDF vs adefovir (ADV) for 48 weeks in HBeAg-positive patients, followed by open-label TDF up to 384 weeks. Serum HBeAg levels were measured for subjects with samples available at both baseline and week 24 of treatment (n = 200). Analysis compared subjects who achieved HBeAg seroconversion by week 384 vs no HBeAg seroconversion. RESULTS: HBeAg seroconversion rate was 52% by week 384. Time to HBeAg seroconversion was 80 weeks (IQR: 36-162). HBeAg decline at week 24 was associated with HBeAg seroconversion (1.63 vs 0.90 log10 PEIU/mL, P = .002). The optimal threshold for identifying HBeAg seroconversion was HBeAg decline ≥2.2 log10 PEIU/mL at week 24, with HBeAg seroconversion achieved by 76% of patients, compared to 44% if HBeAg decline <2.2 log10 (P < .0001). HBeAg decline ≥2.2 log10 PEIU/mL at week 24 was associated with HBsAg loss in genotype A or D patients (38% vs 15%, P = .03). Precore/basal core promotor variants were associated with lower baseline HBeAg levels, but not HBeAg seroconversion. CONCLUSION: Decline in HBeAg levels by week 24 was associated with HBeAg seroconversion and HBsAg loss in HBeAg-positive chronic hepatitis B patients treated with long-term TDF.
Patterns of protective associations differ for antibodies to &ITP&IT. &ITfalciparum&IT-infected erythrocytes and merozoites in immunity against malaria in children
Acquired antibodies play an important role in immunity to P. falciparum malaria and are typically directed towards surface antigens expressed by merozoites and infected erythrocytes (IEs). The importance of specific IE surface antigens as immune targets remains unclear. We evaluated antibodies and protective associations in two cohorts of children in Papua New Guinea. We used genetically-modified P. falciparum to evaluate the importance of PfEMP1 and a P. falciparum isolate with a virulent phenotype. Our findings suggested that PfEMP1 was the dominant target of antibodies to the IE surface, including functional antibodies that promoted opsonic phagocytosis by monocytes. Antibodies were associated with increasing age and concurrent parasitemia, and were higher among children exposed to a higher force-of-infection as determined using molecular detection. Antibodies to IE surface antigens were consistently associated with reduced risk of malaria in both younger and older children. However, protective associations for antibodies to merozoite surface antigens were only observed in older children. This suggests that antibodies to IE surface antigens, particularly PfEMP1, play an earlier role in acquired immunity to malaria, whereas greater exposure is required for protective antibodies to merozoite antigens. These findings have implications for vaccine design and serosurveillance of malaria transmission and immunity.
Perspectives of oncology nurses and oncologists regarding barriers to working with patients from a minority background: Systemic issues and working with interpreters
This study aimed to ascertain the systemic barriers encountered by oncology health professionals (HPs) working with patients from ethnic minorities to guide the development of a communication skills training programme. Twelve medical and five radiation oncologists and 21 oncology nurses were invited to participate in this qualitative study. Participants were interviewed individually or in a focus group about their experiences working with people from minority backgrounds. All interviews were transcribed verbatim and analysed thematically. HPs encountered language and communication barriers in their interactions with patients and their families, which were perceived to impact negatively on the quality and amount of information and support provided. There was a shortage of, and poor processes for engaging, interpreters and some HPs were concerned about the accuracy of interpretation. HPs expressed a need for training in cultural awareness and communication skills with a preference for face-to-face delivery. A lack of funding, a culture of "learning on the job", and time constraints were systemic barriers to training. Oncologists and oncology nurses encounter complex challenges in clinical interactions with minority patients and their families, including difficulties working with interpreters. Formal training programmes targeted to the development of culturally competent communication skills are required.
Spleen Australia guidelines for the prevention of sepsis in patients with asplenia and hyposplenism in Australia and New Zealand
People with asplenia/hyposplenism are at increased risk of fulminant sepsis, which carries a high mortality rate. A range of preventive measures is recommended although there is ongoing evidence that knowledge of and adherence to these strategies is poor. There have been significant changes in recommended vaccinations since the previously published recommendations in 2008. We provide current recommendations to help Australian and New Zealand clinicians in the prevention of sepsis in patients with asplenia and hyposplenia. The guideline includes Australian epidemiological data, preferred diagnostic techniques and recommendations for optimal antimicrobial prophylaxis and vaccination protocols.
Antimicrobials used for surgical prophylaxis by equine veterinary practitioners in Australia
BACKGROUND: Antimicrobials are widely used in Australian veterinary practices, but no investigation into the classes of antimicrobials used, or the appropriateness of use in horses, has been conducted. OBJECTIVES: The aim of the study was to describe antimicrobial use for surgical prophylaxis in equine practice in Australia. STUDY DESIGN: Cross-sectional questionnaire survey. METHODS: An online questionnaire was used to document antimicrobial usage patterns. Information solicited in the questionnaire included demographic details of the respondents, the frequency with which antimicrobials were used for specific surgical conditions (including the dose, timing and duration of therapy) and practice antimicrobial use policies and sources of information about antimicrobials and their uses. RESULTS: A total of 337 members of the Australian veterinary profession completed the survey. Generally, the choice of antimicrobial was appropriate for the specified equine surgical condition, but the dose and duration of therapy varied greatly. While there was poor optimal compliance with British Equine Veterinary Association guidelines in all scenarios (range 1-15%), except removal of a nonulcerated dermal mass (42%), suboptimal compliance (compliant antimicrobial drug selection but inappropriate timing, dose or duration of therapy) was moderate for all scenarios (range 48-68%), except for an uninfected contaminated wound over the thorax, where both optimal and suboptimal compliance was very poor (1%). Veterinarians practicing at a university hospital had higher odds of compliance than general practice veterinarians (Odds ratio 3.2, 95% CI, 1.1-8.9, P = 0.03). MAIN LIMITATIONS: Many survey responses were collected at conferences which may introduce selection bias, as veterinarians attending conferences may be more likely to have been exposed to contemporary antimicrobial prescribing recommendations. CONCLUSIONS: Antimicrobial use guidelines need to be developed and promoted to improve the responsible use of antimicrobials in equine practice in Australia. An emphasis should be placed on antimicrobial therapy for wounds and appropriate dosing for procaine penicillin.
Winding back Wnt signalling: potential therapeutic targets for treating gastric cancers
Gastric cancer persists as a frequent and deadly disease that claims over 700 000 lives annually. Gastric cancer is a multifactorial disease that is genetically, cytologically and architecturally more heterogeneous than other gastrointestinal cancers, making it therapeutically challenging. As such, and largely attributed to late-stage diagnosis, gastric cancer patients show only partial response to standard chemo and targeted molecular therapies, highlighting an urgent need to develop new targeted therapies for this disease. Wnt signalling has a well-documented history in the genesis of many cancers and is, therefore, an attractive therapeutic target. As such, drug discovery has focused on developing inhibitors that target multiple nodes of the Wnt signalling cascade, some of which have progressed to clinical trials. The collective efforts of patient genomic profiling has uncovered genetic lesions to multiple components of the Wnt pathway in gastric cancer patients, which strongly suggest that Wnt-targeted therapies could offer therapeutic benefits for gastric cancer patients. These data have been supported by studies in mouse models of gastric cancer, which identify Wnt signalling as a driver of gastric tumourigenesis. Here, we review the current literature regarding Wnt signalling in gastric cancer and highlight the suitability of each class of Wnt inhibitor as a potential treatment for gastric cancer patients, in relation to the type of Wnt deregulation observed. LINKED ARTICLES: This article is part of a themed section on WNT Signalling: Mechanisms and Therapeutic Opportunities. To view the other articles in this section visit http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/bph.v174.24/issuetoc.