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1.  Patient Adherence to Tuberculosis Treatment: A Systematic Review of Qualitative Research 
PLoS Medicine  2007;4(7):e238.
Background
Tuberculosis (TB) is a major contributor to the global burden of disease and has received considerable attention in recent years, particularly in low- and middle-income countries where it is closely associated with HIV/AIDS. Poor adherence to treatment is common despite various interventions aimed at improving treatment completion. Lack of a comprehensive and holistic understanding of barriers to and facilitators of, treatment adherence is currently a major obstacle to finding effective solutions. The aim of this systematic review of qualitative studies was to understand the factors considered important by patients, caregivers and health care providers in contributing to TB medication adherence.
Methods and Findings
We searched 19 electronic databases (1966–February 2005) for qualitative studies on patients', caregivers', or health care providers' perceptions of adherence to preventive or curative TB treatment with the free text terms “Tuberculosis AND (adherence OR compliance OR concordance)”. We supplemented our search with citation searches and by consulting experts. For included studies, study quality was assessed using a predetermined checklist and data were extracted independently onto a standard form. We then followed Noblit and Hare's method of meta-ethnography to synthesize the findings, using both reciprocal translation and line-of-argument synthesis. We screened 7,814 citations and selected 44 articles that met the prespecified inclusion criteria. The synthesis offers an overview of qualitative evidence derived from these multiple international studies. We identified eight major themes across the studies: organisation of treatment and care; interpretations of illness and wellness; the financial burden of treatment; knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs about treatment; law and immigration; personal characteristics and adherence behaviour; side effects; and family, community, and household support. Our interpretation of the themes across all studies produced a line-of-argument synthesis describing how four major factors interact to affect adherence to TB treatment: structural factors, including poverty and gender discrimination; the social context; health service factors; and personal factors. The findings of this study are limited by the quality and foci of the included studies.
Conclusions
Adherence to the long course of TB treatment is a complex, dynamic phenomenon with a wide range of factors impacting on treatment-taking behaviour. Patients' adherence to their medication regimens was influenced by the interaction of a number of these factors. The findings of our review could help inform the development of patient-centred interventions and of interventions to address structural barriers to treatment adherence.
From a systematic review of qualitative research, Munro and coauthors found that a range of interacting factors can lead to patients deciding not to complete their course of tuberculosis treatment.
Editors' Summary
Background.
Every year nearly nine million people develop tuberculosis—a contagious infection, usually of the lungs—and about two million people die from the disease. Tuberculosis is caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis, bacteria that are spread in airborne droplets when people with active tuberculosis sneeze or cough. Tuberculosis can be cured by taking several strong antibiotics daily for at least six months but many patients fail to complete this treatment because the drugs have unpleasant side-effects and the treatment is complicated. In addition, people often feel better soon after starting treatment so they stop taking their tablets before all the bacteria in their body are dead. Poor treatment adherence (poor compliance) means that people remain infectious for longer and are more likely to relapse and die. It also contributes to the emergence of drug-resistant tuberculosis. To help people complete their treatment, the World Health Organization recommends a strategy known as DOTS (directly observed treatment, short course). As part of this strategy, a health worker or a tuberculosis treatment supporter—a person nominated by the health worker and the patient—watches the patient take his/her antibiotics.
Why Was This Study Done?
Although DOTS has contributed to improved tuberculosis control, better patient compliance is needed to halt the global tuberculosis epidemic. Treatment adherence is a complex behavioral issue and improving treatment outcomes for tuberculosis (and for other diseases) requires a full understanding of the factors that prevent people taking medicines correctly and those that help them complete their treatment. In this study, the researchers have done a systematic review (a study in which the medical literature is surveyed and appraised using defined methods to reach a consensus view on a specific question) of qualitative studies that asked patients, carers, and health workers which factors contributed to adherence to tuberculosis treatment. Qualitative studies collect non-quantitative data so, for example, a qualitative study on tuberculosis treatment might ask people how the treatment made them feel whereas a quantitative study might count bacteria in patient samples.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers searched electronic databases and reference lists for qualitative studies on adherence to tuberculosis treatments and also consulted experts on tuberculosis treatment. They carefully read the 44 published papers that met their predefined inclusion criteria and then used a method called “meta-ethnography” to compare the factors (themes) associated with good or bad adherence in the different studies and to synthesize (reach) a consensus view of which factors influence adherence to tuberculosis treatment. The researchers identified eight major factors associated with adherence to treatment. These included: health service factors such as the organization of treatment and care; social context (family, community and household influences); and the financial burden of treatment. Finally, the researchers interpreted the themes that emerged from the studies to build a simple model that proposes that adherence to tuberculosis treatment is influenced by four interacting sets of factors—structural factors (including poverty and gender discrimination), social context factors, health service factors, and personal factors (including attitudes towards treatment and illness).
What Do These Findings Mean?
The findings of this systematic review of qualitative research on patient adherence to tuberculosis treatment are inevitably limited by the quality and scope of the original research. Consequently, further studies into patients' understanding of tuberculosis and its treatment are needed. Nevertheless, the findings and the model proposed by the researchers indicate that patients often take their tuberculosis medications under very difficult conditions and that they cannot control many of the factors that prevent them taking their drugs. So, although current efforts to improve adherence to tuberculosis treatments emphasize instilling a willingness to take their medications into patients, this systematic review suggests that more must be done to address how factors such as poverty and gender affect treatment adherence and to tailor support systems to patients' needs. Most importantly, it indicates that future interventions should involve patients more in the decisions made about their treatment.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0040238.
MedlinePlus has an encyclopedia page on tuberculosis (in English and Spanish)
See the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease fact sheet on tuberculosis
US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provide a variety of fact sheets and other information resources on tuberculosis
World Health Organization has produced the 2007 Global Tuberculosis Control report (in English with key findings in French and Spanish), information on DOTS (in English, Spanish, French, Russian, Arabic and Chinese), and A Guide for Tuberculosis Treatment Supporters
See the brief guide to systematic reviews, published by the British Medical Journal
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0040238
PMCID: PMC1925126  PMID: 17676945
2.  The Prevalence and Drug Sensitivity of Tuberculosis among Patients Dying in Hospital in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa: A Postmortem Study 
PLoS Medicine  2010;7(6):e1000296.
A postmortem study by Ted Cohen and colleagues reveals a huge toll of tuberculosis among patients dying in hospitals in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.
Background
Tuberculosis is the leading cause of death in South Africa by death notification, but accurate diagnosis of tuberculosis is challenging in this setting of high HIV prevalence. We conducted limited autopsies on young adults dying in a single public hospital in the province of KwaZulu-Natal between October 2008 and August 2009 in order to estimate the magnitude of deaths attributable to tuberculosis.
Methods and Findings
We studied a representative sample of 240 adult inpatients (aged 20–45 years) dying after admission to Edendale Hospital. Limited autopsies included collection of respiratory tract secretions and tissue by needle core biopsies of lung, liver, and spleen. Specimens were examined by fluorescent microscopy for acid-fast bacilli and cultured in liquid media; cultures positive for M. tuberculosis were tested for drug susceptibility to first- and second-line antibiotics. Ninety-four percent of our study cohort was HIV seropositive and 50% of decedents had culture-positive tuberculosis at the time of death. Fifty percent of the participants were on treatment for tuberculosis at the time of death and 58% of these treated individuals remained culture positive at the time of death. Of the 50% not receiving tuberculosis treatment, 42% were culture positive. Seventeen percent of all positive cultures were resistant to both isoniazid and rifampin (i.e., multidrug resistant); 16% of patients dying during the initiation phase of their first ever course of tuberculosis treatment were infected with multidrug-resistant bacilli.
Conclusions
Our findings reveal the immense toll of tuberculosis among HIV-positive individuals in KwaZulu-Natal. The majority of decedents who remained culture positive despite receiving tuberculosis treatment were infected with pan-susceptible M. tuberculosis, suggesting that the diagnosis of tuberculosis was made too late to alter the fatal course of the infection. There is also a significant burden of undetected multidrug-resistant tuberculosis among HIV-coinfected individuals dying in this setting. New public health approaches that improve early diagnosis of tuberculosis and accelerate the initiation of treatment are urgently needed in this setting.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Every year, nearly 10 million people develop tuberculosis—a contagious bacterial infection that affects the lungs and other parts of the body—and nearly two million people die from the disease. Tuberculosis is caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis, which spreads in airborne droplets when people with the disease cough or sneeze. Its characteristic symptoms are a persistent cough, weight loss, and night sweats. Diagnostic tests for tuberculosis include the microscopic examination of sputum samples (mucus brought up from the lungs by coughing) for M. tuberculosis bacilli, and mycobacterial culture (in which bacteriologists try to grow M. tuberculosis from sputum or tissue samples). Although tuberculosis can be cured by taking several powerful antibiotics regularly for at least 6 months, global efforts to control tuberculosis are being thwarted by the emergence of strains of M. tuberculosis that are resistant to several antibiotics (multidrug and extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis) and by the HIV epidemic; people who are infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, are particularly susceptible to tuberculosis because of their weakened immune system.
Why Was This Study Done?
In the past few years, tuberculosis has become the leading recorded cause of death in South Africa, a country where nearly a fifth of adults are infected with HIV. There are 122,000 recorded deaths from tuberculosis (including 94,000 deaths in HIV-positive people) in South Africa every year. However, because the accurate diagnosis of tuberculosis in HIV-positive people can be difficult—they are more likely to have sputum-negative tuberculosis than HIV-negative individuals—the true number of people dying because of tuberculosis is likely to be higher than the recorded number. Public-health experts in South Africa need an accurate picture of the tuberculosis deaths to help them improve tuberculosis control. In this postmortem study, the researchers determine the prevalence (the proportion of a population that has a disease) and drug sensitivity of tuberculosis among patients dying in a public hospital in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, to get a better estimate of how many people die because of tuberculosis in this setting.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers collected respiratory tract secretions and lung, liver, and spleen samples from 240 adults who died in the Edendale public hospital in KwaZulu-Natal over a 10-month period in 2008/9. They looked for M. tuberculosis bacilli in the samples, tried to culture M. tuberculosis from them, and tested any bacteria that grew for antibiotic sensitivity. They also collected information on current tuberculosis treatment status, previous tuberculosis treatment, and HIV status for each deceased patient (decedent) from medical records and from relatives. Ninety-four percent of the decedents were HIV positive and 50% had culture-positive tuberculosis at the time of death. Of the 50% of the decedents who were being treated for tuberculosis, 58% were culture positive at the time of death. A similar percentage (42%) of the decedents who were not being treated for tuberculosis were culture positive at the time of death. Seventeen percent of all the positive cultures were multidrug resistant and 16% of patients dying during their first course of tuberculosis treatment were infected with multidrug-resistant bacteria. Seventy percent of decedents who remained culture positive despite receiving tuberculosis treatment were infected with M. tuberculosis strains that were susceptible to all antibiotics.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings reveal the immense toll of tuberculosis among HIV-infected individuals in this hospital in KwaZulu-Natal. They show that many patients being treated for tuberculosis were culture positive at death despite being infected with antibiotic-sensitive M. tuberculosis, which suggests that diagnoses of tuberculosis are often made too late to alter the fatal course of infection. These findings also suggest that multidrug-resistant tuberculosis often goes undetected among HIV-infected individuals. Further studies are needed to confirm these findings elsewhere in South Africa and in other countries with a high HIV prevalence. Nevertheless, they suggest that public-health initiatives that improve the early diagnosis of tuberculosis, that introduce routine screening for tuberculosis among HIV-positive patients, and that accelerate the initiation of treatment for both tuberculosis and HIV might reduce the global death toll from tuberculosis.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000296.
The World Health Organization provides information on all aspects of tuberculosis, including information on tuberculosis and HIV, on tuberculosis in South Africa, and on the Stop TB Partnership (some information is in several languages)
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has information about tuberculosis and on tuberculosis and HIV coinfection
The US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases also has detailed information on all aspects of tuberculosis
Information is available from Avert, an international AIDS charity, on tuberculosis and HIV
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000296
PMCID: PMC2889914  PMID: 20582324
3.  Whole Genome Sequencing versus Traditional Genotyping for Investigation of a Mycobacterium tuberculosis Outbreak: A Longitudinal Molecular Epidemiological Study 
PLoS Medicine  2013;10(2):e1001387.
In an outbreak investigation of Mycobacterium tuberculosis comparing whole genome sequencing (WGS) with traditional genotyping, Stefan Niemann and colleagues found that classical genotyping falsely clustered some strains, and WGS better reflected contact tracing.
Background
Understanding Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) transmission is essential to guide efficient tuberculosis control strategies. Traditional strain typing lacks sufficient discriminatory power to resolve large outbreaks. Here, we tested the potential of using next generation genome sequencing for identification of outbreak-related transmission chains.
Methods and Findings
During long-term (1997 to 2010) prospective population-based molecular epidemiological surveillance comprising a total of 2,301 patients, we identified a large outbreak caused by an Mtb strain of the Haarlem lineage. The main performance outcome measure of whole genome sequencing (WGS) analyses was the degree of correlation of the WGS analyses with contact tracing data and the spatio-temporal distribution of the outbreak cases. WGS analyses of the 86 isolates revealed 85 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), subdividing the outbreak into seven genome clusters (two to 24 isolates each), plus 36 unique SNP profiles. WGS results showed that the first outbreak isolates detected in 1997 were falsely clustered by classical genotyping. In 1998, one clone (termed “Hamburg clone”) started expanding, apparently independently from differences in the social environment of early cases. Genome-based clustering patterns were in better accordance with contact tracing data and the geographical distribution of the cases than clustering patterns based on classical genotyping. A maximum of three SNPs were identified in eight confirmed human-to-human transmission chains, involving 31 patients. We estimated the Mtb genome evolutionary rate at 0.4 mutations per genome per year. This rate suggests that Mtb grows in its natural host with a doubling time of approximately 22 h (400 generations per year). Based on the genome variation discovered, emergence of the Hamburg clone was dated back to a period between 1993 and 1997, hence shortly before the discovery of the outbreak through epidemiological surveillance.
Conclusions
Our findings suggest that WGS is superior to conventional genotyping for Mtb pathogen tracing and investigating micro-epidemics. WGS provides a measure of Mtb genome evolution over time in its natural host context.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Tuberculosis—a contagious bacterial disease that usually infects the lungs—is a major public health problem, particularly in low- and middle-income countries. In 2011, an estimated 8.7 million people developed tuberculosis globally, and 1.4 million people died from the disease. Tuberculosis is second only to HIV/AIDS in terms of global deaths from a single infectious agent. Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacterium that causes tuberculosis, is readily spread in airborne droplets when people with active disease cough or sneeze. The characteristic symptoms of tuberculosis include persistent cough, weight loss, fever, and night sweats. Diagnostic tests for the disease include sputum smear analysis (examination of mucus coughed up from the lungs for the presence of M. tuberculosis), mycobacterial culture (growth of M. tuberculosis from sputum), and chest X-rays. Tuberculosis can be cured by taking several antibiotics daily for at least six months, although the recent emergence of multidrug-resistant M. tuberculosis is making tuberculosis harder to treat.
Why Was This Study Done?
Although efforts to reduce the global burden of tuberculosis are showing some improvements, the annual decline in the number of people developing tuberculosis continues to be slow. To develop optimized control strategies, experts need to be able to accurately track M. tuberculosis transmission within human populations. Because M. tuberculosis, like all bacteria, accumulates genetic changes over time, there are many different strains (genetic variants) of M. tuberculosis. Genotyping methods have been developed that identify different bacterial strains by examining specific regions of the bacterial genome (blueprint), but because these methods examine only a small part of the genome, they may not distinguish between related transmission chains. That is, traditional strain genotyping methods may not be able to determine accurately where a tuberculosis outbreak started or how it spread through a population. In this longitudinal cohort study, the researchers compare the ability of whole genome sequencing (WGS), which is rapidly becoming widely available, and traditional genotyping to provide information about a recent German tuberculosis outbreak. In a longitudinal cohort study, a population is followed over time to analyze the occurrence of a specific disease.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
During long-term (1997–2010) population-based molecular epidemiological surveillance (disease surveillance that uses molecular techniques rather than reports of illness) in Hamburg and Schleswig-Holstein, the researchers identified a large tuberculosis outbreak caused by M. tuberculosis isolates of the Haarlem lineage using classical strain typing. The researchers examined each of the 86 isolates from this outbreak using WGS and classical genotyping and asked whether the results of these two approaches correlated with contact tracing data (information is routinely collected about the people a patient with tuberculosis has recently met so that these contacts can be tested for tuberculosis and treated if necessary) and with the spatio-temporal distribution of outbreak cases. WGS of the isolates identified 85 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs; genomic sequence variants in which single building blocks, or nucleotides, are altered) that subdivided the outbreak into seven clusters of isolates and 36 unique isolates. The WGS results showed that the first isolates of the outbreak were incorrectly clustered by classical genotyping and that one strain—the “Hamburg clone”—started expanding in 1998. Notably, the genome-based clustering patterns were in better accordance with contact tracing data and with the geographical distribution of cases than clustering patterns based on classical genotyping, and they identified eight confirmed human-to-human transmission chains that involved 31 patients and a maximum of three SNPs. Finally, the researchers used their WGS results to estimate that the Hamburg clone emerged between 1993 and 1997, shortly before the discovery of the tuberculosis outbreak through epidemiological surveillance.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that WGS can be used to identify specific strains within large tuberculosis outbreaks more accurately than classical genotyping. They also provide new information about the evolution of M. tuberculosis during outbreaks and indicate how WGS data should be interpreted in future genome-based molecular epidemiology studies. WGS has the potential to improve the molecular epidemiological surveillance and control of tuberculosis and of other infectious diseases. Importantly, note the researchers, ongoing reductions in the cost of WGS, the increased availability of “bench top” genome sequencers, and bioinformatics developments should all accelerate the implementation of WGS as a standard method for the identification of transmission chains in infectious disease outbreaks.
Additional Information
Please access these websites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001387.
The World Health Organization provides information (in several languages) on all aspects of tuberculosis, including the Global Tuberculosis Report 2012
The Stop TB Partnership is working towards tuberculosis elimination; patient stories about tuberculosis are available (in English and Spanish)
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has information about tuberculosis, including information on tuberculosis genotyping (some information in English and Spanish)
The US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases also has detailed information on all aspects of tuberculosis
The Tuberculosis Survival Project, which aims to raise awareness of tuberculosis and provide support for people with tuberculosis, provides personal stories about treatment for tuberculosis; the Tuberculosis Vaccine Initiative also provides personal stories about dealing with tuberculosis
MedlinePlus has links to further information about tuberculosis (in English and Spanish)
Wikipedia has a page on whole-genome sequencing (note: Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia that anyone can edit; available in several languages)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001387
PMCID: PMC3570532  PMID: 23424287
4.  Longitudinal Assessment of an ELISPOT Test for Mycobacterium tuberculosis Infection 
PLoS Medicine  2007;4(6):e192.
Background
Very little longitudinal information is available regarding the performance of T cell-based tests for Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection. To address this deficiency, we conducted a longitudinal assessment of the enzyme-linked immunosorbent spot test (ELISPOT) test in comparison to the standard tuberculin skin test (TST).
Methods and Findings
In tuberculosis (TB) contacts we repeated ELISPOT tests 3 mo (n = 341) and 18 mo (n = 210) after recruitment and TSTs at 18 mo (n = 130). We evaluated factors for association with conversion and reversion and investigated suspected cases of TB. Of 207 ELISPOT-negative contacts, 51 (24.6%) had 3-mo ELISPOT conversion, which was associated with a positive recruitment TST (odds ratio [OR] 2.2, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.0–5.0, p = 0.048) and negatively associated with bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccination (OR 0.5, 95% CI 0.2–1.0, p = 0.06). Of 134 contacts, 54 (40.2%) underwent 3-mo ELISPOT reversion, which was less likely in those with a positive recruitment TST (OR 0.3, 95% CI 0.1–0.8, p = 0.014). Between 3 and 18 mo, 35/132 (26.5%) contacts underwent ELISPOT conversion and 28/78 (35.9%) underwent ELISPOT reversion. Of the 210 contacts with complete results, 73 (34.8%) were ELISPOT negative at all three time points; 36 (17.1%) were positive at all three time points. Between recruitment and 18 mo, 20 (27%) contacts had ELISPOT conversion; 37 (50%) had TST conversion, which was associated with a positive recruitment ELISPOT (OR 7.2, 95% CI 1.4–37.1, p = 0.019); 18 (32.7%) underwent ELISPOT reversion; and five (8.9%) underwent TST reversion. Results in 13 contacts diagnosed as having TB were mixed, but suggested higher TST sensitivity.
Conclusions
Both ELISPOT conversion and reversion occur after M. tuberculosis exposure. Rapid ELISPOT reversion may reflect M. tuberculosis clearance or transition into dormancy and may contribute to the relatively low reported ELISPOT conversion rate. Therefore, a negative ELISPOT test for M. tuberculosis infection should be interpreted with caution.
Philip Hill and colleagues report that both ELISPOT conversion and reversion occur afterM. tuberculosis exposure in an endemic country and that the ELISPOT results agree poorly with results from the tuberculin skin test.
Editors' Summary
Background.
Tuberculosis is a contagious bacterial infection, usually of the lungs. People with active tuberculosis spread the causative bacterium (Mycobacterium tuberculosis) in airborne droplets whenever they cough or sneeze. Most people exposed to M. tuberculosis in this way never become ill—their immune system successfully contains the infection. However, the bacteria remain dormant in the body and can cause disease years later if host immunity declines because of, for example, infection with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Consequently, to control the spread of tuberculosis, individuals who have been in contact with people with active tuberculosis need to be tested for infection with M. tuberculosis and treated with antituberculosis drugs if positive. The standard test for infection is the tuberculin skin test (TST). In this, bacterial antigens (proteins that the immune system recognize as foreign) are injected under the skin. The immune system of infected individuals attacks the antigen and produces a hard swelling at the injection site. Unfortunately, this test does not detect all M. tuberculosis infections and an alternative, laboratory-based test has recently been developed. During M. tuberculosis infections, immune system cells called T lymphocytes produce interferon gamma. This protein activates macrophages, immune system cells that kill bacteria. The ELISPOT (enzyme-linked immunosorbent spot) test measures interferon gamma production by T lymphocytes.
Why Was This Study Done?
Commercial ELISPOT tests are available for the diagnosis of M. tuberculosis infection, but little is known about how they perform when used in repeat tests in individuals or whether the TST or ELISPOT test is better at predicting later development of tuberculosis. In this study, the researchers investigated these questions in a longitudinal assessment of the ELISPOT test in Gambians exposed to active tuberculosis.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers recruited people who had been in contact with active tuberculosis, did ELISPOT tests and TSTs at recruitment, then repeated the ELISPOT test after three months and both tests in some participants after 18 months. They analyzed how often ELISPOT conversion (a change from a negative to a positive result indicating the development of an active immune response) and reversion (a change from a positive to a negative result reflecting clearance of the bacteria or its entry into a dormant state) occurred, whether the TST results mirrored these changes, and which characteristics of the participants were associated with conversion or reversion. A quarter of participants who initially had a negative ELISPOT result had a positive result at three months, a conversion that was associated with a positive TST at recruitment. ELISPOT reversion at three months, by contrast, was associated with an initially negative TST and occurred in nearly half the participants. However, about a third of the participants had negative ELISPOT results at all three time points and a fifth had positive results at all times. Overall, the two tests agreed in 73% and 60% of the participants at recruitment and at 18 months, respectively. Finally, among the 13 contacts who developed active tuberculosis, some were initially positive in both tests but others showed subsequent conversion in one, both or neither test.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings indicate that both ELISPOT conversion and reversion occur after initial screening for M. tuberculosis infection. In addition, they suggest that the immune system responses to M. tuberculosis detected by TST and the ELISPOT test occur over different time scales and so the two tests might differ in their ability to detect M. tuberculosis infections at different times after exposure to the bacteria. Because very few contacts developed active tuberculosis, the findings do not indicate which test best predicts disease development after M. tuberculosis infection. Further studies are needed to provide this information and to unravel the complexities of ELISPOT conversion and reversion after exposure to M. tuberculosis. Importantly, however, the high frequency of ELISPOT reversion seen in this study suggests that a negative ELISPOT result may not reflect a lack of infection after exposure to M. tuberculosis and must, therefore, be interpreted with caution.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0040192.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provide fact sheets from the Division of Tuberculosis Elimination about tuberculosis, its testing and diagnosis, and its treatment
MedlinePlus Encyclopedia contains information on tuberculosis and the tuberculin skin test (in English and Spanish)
The American Lung Association offers fact sheets on tuberculosis and on the tuberculin skin test
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0040192
PMCID: PMC1891317  PMID: 17564487
5.  Quantiferon-TB Gold in tube assay for the screening of tuberculosis before and during treatment with tumor necrosis factor alpha antagonists 
Arthritis Research & Therapy  2012;14(3):R147.
Introduction
The usefulness of interferon-gamma (IFN-γ) release assays for tuberculosis screening before tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α) antagonists and for monitoring during treatment is a contraversial issue. The aims of this study were to determine whether TNF-α antagonists affect the results of the Quantiferon-TB Gold in-tube assay (QTF); to assess how QTF performs in comparison with the tuberculin skin test (TST) in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients who are about to start treatment with TNF-α antagonists, RA patients who are not candidates for treatment with TNF-α antagonists, rheumatology patients with confirmed current or past tuberculosis infection, and healthy controls, and to determine the specificity of the QTF test to differentiate leprosy patients, another group of patients infected with mycobacteria.
Methods
The 38 RA patients who were prescribed TNF-α antagonists, 40 RA patients who were not considered for TNF-α antagonist use, 30 rheumatology patients with a history or new diagnosis of tuberculosis, 23 leprosy patients, and 41 healthy controls were studied. QTF and TST were done on the same day, and both were repeated after a mean of 3.6 ± 0.2 months in patients who used TNF-α antagonists.
Results
Treatment with TNF-α antagonists did not cause a significant change in the QTF or TST positivity rate (34% versus 42%; P = 0.64; and 24% versus 37%; P = 0.22). Patients with leprosy had a trend for a higher mean IFN-γ level (7.3 ± 8.0) and QTF positivity (61%) than did the other groups; however, the difference was not significant (P = 0.09 and P = 0.43).
Conclusions
Treatment with TNF-α antagonists does not seem to affect the QTF test to an appreciable degree. The higher IFN-γ levels in leprosy patients deserves further attention.
doi:10.1186/ar3882
PMCID: PMC3446532  PMID: 22709461
6.  Daily Dosing of Rifapentine Cures Tuberculosis in Three Months or Less in the Murine Model 
PLoS Medicine  2007;4(12):e344.
Background
Availability of an ultra-short-course drug regimen capable of curing patients with tuberculosis in 2 to 3 mo would significantly improve global control efforts. Because immediate prospects for novel treatment-shortening drugs remain uncertain, we examined whether better use of existing drugs could shorten the duration of treatment. Rifapentine is a long-lived rifamycin derivative currently recommended only in once-weekly continuation-phase regimens. Moxifloxacin is an 8-methoxyfluoroquinolone currently used in second-line regimens.
Methods and Findings
Using a well-established mouse model with a high bacterial burden and human-equivalent drug dosing, we compared the efficacy of rifapentine- and moxifloxacin-containing regimens with that of the standard daily short-course regimen based on rifampin, isoniazid, and pyrazinamide. Bactericidal activity was assessed by lung colony-forming unit counts, and sterilizing activity was assessed by the proportion of mice with culture-positive relapse after 2, 3, 4, and 6 mo of treatment. Here, we demonstrate that replacing rifampin with rifapentine and isoniazid with moxifloxacin dramatically increased the activity of the standard daily regimen. After just 2 mo of treatment, mice receiving rifapentine- and moxifloxacin-containing regimens were found to have negative lung cultures, while those given the standard regimen still harbored 3.17 log10 colony-forming units in the lungs (p < 0.01). No relapse was observed after just 3 mo of treatment with daily and thrice-weekly administered rifapentine- and moxifloxacin-containing regimens, whereas the standard daily regimen required 6 mo to prevent relapse in all mice.
Conclusions
Rifapentine should no longer be viewed solely as a rifamycin for once-weekly administration. Our results suggest that treatment regimens based on daily and thrice-weekly administration of rifapentine and moxifloxacin may permit shortening the current 6 mo duration of treatment to 3 mo or less. Such regimens warrant urgent clinical investigation.
Eric Nuermberger and colleagues found that after two months of treatment, mice with lung cultures positive for tuberculosis that received daily doses of rifapentine- and moxifloxacin-containing regimens converted to negative lung cultures. This finding could make possible the development of shorter treatment regimens for humans.
Editors' Summary
Background.
Every year, nearly 9 million people develop tuberculosis—a bacterial infection most commonly of the lungs—and about 2 million people die from the disease. Tuberculosis is caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis, bacteria that are spread in airborne droplets when people with active tuberculosis sneeze or cough. Most infected people never become ill—their immune system successfully contains the infection. However, the bacteria remain dormant within the body and can cause disease years later if host immunity declines. Active tuberculosis can be cured by taking several antibiotics daily (for tuberculosis treatments, daily may mean five or seven times a week) for at least 6 mo. Combinations of drugs are needed to prevent the bacteria from developing resistance to the treatment, but also because of the complex biology of M. tuberculosis. During active tuberculosis, there are rapidly multiplying bacteria in the lungs but also less rapidly multiplying and near-dormant bacteria elsewhere in the body. Effective treatments contain a “bactericidal” drug such as isoniazid to kill the actively multiplying bacteria, a drug to kill the less actively multiplying bugs (for example, pyrazinamide), and a sterilizing drug (the most potent of which is rifampin) to kill the near-dormant bacteria and thus prevent the disease from recurring.
Why Was This Study Done?
Unfortunately, many patients fail to complete this treatment because it is long and complicated and because the drugs may have unpleasant side effects. Poor adherence to treatment contributes to the emergence of drug resistance and means that people stay infectious for longer and are more likely to have relapses. Consequently, it is hampering global efforts to control tuberculosis. A shorter course of treatment might improve matters, but many researchers believe that this will require the development of new drugs and, although there are several promising candidates, it will be several years before they can be used in patients. In this study, therefore, the researchers asked whether better use of existing drugs could shorten treatment times. In particular, they studied tuberculosis in animals to investigate whether a long-lived rifampin-like drug called rifapentine combined with moxifloxacin (an alternative to isoniazid) might shorten treatment times.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers used several different courses (“regimens”) of treatment containing rifapentine, moxifloxacin, and pyrazinamide, and the standard daily short-course regimen containing rifampin, isoniazid, and pyrazinamide to treat mice infected with M. tuberculosis. For each regimen, they measured its bactericidal activity by counting how many bacterial colonies could be grown from the lungs of the mice at specific times during the treatment, and its sterilizing activity by assessing the proportion of mice with any live bacteria in their lungs (a culture-positive relapse) after treatment completion. After 2 mo of treatment, the mice receiving the rifapentine- and moxifloxacin-containing regimens had negative lung cultures, a point not reached with the standard regimen until after 4 mo of treatment. Three months of treatment with daily or thrice-weekly rifapentine- and moxifloxacin-containing regimens was sufficient to prevent any culture-positive relapses, whereas the standard daily regimen had to be continued for 6 mo to achieve cure. Testing of additional drug combinations revealed that rifapentine is the most important drug in the new regimen and that simply replacing rifampin with rifapentine and retaining isoniazid also is sufficient to shorten the duration of therapy to 3 mo in this experimental model.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings provide the first evidence that replacing rifampin with rifapentine might halve the length of therapy needed to cure tuberculosis. They also indicate that it might be possible to give the drugs thrice-weekly rather than daily as in the current therapy. The World Health Organization recommends that all tuberculosis treatment is supervised (so-called directly observed therapy) to ensure treatment adherence, so a regimen that requires only three doses a week for 3 mo would greatly reduce the resources needed to treat tuberculosis as well as potentially improving treatment adherence. However, it should be emphasized that the current study is experimental, and there may be important differences between how mice and people respond to the proposed drug regimens, both in terms of cure rates and side effects. Nevertheless, these results strongly suggest that the safety, tolerability, and efficacy of tuberculosis treatment regimens containing rifapentine and pyrazinamide, combined with either moxifloxacin or isoniazid, should be evaluated in people as soon as possible.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0040344.
The MedlinePlus encyclopedia contains a page on tuberculosis (in English and Spanish)
The US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases provides information on all aspects of tuberculosis
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provide several fact sheets and other information resources about tuberculosis, including information for patients and caregivers about treatment adherence
The World Health Organization provides a 2007 report on global tuberculosis control (in English with key findings in French and Spanish), information on the Stop TB initiative, and a recent bulletin on tuberculosis treatment (in English with an abstract in French, Spanish, and Arabic)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0040344
PMCID: PMC2140085  PMID: 18092886
7.  Hyperendemic pulmonary tuberculosis in peri-urban areas of Karachi, Pakistan 
BMC Public Health  2007;7:70.
Background
Currently there are very limited empirical data available on the prevalence of pulmonary tuberculosis among residents of marginalized settings in Pakistan. This study assessed the prevalence of pulmonary tuberculosis through active case detection and evaluated predictors of pulmonary tuberculosis among residents of two peri-urban neighbourhoods of Karachi, Pakistan.
Methods
A cross-sectional study was conducted in two peri-urban neighbourhoods from May 2002 to November 2002. Systematic sampling design was used to select households for inclusion in the study. Consenting subjects aged 15 years or more from selected households were interviewed and, whenever possible, sputum samples were obtained. Sputum samples were subjected to direct microscopy by Ziehl-Neelson method, bacterial culture and antibiotic sensitivity tests.
Results
The prevalence (per 100,000) of pulmonary tuberculosis among the subjects aged 15 years or more, who participated in the study was 329 (95% confidence interval (CI): 195 – 519). The prevalence (per 100,000) of pulmonary tuberculosis adjusted for non-sampling was 438 (95% CI: 282 – 651). Other than cough, none of the other clinical variables was significantly associated with pulmonary tuberculosis status. Analysis of drug sensitivity pattern of 15 strains of Mycobacterium tuberculosis revealed that one strain was resistant to isoniazid alone, one to streptomycin alone and one was resistant to isoniazid and streptomycin. The remaining 12 strains were susceptible to all five drugs including streptomycin, isoniazid, rifampicin, ethambutol, and pyrazinamide.
Conclusion
This study of previously undetected tuberculosis cases in an impoverished peri-urban setting reveals the poor operational performance of Pakistan's current approach to tuberculosis control; it also demonstrates a higher prevalence of pulmonary tuberculosis than current national estimates. Public health authorities may wish to augment health education efforts aimed at prompting health-seeking behaviour to facilitate more complete and earlier case detection. Such efforts to improve passive case-finding, if combined with more accessible DOTS infra-structure for treatment of detected cases, may help to diminish the high tuberculosis-related morbidity and mortality in marginalized populations. The economics of implementing a more active approach to case finding in resource-constrained setting also deserve further study.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-7-70
PMCID: PMC1871582  PMID: 17477870
8.  Landscape Diversity Related to Buruli Ulcer Disease in Côte d'Ivoire 
Background
Buruli ulcer disease (BU), due to the bacteria Mycobacterium ulcerans, represents an important and emerging public health problem, especially in many African countries. Few elements are known nowadays about the routes of transmission of this environmental bacterium to the human population.
Methodology/Principal Findings
In this study, we have investigated the relationships between the incidence of BU in Côte d'Ivoire, western Africa, and a group of environmental variables. These environmental variables concern vegetation, crops (rice and banana), dams, and lakes. Using a geographical information system and multivariate analyses, we show a link between cases of BU and different environmental factors for the first time on a country-wide scale. As a result, irrigated rice field cultures areas, and, to a lesser extent, banana fields as well as areas in the vicinity of dams used for irrigation and aquaculture purposes, represent high-risk zones for the human population to contract BU in Côte d'Ivoire. This is much more relevant in the central part of the country.
Conclusions/Significance
As already suspected by several case-control studies in different African countries, we strengthen in this work the identification of high-risk areas of BU on a national spatial scale. This first study should now be followed by many others in other countries and at a multi-year temporal scale. This goal implies a strong improvement in data collection and sharing in order to achieve to a global picture of the environmental conditions that drive BU emergence and persistence in human populations.
Author Summary
Buruli ulcer (BU) is one of the most neglected but treatable tropical diseases. The causative organism, Mycobacterium ulcerans, is from the family of bacteria that causes tuberculosis and leprosy. This severe skin disease leads to long-term functional disability if not treated. BU has been reported in over 30 countries mainly with tropical and subtropical climates, but Côte d'Ivoire is one of the most affected countries. M. ulcerans is an environmental bacterium and its mode of transmission to humans is still unclear, such that the disease is often referred to as the “mysterious disease” or the “new leprosy”. Here, we explored the relationship between environmental and socioeconomic factors and BU cases on a nationwide scale. We found that irrigated rice field cultures areas, and, to a lesser extent, banana fields as well as areas in the vicinity of dams used for irrigation and aquaculture purposes, represent high risk zones for the human population to contract BU in Côte d'Ivoire. This work identifies high-risk areas for BU in Côte d'Ivoire and deserves to be extended to different countries. We need now to obtain a global vision and understanding of the route of transmission of M. ulcerans to humans in order to better implement control strategies.
doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0000271
PMCID: PMC2474700  PMID: 18665259
9.  Concomitant Active Tuberculosis Prolongs Survival in Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer: A Study in a Tuberculosis-Endemic Country 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(3):e33226.
Background
Adjuvant tumor cell vaccine with chemotherapy against non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) shows limited clinical response. Whether it provokes effective cellular immunity in tumor microenvironment is questionable. Concomitant active tuberculosis in NSCLC (TBLC) resembles locoregional immunotherapy of tumor cell vaccine; thus, maximally enriches effective anti-tumor immunity. This study compares the survival and immunological cell profile in TBLC over NSCLC alone.
Methods
Retrospective review of NSCLC patients within 1-year-period of 2007 and follow-up till 2010.
Results
A total 276 NSCLC patients were included. The median survival of TBLC is longer than those of NSCLC alone (11.6 vs. 8.8 month, p<0.01). Active tuberculosis is an independent predictor of better survival with HR of 0.68 (95% CI, 0.48∼0.97). Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) (55.8 vs. 31.7%, p<0.01) is a significant risk factor for NSCLC with active TB. The median survival of SCC with active tuberculosis is significantly longer than adenocarcinoma or undetermined NSCLC with TB (14.2 vs. 6.6 and 2.8 months, p<0.05). Active tuberculosis in SCC increases the expression of CD3 (46.4±24.8 vs. 24.0±16.0, p<0.05), CXCR3 (35.1±16.4 vs. 19.2±13.3, p<0.01) and IP-10 (63.5±21.9 vs. 35.5±21.0, p<0.01), while expression of FOXP3 is decreased (3.5±0.5 vs. 13.3±3.7 p<0.05, p<0.05). Survival of SCC with high expression of CD3 (12.1 vs. 3.6 month, p<0.05) and CXCR3 (12.1 vs. 4.4 month, p<0.05) is longer than that with low expression.
Conclusions
Active tuberculosis in NSCLC shows better survival outcome. The effective T lymphocyte infiltration in tumor possibly underlies the mechanism. Locoregional immunotherapy of tumor cell vaccine may deserve further researches.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0033226
PMCID: PMC3306389  PMID: 22438899
10.  Immunization with heat-killed Mycobacterium vaccae stimulates CD8+ cytotoxic T cells specific for macrophages infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis. 
Infection and Immunity  1997;65(11):4525-4530.
Immune responses to Mycobacterium tuberculosis are analyzed in mice which have been immunized with Mycobacterium vaccae to examine novel ways of altering protective immunity against M. tuberculosis. The spleen cells of mice immunized with M. vaccae proliferate and secrete gamma interferon (IFN-gamma) in response to challenge with live M. tuberculosis in vitro. Immunization with M. vaccae results in the generation of CD8+ T cells which kill syngeneic macrophages infected with M. tuberculosis. These effector cytotoxic T cells (CTL) are detectable in the spleen at 2 weeks after immunization with M. vaccae but cannot be found in splenocytes 3 to 6 weeks postimmunization. However, M. tuberculosis-specific CTL are revealed following restimulation in vitro with heat-killed M. vaccae or M. tuberculosis, consistent with the activation of memory cells. These CD8+ T cells secrete IFN-gamma and enhance the production of interleukin 12 when cocultured with M. tuberculosis-infected macrophages. It is suggested that CD8+ T cells with a cytokine secretion profile of the Tc1 class may themselves maintain the dominance of a Th1-type cytokine response following immunization with M. vaccae. Heat-killed M. vaccae deserves attention as an alternative to attenuated live mycobacterial vaccines.
PMCID: PMC175650  PMID: 9353029
11.  Diagnosing and Staging of Cystic Echinococcosis: How Do CT and MRI Perform in Comparison to Ultrasound? 
Background
Imaging plays the key role in diagnosing and staging of CE. The description of CE-specific imaging features and the WHO CE cyst classification is based on ultrasound. The reproducibility of the ultrasound-defined features of CE cysts is variable in MR- and CT-imaging. This is of particular importance for cysts that are not accessible by US and because of the increasing availability and overuse of CT and MR imaging.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Retrospective analysis of patients with abdominal CE cysts of an interdisciplinary CE clinic who had CT and/or MRI scans performed additionally to US imaging. All images were read and interpreted by the same senior radiologist experienced in the diagnosis of CE. US, CT and MR images were staged according to the WHO classification criteria. The agreement beyond chance was quantified by kappa coefficients (κ). 107 patients with 187 CE cysts met the inclusion criteria. All cysts were assessed by US, 138 by CT, and 125 by MRI. The level of agreement beyond chance of the individual CE stages 1–4 was clearly lower for CT, with κ ranging from 0.62 to 0.72, compared to MRI with values of κ between 0.83 and 1.0. For CE5 cysts CT (κ = 0.95) performed better than MRI (κ = 0.65).
Conclusions
Ultrasound remains the corner stone of diagnosis, staging and follow up of CE cysts. MRI reproduces the ultrasound-defined features of CE better than CT. If US cannot be performed due to cyst location or patient-specific reasons MRI with heavily T2-weighted series is preferable to CT.
Author Summary
Cystic echinococcosis (CE) is a neglected parasitic disease of global distribution. The highest prevalence rates are recorded in South America, Northern and Eastern Africa, Eurasia and Australia. In non-endemic and largely high income countries CE is a disease of immigrants. Imaging plays the key role in diagnosing and staging of CE. Ultrasound (US) remains the cornerstone of diagnosis, staging and follow up of CE cysts. Translation of the ultrasound-based classification of CE into magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CT)-imaging deserves attention since there are pitfalls of great significance for the diagnosis and management of patients with CE. With an increasing use of MRI and CT-imaging also in middle income countries of which many are endemic for CE the advantages and disadvantages of these imaging modalities deserve greater attention. We present a data set of US-, MRI- and CT-investigations of patients with CE where we can demonstrate that compared to US MRI is superior to CT in diagnosing and staging CE cysts. MRI reproduces the ultrasound-defined features of CE better than CT. If US cannot be performed due to cyst location or patient-specific reasons MRI is preferable to CT.
doi:10.1371/journal.pntd.0001880
PMCID: PMC3493391  PMID: 23145199
12.  Tuberculosis patients co-infected with Mycobacterium bovis and Mycobacterium tuberculosis in an urban area of Brazil 
Memórias do Instituto Oswaldo Cruz  2013;108(3):321-327.
In this cross-sectional study, mycobacteria specimens from 189 tuberculosis (TB) patients living in an urban area in Brazil were characterised from 2008-2010 using phenotypic and molecular speciation methods (pncA gene and oxyR pseudogene analysis). Of these samples, 174 isolates simultaneously grew on Löwenstein-Jensen (LJ) and Stonebrink (SB)-containing media and presented phenotypic and molecular profiles of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, whereas 12 had molecular profiles of M. tuberculosis based on the DNA analysis of formalin-fixed paraffin wax-embedded tissue samples (paraffin blocks). One patient produced two sputum isolates, the first of which simultaneously grew on LJ and SB media and presented phenotypic and molecular profiles of M. tuberculosis, and the second of which only grew on SB media and presented phenotypic profiles of Mycobacterium bovis. One patient provided a bronchial lavage isolate, which simultaneously grew on LJ and SB media and presented phenotypic and molecular profiles of M. tuberculosis, but had molecular profiles of M. bovis from paraffin block DNA analysis, and one sample had molecular profiles of M. tuberculosis and M. bovis identified from two distinct paraffin blocks. Moreover, we found a low prevalence (1.6%) of M. bovis among these isolates, which suggests that local health service procedures likely underestimate its real frequency and that it deserves more attention from public health officials.
doi:10.1590/S0074-02762013000300010
PMCID: PMC4005580  PMID: 23778657
Mycobacterium bovis; Mycobacterium tuberculosis; zoonotic tuberculosis
13.  Immunocytochemistry versus nucleic acid amplification in fine needle aspirates and tissues of extrapulmonary tuberculosis 
Background:
Immunocytochemistry (ICC) is an established routine diagnostic adjunct to cytology and histology for tumor diagnosis but has received little attention for diagnosis of tuberculosis.
Aims:
To have an objective method of direct visualization of mycobacteria or their products in clinical extrapulmonary tuberculosis (EPTB) specimens, immunocytochemical localization of M. tuberculosis antigen by staining with species specific monoclonal antibody to 38-kDa antigen of Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex.
Materials and Methods:
Immunostaining with specific monoclonal antibody to 38-kDa antigen of Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex was done in fresh and archival fine needle aspirates and tissue granulomata of 302 cases of extrapulmonary tuberculosis and was compared with the molecular diagnostic i.e., nucleic amplification and conventional [Cytomorphology, Ziehl Neelsen (ZN) staining and culture] tests and 386 controls.
Results:
Diagnostic indices by Bayesian analysis for all types of archival and fresh material varied from 64 to 76% in nucleic acid amplification (NAA) and 96 to 98% in ICC. There was no significant difference in the diagnostic indices of ZN staining and/ or ICC in fresh or archival material whereas the sensitivity of NAA differed significantly in fresh versus archival material both in cytology (71.4% vs 52.1%) and histology (51.1% vs 38.8%). ICC can be easily used on archival smears and formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded tissue sections with almost equal sensitivity and specificity as with fresh material, in contrast to NAA which showed significant difference in test results on archival and fresh material.
Conclusions:
Low detection sensitivity of MTB DNA in archival material from known tuberculous cases showed the limitation of in-house NAA-based molecular diagnosis. ICC was found to be sensitive, specific and a better technique than NAA and can be used as an adjunct to conventional morphology and ZN staining for the diagnosis of EPTB in tissue granulomas.
doi:10.4103/0970-9371.101151
PMCID: PMC3480762  PMID: 23112454
Extrapulmonary; fine needle aspiration; immunocytochemistry; nucleic acid amplification; polymerase chain reaction; pulmonary; tuberculosis
14.  Prevalence of symptoms in female Fabry disease patients: a case-control survey 
Background
Fabry disease (FD) is an X-linked lysosomal storage disorder, caused by a deficiency of α-galactosidase A. Several studies demonstrated that heterozygotes have symptoms such as acroparesthesia, abdominal pain and chronic fatigue. However, as these symptoms are aspecific and relatively common in the general population, it is important to compare the prevalence of these symptoms with an appropriate control group. The aim of this study was to explore the prevalence of signs and symptoms in FD females in comparison to a control group.
Methods
FD females and age-matched controls were approached to complete a questionnaire. This questionnaire was developed by the Dutch Fabry patient organisation (Fabry Support en Informatie Groep Nederland, FSIGN) with input from Fabry expert-physicians from the AMC. We compared the prevalence symptoms using Pearson’s chi-square test. Bonferroni correction was used to correct for multiple comparisons.
Results
A total of 63 heterozygotes and 52 controls completed the questionnaire. Many symptoms were also common in controls. Yet, fatigue, palpitations, pains in hands and feet, joint pain, dizziness, loss of libido and proteinuria during pregnancy were more common in Fabry females (all p < 0.001).
Conclusion
In addition to acroparesthesia - fatigue, palpitations, dizziness, proteinuria during pregnancy, libido loss and joint pain are more prevalent in FD females as compared to a control group. Although, these symptoms are present in a significant proportion of normal controls they deserve further attention by treating physicians to better understand their significance, treatment and relationship with FD.
doi:10.1007/s10545-011-9447-9
PMCID: PMC3432199  PMID: 22431073
15.  Feasibility, Yield, and Cost of Active Tuberculosis Case Finding Linked to a Mobile HIV Service in Cape Town, South Africa: A Cross-sectional Study 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(8):e1001281.
Katharina Kranzer and colleagues investigate the operational characteristics of an active tuberculosis case-finding service linked to a mobile HIV testing unit that operates in underserviced areas in Cape Town, South Africa.
Background
The World Health Organization is currently developing guidelines on screening for tuberculosis disease to inform national screening strategies. This process is complicated by significant gaps in knowledge regarding mass screening. This study aimed to assess feasibility, uptake, yield, treatment outcomes, and costs of adding an active tuberculosis case-finding program to an existing mobile HIV testing service.
Methods and Findings
The study was conducted at a mobile HIV testing service operating in deprived communities in Cape Town, South Africa. All HIV-negative individuals with symptoms suggestive of tuberculosis, and all HIV-positive individuals regardless of symptoms were eligible for participation and referred for sputum induction. Samples were examined by microscopy and culture. Active tuberculosis case finding was conducted on 181 days at 58 different sites. Of the 6,309 adults who accessed the mobile clinic, 1,385 were eligible and 1,130 (81.6%) were enrolled. The prevalence of smear-positive tuberculosis was 2.2% (95% CI 1.1–4.0), 3.3% (95% CI 1.4–6.4), and 0.4% (95% CI 1.4 015–6.4) in HIV-negative individuals, individuals newly diagnosed with HIV, and known HIV, respectively. The corresponding prevalence of culture-positive tuberculosis was 5.3% (95% CI 3.5–7.7), 7.4% (95% CI 4.5–11.5), 4.3% (95% CI 2.3–7.4), respectively. Of the 56 new tuberculosis cases detected, 42 started tuberculosis treatment and 34 (81.0%) completed treatment. The cost of the intervention was US$1,117 per tuberculosis case detected and US$2,458 per tuberculosis case cured. The generalisability of the study is limited to similar settings with comparable levels of deprivation and TB and HIV prevalence.
Conclusions
Mobile active tuberculosis case finding in deprived populations with a high burden of HIV and tuberculosis is feasible, has a high uptake, yield, and treatment success. Further work is now required to examine cost-effectiveness and affordability and whether and how the same results may be achieved at scale.
Editors' Summary
Background
In 2010, 8.8 million people developed active tuberculosis—a contagious bacterial infection—and 1.4 million people died from the disease. Most of these deaths were in low- and middle-income countries and a quarter were in HIV-positive individuals—people who are infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, are particularly susceptible to tuberculosis because of their weakened immune system. Tuberculosis is caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis, which is spread in airborne droplets when people with the disease cough or sneeze. Its characteristic symptoms are a persistent cough, unintentional weight loss, hemoptysis (coughing up blood from the lungs), fever, and night sweats. Diagnostic tests for tuberculosis include sputum smear microscopy (microscopic analysis of mucus brought up from the lungs by coughing) and culture (growth) of M. tuberculosis from sputum samples. Tuberculosis can be cured by taking several powerful antibiotics daily for at least 6 months.
Why Was This Study Done?
To improve tuberculosis control, active disease must be diagnosed quickly and treated immediately. Passive tuberculosis case finding, which relies on people seeking medical help because they feel unwell, delays the diagnosis and treatment of tuberculosis and increases M. tuberculosis transmission. By contrast, active tuberculosis case finding—where health workers seek out and diagnose individuals with TB who have not sought care on their own initiative—has the potential to reduce tuberculosis transmission by improving case detection. The World Health Organization (WHO), which already recommends active tuberculosis case finding in HIV-infected individuals as part of its HIV/TB “Three I's” strategy, is currently developing guidelines to inform the design of national tuberculosis screening strategies based on the local prevalence of HIV and TB and other context-specific factors that affect how many individuals need to be screened to identify each additional new tuberculosis case (the “yield” of active case finding). Large gaps in our knowledge about mass-screening strategies are complicating the development of these guidelines so, in this observational prospective study, the researchers assess the feasibility, uptake, yield, treatment outcomes, and costs of adding an active tuberculosis case-finding program to an existing mobile HIV testing service in South Africa.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
All HIVnegative adults with symptoms characteristic of tuberculosis and all HIV-positive adults regardless of symptoms who attended a mobile HIV testing service operating in deprived communities in ape Town, South Africa between May 2009 and February 2011 were eligible for inclusion in the study. Of the 6,309 adults who accessed the mobile clinic during this period, 1,385 met these eligibility criteria, and 1,130 were enrolled and referred for the collection of sputum samples, which were analyzed by microscopy and culture. The prevalence of smear-positive tuberculosis was 2.2%, 3.3%, and 0.4% among HIV-negative study participants, newly diagnosed HIV-positive participants, and people already known to have HIV, respectively. The corresponding prevalences for smear-negative/culture-positive tuberculosis were 5.3%, 7.4%, and 4.3%, respectively (culture detects more tuberculosis cases than microscopy but, whereas microscopy can provide a result within 1–2 days, culture can take several weeks). Fifty-six new tuberculosis cases were identified, 42 people started tuberculosis treatment, and 34 completed treatment (a treatment success rate of 81%). Finally, the incremental cost of the intervention was US$1,117 per tuberculosis case detected and US$2,458 per tuberculosis case cured.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings show that active case finding for tuberculosis delivered through a mobile HIV testing service is feasible and has a high uptake, yield and treatment success in deprived communities with a high prevalence of HIV and tuberculosis. The findings also highlight the challenges faced by mobile population-based services such as losses between tuberculosis diagnosis and treatment, which were greatest for smear-negative/culture-positive people who were more difficult to contact than smear-positive people because of the greater time lag between sputum collection and diagnosis. Because the study was done in a single city, these findings need to be confirmed in other settings—the yield of active tuberculosis case finding reported here, for example, is not likely to be generalizable to countries that rely on sputum smears for tuberculosis diagnosis. Finally, given that the incremental cost per case treated in this study is 3-fold higher than the incremental cost per case treated under passive case detection in South Africa, further studies are needed to determine the cost-effectiveness and affordability of population-based tuberculosis screening.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001281.
The World Health Organization provides information on all aspects of tuberculosis, including information on tuberculosis and HIV, and on the Three I?s for HIV/TB (some information is in several languages); details of a 2011 meeting on the development of guidelines on screening for active tuberculosis are available
The Stop TB partnership is working towards tuberculosis elimination; patient stories about tuberculosis/HIV coinfection are available
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has information about tuberculosis, about tuberculosis and HIV co-infection, and about the diagnosis of tuberculosis disease
The US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases also has detailed information on all aspects of tuberculosis
MedlinePlus has links to further information about tuberculosis (in English and Spanish)
The Tuberculosis Survival Project, which aims to raise awareness of tuberculosis and provide support for people with tuberculosis, provides personal stories about treatment for tuberculosis; the Tuberculosis Vaccine Initiative also provides personal stories about dealing with tuberculosis
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001281
PMCID: PMC3413719  PMID: 22879816
16.  Problem-solving style and adaptation in breast cancer survivors: a prospective analysis 
Introduction
Emotional care of the breast cancer patient is not well understood; this lack of understanding results in both a high cost to the patient, as well as the health care system. This study examined the role of problem-solving style as a predictor of emotional distress, adjustment to breast cancer, and physical function immediately post-surgery and 12 months later.
Methods
The sample consisted of 121 women diagnosed with breast cancer and undergoing surgery as a primary treatment. The survivors completed a measure of problem-solving style and three outcome measures immediately post-surgery, as well as at 1 year later. There was a 95.6% retention rate at 1 year.
Results
Multiple hierarchical regressions revealed, after controlling for patient demographics and stage of cancer, that problem-solving style (particularly personal control) was associated with emotional distress, adjustment to chronic illness, and physical function immediately following surgical intervention. In addition, a more positive problem-solving style was associated with less emotional distress, but not a better adaptation to a chronic illness or physical functioning 12 months later; the Personal Control again was the best single predictor of the emotional distress, adding 10% of the variance in predicting this outcome.
Conclusions
The utility of post-surgery assessment may help identify those in need for problem-solving training to improve these outcomes at 1 year. Future studies need to determine the impact of interventions tailored to levels of problem-solving styles in cancer survivors over time.
Implications for Cancer Survivors
Understanding the role of problem solving style in breast cancer survivors deserves attention as it is associated with emotional distress immediately and one year after medical intervention. Problem-solving style should be evaluated early, and interventions established for those most at risk for emotional distress.
doi:10.1007/s11764-009-0085-2
PMCID: PMC2948574  PMID: 19396549
Breast cancer survivors; Problem-solving style; Psychological distress; Adaptation to illness; Function; Prospective
17.  OPC-67683, a Nitro-Dihydro-Imidazooxazole Derivative with Promising Action against Tuberculosis In Vitro and In Mice 
PLoS Medicine  2006;3(11):e466.
Background
Tuberculosis (TB) is still a leading cause of death worldwide. Almost a third of the world's population is infected with TB bacilli, and each year approximately 8 million people develop active TB and 2 million die as a result. Today's TB treatment, which dates back to the 1970s, is long and burdensome, requiring at least 6 mo of multidrug chemotherapy. The situation is further compounded by the emergence of multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) and by the infection's lethal synergy with HIV/AIDS. Global health and philanthropic organizations are now pleading for new drug interventions that can address these unmet needs in TB treatment.
Methods and Findings
Here we report OPC-67683, a nitro-dihydro-imidazooxazole derivative that was screened to help combat the unmet needs in TB treatment. The compound is a mycolic acid biosynthesis inhibitor found to be free of mutagenicity and to possess highly potent activity against TB, including MDR-TB, as shown by its exceptionally low minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) range of 0.006–0.024 μg/ml in vitro and highly effective therapeutic activity at low doses in vivo. Additionally, the results of the post-antibiotic effect of OPC-67683 on intracellular Mycobacterium tuberculosis showed the agent to be highly and dose-dependently active also against intracellular M. tuberculosis H37Rv after a 4-h pulsed exposure, and this activity at a concentration of 0.1 μg/ml was similar to that of the first-line drug rifampicin (RFP) at a concentration of 3 μg/ml. The combination of OPC-67683 with RFP and pyrazinamide (PZA) exhibited a remarkably quicker eradication (by at least 2 mo) of viable TB bacilli in the lung in comparison with the standard regimen consisting of RFP, isoniazid (INH), ethambutol (EB), and PZA. Furthermore, OPC-67683 was not affected by nor did it affect the activity of liver microsome enzymes, suggesting the possibility for OPC-67683 to be used in combination with drugs, including anti-retrovirals, that induce or are metabolized by cytochrome P450 enzymes.
Conclusions
We concluded that based on these properties OPC-67683 has the potential to be used as a TB drug to help combat the unmet needs in TB treatment.
A nitro-dihydro-imidazooxazole derivative was shown to have the potential for use against tuberculosis.
Editors' Summary
Background.
One-third of the world's population is infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis, the bacterium that causes tuberculosis (TB). Most infected people are healthy—the bacteria can remain latent for years, hidden within cells in the body. However, every year 8 million people develop active TB, a chronic disease that usually affects the lungs, and 2 million people die. For most of the second half of the 20th century, TB was in decline because of the powerful antibiotics that were developed from the 1940s onwards. The standard treatment for TB—four antibiotics that have to be taken several times a week for at least six months to flush out any latent M. tuberculosis bacteria—was introduced in the late 1970s and saved many lives. Recently, however, efforts to eradicate TB have been set back by the HIV/AIDS epidemic—people with damaged immune systems are very susceptible to TB—and the emergence of multi-drug resistant (MDR) bacteria.
Why Was This Study Done?
The treatment for TB is long and unpleasant, and patients who develop MDR-TB have to be treated with second-line drugs that are less effective, more expensive, and more toxic. In addition, for people infected with both HIV and TB, some antiretroviral and anti-TB drugs cannot be used at the same time. Many drugs are either activated or removed by enzymes in the liver, so combinations of these two classes of drugs sometimes alter liver function in a way that causes clinical problems. There is, therefore, an urgent need for new, effective anti-TB drugs that attack M. tuberculosis in a different way than do existing drugs. Such drugs should ideally be active against MDR M. tuberculosis, work quickly at low doses, be active against latent bacteria, and have minimal effects on the liver so that they can be used in patients co-infected with HIV. In this study, the researchers investigated a chemical called OPC-67683.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers identified a compound that inhibited the production of mycolic acid—an essential component of the cell wall of M. tuberculosis—and they tested its ability to kill the organism. They then tested in detail its ability to inhibit bacterial growth in dishes of antibiotic-sensitive and MDR M. tuberculosis and isolates from patients. OPC-67683 inhibited the growth of all these bugs at lower concentrations than the four antibiotics used in the standard TB treatment. It also killed bacteria hidden within human cells as well as or better than these drugs. Next, the researchers treated mice infected with M. tuberculosis with OPC-67683. They found that it reduced the number of bacteria in the lungs of both normal and immunocompromised mice at lower concentrations than the standard drugs. Furthermore, when combined with two of the standard drugs, it reduced the time taken to clear bacteria from the lungs by the standard drug regimen by two months. Finally, the researchers showed that OPC-67683 had no effects on the liver enzymes that metabolize antiretrovirals, and, conversely, that the activity of OPC-67683 was not affected by liver enzymes. Thus, this agent is unlikely to cause clinical problems or lose its efficacy in HIV patients who are receiving antiretroviral drugs.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These results from laboratory and animal experiments suggest that OPC-67683 could possibly fulfill the criteria for a new anti-TB drug. OPC-67683 is active against MDR-TB. It is also active against intracellular TB, which the authors postulate could be a positive link with the effective treatment of latent TB, and it works quickly in animals when combined with existing anti-TB drugs. Importantly, it also disables M. tuberculosis in a unique way and does not appear to have any major effects on the liver that might stop it from being used in combination with antiretrovirals. All these preclinical characteristics now need to be checked in people—many drugs do well in preclinical studies but fail in patients. These clinical studies need to be expedited given the upsurge in TB, and, write the researchers, OPC-67683 needs to be tested in combination with both conventional drugs and other new drugs so that the best regimen of new drugs for the treatment of TB can be found as soon as possible.
Additional Information.
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0030466.
US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases patient fact sheet on tuberculosis
US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention information on tuberculosis
MedlinePlus encyclopedia entry on tuberculosis
NHS Direct Online patient information on tuberculosis from the UK National Health Service
World Health Organization information on the global elimination of tuberculosis
Global Alliance for TB Drug Development information on why new TB drugs are needed
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0030466
PMCID: PMC1664607  PMID: 17132069
18.  Re-thinking global health sector efforts for HIV and tuberculosis epidemic control: promoting integration of programme activities within a strengthened health system 
BMC Public Health  2010;10:394.
Background
The global financial crisis threatens global health, particularly exacerbating diseases of inequality, e.g. HIV/AIDS, and diseases of poverty, e.g. tuberculosis. The aim of this paper is to reconsider established practices and policies for HIV and tuberculosis epidemic control, aiming at delivering better results and value for money. This may be achieved by promoting greater integration of HIV and tuberculosis control programme activities within a strengthened health system.
Discussion
HIV and tuberculosis share many similarities in terms of their disease burden and the recommended stratagems for their control. HIV and tuberculosis programmes implement similar sorts of control activities, e.g. case finding and treatment, which depend for success on generic health system issues, including vital registration, drug procurement and supply, laboratory network, human resources, and financing. However, the current health system approach to HIV and tuberculosis control often involves separate specialised services. Despite some recent progress, collaboration between the programmes remains inadequate, progress in obtaining synergies has been slow, and results remain far below those needed to achieve universal access to key interventions. A fundamental re-think of the current strategic approach involves promoting integrated delivery of HIV and tuberculosis programme activities as part of strengthened general health services: epidemiological surveillance, programme monitoring and evaluation, community awareness of health-seeking behavior, risk behaviour modification, infection control, treatment scale-up (first-line treatment regimens), drug-resistance surveillance, containing and countering drug-resistance (second-line treatment regimens), research and development, global advocacy and global partnership. Health agencies should review policies and progress in HIV and tuberculosis epidemic control, learn mutual lessons for policy development and scaling up interventions, and identify ways of joint planning and joint funding of integrated delivery as part of strengthened health systems.
Summary
As both a danger and an opportunity, the global financial crisis may entail disaster or recovery for global health sector efforts for HIV and tuberculosis epidemic control. Review of policies and progress in control paves the way for identification of synergies between the two programmes, within strengthened health services. The silver lining in the global economic crisis could be better control of the HIV and tuberculosis epidemics, better overall health system performance and outcomes, and better value for money.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-10-394
PMCID: PMC3091552  PMID: 20602774
19.  Connectivity supporting attention in children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder 
NeuroImage : Clinical  2014;7:68-81.
Intra-subject variability (ISV) is the most consistent behavioral deficit in Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). ISV may be associated with networks involved in sustaining task control (cingulo-opercular network: CON) and self-reflective lapses of attention (default mode network: DMN). The current study examined whether connectivity supporting attentional control is atypical in children with ADHD. Group differences in full-brain connection strength and brain–behavior associations with attentional control measures were examined for the late-developing CON and DMN in 50 children with ADHD and 50 typically-developing (TD) controls (ages 8–12 years).
Children with ADHD had hyper-connectivity both within the CON and within the DMN. Full-brain behavioral associations were found for a number of between-network connections. Across both groups, more anti-correlation between DMN and occipital cortex supported better attentional control. However, in the TD group, this brain–behavior association was stronger and occurred for a more extensive set of DMN–occipital connections. Differential support for attentional control between the two groups occurred with a number of CON–DMN connections. For all CON–DMN connections identified, increased between-network anti-correlation was associated with better attentional control for the ADHD group, but worse attentional control in the TD group. A number of between-network connections with the medial frontal cortex, in particular, showed this relationship. Follow-up analyses revealed that these associations were specific to attentional control and were not due to individual differences in working memory, IQ, motor control, age, or scan motion.
While CON–DMN anti-correlation is associated with improved attention in ADHD, other circuitry supports improved attention in TD children. Greater CON–DMN anti-correlation supported better attentional control in children with ADHD, but worse attentional control in TD children. On the other hand, greater DMN–occipital anti-correlation supported better attentional control in TD children.
Highlights
•Children with ADHD are hyper-connected within both the CON and DMN.•More DMN–Visual antagonism supports better attention, particularly in controls.•More DMN–CON antagonism supports better attention only in children with ADHD.•CON–DMN compensation for attention may be due to stimulant medication use.
doi:10.1016/j.nicl.2014.11.011
PMCID: PMC4299959  PMID: 25610768
ADHD; Intra-subject variability; Attention; Resting-state connectivity; Network; Default mode network
20.  Seizures and Epileptiform Activity in the Early Stages of Alzheimer Disease 
JAMA neurology  2013;70(9):1158-1166.
IMPORTANCE
Epileptic activity associated with Alzheimer disease (AD) deserves increased attention because it has a harmful impact on these patients, can easily go unrecognized and untreated, and may reflect pathogenic processes that also contribute to other aspects of the illness. We report key features of AD-related seizures and epileptiform activity that are instructive for clinical practice and highlight similarities between AD and transgenic animal models of the disease.
OBJECTIVE
To describe common clinical characteristics and treatment outcomes of patients with amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI) or early AD who also have epilepsy or subclinical epileptiform activity.
DESIGN
Retrospective observational study from 2007 to 2012.
SETTING
Memory and Aging Center, University of California, San Francisco.
PATIENTS
We studied 54 patients with a diagnosis of aMCI plus epilepsy (n = 12), AD plus epilepsy (n = 35), and AD plus subclinical epileptiform activity (n = 7).
MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES
Clinical and demographic data, electroencephalogram (EEG) readings, and treatment responses to antiepileptic medications.
RESULTS
Patients with aMCI who had epilepsy presented with symptoms of cognitive decline 6.8 years earlier than patients with aMCI who did not have epilepsy (64.3 vs 71.1 years; P = .02). Patients with AD who had epilepsy presented with cognitive decline 5.5 years earlier than patients with AD who did not have epilepsy (64.8 vs 70.3 years; P = .001). Patients with AD who had subclinical epileptiform activity also had an early onset of cognitive decline (58.9 years). The timing of seizure onset in patients with aMCI and AD was nonuniform (P < .001), clustering near the onset of cognitive decline. Epilepsies were most often complex partial seizures (47%) and more than half were nonconvulsive (55%). Serial or extended EEG monitoring appeared to be more effective than routine EEG at detecting interictal and subclinical epileptiform activity. Epileptic foci were predominantly unilateral and temporal. Of the most commonly prescribed antiepileptics, treatment outcomes appeared to be better for lamotrigine and levetiracetam than for phenytoin.
CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE
Common clinical features of patients with aMCI- or AD-associated epilepsy at our center included early age at onset of cognitive decline, early incidence of seizures in the disease course, unilateral temporal epileptic foci detected by serial/extended EEG, transient cognitive dysfunction, and good seizure control and tolerability with lamotrigine and levetiracetam. Careful identification and treatment of epilepsy in such patients may improve their clinical course.
doi:10.1001/jamaneurol.2013.136
PMCID: PMC4013391  PMID: 23835471
21.  Predictors of re-hospitalization over a two-year follow-up period among patients with schizophrenia enrolled in a community management program in Chengdu, China 
Background
China has recently introduced a community-based service network for managing individuals with schizophrenia but there has been relatively little formal evaluation of the effectiveness of this approach.
Objective
Assess the retention rate and the two-year re-hospitalization rate of patients who are enrolled in the community management network in Chengdu, China.
Methods
Patients with a confirmed diagnosis of schizophrenia who had at least one prior hospitalization and who were enrolled in the service network at the community health clinics in 14 communities in the Jinniu District of Chengdu and 10 communities in the Qingyang District of Chengdu participated in the two-year prospective follow-up assessment. Detailed demographic and clinical information was obtained at the time of intake into the follow-up program and their hospitalization status was recorded during monthly evaluations over the subsequent two years.
Results
Of the 1 027 participating patients, 963 (93.8%) remained in the program for the entire two-year period. Patients with a lower level of education and those who did not live with family members were more likely to drop-out of the network. Among the 963 patients who completed the follow-up 174 (18.1%) were re-hospitalized over the two-year period. Multivariate logistic regression identified factors related to re-hospitalization: not married or not living with family members, having more prominent positive and negative symptoms at the time of intake, and using medication less in the six months prior to intake.
Conclusion
The 94% two-year retention of patients in this urban community management network for individuals with schizophrenia was excellent and the two-year re-hospitalization rate of 18% is better than that reported in most similar programs in other countries. Patients not living with family members were at higher risk for dropping out of the network and for re-hospitalization so this is a high-risk group that deserves special attention. Standardization of the community interventions and longer follow-up studies with control communities that consider the full range of factors relevant to the well-being of patients with schizophrenia (i.e., social integration, quality of life and re-hospitalization) are needed to definitively demonstrate the effectiveness of this community service network.
doi:10.3969/j.issn.1002-0829.2012.01.004
PMCID: PMC4198889  PMID: 25324598
Community; Schizophrenia; Re-hospitalization; Factor analysis; Prospective study
22.  Color synesthesia. Insight into perception, emotion, and consciousness 
Current Opinion in Neurology  2014;28(1):36-44.
Purpose of review
Synesthesia is an extraordinary perceptual phenomenon, in which individuals experience unusual percepts elicited by the activation of an unrelated sensory modality or by a cognitive process. Emotional reactions are commonly associated. The condition prompted philosophical debates on the nature of perception and impacted the course of art history. It recently generated a considerable interest among neuroscientists, but its clinical significance apparently remains underevaluated. This review focuses on the recent studies regarding variants of color synesthesia, the commonest form of the condition.
Recent findings
Synesthesia is commonly classified as developmental and acquired. Developmental forms predispose to changes in primary sensory processing and cognitive functions, usually with better performances in certain aspects and worse in others, and to heightened creativity. Acquired forms of synesthesia commonly arise from drug ingestion or neurological disorders, including thalamic lesions and sensory deprivation (e.g., blindness). Cerebral exploration using structural and functional imaging has demonstrated distinct patterns in cortical activation and brain connectivity for controls and synesthetes. Artworks of affected painters are most illustrative of the nature of synesthetic experiences.
Summary
Results of the recent investigations on synesthesia offered a remarkable insight into the mechanisms of perception, emotion and consciousness, and deserve attention both from neuroscientists and from clinicians.
doi:10.1097/WCO.0000000000000169
PMCID: PMC4286234  PMID: 25545055
cerebral disorders; color; consciousness; emotion; perception; synesthesia; vision
23.  Toward granting linguistic competence to apes: A review of Savage-Rumbaugh et al.'s Language Comprehension in Ape and Child1 
Savage-Rumbaugh et al.'s (1993) monograph describes a study that compared the language comprehension of an 8-year-old ape (a bonobo named Kanzi) with that of a normal 2-year-old human (Alia). The primary purpose of the research was to see if Kanzi could comprehend novel and compound spoken English commands without imitative prompts, contrived reinforcement contingencies, or explicit training procedures. As it turned out, Kanzi acquired a complex comprehension repertoire in a pattern similar to the human child's and even performed better than the human child in many cases. Although this review describes these empirical results favorably, it questions the authors' claim that the subjects learned the repertoire on their own, without reinforcement or training. A close examination of the subjects' histories and of the procedures, transcripts, and videos suggested that the training and testing procedures involved a number of independent variables and processes that were not discussed by the authors, including conditioned reinforcement and punishment, verbal prompts, stimulus control, establishing operations, and extinction. Nonetheless, the methodological and empirical contributions to ape and human language research are substantial and deserve behavior analysts' attention and support. Behavior analysts could contribute to this kind of research by applying the analytic and conceptual tools of behavior analysis in general and the concepts from Verbal Behavior (Skinner, 1957) in particular.
doi:10.1901/jeab.1996.65-477
PMCID: PMC1350159
apes; verbal comprehension; verbal behavior; novel behavior; nonhuman verbal behavior
24.  Regulatory barriers to equity in a health system in transition: a qualitative study in Bulgaria 
Background
Health reforms in Bulgaria have introduced major changes to the financing, delivery and regulation of health care. As in many other countries of Central and Eastern Europe, these included introducing general practice, establishing a health insurance system, reorganizing hospital services, and setting up new payment mechanisms for providers, including patient co-payments. Our study explored perceptions of regulatory barriers to equity in Bulgarian child health services.
Methods
50 qualitative in-depth interviews with users, providers and policy-makers concerned with child health services in Bulgaria, conducted in two villages, one town of 70,000 inhabitants, and the capital Sofia.
Results
The participants in our study reported a variety of regulatory barriers which undermined the principles of equity and, as far as the health insurance system is concerned, solidarity. These included non-participation in the compulsory health insurance system, informal payments, and charging user fees to exempted patients. The participants also reported seemingly unnecessary treatments in the growing private sector. These regulatory failures were associated with the fast pace of reforms, lack of consultation, inadequate public financing of the health system, a perceived "commercialization" of medicine, and weak enforcement of legislation. A recurrent theme from the interviews was the need for better information about patient rights and services covered by the health insurance system.
Conclusions
Regulatory barriers to equity and compliance in daily practice deserve more attention from policy-makers when embarking on health reforms. New financing sources and an increasing role of the private sector need to be accompanied by an appropriate and enforceable regulatory framework to control the behavior of health care providers and ensure equity in access to health services.
doi:10.1186/1472-6963-11-219
PMCID: PMC3184627  PMID: 21923930
25.  Long term relative survival after surgery for abdominal aortic aneurysm in Western Australia: population based study 
BMJ : British Medical Journal  1998;317(7162):852-856.
Objective: To determine the long term relative survival of all patients who had surgery for abdominal aortic aneurysm in Western Australia during 1985-94.
Design: Population based study.
Setting: Western Australia.
Subjects: All patients who had had surgery for abdominal aortic aneurysm in Western Australia during 1985-94.
Main outcome measures: Morbidity and mortality data of patients admitted and surgically treated for abdominal aortic aneurysm in Western Australia during 1985-94. Elective, ruptured, and acute non-ruptured cases were analysed separately. Independent analyses for sex and patients aged 80 years or more were also undertaken. Postoperative (>30 days) relative survival was assessed against age and sex matched controls.
Results: Overall, 1475 (1257 men, 218 women) cases were identified. The crude five year survival after elective surgery, including deaths within 30 days of surgery, was 79% for both men and women. When compared with a matched population the five year relative survival after elective surgery was 94.9% (95% confidence interval 89.9% to 99.9%) for men but only 88.0% (76.3% to 99.7%) for women. The five year relative survival of those aged 80 years and over was good: 116.6% (89.1% to 144.0%) compared with 92.4% (87.7% to 97.0%) for those under 80 years of age (men and women combined). Cardiovascular disease caused 57.8% of the 341 deaths after 30 days.
Conclusion: In a condition such as abdominal aortic aneurysm, which occurs in elderly patients, relative survival is more clinically meaningful than crude survival. The five year relative survival in cases of elective and ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysm was better in men than in women. This is probably because of greater comorbidity in women with abdominal aortic aneurysm and this deserves more attention in the future. The long term survival outcome in octogenarians supports surgery in selected cases.
Key messages Background mortality for conditions such as abdominal aortic aneurysm in elderly patients needs to be taken into account when assessing long term survival after surgery Relative survival methodology can correct for background mortality The five year relative survival for patients surviving beyond 30 days of elective surgery for abdominal aortic aneurysm was 95% for men and 88% for women For octogenarians, five year survival after elective surgery was greater than that expected of an age matched population Age over 80 years should not preclude consideration for elective surgery for abdominal aortic aneurysm
PMCID: PMC31917  PMID: 9748177

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