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1.  Antigen Mimicry between Infectious Agents and Self or Environmental Antigens May Lead to Long-Term Regulation of Inflammation 
PMCID: PMC3792553  PMID: 24115950
autoimmunity; autoreactivity; infection; crossreactivity; IL-10; transforming growth factor-beta; allergy; hygiene hypothesis
2.  A Community Study of Factors Related to Poorly Controlled Asthma among Brazilian Urban Children 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(5):e37050.
Asthma constitutes a serious public health problem in many regions of the world, including the city of Salvador, State of Bahia – Brazil. The purpose of this study was to analyse the factors associated with poor asthma control.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Two definitions were used for asthma: 1) wheezing in the last 12 months; 2) wheezing in the last 12 months plus other asthma symptoms or asthma diagnosis ever. The definition of poorly controlled asthma was: at least one reported hospitalisation due to asthma and/or high frequency of symptoms, in the last year. Children with poorly controlled asthma (N = 187/374) were compared with wheezing children with controlled asthma regarding age, gender, atopy, parental asthma, rhinitis, eczema, exposure to second hand tobacco smoke, presence of moulds, pets and pests in the house, helminth infections and body mass index. Crude and logistic regression adjusted odds ratios were used as measures of association. There was a higher proportion of poorly controlled asthma among children with eczema (OR = 1.55; 95% CI 1.02; 2.37). The strength of the association was greater among children with eczema and rhinitis (42.6%, 53.4% and 57.7%, respectively, in children who had no rhinitis nor eczema, had only one of those, and had both (p = 0.02 for trend test). The presence of mould in the houses was inversely associated with poorly controlled asthma (OR = 0.54; 95% CI 0.34; 0.87).
Our results indicate an association between eczema and poor asthma control in this environment, but emphasize the role of various other individual and environmental factors as determinants of poor control.
PMCID: PMC3365022  PMID: 22693565
3.  A study on the immunological basis of the dissociation between type I-hypersensitivity skin reactions to Blomia tropicalis antigens and serum anti-B. tropicalis IgE antibodies 
BMC Immunology  2011;12:34.
Two conditions are used as markers of atopy: the presence of circulating anti-allergen IgE antibodies and the presence of positive skin prick test (SPT) reactions to allergenic extracts. The correlation between these conditions is not absolute. This study aimed at investigating immunological parameters that may mediate this lack of correlation. Individuals whose sera contained anti-B. tropicalis extract IgE antibodies (α-BtE IgE) were divided into two groups, according to the presence or absence of skin reactivity to B. tropicalis extract (BtE). The following parameters were investigated: total IgE levels; α-BtE IgE levels; an arbitrary α-BtE IgE/total IgE ratio; the proportion of carbohydrate-reactive α-BtE IgE; the proportion of α-BtE IgE that reacted with Ascaris lumbricoides extract (AlE); the production of IL-10 by BtE- and AlE-stimulated peripheral blood cells (PBMC).
Total IgE levels were similar in the two groups, but α-BtE IgE was significantly higher in the SPT-positive group (SPT+). A large overlap of α-BtE IgE levels was found in individuals of both groups, indicating that these levels alone cannot account for the differences in SPT outcome. Individuals of the two groups did not differ, statistically, in the proportion of α-BtE IgE that reacted with carbohydrate and in the production of IL-10 by BtE- and AlE-stimulated PBMC. Both groups had part of α-BtE IgE activity absorbed out by AlE, indicating the existence of cross-reactive IgE antibodies. However, the α-BtE IgE from the SPT-negative individuals (SPT-) was more absorbed with AlE than the α-BtE IgE from the SPT+ individuals. This finding may be ascribed to avidity differences of the α-BtE IgE that is present in the two groups of individuals, and could occur if at least part of the α-BtE IgE from the SPT- individuals were elicited by A. lumbricoides infection.
The present results suggest that a low ratio of specific IgE to total IgE levels (in a minority of individuals), and differences in α-BtE IgE avidities (which would have high affinities for A. lumbricoides antigens in SPT- than in SPT+ individuals) may play a role in the down-modulation of type-I hypersensitivity reaction against aeroallergens described in helminth-infected individuals.
PMCID: PMC3118201  PMID: 21631925
4.  Impact of a Citywide Sanitation Program in Northeast Brazil on Intestinal Parasites Infection in Young Children 
Environmental Health Perspectives  2010;118(11):1637-1642.
Sanitation affects health, especially that of young children. Residents of Salvador, in Northeast Brazil, have had a high prevalence of intestinal parasites. A citywide sanitation intervention started in 1996 aimed to raise the level of sewer coverage from 26% to 80% of households.
We evaluated the impact of this intervention on the prevalence of Ascaris lumbricoides, Trichuris trichuria, and Giardia duodenalis infections in preschool children.
The evaluation was composed of two cross-sectional studies (1998 and 2003–2004), each of a sample of 681 and 976 children 1–4 years of age, respectively. Children were sampled from 24 sentinel areas chosen to represent the range of environmental conditions in the study site. Data were collected using an individual/household questionnaire, and an environmental survey was conducted in each area before and after the intervention to assess basic household and neighborhood sanitation conditions. Stool samples were examined for the presence of intestinal parasites. The effect of the intervention was estimated by hierarchical modeling, fitting a sequence of multivariate regression models.
The prevalence of A. lumbricoides infection was reduced from 24.4% to 12.0%, T. trichuria from 18.0% to 5.0%, and G. duodenalis from 14.1% to 5.3%. Most of this reduction appeared to be explained by the increased coverage in each neighborhood by the sewage system constructed during the intervention. The key explanatory variable was thus an ecological measure of exposure and not household-based, suggesting that the parasite transmission prevented by the program was mainly in the public (vs. the domestic) domain.
This study, using advanced statistical modeling to control for individual and ecological potential confounders, demonstrates the impact on intestinal parasites of sanitation improvements implemented at the scale of a large population.
PMCID: PMC2974706  PMID: 20705544
Ascaris; Brazil; developing countries; Giardia; sanitation intervention; sewer; Trichuris; urban health
5.  The presence of serum anti-Ascaris lumbricoides IgE antibodies and of Trichuris trichiura infection are risk factors for wheezing and/or atopy in preschool-aged Brazilian children 
Respiratory Research  2010;11(1):114.
The elucidation of factors that trigger the development of transient wheezing in early childhood may be an important step toward understanding the pathogenesis of asthma and other allergic diseases later in life. Transient wheezing has been mainly attributed to viral infections, although sensitisation to aeroallergens and food allergens may occur at an early age. In developing countries, intestinal helminthic infections have also been associated with allergy or atopy-related disorders.
The aim of this study was to explore the association of Trichuris trichiura and Ascaris lumbricoides infections with wheezing and atopy in early childhood.
Study design
A cross-sectional study using a Portuguese-language ISAAC phase I questionnaire, adapted for preschool-aged children, nested in a cohort study of childhood diarrhoea, was conducted on 682 children. Two faecal samples per child were examined for the presence of intestinal helminthic infection. IgE antibodies against three allergenic preparations (Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus, Blomia tropicalis and common child food), as well as against A. lumbricoides antigens, were measured in a sub-sample of these children, whose parents allowed the procedure. Atopy was defined by the presence of levels of serum IgE antibodies ≥0.35 kU/L against at least one of the three tested allergenic preparations.
Active T. trichiura infection but not A. lumbricoides infection was positively associated with wheezing in the total studied children population [adjusted OR = 2.60; CI = 1.54;4.38] and in the atopic children sub-population [adjusted OR = 3.07; CI = 1.00;9.43]. The association with atopy was also positive and statistically significant only in the brute analysis [OR = 2.13; CI = 1.03;4.40]. Anti-A. lumbricoides IgE antibodies, but not current A. lumbricoides infection, were positively associated with wheezing in atopic children [adjusted OR = 2.01; CI = 1.00;4.50] and in non-atopic children [adjusted OR = 3.07; CI = 1.13;8.35] and it was also associated with atopy [adjusted OR = 7.29; CI = 3.90; 13.4]. On the other hands, reports of wheezing were not significantly associated with atopy.
These data corroborate previous studies showing that wheezing is predominantly associated with infection in early childhood and shows that anti-A. lumbricoides IgE antibodies, but not active Ascaris infections, are associated with wheezing and atopy. Additionally, the data demonstrate that T. trichiura infection may play a role in the pathogenesis of atopic wheezing in early childhood.
PMCID: PMC2939601  PMID: 20731833
6.  Respiratory allergy to Blomia tropicalis: Immune response in four syngeneic mouse strains and assessment of a low allergen-dose, short-term experimental model 
Respiratory Research  2010;11(1):51.
The dust mite Blomia tropicalis is an important source of aeroallergens in tropical areas. Although a mouse model for B. tropicalis extract (BtE)-induced asthma has been described, no study comparing different mouse strains in this asthma model has been reported. The relevance and reproducibility of experimental animal models of allergy depends on the genetic background of the animal, the molecular composition of the allergen and the experimental protocol.
This work had two objectives. The first was to study the anti-B. tropicalis allergic responses in different mouse strains using a short-term model of respiratory allergy to BtE. This study included the comparison of the allergic responses elicited by BtE with those elicited by ovalbumin in mice of the strain that responded better to BtE sensitization. The second objective was to investigate whether the best responder mouse strain could be used in an experimental model of allergy employing relatively low BtE doses.
Groups of mice of four different syngeneic strains were sensitized subcutaneously with 100 μg of BtE on days 0 and 7 and challenged four times intranasally, at days 8, 10, 12, and 14, with 10 μg of BtE. A/J mice, that were the best responders to BtE sensitization, were used to compare the B. tropicalis-specific asthma experimental model with the conventional experimental model of ovalbumin (OVA)-specific asthma. A/J mice were also sensitized with a lower dose of BtE.
Mice of all strains had lung inflammatory-cell infiltration and increased levels of anti-BtE IgE antibodies, but these responses were significantly more intense in A/J mice than in CBA/J, BALB/c or C57BL/6J mice. Immunization of A/J mice with BtE induced a more intense airway eosinophil influx, higher levels of total IgE, similar airway hyperreactivity to methacholine but less intense mucous production, and lower levels of specific IgE, IgG1 and IgG2 antibodies than sensitization with OVA. Finally, immunization with a relatively low BtE dose (10 μg per subcutaneous injection per mouse) was able to sensitize A/J mice, which were the best responders to high-dose BtE immunization, for the development of allergy-associated immune and lung inflammatory responses.
The described short-term model of BtE-induced allergic lung disease is reproducible in different syngeneic mouse strains, and mice of the A/J strain was the most responsive to it. In addition, it was shown that OVA and BtE induce quantitatively different immune responses in A/J mice and that the experimental model can be set up with low amounts of BtE.
PMCID: PMC2890645  PMID: 20433763
7.  Risk factors for asthma and allergy associated with urban migration: background and methodology of a cross-sectional study in Afro-Ecuadorian school children in Northeastern Ecuador (Esmeraldas-SCAALA Study) 
Asthma and allergic diseases are becoming increasingly frequent in children in urban centres of Latin America although the prevalence of allergic disease is still low in rural areas. Understanding better why the prevalence of asthma is greater in urban migrant populations and the role of risk factors such as life style and environmental exposures, may be key to understand what is behind this trend.
The Esmeraldas-SCAALA (Social Changes, Asthma and Allergy in Latin America) study consists of cross-sectional and nested case-control studies of school children in rural and urban areas of Esmeraldas Province in Ecuador. The cross-sectional study will investigate risk factors for atopy and allergic disease in rural and migrant urban Afro-Ecuadorian school children and the nested case-control study will examine environmental, biologic and social risk factors for asthma among asthma cases and non-asthmatic controls from the cross-sectional study. Data will be collected through standardised questionnaires, skin prick testing to relevant aeroallergen extracts, stool examinations for parasites, blood sampling (for measurement of IgE, interleukins and other immunological parameters), anthropometric measurements for assessment of nutritional status, exercise testing for assessment of exercise-induced bronchospasm and dust sampling for measurement of household endotoxin and allergen levels.
The information will be used to identify the factors associated with an increased risk of asthma and allergies in migrant and urbanizing populations, to improve the understanding of the causes of the increase in asthma prevalence and to identify potentially modifiable factors to inform the design of prevention programmes to reduce the risk of allergy in urban populations in Latin America.
PMCID: PMC1578586  PMID: 16970809

Results 1-7 (7)