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1.  Effect of single-dose anthelmintic treatment during pregnancy on an infant's response to immunisation and on susceptibility to infectious diseases in infancy: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial 
Lancet  2011;377(9759):52-62.
Helminth infections affect the human immune response. We investigated whether prenatal exposure to and treatment of maternal helminth infections affects development of an infant's immune response to immunisations and unrelated infections.
In this randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, we enrolled 2507 women in the second or third trimester of pregnancy who were planning to deliver in Entebbe General Hospital, Entebbe, Uganda. With a computer-generated random number sequence in blocks of 100, we assigned patients to 440 mg albendazole and 40 mg/kg praziquantel (n=628), 440 mg albendazole and a praziquantel-matching placebo (n=625), 40 mg/kg praziquantel and an albendazole-matching placebo (n=626), or an albendazole-matching placebo and praziquantel-matching placebo (n=628). All participants and hospital staff were masked to allocation. Primary outcomes were immune response at age 1 year to BCG, tetanus, and measles immunisation; incidence of infectious diseases during infancy; and vertical HIV transmission. Analysis was by intention-to-treat. This trial is registered, number ISRCTN32849447.
Data were available at delivery for 2356 women, with 2345 livebirths; 2115 (90%) of liveborn infants remained in follow-up at 1 year of age. Neither albendazole nor praziquantel treatments affected infant response to BCG, tetanus, or measles immunisation. However, in infants of mothers with hookworm infection, albendazole treatment reduced interleukin-5 (geometric mean ratio 0·50, 95% CI 0·30–0·81, interaction p=0·02) and interleukin-13 (0·52, 0·34–0·82, 0·0005) response to tetanus toxoid. The rate per 100 person-years of malaria was 40·9 (95% CI 38·3–43·7), of diarrhoea was 134·1 (129·2–139·2), and of pneumonia was 22·3 (20·4–24·4). We noted no effect on infectious disease incidence for albendazole treatment (malaria [hazard ratio 0·95, 95% CI 0·79–1.14], diarrhoea [1·06, 0·96–1·16], pneumonia [1·11, 0·90–1·38]) or praziquantel treatment (malaria [1·00, 0·84–1·20], diarrhoea [1·07, 0·98–1·18], pneumonia [1·00, 0·80–1·24]). In HIV-exposed infants, 39 (18%) were infected at 6 weeks; vertical transmission was not associated with albendazole (odds ratio 0·70, 95% CI 0·35–1·42) or praziquantel (0·60, 0·29–1·23) treatment.
These results do not accord with the recently advocated policy of routine antenatal anthelmintic treatment, and the value of such a policy may need to be reviewed.
Wellcome Trust.
PMCID: PMC3018567  PMID: 21176950
2.  Factors affecting the infant antibody response to measles immunisation in Entebbe-Uganda 
BMC Public Health  2013;13:619.
Vaccine failure is an important concern in the tropics with many contributing elements. Among them, it has been suggested that exposure to natural infections might contribute to vaccine failure and recurrent disease outbreaks. We tested this hypothesis by examining the influence of co-infections on maternal and infant measles-specific IgG levels.
We conducted an observational analysis using samples and data that had been collected during a larger randomised controlled trial, the Entebbe Mother and Baby Study (ISRCTN32849447). For the present study, 711 pregnant women and their offspring were considered. Helminth infections including hookworm, Schistosoma mansoni and Mansonella perstans, along with HIV, malaria, and other potential confounding factors were determined in mothers during pregnancy and in their infants at age one year. Infants received their measles immunisation at age nine months. Levels of total IgG against measles were measured in mothers during pregnancy and at delivery, as well as in cord blood and from infants at age one year.
Among the 711 pregnant women studied, 66% had at least one helminth infection at enrolment, 41% had hookworm, 20% M. perstans and 19% S. mansoni. Asymptomatic malaria and HIV prevalence was 8% and 10% respectively. At enrolment, 96% of the women had measles-specific IgG levels considered protective (median 4274 mIU/ml (IQR 1784, 7767)). IgG levels in cord blood were positively correlated to maternal measles-specific IgG levels at delivery (r = 0.81, p < 0.0001). Among the infants at one year of age, median measles-specific IgG levels were markedly lower than in maternal and cord blood (median 370 mIU/ml (IQR 198, 656) p < 0.0001). In addition, only 75% of the infants had measles-specific IgG levels considered to be protective. In a multivariate regression analysis, factors associated with reduced measles-specific antibody levels in infancy were maternal malaria infection, infant malaria parasitaemia, infant HIV and infant wasting. There was no association with maternal helminth infection.
Malaria and HIV infection in mothers during pregnancy, and in their infants, along with infant malnutrition, may result in reduction of the antibody response to measles immunisation in infancy. This re-emphasises the importance of malaria and HIV control, and support for infant nutrition, as these interventions may have benefits for vaccine efficacy in tropical settings.
PMCID: PMC3733798  PMID: 23816281
Infections; Co-infections; Measles; Helminth; Malaria; HIV; Maternal; Infants; Pregnancy; Immunisation
3.  The influence of BCG vaccine strain on mycobacteria-specific and non-specific immune responses in a prospective cohort of infants in Uganda 
Vaccine  2012;30(12):2083-2089.
► Largest study comparing BCG strains and first to assess strain effects on non-specific responses. ► Cytokine responses to both mycobacterial and non-mycobacterial stimuli are strain-dependent. ► BCG-Denmark causes higher cytokine levels and more scars and adverse events than two other strains. ► Sex may interact with the effect of strain; non-specific responses are not associated with scars. ► BCG strain choice may be important and should be evaluated in novel vaccine strategies using BCG.
Globally, BCG vaccination varies in efficacy and has some non-specific protective effects. Previous studies comparing BCG strains have been small-scale, with few or no immunological outcomes and have compared TB-specific responses only. We aimed to evaluate both specific and non-specific immune responses to different strains of BCG within a large infant cohort and to evaluate further the relationship between BCG strain, scarring and cytokine responses.
Infants from the Entebbe Mother and Baby Study (ISRCTN32849447) who received BCG-Russia, BCG-Bulgaria or BCG-Denmark at birth, were analysed by BCG strain group. At one year, interferon-gamma (IFN-γ), interleukin (IL)-5, IL-13 and IL-10 responses to mycobacteria-specific antigens (crude culture filtrate proteins and antigen 85) and non-mycobacterial stimuli (tetanus toxoid and phytohaemagglutinin) were measured using ELISA. Cytokine responses, scar frequency, BCG associated adverse event frequency and mortality rates were compared across groups, with adjustments for potential confounders.
Both specific and non-specific IFN-γ, IL-13 and IL-10 responses in 1341 infants differed between BCG strain groups including in response to stimulation with tetanus toxoid. BCG-Denmark immunised infants showed the highest cytokine responses. The proportion of infants who scarred differed significantly, with BCG scars occurring in 52.2%, 64.1% and 92.6% of infants immunised with BCG Russia, BCG-Bulgaria and BCG-Denmark, respectively (p < 0.001). Scarred infants had higher IFN-γ and IL-13 responses to mycobacterial antigens only than infants without a scar. The BCG-Denmark group had the highest frequency of adverse events (p = 0.025). Mortality differences were not significant.
Both specific and non-specific immune responses to the BCG vaccine differ by strain. Scarring after BCG vaccination is also strain-dependent and is associated with higher IFN-γ and IL-13 responses to mycobacterial antigens. The choice of BCG strain may be an important factor and should be evaluated when testing novel vaccine strategies that employ BCG in prime–boost sequences, or as a vector for other vaccine antigens.
PMCID: PMC3314967  PMID: 22300718
BCG; Strain; Immune response; Non-specific effects; BCG scar
4.  Factors associated with tuberculosis infection, and with anti-mycobacterial immune responses, among five year olds BCG-immunised at birth in Entebbe, Uganda 
Vaccine  2015;33(6):796-804.
•Urban residence and history of TB contact/disease were associated with increased risk of latent TB infection at age five years.•BCG vaccine strain, LTBI, HIV and malaria infections, and anthropometry predict anti-mycobacterial immune responses.•Helminth infections do not influence response to BCG vaccination.•Cytokine responses at one year were not associated with LTBI at age five years.
BCG is used widely as the sole licensed vaccine against tuberculosis, but it has variable efficacy and the reasons for this are still unclear. No reliable biomarkers to predict future protection against, or acquisition of, TB infection following immunisation have been identified. Lessons from BCG could be valuable in the development of effective tuberculosis vaccines.
Within the Entebbe Mother and Baby Study birth cohort in Uganda, infants received BCG at birth. We investigated factors associated with latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI) and with cytokine response to mycobacterial antigen at age five years. We also investigated whether cytokine responses at one year were associated with LTBI at five years of age.
Blood samples from age one and five years were stimulated using crude culture filtrates of Mycobacterium tuberculosis in a six-day whole blood assay. IFN-γ, IL-5, IL-13 and IL-10 production was measured. LTBI at five years was determined using T-SPOT.TB® assay. Associations with LTBI at five years were assessed using multivariable logistic regression. Multiple linear regression with bootstrapping was used to determine factors associated with cytokine responses at age five years.
LTBI prevalence was 9% at age five years. Only urban residence and history of TB contact/disease were positively associated with LTBI. BCG vaccine strain, LTBI, HIV infection, asymptomatic malaria, growth z-scores, childhood anthelminthic treatment and maternal BCG scar were associated with cytokine responses at age five. Cytokine responses at one year were not associated with acquisition of LTBI by five years of age.
Although multiple factors influenced anti-myocbacterial immune responses at age five, factors likely to be associated with exposure to infectious cases (history of household contact, and urban residence) dominated the risk of LTBI.
PMCID: PMC4317190  PMID: 25529292
Tuberculosis; HIV; Helminth; Pregnancy; Bacille Calmette–Guerin; Crude culture filtrate protein
5.  Maternal Infection with Trypanosoma cruzi and Congenital Chagas Disease Induce a Trend to a Type 1 Polarization of Infant Immune Responses to Vaccines 
We previously showed that newborns congenitally infected with Trypanosoma cruzi (M+B+) display a strong type 1 parasite-specific T cell immune response, whereas uninfected newborns from T. cruzi-infected mothers (M+B−) are prone to produce higher levels of proinflammatory cytokines than control neonates (M−B−). The purpose of the present study was to determine if such fetal/neonatal immunological environments could alter the response to standard vaccines administered in early life.
Infants (6–7 months old) living in Bolivia, an area highly endemic for T. cruzi infection, and having received Bacillus Calmette Guerin (BCG), hepatitis B virus (HBV), diphtheria and tetanus vaccines, were enrolled into the M+B+, M+B−, M−B− groups mentioned above. The production of IFN-γ and IL-13, as markers of Th1 and Th2 responses respectively, by peripherical blood mononuclear cells stimulated with tuberculin purified protein derivative of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (PPD) or the vaccinal antigens HBs, diphtheria toxoid (DT) or tetanus toxoid (TT), as well as circulating levels of IgG antibodies against HBsAg, DT and TT were analyzed in infants. Cellular responses to the superantigen SEB were also monitored in M+B+, M+B−, M−B−infants and newborns.
Principal Findings
M+B+ infants developed a stronger IFN-γ response to hepatitis B, diphtheria and tetanus vaccines than did M+B− and M−B− groups. They also displayed an enhanced antibody production to HBsAg. This was associated with a type 1-biased immune environment at birth, since cells of M+B+ newborns produced higher IFN-γ levels in response to SEB. M+B− infants produced more IFN-γ in response to PPD than the other groups. IL-13 production remained low and similar in all the three groups, whatever the subject's ages or vaccine status.
These results show that: i) both maternal infection with T. cruzi and congenital Chagas disease do not interfere with responses to BCG, hepatitis B, diphtheria and tetanus vaccines in the neonatal period, and ii) the overcoming of immunological immaturity by T. cruzi infection in early life is not limited to the development of parasite-specific immune responses, but also tends to favour type 1 immune responses to vaccinal antigens.
Author Summary
Vaccines are of crucial importance to prevent morbidity and mortality due to infectious diseases in childhood. A modulation of the fetal/neonatal immune system (considered immature) toward Th1 or Th2 dominance could modify responses to vaccines administered in early life. T. cruzi is the agent of Chagas' disease, in Latin America currently infecting about 2 million women at fertile ages who are susceptible to transmitting the parasite to their fetus. In previous studies we showed that T. cruzi-infected mothers can induce a pro-inflammatory environment in their uninfected neonates (M+B−), whereas congenitally infected newborns (M+B+) are able to develop a pro-Th1 parasite-specific T cell response. In the present study, we analysed the cellular and/or antibody responses to Bacillus Calmette Guerin (BCG), hepatitis B birus (HBV), diphtheria and tetanus vaccines in 6- to 7-month-old infants living in Bolivia. M+B− infants produced more IFN-γ in response to BCG, whereas M+B+ infants developed a stronger IFN-γ response to hepatitis B, diphtheria and tetanus vaccines and enhanced antibody production to HBs antigen. These results show that both maternal infection with T. cruzi and congenital Chagas disease do not interfere with responses to BCG, hepatitis B, diphtheria and tetanus vaccines in the neonatal period and that T. cruzi infection in early life tends to favour type 1 immune responses to vaccinal antigens.
PMCID: PMC2796860  PMID: 20041029
6.  A randomised controlled trial of the effects of albendazole in pregnancy on maternal responses to mycobacterial antigens and infant responses to bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) immunisation [ISRCTN32849447] 
Maternal schistosomiasis and filariasis have been shown to influence infant responses to neonatal bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) immunisation but the effects of maternal hookworm, and of de-worming in pregnancy, are unknown.
In Entebbe, Uganda, we conducted a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of a single dose of 400 mg of albendazole in the second trimester of pregnancy. Neonates received BCG. Interferon-gamma (IFN-γ) and interleukin (IL)-5 responses to a mycobacterial antigen (crude culture filtrate proteins (CFP) of Mycobacterium tuberculosis) were measured in a whole blood assay. We analysed results for binary variables using χ2 tests and logistic regression. We analysed continuous variables using Wilcoxon's tests.
Maternal hookworm was associated with reduced maternal IFN-γ responses to CFP (adjusted odds ratio for IFN-γ > median response: 0.14 (95% confidence interval 0.02–0.83, p = 0.021). Conversely, maternal hookworm was associated with subsequent increased IFN-γ responses in their one-year-old infants (adjusted OR 17.65 (1.20–258.66; p = 0.013)). Maternal albendazole tended to reduce these effects.
Untreated hookworm infection in pregnancy was associated with reduced maternal IFN-γ responses to mycobacterial antigens, but increased responses in their infants one year after BCG immunisation. The mechanisms of these effects, and their implications for protective immunity remain, to be determined.
PMCID: PMC1352364  PMID: 16371154
7.  Impact of Anthelminthic Treatment in Pregnancy and Childhood on Immunisations, Infections and Eczema in Childhood: A Randomised Controlled Trial 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(12):e50325.
Helminth infections may modulate immune responses to unrelated pathogens and allergens; these effects may commence prenatally. We addressed the hypothesis that anthelminthic treatment in pregnancy and early childhood would improve responses to immunisation and modulate disease incidence in early childhood with both beneficial and detrimental effects.
Methods and Findings
A randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial was conducted in Entebbe, Uganda [ISRCTN32849447]. In three independent randomisations, 2507 pregnant women were allocated to receive single-dose albendazole or placebo, and praziquantel or placebo; 2016 of their offspring were randomised to receive quarterly single-dose albendazole or placebo from age 15 months to 5 years. Primary outcomes were post-immunisation recall responses to BCG and tetanus antigens, and incidence of malaria, diarrhoea, and pneumonia; incidence of eczema was an important secondary outcome. Analysis was by intention-to-treat. Of 2345 live births, 1622 (69%) children remained in follow-up at age 5 years. 68% of mothers at enrolment, and 11% of five-year-olds, had helminth infections. Maternal hookworm and Schistosoma mansoni were effectively treated by albendazole and praziquantel, respectively; and childhood hookworm and Ascaris by quarterly albendazole. Incidence rates of malaria, diarrhoea, pneumonia, and eczema were 34, 65, 10 and 5 per 100 py, respectively. Albendazole during pregnancy caused an increased rate of eczema in the children (HR 1.58 (95% CI 1.15–2.17), p = 0.005). Quarterly albendazole during childhood was associated with reduced incidence of clinical malaria (HR 0.85 (95% CI 0.73–0.98), p = 0.03). There were no consistent effects of the interventions on any other outcome.
Routine use of albendazole in pregnancy may not always be beneficial, even in tropical developing countries. By contrast, regular albendazole treatment in preschool children may have an additional benefit for malaria control where helminths and malaria are co-endemic. Given the low helminth prevalence in our children, the effect of albendazole on malaria is likely to be direct.
Trial registration
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN32849447
PMCID: PMC3517620  PMID: 23236367
8.  Impact of conflict on infant immunisation coverage in Afghanistan: a countrywide study 2000–2003 
Infant immunisation is an effective public health intervention to reduce the morbidity and mortality of vaccine preventable diseases. However, some developing countries fail to achieve desirable vaccination coverage; Afghanistan is one such country. The present study was performed to evaluate the progress and variation in infant immunisation coverage by district and region in Afghanistan and to assess the impact of conflict and resource availability on immunisation coverage.
This study analysed reports of infant immunisation from 331 districts across 7 regions of Afghanistan between 2000 and 2003. Geographic information system (GIS) analysis was used to visualise the distribution of immunisation coverage in districts and to identify geographic inequalities in the process of improvement of infant immunisation coverage. The number of districts reporting immunisation coverage increased substantially during the four years of the study. Progress in Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) immunisation coverage was observed in all 7 regions, although satisfactory coverage of 80% remained unequally distributed. Progress in the third dose of Diphtheria-Pertussis-Tetanus (DPT3) immunisation differed among regions, in addition to the unequal distribution of immunisation coverage in 2000. The results of multivariate logistic regression analysis indicated a significant negative association between lack of security in the region and achievement of 80% coverage of immunisation regardless of available resources for immunisation, while resource availability showed no relation to immunisation coverage.
Although progress was observed in all 7 regions, geographic inequalities in these improvements remain a cause for concern. The results of the present study indicated that security within a country is an important factor for affecting the delivery of immunisation services.
PMCID: PMC1899486  PMID: 17555557
9.  Combined diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, and Haemophilus influenzae type b vaccines for primary immunisation. 
Archives of Disease in Childhood  1996;75(4):298-303.
A total of 146 infants were immunised at ages 2, 3, and 4 months with a combined diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis (DTP)--Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) tetanus toxoid conjugate (PRP-T) vaccine (Pasteur Merieux) to assess the antibody response and adverse events associated with immunisation. Adverse events, including fever, were recorded by parents in a diary for three days following each injection. Blood was taken before the first immunisation and four weeks after the third immunisation to assess antibody response. Data were compared with those from historical controls who had received DTP and PRP-T vaccines by separate injection. The combined vaccine was well tolerated. Rates of local and general reactions were similar to those reported for infants immunised by separate injection. All infants achieved protective antibody titres (> 0.01 IU/ml) for diphtheria and tetanus; 98% acquired Hib (PRP) antibody > 0.15 microgram/ml and 82.5% > 1.0 microgram/ml. Pertussis antibody titres (pertussis toxin, filamentous haemagglutinin, total agglutinins, and agglutinins 2 and 3) showed appreciable rise following immunisation. DTP and PRP-T vaccines provide similar antibody responses and adverse effects whether mixed in the same syringe or administered by separate injection. The vaccines could be combined for use in the United Kingdom primary immunisation schedule.
PMCID: PMC1511738  PMID: 8984914
10.  Acellular pertussis vaccine given by accelerated schedule: response of preterm infants 
Objective: To describe the immune response of preterm infants to a diphtheria/tetanus/three component acellular pertussis (DTaP) vaccine, under an accelerated schedule, and the effects of steroids on this response. To compare responses with those of term infants.
Design: Prospective observational study.
Setting: Five Wessex neonatal units; Hertfordshire immunisation clinics.
Patients: Infants born at < 32 weeks; term controls.
Interventions: DTaP-Haemophilus influenzae type b vaccine given at 2, 3, and 4 months. Blood taken to assess antibody responses to vaccines.
Main outcome measures: IgG geometric mean concentrations (GMC) to vaccines.
Results: A total of 130 preterm (mean gestational age 29.1 weeks) and 54 term infants were recruited. After the third immunisation, preterm infants had similar GMCs to controls to diphtheria, tetanus, filamentous haemagglutinin (FHA), and pertactin (PRN), but a significantly lower GMC to pertussis toxin (PT). Responses to tetanus and PRN increased with age at the third immunisation, and those to tetanus, FHA, PRN, and PT increased with gestational age at birth. Response to tetanus correlated negatively with the number of doses of antenatal steroids received. There was no association between responses and postnatal steroids.
Conclusion: When immunised with a combined acellular pertussis- H influenzae type b vaccine under an accelerated schedule, IgG GMC of preterm infants to PT was reduced. GMCs to tetanus, FHA, PRN, and PT increased with gestational age at birth, and GMCs to tetanus and PRN increased with age at the third immunisation. There is, however, no benefit in delaying immunisation. Anti-tetanus IgG decreased with increasing number of doses of antenatal steroids. There was no effect for postnatal steroids.
PMCID: PMC1721649  PMID: 14711858
11.  The impact of HIV exposure and maternal Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection on infant immune responses to bacille Calmette-Guérin vaccination 
AIDS (London, England)  2015;29(2):155-165.
The objective of this study is to assess the effect of maternal HIV and Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) infection on cellular responses to bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) immunization.
A mother–infant cohort study.
Samples were collected from mother–infant pairs at delivery. Infants were BCG-vaccinated at 6 weeks of age and a repeat blood sample was collected from infants at 16 weeks of age. BCG-specific T-cell proliferation and intracellular cytokine expression were measured by flow cytometry. Secreted cytokines and chemokines in cell culture supernatants were analysed using a Multiplex assay.
One hundred and nine (47 HIV-exposed and 62 HIV-unexposed) mother–infants pairs were recruited after delivery and followed longitudinally. At birth, proportions of mycobacteria-specific proliferating T cells were not associated with either in-utero HIV exposure or maternal Mtb sensitization. However, in-utero HIV exposure affected infant-specific T-cell subsets [tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α) single positive proliferating CD4+ T cells and interferon-gamma (IFN-γ), TNF-α dual-positive CD4+ T cells]. Levels of TNF-α protein in cell culture supernatants were also significantly higher in HIV-exposed infants born to Mtb-sensitized mothers. In the presence of maternal Mtb sensitization, frequencies of maternal and newborn BCG-specific proliferating CD4+ T cells were positively correlated. Following BCG vaccination, there was no demonstrable effect of HIV exposure or maternal Mtb infection on infant BCG-specific T-cell proliferative responses or concentrations of secreted cytokines and chemokines.
Effects of maternal HIV and Mtb infection on infant immune profiles at birth are transient only, and HIV-exposed, noninfected infants have the same potential to respond to and be protected by BCG vaccination as HIV-unexposed infants.
PMCID: PMC4284011  PMID: 25535752
bacille Calmette-Guérin; HIV infection; HIV-exposed; immunogenicity; Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection; uninfected infants; vaccination
12.  The Effect of Maternal Helminth Infection on Maternal and Neonatal Immune Function and Immunity to Tuberculosis 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e93429.
M. tuberculosis and helminth infection each affects one third of the world population. Helminth infections down regulate cell mediated immune responses and this may contribute to lower efficacy of BCG vaccination and higher prevalence of tuberculosis.
To determine the effect of maternal helminth infection on maternal and neonatal immune function and immunity to TB.
In this cross sectional study, eighty five pregnant women were screened for parasitic and latent TB infections using Kato-Katz and QFT-GIT tests, respectively. IFN-γ and IL-4 ELISpot on Cord blood Mononuclear Cells, and total IgE and TB specific IgG ELISA on cord blood plasma was performed to investigate the possible effect of maternal helminth and/or latent TB co-infection on maternal and neonatal immune function and immunity to TB.
The prevalence of helminth infections in pregnant women was 27% (n = 23), with Schistosoma mansoni the most common helminth species observed (20% of women were infected). Among the total of 85 study participants 25.8% were QFT-GIT positive and 17% had an indeterminate result. The mean total IgE value of cord blood was significantly higher in helminth positive than negative women (0.76 vs 0.47, p = 0.042). Cross placental transfer of TB specific IgG was significantly higher in helminth positive (21.9±7.9) than negative (12.3±5.1), p = 0.002) Latent TB Infection positive participants. The IFN-γ response of CBMCs to ESAT-6/CFP-10 cocktail (50 vs 116, p = 0.018) and PPD (58 vs 123, p = 0.02) was significantly lower in helminth positive than negative participants. There was no significant difference in IL-4 response of CBMCs between helminth negative and positive participants.
Maternal helminth infection had a significant association with the IFN-γ response of CBMCs, total IgE and cross placental transfer of TB specific IgG. Therefore, further studies should be conducted to determine the effect of these factors on neonatal immune response to BCG vaccination.
PMCID: PMC3977838  PMID: 24710174
13.  Safety and Immunogenicity of Tetanus Diphtheria and Acellular Pertussis (Tdap) Immunization During Pregnancy in Mothers and Infants: A Randomized Clinical Trial 
JAMA  2014;311(17):1760-1769.
Maternal immunization with tetanus toxoid and reduced diphtheria toxoid acellular pertussis (Tdap) vaccine could prevent infant pertussis. The effect of vaccine-induced maternal antibodies on infant responses to diphtheria and tetanus toxoids acellular pertussis (DTaP) immunization is unknown.
To evaluate the safety and immunogenicity of Tdap immunization during pregnancy and its effect on infant responses to DTaP.
Design, Setting and Participants
Phase I, randomized, double-masked, placebo-controlled clinical trial conducted in private (Houston) and academic (Durham, Seattle) obstetric practices from 2008 to 2012. Forty eight healthy 18–45 year-old pregnant women received Tdap (n=33) or placebo (n=15) at 30–32 weeks’ gestation with cross-over Tdap immunization postpartum.
Tdap vaccination at 30–32 weeks’ gestation or post-partum.
Outcome Measures
Primary: Maternal and infant adverse events, pertussis illness and infant growth and development (Bayley-III screening test) until 13 months of age. Secondary: Antibody concentrations in pregnant women before and 4 weeks after Tdap immunization or placebo, at delivery and 2 months postpartum, and in infants at birth, 2 months, and after the third (7 months) and fourth (13 months) doses of DTaP.
All participants delivered healthy newborns. No Tdap-associated serious adverse events occurred in women or infants. Injection site reactions after Tdap immunization were reported in 78.8% (95% CI: 61.1%, 91.0%) and 80% (CI: 51.9%, 95.7%) pregnant and postpartum women, respectively. Injection site pain was the predominant symptom. Systemic symptoms were reported in 36.4% (CI: 20.4%, 54.9%) and 73.3% (CI: 44.9%, 92.2%) pregnant and postpartum women, respectively. Malaise and myalgia were most common. Growth and development were similar in both infant groups. No cases of pertussis occurred. Significantly higher concentrations of pertussis antibodies were measured at delivery in women who received Tdap during pregnancy and in their infants at birth and at age 2 months when compared to infants of women immunized postpartum. Antibody responses in infants of Tdap recipients during pregnancy were modestly lower after 3 DTaP doses, but not different following the fourth dose.
Conclusions and Relevance
This preliminary safety assessment did not find an increased risk of adverse events among women who received Tdap vaccine at 30–32 weeks’ gestation or their infants. Maternal immunization with Tdap resulted in high concentrations of pertussis antibodies in infants during the first 2 months of life and did not substantially alter infant responses to DTaP. Further research is needed to provide definitive evidence of the safety and efficacy of Tdap vaccination during pregnancy.
Trial Registration, study identifier: NCT00707148. URL:
PMCID: PMC4333147  PMID: 24794369
Maternal immunization; Pertussis; infants; maternal antibodies; response to active immunization
14.  Pattern and determinants of BCG immunisation delays in a sub-Saharan African community 
Childhood immunisation is recognised worldwide as an essential component of health systems and an indispensable indicator of quality of care for vaccine-preventable diseases. While performance of immunisation programmes is more commonly measured by coverage, ensuring that every child is immunised at the earliest/appropriate age is an important public health goal. This study therefore set out to determine the pattern and predictors of Bacille de Calmette-Guérin (BCG) immunisation delays in the first three months of life in a Sub-Saharan African community where BCG is scheduled at birth in order to facilitate necessary changes in current policy and practices for improved services.
A cross-sectional study in which immunisation delays among infants aged 0-3 months attending community-based BCG clinics in Lagos, Nigeria over a 2-year period from July 2005 to June 2007 were assessed by survival analysis and associated factors determined by multivariable logistic regression. Population attributable risk (PAR) was computed for the predictors of delays.
BCG was delayed beyond three months in 31.6% of all eligible infants. Of 5171 infants enrolled, 3380 (65.4%) were immunised within two weeks and a further 1265 (24.5%) by six weeks. A significantly higher proportion of infants born in hospitals were vaccinated in the first six weeks compared to those born outside hospitals. Undernourishment was predictive of delays beyond 2 and 6 weeks while treated hyperbilirubinaemia was associated with decreased odds for any delays. Lack of antenatal care and multiple gestations were also predictive of delays beyond 6 weeks. Undernourishment was associated with the highest PAR for delays beyond 2 weeks (18.7%) and 6 weeks (20.8%).
BCG immunisation is associated with significant delays in this setting and infants at increased risk of delays can be identified and supported early possibly through improved maternal uptake of antenatal care. Combining BCG with subsequent immunisation(s) at 6 weeks for infants who missed the BCG may be considered.
PMCID: PMC2821326  PMID: 20157426
15.  Effect of a fourth Haemophilus influenzae type b immunisation in preterm infants who received dexamethasone for chronic lung disease 
Aim: To assess whether a fourth Hib polysaccharide-tetanus protein conjugate vaccine (PRP-T) would improve antibody response in preterm infants previously treated with dexamethasone for chronic lung disease.
Methods: In a pilot study 12 infants born at less than 30 weeks gestation who had received corticosteroids were given a supplementary Hib dose six weeks after completion of the primary immunisation course. Serum samples obtained before and at eight weeks following the fourth Hib dose were analysed for total level and avidity of anti-PRP antibody.
Results: There was no significant increase in the geometric mean titre (GMT) of anti-PRP antibody resulting from the fourth Hib immunisation (GMT: pre 2.35 µg/ml, post 2.24 µg/ml, p = 0.79). A subgroup of six infants had subprotective antibody levels (<1.0 µg/ml) after the primary immunisation course, which remained subprotective following the extra Hib immunisation. Despite the poor response in total antibody level, the study group showed a significant rise in PRP specific IgG avidity following the fourth immunisation (GMAI: pre 0.076, post 0.138, p = 0.043).
Conclusion: An additional Hib immunisation given to recently steroid treated preterm infants six weeks after completion of the primary schedule did not augment primary immunogenicity. However, increasing avidity may imply successful priming and long term immunity to Hib.
PMCID: PMC1755995  PMID: 12496229
16.  Integration of hepatitis B vaccination into rural African primary health care programmes. 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  1991;302(6772):313-316.
OBJECTIVE--To determine the efficacy of hepatitis B vaccine when added to the routine expanded programme on immunisation under field conditions in rural Africa. DESIGN--Infants were immunised according to two schedules--an early schedule at birth, 3 months, and 6 months and a later schedule to correspond with routine vaccination in the expanded programme on immunisation at 3 months, 4 1/2 months, and 6 months. SETTING--Venda, northern Transvaal, South Africa, a self governing region of 7460 square kilometers varying from rural villages to small towns. SUBJECTS--The 1989 birth cohort of Venda. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES--Coverage for hepatitis B vaccine at first, second, and third doses; serological assessment of vaccine efficacy by prevalence of antibodies to hepatitis B surface antigen in infants who had completed the three dose course of immunisation; antibodies to hepatitis B core antigen to determine if natural infection occurred. RESULTS--Vaccine coverage for hepatitis B dropped sharply from 99% to 53% to 39% for the first, second, and third dose respectively. In contrast, vaccine coverage was maintained at 97-99% for the three doses of poliomyelitis vaccine. Serological evaluation of vaccine efficacy showed that only 3.5% of recipients of all three doses failed to develop antibodies to hepatitis B surface antigen. Only 6.6% of vaccine recipients were vaccinated according to either the early or later schedules whereas 93.4% received their doses of vaccine at intervals beyond the limits of either of the planned schedules. There was, however, no significant difference in seroconversion to the surface antigen between the "unscheduled" or scheduled groups of those who were vaccinated according to the early or late schedules. The pattern of prevalence of antibodies to hepatitis B core antigen, which showed a sharp fall in children aged over 7 months, suggested that the antibodies were acquired passively rather than by active infection. CONCLUSIONS--Supplementation of the present expanded programme on immunisation with hepatitis B vaccine in rural Africa is fraught with difficulties. However, the vaccine was effective within a fairly wide spacing of dosage. Adding hepatitis B vaccine to diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis as a tetravalent vaccine is proposed as a means of effectively integrating it into the expanded programme on immunisation in Third World settings.
PMCID: PMC1668978  PMID: 1825799
17.  HIV-1 Drug Resistance Emergence among Breastfeeding Infants Born to HIV-Infected Mothers during a Single-Arm Trial of Triple-Antiretroviral Prophylaxis for Prevention of Mother-To-Child Transmission: A Secondary Analysis 
PLoS Medicine  2011;8(3):e1000430.
Analysis of a substudy of the Kisumu breastfeeding trial by Clement Zeh and colleagues reveals the emergence of HIV drug resistance in HIV-positive infants born to HIV-infected mothers treated with antiretroviral drugs.
Nevirapine and lamivudine given to mothers are transmitted to infants via breastfeeding in quantities sufficient to have biologic effects on the virus; this may lead to an increased risk of a breastfed infant's development of resistance to maternal antiretrovirals. The Kisumu Breastfeeding Study (KiBS), a single-arm open-label prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission (PMTCT) trial, assessed the safety and efficacy of zidovudine, lamivudine, and either nevirapine or nelfinavir given to HIV-infected women from 34 wk gestation through 6 mo of breastfeeding. Here, we present findings from a KiBS trial secondary analysis that evaluated the emergence of maternal ARV-associated resistance among 32 HIV-infected breastfed infants.
Methods and Findings
All infants in the cohort were tested for HIV infection using DNA PCR at multiple study visits during the 24 mo of the study, and plasma RNA viral load for all HIV-PCR–positive infants was evaluated retrospectively. Specimens from mothers and infants with viral load >1,000 copies/ml were tested for HIV drug resistance mutations. Overall, 32 infants were HIV infected by 24 mo of age, and of this group, 24 (75%) infants were HIV infected by 6 mo of age. Of the 24 infants infected by 6 mo, nine were born to mothers on a nelfinavir-based regimen, whereas the remaining 15 were born to mothers on a nevirapine-based regimen. All infants were also given single-dose nevirapine within 48 hours of birth. We detected genotypic resistance mutations in none of eight infants who were HIV-PCR positive by 2 wk of age (specimens from six infants were not amplifiable), for 30% (6/20) at 6 wk, 63% (14/22) positive at 14 wk, and 67% (16/24) at 6 mo post partum. Among the 16 infants with resistance mutations by 6 mo post partum, the common mutations were M184V and K103N, conferring resistance to lamivudine and nevirapine, respectively. Genotypic resistance was detected among 9/9 (100%) and 7/15 (47%) infected infants whose mothers were on nelfinavir and nevirapine, respectively. No mutations were detected among the eight infants infected after the breastfeeding period (age 6 mo).
Emergence of HIV drug resistance mutations in HIV-infected infants occurred between 2 wk and 6 mo post partum, most likely because of exposure to maternal ARV drugs through breast milk. Our findings may impact the choice of regimen for ARV treatment of HIV-infected breastfeeding mothers and their infected infants.
Trial Registration NCT00146380
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Globally, more than 2 million children are infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) that causes acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), and half a million children are newly infected every year. These infections are mainly the result of mother-to-child transmission (MTCT) of HIV during pregnancy, labor and delivery, or through breastfeeding. MTCT can be greatly reduced by treating HIV-positive mothers and their babies with antiretroviral drugs (ARVs). Without ARVs, up to half of babies born to HIV-positive mothers become infected with HIV. This rate of transmission falls to below 5% if a combination of three ARVs is given to the mother throughout pregnancy. Unfortunately, this triple-ARV therapy is too expensive for use in the resource-limited countries where most MTCT occurs. Instead, many such countries have introduced simpler, shorter ARV regimens such as a daily dose of zidovudine (a nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor or NRTI) given to HIV-positive women during late pregnancy coupled with single-dose nevirapine (a non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitor or NNRTI) at the onset of labor, zidovudine and lamivudine (another NRTI) during labor and delivery, and single-dose nevirapine given to the baby at birth.
Why Was This Study Done?
More than 95% of HIV-exposed children are born in resource-limited settings where breastfeeding is the norm and is crucial for child survival even though it poses a risk of HIV transmission. Consequently, several recent studies have investigated whether MTCT can be further reduced by giving the mother ARVs while she is breastfeeding. In the Kisumu Breastfeeding Study (KiBS), for example, researchers assessed the effects of giving zidovudine, lamivudine, and either nevirapine or nelfinavir (a protease inhibitor) to HIV-infected women from 34 weeks of pregnancy through 6 months of breastfeeding. The results of KiBS indicate that this approach might be a safe, feasible way to reduce MTCT (see the accompanying paper by Thomas and colleagues). However, low amounts of nevirapine and lamivudine are transferred from mother to infant in breast milk and this exposure to ARVs could induce the development of resistance to ARVs among HIV-infected infants. In this KiBS substudy, the researchers investigate whether HIV drug resistance emerged in any of the HIV-positive infants in the parent study.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
In KiBS, 32 infants were HIV-positive at 24 months old; 24 were HIV-positive at 6 months old when their mothers stopped taking ARVs and when breastfeeding was supposed to stop. The researchers analyzed blood samples taken from these infants at various ages and from their mothers for the presence of HIV drug resistance mutations (DNA changes that make HIV resistant to killing by ARVs). They detected no resistance mutations in samples taken from 2-week old HIV-positive infants or from the infants who became infected after the age of 6 months. However, they found resistance mutations in a third and two-thirds of samples taken from 6-week and 6-month old HIV-positive infants, respectively. The commonest mutations conferred resistance to lamivudine and nevirapine. Moreover, resistance mutations were present in samples taken from all the HIV-positive infants whose mothers who had received nelfinavir but in only half those taken from infants whose mothers who had received nevirapine. Finally, most of the mothers of HIV-positive infants had no HIV drug resistance mutations, and only one mother-infant pair had an overlapping pattern of HIV drug resistance mutations.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that, in this KiBS substudy, the emergence of HIV drug resistance mutations in HIV-infected infants whose mothers were receiving ARVs occurred between 2 weeks and 6 months after birth. The pattern of mutations suggests that drug resistance most likely arose through exposure of the infants to low levels of ARVs in breast milk rather than through MTCT of drug-resistant virus. These findings need confirming but suggest that infants exposed to ARVs through breast milk—a situation that may become increasingly common given the reduction in MTCT seen in KiBS and other similar trials—should be carefully monitored for HIV infection. Providers should consider the mothers' regimen when choosing treatment for infants who are found to be HIV-infected despite maternal triple drug prophylaxis. Infants exposed to a maternal regimen with NNRTI drugs should receive first-line therapy with lopinavir/ritonavir, a protease inhibitor. The significance of the NRTI mutations such as M184V with regard to response to therapy needs further evaluation. The M184V mutation may result in hypersensitization to other NRTI drugs and delay or reverse zidovudine resistance. Given the limited availability of alternative drugs for infants in resource-limited settings, provision of the standard WHO-recommended first-line NRTI backbone, which includes 3TC, with enhanced monitoring of the infant to ensure virologic suppression, could be considered. Such an approach should reduce both illness and morbidity among infants who become HIV positive through breastfeeding.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at 10.1371/journal.pmed.1000430.
The accompanying PLoS Medicine Research article by Thomas and colleagues describes the primary findings of the Kisumu Breastfeeding Study
Information is available from the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases on HIV infection and AIDS
HIV InSite has comprehensive information on HIV/AIDS
Information is available from Avert, an international AIDS charity, on many aspects of HIV/AIDS, including information on children, HIV, and AIDS and on preventing mother-to-child transmission of HIV (in English and Spanish)
UNICEF also has information about children and HIV and AIDS (in several languages)
The World Health organization has information on mother-to-child transmission of HIV (in several languages), and guidance on the use of ARVs for preventing MTCT
PMCID: PMC3066134  PMID: 21468304
18.  Evaluation of TLR Agonists as Potential Mucosal Adjuvants for HIV gp140 and Tetanus Toxoid in Mice 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(12):e50529.
In the present study we investigate the impact of a range of TLR ligands and chitosan as potential adjuvants for different routes of mucosal immunisation (sublingual (SL), intranasal (IN), intravaginal (IVag) and a parenteral route (subcutaneous (SC)) in the murine model. We assess their ability to enhance antibody responses to HIV-1 CN54gp140 (gp140) and Tetanus toxoid (TT) in systemic and vaginal compartments. A number of trends were observed by route of administration. For non-adjuvanted antigen, SC>SL>IN immunisation with respect to systemic IgG responses, where endpoint titres were greater for TT than for gp140. In general, co-administration with adjuvants increased specific IgG responses where IN = SC>SL, while in the vaginal compartment IN>SL>SC for specific IgA. In contrast, for systemic and mucosal IgA responses to antigen alone SL>IN = SC. A number of adjuvants increased specific systemic IgA responses where in general IN>SL>SC immunisation, while for mucosal responses IN = SL>SC. In contrast, direct intravaginal immunisation failed to induce any detectable systemic or mucosal responses to gp140 even in the presence of adjuvant. However, significant systemic IgG responses to TT were induced by intravaginal immunisation with or without adjuvant, and detectable mucosal responses IgG and IgA were observed when TT was administered with FSL-1 or Poly I∶C. Interestingly some TLRs displayed differential activity dependent upon the route of administration. MPLA (TLR4) suppressed systemic responses to SL immunisation while enhancing responses to IN or SC immunisation. CpG B enhanced SL and IN responses, while having little or no impact on SC immunisation. These data demonstrate important route, antigen and adjuvant effects that need to be considered in the design of mucosal vaccine strategies.
PMCID: PMC3521731  PMID: 23272062
19.  The impact of helminths on the response to immunization and on the incidence of infection and disease in childhood in Uganda: design of a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, factorial trial of deworming interventions delivered in pregnancy and early childhood [ISRCTN32849447] 
Helminths have profound effects on the immune response, allowing long-term survival of parasites with minimal damage to the host. Some of these effects "spill-over", altering responses to non-helminth antigens or allergens. It is suggested that this may lead to impaired responses to immunizations and infections, while conferring benefits against inflammatory responses in allergic and autoimmune disease. These effects might develop in utero, through exposure to maternal helminth infections, or through direct exposure in later life.
To determine the effects of helminths and their treatment in pregnancy and in young children on immunological and disease outcomes in childhood.
The trial has three randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled interventions at two times, in two people: a pregnant woman and her child. Pregnant women are randomized to albendazole or placebo and praziquantel or placebo. At age 15 months their children are randomized to three-monthly albendazole or placebo, to continue to age five years. The proposed designation for this sequence of interventions is a 2 X 2(x2) factorial design.
Children are immunized with BCG and against polio, Diphtheria, tetanus, Pertussis, Haemophilus, hepatitis B and measles. Primary immunological outcomes are responses to BCG antigens and tetanus toxoid in whole blood cytokine assays and antibody assays at one, three and five years of age. Primary disease outcomes are incidence of malaria, pneumonia, diarrhoea, tuberculosis, measles, vertical HIV transmission, and atopic disease episodes, measured at clinic visits and twice-monthly home visits. Effects on anaemia, growth and intellectual development are also assessed.
This trial, with a novel design comprising related interventions in pregnant women and their offspring, is the first to examine effects of helminths and their treatment in pregnancy and early childhood on immunological, infectious disease and allergic disease outcomes. The results will enhance understanding of both detrimental and beneficial effects of helminth infection and inform policy. Clinical Trials 2007; 4: 42–57.
PMCID: PMC2643383  PMID: 17327245
20.  Sulphasalazine inhibits human antigen‐specific immune responses in vivo 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  2006;66(4):481-485.
To study the effects of the antirheumatic drug sulphasalazine (SASP) on the immune system by analysing systemic and gut‐associated immune responses.
A total of 23 healthy volunteers were treated with either SASP or placebo for 5 weeks in a double‐blind fashion and immunised 2 weeks after the initiation of treatment. Specific immune responses were triggered by subcutaneous immunisation with tetanus toxoid and by peroral immunisation with inactivated influenza vaccine. The effects of treatment on specific immunity to tetanus and influenza were evaluated by enzyme‐linked immunospot assay quantifying the number of circulating specific and total antibody‐producing cells (spot‐forming cells (SFC)) at 6, 8 and 10 days after immunisation.
An immunosuppressive effect of SASP on systemic immune response was observed with a decrease in the total number of IgG‐SFC, IgG anti‐tetanus SFC and IgG anti‐tetanus antibody levels in serum. SASP also exerted an immunosuppressive effect on the mucosa‐associated immune system as seen from its down‐regulating effect on the total number of circulating IgA SFC.
These data show firstly that SASP exerts an immunosuppressive effect on defined immune responses to immunisation in vivo, and secondly that both mucosa‐associated and systemic immunity are affected by SASP treatment.
PMCID: PMC1856063  PMID: 16984937
21.  Ethnic differences in selective neonatal BCG immunisation: white British children miss out 
Thorax  2005;61(3):247-249.
Tuberculosis (TB) is a re‐emerging problem, especially in the larger cities of Western Europe. Selective neonatal BCG vaccination is recommended for infants at risk of TB in the UK. Neonatal BCG is safe and effective, with an overall protective value of 75%. This study aimed to assess BCG rates among at risk infants in Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan, South Wales in the year 2003.
A cohort of infants at risk for TB was identified from demographic data stored on a computerised maternity activity database. A manual search of immunisation records determined overall rates and the rates for infants belonging to various ethnic groups.
Results: Of 5308 infants born in 2003, 514 (9.6%) were at risk of TB; 423 (82.2%) of these infants were referred postnatally for BCG vaccination and 391 received it. Twenty six of the 41 at risk white British infants missed having a BCG vaccination compared with 47 of 288 Asian infants and seven of 39 black African babies. The rate of BCG vaccination among white British infants was 36.5% compared with 83.6% for Asian infants from the Indian subcontinent (χ2 = 7.25, p<0.01) and 82% for black African infants (χ2 = 4.48, p<0.05).
Conclusions: The overall BCG rate among at risk infants in Cardiff was 76% during the study period. The vaccination rate was poor among white British infants compared with other ethnic groups. Enhanced awareness of health professionals to recognise the need for vaccinating certain white children at risk of TB is essential to improve BCG coverage in an increasingly multiethnic population.
PMCID: PMC2080732  PMID: 16384882
tuberculosis; infants; BCG vaccination; ethnicity
22.  Effect of vaccination of cattle with the low virulence Nc-Spain 1H isolate of Neospora caninum against a heterologous challenge in early and mid-gestation 
Veterinary Research  2013;44(1):106.
Live vaccines have emerged as one of the most potentially cost-effective measures for the control of bovine neosporosis. Previous studies have shown that Nc-Spain 1H is a naturally attenuated isolate of Neospora caninum and that immunisation with live Nc-Spain 1H tachyzoites generated a protective immune response in mice. The aim of this study was to evaluate the safety and efficacy of immunisation in cattle. N. caninum-seronegative heifers were immunised subcutaneously twice with 107 live Nc-Spain 1H tachyzoites prior to artificial insemination. No adverse reactions or negative effects on reproductive parameters were recorded following immunisation. In immunised and non-challenged heifers, no foetal deaths were observed, and none of the calves was congenitally infected. The efficacy against N. caninum-associated foetal death and vertical transmission was determined after challenge with high doses of the Nc-1 isolate at 70 and 135 days of gestation, respectively. After the challenge in early gestation, the immunisation induced a protection of 50% against foetal death. In addition, the microsatellite analysis performed in PCR-positive tissue samples from foetuses that died after challenge infection showed that the profiles corresponded to the challenge isolate Nc-1. A degree of protection against vertical transmission was observed after challenge at mid-gestation; calves from immunised heifers showed significantly lower pre-colostral Neospora-specific antibody titres than calves from the non-immunised/challenge group (P < 0.05). Strong antibody and interferon gamma responses were induced in the immunised heifers. This study indicates that the immunisation before pregnancy with the Nc-Spain 1H vaccine isolate appeared to be safe and reduced the occurrence of N. caninum-associated abortion and vertical transmission in experimentally infected cattle. In light of these encouraging results, the next step for testing this live attenuated candidate should be the assessment of its efficacy and safety in naturally infected cattle.
PMCID: PMC4176088  PMID: 24180373
23.  Neonatal BCG vaccination is associated with enhanced T-helper 1 immune responses to heterologous infant vaccines 
Trials in vaccinology  2014;3:1-5.
Neonatal Bacille Calmette Guérin (BCG) vaccination has been reported to have beneficial effects beyond preventing infantile tuberculous meningitis and miliary disease. We hypothesized that BCG vaccine given at birth would enhance T-helper 1 (Th1) immune responses to the first vaccines given later in infancy. We conducted a nested case-control study of neonatal BCG vaccination and its heterologous Th1 immune effects in 2–3 months old infants. BCG vaccination at birth was associated with an increased frequency of interferon-γ (IFN-γ) producing spot-forming cells (SFC) to tetanus toxoid 2–3 months later. The frequency of IFN-γ producing SFC to polioviruses 1–3 also trended higher among infants who received BCG vaccination at birth. The frequency of IFN-γ+/tumor necrosis factor-α (TNF-α)+CD45RO+CD4+ T-cells upon stimulation with phorbol myristate acetate (PMA)/Ionomycin was higher in 2–3 months old infants who received BCG vaccination at birth compared to those who did not. The circulating frequency of forkhead box P3 (FoxP3)+ CD45RO+ regulatory CD4+ T-cells also trended lower in these infants. Neonatal BCG vaccination is associated with heterologous Th1 immune effects 2–3 months later.
PMCID: PMC3943168  PMID: 24611083
BCG; Vaccines; T-cell; Th1; Neonate; Infant
24.  Maternal Supplementation with LGG Reduces Vaccine-Specific Immune Responses in Infants at High-Risk of Developing Allergic Disease 
Probiotics are defined as live micro-organisms that when administered in adequate amounts confer a health benefit on the host. Among their pleiotropic effects, inhibition of pathogen colonization at the mucosal surface as well as modulation of immune responses are widely recognized as the principal biological activities of probiotic bacteria. In recent times, the immune effects of probiotics have led to their application as vaccine adjuvants, offering a novel strategy for enhancing the efficacy of current vaccines. Such an approach is particularly relevant in regions where infectious disease burden is greatest and where access to complete vaccination programs is limited. In this study, we report the effects of the probiotic, Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG (LGG) on immune responses to tetanus, Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) and pneumococcal conjugate (PCV7) vaccines in infants. This study was conducted as part of a larger clinical trial assessing the impact of maternal LGG supplementation in preventing the development of atopic eczema in infants at high-risk for developing allergic disease. Maternal LGG supplementation was associated with reduced antibody responses against tetanus, Hib, and pneumococcal serotypes contained in PCV7 (N = 31) compared to placebo treatment (N = 30) but not total IgG levels. Maternal LGG supplementation was also associated with a trend to increased number of tetanus toxoid-specific T regulatory in the peripheral blood compared to placebo-treated infants. These findings suggest that maternal LGG supplementation may not be beneficial in terms of improving vaccine-specific immunity in infants. Further clinical studies are needed to confirm these findings. As probiotic immune effects can be species/strain specific, our findings do not exclude the potential use of other probiotic bacteria to modulate infant immune responses to vaccines.
PMCID: PMC3840393  PMID: 24324465
vaccine; LGG; probiotic; pneumococcal; Treg; immune modulation
25.  An Autopsy Study of Maternal Mortality in Mozambique: The Contribution of Infectious Diseases 
PLoS Medicine  2008;5(2):e44.
Maternal mortality is a major health problem concentrated in resource-poor regions. Accurate data on its causes using rigorous methods is lacking, but is essential to guide policy-makers and health professionals to reduce this intolerable burden. The aim of this study was to accurately describe the causes of maternal death in order to contribute to its reduction, in one of the regions of the world with the highest maternal mortality ratios.
Methods and Findings
We conducted a prospective study between October 2002 and December 2004 on the causes of maternal death in a tertiary-level referral hospital in Maputo, Mozambique, using complete autopsies with histological examination. HIV detection was done by virologic and serologic tests, and malaria was diagnosed by histological and parasitological examination. During 26 mo there were 179 maternal deaths, of which 139 (77.6%) had a complete autopsy and formed the basis of this analysis. Of those with test results, 65 women (52.8%) were HIV-positive. Obstetric complications accounted for 38.2% of deaths; haemorrhage was the most frequent cause (16.6%). Nonobstetric conditions accounted for 56.1% of deaths; HIV/AIDS, pyogenic bronchopneumonia, severe malaria, and pyogenic meningitis were the most common causes (12.9%, 12.2%, 10.1% and 7.2% respectively). Mycobacterial infection was found in 12 (8.6%) maternal deaths.
In this tertiary hospital in Mozambique, infectious diseases accounted for at least half of all maternal deaths, even though effective treatment is available for the four leading causes, HIV/AIDS, pyogenic bronchopneumonia, severe malaria, and pyogenic meningitis. These observations highlight the need to implement effective and available prevention tools, such as intermittent preventive treatment and insecticide-treated bed-nets for malaria, antiretroviral drugs for HIV/AIDS, or vaccines and effective antibiotics for pneumococcal and meningococcal diseases. Deaths due to obstetric causes represent a failure of health-care systems and require urgent improvement.
Clara Menendez and colleagues analyze 139 complete autopsies following maternal deaths in Maputo, Mozambique and find a predominance of infectious and preventable causes.
Editors' Summary
Every year, half a million women—many of them living in developing countries—die during pregnancy or childbirth or within a few weeks of delivery. (The term “maternal deaths” is used to designate such deaths.) For women living in sub-Saharan Africa, the situation is particularly grim. Half of all maternal deaths occur in this region. The maternal mortality ratio (MMR)—the number of maternal deaths per 100,000 live births—in sub-Saharan Africa is nearly 1,000; in industrialized countries it is 8. The lifetime risk of maternal death in sub-Saharan Africa is 1 in 22; in industrialized countries it is 1 in 8,000. Faced with the magnitude of the global maternal death toll, in September 2000 the United Nations pledged, as its fifth Millennium Development Goal, that the global MMR would be reduced to a quarter of its 1990 level by 2015. Currently, it seems unlikely that this target will be met. Between 1990 and 2005 global maternal deaths decreased by only 1% per annum. In sub-Saharan Africa the annual reduction was even less—0.1% per annum.
Why Was This Study Done?
One reason for this slow progress is that public-health professionals in developing countries rarely have accurate data about the causes of maternal death, information that they need to guide their efforts to reduce these deaths. A detailed examination of the body after death (a medical autopsy) is the only sure way to ascertain the causes of maternal death, but in most developing countries, clinical records and verbal autopsies (asking relatives about the circumstances of the mother's death) are the main sources of these data and neither source is optimally accurate. The currently available information indicates that birth (obstetric) complications are the most frequent causes of maternal death in developing countries, in particular, hemorrhage (uncontrollable bleeding) after the baby is born. However, little is known about the impact of the HIV/AIDS epidemic (which is worst in Sub-Saharan Africa), malaria, or other infectious diseases on maternal deaths. In this study, the researchers use complete autopsies to determine the causes of maternal death in the Maputo Central Hospital, Mozambique, a tertiary-level hospital to which women with high-risk pregnancies are referred for specialized care.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
Between October 2002 and December 2004, there were 179 maternal deaths in the Maputo Central Hospital and 31,135 live births, corresponding to a ratio of 874 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births. (Because the hospital was a referral center, this ratio would not be expected to reflect the actual MMR for the general population of the Maputo area.) Complete autopsies were done on 139 of the women, HIV infection was measured using standard tests, and malaria was diagnosed by looking for parasites and malaria-associated changes in postmortem samples. Of these 139 women, just over one-third died because of obstetric complications; hemorrhage was the most common cause of death (one in six maternal deaths). The commonest nonobstetric causes of maternal death were HIV/AIDS- related conditions, including infections and cancers (about 1 in 8 maternal deaths; about half the women in the study were HIV positive). Other common causes were pyogenic (pus-forming) bacterial infections of the lungs and brain, and malaria. Together, these infectious diseases accounted for nearly half of the maternal deaths.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that infectious diseases account for a large proportion of maternal deaths at Maputo Central Hospital and identify which obstetric complications are responsible for most maternal deaths in this setting. They may not, however, accurately reflect the causes of maternal death elsewhere in Mozambique. For example, maternal deaths from some obstetric complications may be over-represented in this study because women at risk of these complications would have been referred to this hospital. Conversely, the proportion of women dying from hemorrhage may be higher in the community because this complication usually happens shortly after birth, leaving little time for women to reach a hospital for treatment. Nevertheless, these findings suggest that the implementation of effective measures to prevent and treat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and infections with pyogenic bacteria, together with improvements in health services for obstetric complications, should greatly reduce the maternal death toll in Mozambique and perhaps in other countries in sub-Saharan Africa.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at
UNICEF (the United Nations Children's Fund) provides information on maternal mortality including the WHO/UNICEF/UNFPA/The World Bank) estimates of maternal mortality for 2005 by country, and an article on maternal mortality in the Cabo Delgado province of Mozambique
More information on the WHO/UNICEF/UNFPA/The World Bank estimates of maternal mortality in 2005
The UK Department for International Development provides information about Millenium Development Goal 5: the improvement of maternal health
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a page on pregnancy-related deaths (in English and Spanish)
The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health provides information on maternal deaths (in English, Spanish, French, Russian, Arabic, and Chinese)
The United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) focuses on improving conditions for women worldwide, especially those in poverty
PMCID: PMC2245982  PMID: 18288887

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