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1.  Neopterin Is a Cerebrospinal Fluid Marker for Treatment Outcome Evaluation in Patients Affected by Trypanosoma brucei gambiense Sleeping Sickness 
Post-therapeutic follow-up is essential to confirm cure and to detect early treatment failures in patients affected by sleeping sickness (HAT). Current methods, based on finding of parasites in blood and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and counting of white blood cells (WBC) in CSF, are imperfect. New markers for treatment outcome evaluation are needed. We hypothesized that alternative CSF markers, able to diagnose the meningo-encephalitic stage of the disease, could also be useful for the evaluation of treatment outcome.
Methodology/Principal findings
Cerebrospinal fluid from patients affected by Trypanosoma brucei gambiense HAT and followed for two years after treatment was investigated. The population comprised stage 2 (S2) patients either cured or experiencing treatment failure during the follow-up. IgM, neopterin, B2MG, MMP-9, ICAM-1, VCAM-1, CXCL10 and CXCL13 were first screened on a small number of HAT patients (n = 97). Neopterin and CXCL13 showed the highest accuracy in discriminating between S2 cured and S2 relapsed patients (AUC 99% and 94%, respectively). When verified on a larger cohort (n = 242), neopterin resulted to be the most efficient predictor of outcome. High levels of this molecule before treatment were already associated with an increased risk of treatment failure. At six months after treatment, neopterin discriminated between cured and relapsed S2 patients with 87% specificity and 92% sensitivity, showing a higher accuracy than white blood cell numbers.
In the present study, neopterin was highlighted as a useful marker for the evaluation of the post-therapeutic outcome in patients suffering from sleeping sickness. Detectable levels of this marker in the CSF have the potential to shorten the follow-up for HAT patients to six months after the end of the treatment.
Author Summary
The reduction of the number of lumbar punctures performed during the follow-up of patients affected by sleeping sickness (HAT) is considered a research priority. Follow-up, consisting of the examination of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) for presence of parasites and for the number of leukocytes, is necessary to assess treatment outcome. However, diagnosis of treatment failure is still imperfect and WHO encourages improvements in defining criteria. Many studies have attempted to standardize actual methods and to define a cut-off for the number of white blood cells in CSF to define relapses, while only few have proposed alternatives to current practice. Here we show that neopterin, already proven to be a powerful marker for staging T. b. gambiense HAT, is also useful in evaluating post-therapeutic outcome. The measurement of neopterin concentration in CSF during the follow-up may allow reduction in the number of lumbar punctures from five to three for the majority of cured patients.
PMCID: PMC3585011  PMID: 23469311
2.  New biomarkers for stage determination in Trypanosoma brucei rhodesiense sleeping sickness patients 
Accurate stage determination is crucial in the choice of treatment for patients suffering from sleeping sickness, also known as human African trypanosomiasis (HAT). Current staging methods, based on the counting of white blood cells (WBC) and the detection of parasites in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) have limited accuracy. We hypothesized that immune mediators reliable for staging T. b. gambiense HAT could also be used to stratify T. b. rhodesiense patients, the less common form of HAT.
A population comprising 85 T. b. rhodesiense patients, 14 stage 1 (S1) and 71 stage 2 (S2) enrolled in Malawi and Uganda, was investigated. The CSF levels of IgM, MMP-9, CXCL13, CXCL10, ICAM-1, VCAM-1, neopterin and B2MG were measured and their staging performances evaluated using receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analyses.
IgM, MMP-9 and CXCL13 were the most accurate markers for stage determination (partial AUC 88%, 86% and 85%, respectively). The combination in panels of three molecules comprising CXCL13-CXCL10-MMP-9 or CXCL13-CXCL10-IgM significantly increased their staging ability to partial AUC 94% (p value < 0.01).
The present study highlighted new potential markers for stage determination of T. b. rhodesiense patients. Further investigations are needed to better evaluate these molecules, alone or in panels, as alternatives to WBC to make reliable choice of treatment.
PMCID: PMC3561069  PMID: 23369533
Sleeping sickness; Biomarkers; Trypanosoma brucei rhodesiense; Cerebrospinal fluid; Stage determination
3.  Cerebrospinal Fluid Neopterin as Marker of the Meningo-Encephalitic Stage of Trypanosoma brucei gambiense Sleeping Sickness 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(7):e40909.
Sleeping sickness, or human African trypanosomiasis (HAT), is a protozoan disease that affects rural communities in sub-Saharan Africa. Determination of the disease stage, essential for correct treatment, represents a key issue in the management of patients. In the present study we evaluated the potential of CXCL10, CXCL13, ICAM-1, VCAM-1, MMP-9, B2MG, neopterin and IgM to complement current methods for staging Trypanosoma brucei gambiense patients.
Methods and Findings
Five hundred and twelve T. b. gambiense HAT patients originated from Angola, Chad and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (D.R.C.). Their classification as stage 2 (S2) was based on the number of white blood cells (WBC) (>5/µL) or presence of parasites in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). The CSF concentration of the eight markers was first measured on a training cohort encompassing 100 patients (44 S1 and 56 S2). IgM and neopterin were the best in discriminating between the two stages of disease with 86.4% and 84.1% specificity respectively, at 100% sensitivity. When a validation cohort (412 patients) was tested, neopterin (14.3 nmol/L) correctly classified 88% of S1 and S2 patients, confirming its high staging power. On this second cohort, neopterin also predicted both the presence of parasites, and of neurological signs, with the same ability as IgM and WBC, the current reference for staging.
This study has demonstrated that neopterin is an excellent biomarker for staging T. b. gambiense HAT patients. A rapid diagnostic test for detecting this metabolite in CSF could help in more accurate stage determination.
PMCID: PMC3399808  PMID: 22815865
4.  Hepatitis C Virus Infection May Lead to Slower Emergence of P. falciparum in Blood 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(1):e16034.
Areas endemic for Plasmodium falciparum, hepatitis B virus (HBV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV) overlap in many parts of sub-Saharan Africa. HBV and HCV infections develop in the liver, where takes place the first development stage of P. falciparum before its further spread in blood. The complex mechanisms involved in the development of hepatitis may potentially influence the development of the liver stage of malaria parasites. Understanding the molecular mechanisms of these interactions could provide new pathophysiological insights for treatment strategies in Malaria.
We studied a cohort of 319 individuals living in a village where the three infections are prevalent. The patients were initially given a curative antimalarial treatment and were then monitored for the emergence of asexual P. falciparum forms in blood, fortnightly for one year, by microscopy and polymerase chain reaction.
Principal Findings
At inclusion, 65 (20.4%) subjects had detectable malaria parasites in blood, 36 (11.3%) were HBV chronic carriers, and 61 (18.9%) were HCV chronic carriers. During follow-up, asexual P. falciparum forms were detected in the blood of 203 patients. The median time to P. falciparum emergence in blood was respectively 140 and 120 days in HBV- and HBV+ individuals, and 135 and 224 days in HCV- and HCV+ individuals. HCV carriage was associated with delayed emergence of asexual P. falciparum forms in blood relative to patients without HCV infection.
This pilot study represents first tentative evidence of a potential epidemiological interaction between HBV, HCV and P. falciparum infections. Age is an important confounding factor in this setting however multivariate analysis points to an interaction between P. falciparum and HCV at the hepatic level with a slower emergence of P. falciparum in HCV chronic carriers. More in depth analysis are necessary to unravel the basis of hepatic interactions between these two pathogens, which could help in identifying new therapeutic approaches against malaria.
PMCID: PMC3018426  PMID: 21249226
5.  Immunophenotypic Lymphocyte Profiles in Human African Trypanosomiasis 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(7):e6184.
Human African trypanosomiasis (HAT) is a deadly vector-born disease caused by an extracellular parasite, the trypanosome. Little is known about the cellular immune responses elicited by this parasite in humans. We used multiparameter flow cytometry to characterize leukocyte immunophenotypes in the blood and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) of 33 HAT patients and 27 healthy controls identified during a screening campaign in Angola and Gabon. We evaluated the subsets and activation markers of B and T lymphocytes. Patients had a higher percentage of CD19+ B lymphocytes and activated B lymphocytes in the blood than did controls, but lacked activated CD4+ T lymphocytes (CD25+). Patients displayed no increase in the percentage of activated CD8+ T cells (HLA-DR+, CD69+ or CD25+), but memory CD8 T-cell levels (CD8+CD45RA−) were significantly lower in patients than in controls, as were effector CD8 T-cell levels (CD8+CD45RA+CD62L−). No relationship was found between these blood immunophenotypes and disease severity (stage 1 vs 2). However, CD19+ B-cell levels in the CSF increased with disease severity. The patterns of T and B cell activation in HAT patients suggest that immunomodulatory mechanisms may operate during infection. Determinations of CD19+ B-cell levels in the CSF could improve disease staging.
PMCID: PMC2702168  PMID: 19584913
6.  Treatment Failure Related to Intrathecal Immunoglobulin M (IgM) Synthesis, Cerebrospinal Fluid IgM, and Interleukin-10 in Patients with Hemolymphatic-Stage Sleeping Sickness▿  
Human African trypanosomiasis treatment is stage dependent, but the tests used for staging are controversial. Central nervous system involvement and its relationship with suramin treatment failure were assessed in 60 patients with parasitologically confirmed hemolymphatic-stage Trypanosoma brucei gambiense infection (white blood cell count of ≤5/μl and no trypanosomes in the cerebrospinal fluid [CSF]). The prognostic value of CSF interleukin-10, immunoglobulin M (IgM; as determined by nephelometry and the point-of-care LATEX/IgM test), total protein, and trypanosome-specific antibody was assessed. The IgM and interleukin-10 levels in serum were measured; and the presence of neurological signs, intrathecal IgM synthesis, and blood-CSF barrier dysfunction was determined. After suramin treatment, 14 of 60 patients had relapses (23%). Relapses were significantly correlated with intrathecal IgM synthesis (odds ratio [OR], 46; 95% confidence interval [CI], 8 to 260), a CSF IgM concentration of ≥1.9 mg/liter (OR, 11.7; 95% CI, 2.7 to 50), a CSF end titer by the LATEX/IgM assay of ≥2 (OR, 10.4; 95% CI, 2.5 to 44), and a CSF interleukin-10 concentration of >10 pg/ml (OR, 5; 95% CI, 1.3 to 20). The sensitivities of these markers for treatment failure ranged from 43 to 79%, and the specificities ranged from 74 to 93%. The results show that T. brucei gambiense-infected patients who have signs of neuroinflammation in CSF and who are treated with drugs recommended for use at the hemolymphatic stage are at risk of treatment failure. This highlights the need for the development and the evaluation of accurate point-of-care tests for the staging of human African trypanosomiasis.
PMCID: PMC1951084  PMID: 17428948
7.  Dot Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay for More Reliable Staging of Patients with Human African Trypanosomiasis 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2005;43(9):4789-4795.
Human African trypanosomiasis (HAT) or sleeping sickness is a disease characterized by a hemolymphatic stage 1 followed by a meningoencephalitic stage 2 which is fatal without specific treatment. Furthermore, due to the toxicity of drugs used to treat stage 2 (mainly melarsoprol) accurate staging is required. Actual criteria employed during field surveys are not sensitive enough for precise staging. Antineurofilament (anti-NF) and antigalactocerebrosides (anti-GalC) antibodies have been identified in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) as potential markers of central nervous system (CNS) involvement. We describe a dot enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (dot-ELISA) to detect anti-GalC and anti-NF antibodies and its value in staging. NF- and GalC-dotted nitrocellulose strips were first developed in our laboratory. They were then evaluated in Angola and Central African Republic on 140 CSF samples. Compared to our staging criteria (i.e., CSF cell count ≥ 20 cells/μl, CSF immunoglobulin M concentration ≥ 100 mg/liter, and/or the presence of trypanosomes in the CSF), combined detection of both CSF anti-NF and CSF anti-GalC by dot-ELISA showed 83.2% sensitivity and 100.0% specificity. Dot-ELISA could be a useful test to diagnose CNS involvement in HAT in the less-equipped laboratories or in the field situation and to improve patient treatment.
PMCID: PMC1234101  PMID: 16145142

Results 1-7 (7)