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1.  Diverse Gastropod Hosts of Angiostrongylus cantonensis, the Rat Lungworm, Globally and with a Focus on the Hawaiian Islands 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(5):e94969.
Eosinophilic meningitis caused by the parasitic nematode Angiostrongylus cantonensis is an emerging infectious disease with recent outbreaks primarily in tropical and subtropical locations around the world, including Hawaii. Humans contract the disease primarily through ingestion of infected gastropods, the intermediate hosts of Angiostrongylus cantonensis. Effective prevention of the disease and control of the spread of the parasite require a thorough understanding of the parasite's hosts, including their distributions, as well as the human and environmental factors that contribute to transmission. The aim of this study was to screen a large cross section of gastropod species throughout the main Hawaiian Islands to determine which act as hosts of Angiostrongylus cantonensis and to assess the parasite loads in these species. Molecular screening of 7 native and 30 non-native gastropod species revealed the presence of the parasite in 16 species (2 native, 14 non-native). Four of the species tested are newly recorded hosts, two species introduced to Hawaii (Oxychilus alliarius, Cyclotropis sp.) and two native species (Philonesia sp., Tornatellides sp.). Those species testing positive were from a wide diversity of heterobranch taxa as well as two distantly related caenogastropod taxa. Review of the global literature showed that many gastropod species from 34 additional families can also act as hosts. There was a wide range of parasite loads among and within species, with an estimated maximum of 2.8 million larvae in one individual of Laevicaulis alte. This knowledge of the intermediate host range of Angiostrongylus cantonensis and the range of parasite loads will permit more focused efforts to detect, monitor and control the most important hosts, thereby improving disease prevention in Hawaii as well as globally.
PMCID: PMC4008484  PMID: 24788772
2.  Anti-Trypanosoma cruzi Cross-Reactive Antibodies Detected at High Rate in Non-Exposed Individuals Living in Non-Endemic Regions: Seroprevalence and Association to Other Viral Serologies 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e74493.
Cross-reactive antibodies are characterized by their recognition of antigens that are different from the trigger immunogen. This happens when the similarity between two different antigenic determinants becomes adequate enough to enable a specific binding with such cross-reactive antibodies. In the present manuscript, we report the presence, at an “abnormal” high frequency, of antibodies in blood samples from French human subjects cross-reacting with a synthetic-peptide antigen derived from a Trypanosoma cruzi (T. cruzi) protein sequence. As the vector of T. cruzi is virtually confined to South America, the parasite is unlikely to be the trigger immunogen of the cross-reactive antibodies detected in France. At present, the cross-reactive antibodies are measured by using an in-house ELISA method that employs the T. cruzi -peptide antigen. However, to underline their cross-reactive characteristics, we called these antibodies “Trypanosoma cruzi Cross Reactive Antibodies” or TcCRA. To validate their cross-reactive nature, these antibodies were affinity-purified from plasma of healthy blood donor and were then shown to specifically react with the T. cruzi parasite by immunofluorescence. Seroprevalence of TcCRA was estimated at 45% in serum samples of French blood donors while the same peptide-antigen reacts with about 96% of T. cruzi -infected Brazilian individuals. In addition, we compared the serology of TcCRA to other serologies such as HSV 1/2, EBV, HHV-6, CMV, VZV, adenovirus, parvovirus B19, mumps virus, rubella virus, respiratory syncytial virus, measles and enterovirus. No association was identified to any of the tested viruses. Furthermore, we tested sera from different age groups for TcCRA and found a progressive acquisition starting from early childhood. Our findings show a large seroprevalence of cross-reactive antibodies to a well-defined T. cruzi antigen and suggest they are induced by a widely spread immunogen, acquired from childhood. The etiology of TcCRA and their clinical relevance still need to be investigated.
PMCID: PMC3775794  PMID: 24069315
3.  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
4.  The Association between Cognition and Academic Performance in Ugandan Children Surviving Malaria with Neurological Involvement 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(2):e55653.
The contribution of different cognitive abilities to academic performance in children surviving cerebral insult can guide the choice of interventions to improve cognitive and academic outcomes. This study's objective was to identify which cognitive abilities are associated with academic performance in children after malaria with neurological involvement.
62 Ugandan children with a history of malaria with neurological involvement were assessed for cognitive ability (working memory, reasoning, learning, visual spatial skills, attention) and academic performance (reading, spelling, arithmetic) three months after the illness. Linear regressions were fit for each academic score with the five cognitive outcomes entered as predictors. Adjusters in the analysis were age, sex, education, nutrition, and home environment. Exploratory factor analysis (EFA) and structural equation models (SEM) were used to determine the nature of the association between cognition and academic performance. Predictive residual sum of squares was used to determine which combination of cognitive scores was needed to predict academic performance.
In regressions of a single academic score on all five cognitive outcomes and adjusters, only Working Memory was associated with Reading (coefficient estimate = 0.36, 95% confidence interval = 0.10 to 0.63, p<0.01) and Spelling (0.46, 0.13 to 0.78, p<0.01), Visual Spatial Skills was associated with Arithmetic (0.15, 0.03 to 0.26, p<0.05), and Learning was associated with Reading (0.06, 0.00 to 0.11, p<0.05). One latent cognitive factor was identified using EFA. The SEM found a strong association between this latent cognitive ability and each academic performance measure (P<0.0001). Working memory, visual spatial ability and learning were the best predictors of academic performance.
Academic performance is strongly associated with the latent variable labelled “cognitive ability” which captures most of the variation in the individual specific cognitive outcome measures. Working memory, visual spatial skills, and learning together stood out as the best combination to predict academic performance.
PMCID: PMC3562187  PMID: 23383342
5.  Brain Microbial Populations in HIV/AIDS: α-Proteobacteria Predominate Independent of Host Immune Status 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e54673.
The brain is assumed to be a sterile organ in the absence of disease although the impact of immune disruption is uncertain in terms of brain microbial diversity or quantity. To investigate microbial diversity and quantity in the brain, the profile of infectious agents was examined in pathologically normal and abnormal brains from persons with HIV/AIDS [HIV] (n = 12), other disease controls [ODC] (n = 14) and in cerebral surgical resections for epilepsy [SURG] (n = 6). Deep sequencing of cerebral white matter-derived RNA from the HIV (n = 4) and ODC (n = 4) patients and SURG (n = 2) groups revealed bacterially-encoded 16 s RNA sequences in all brain specimens with α-proteobacteria representing over 70% of bacterial sequences while the other 30% of bacterial classes varied widely. Bacterial rRNA was detected in white matter glial cells by in situ hybridization and peptidoglycan immunoreactivity was also localized principally in glia in human brains. Analyses of amplified bacterial 16 s rRNA sequences disclosed that Proteobacteria was the principal bacterial phylum in all human brain samples with similar bacterial rRNA quantities in HIV and ODC groups despite increased host neuroimmune responses in the HIV group. Exogenous viruses including bacteriophage and human herpes viruses-4, -5 and -6 were detected variably in autopsied brains from both clinical groups. Brains from SIV- and SHIV-infected macaques displayed a profile of bacterial phyla also dominated by Proteobacteria but bacterial sequences were not detected in experimentally FIV-infected cat or RAG1−/− mouse brains. Intracerebral implantation of human brain homogenates into RAG1−/− mice revealed a preponderance of α-proteobacteria 16 s RNA sequences in the brains of recipient mice at 7 weeks post-implantation, which was abrogated by prior heat-treatment of the brain homogenate. Thus, α-proteobacteria represented the major bacterial component of the primate brain’s microbiome regardless of underlying immune status, which could be transferred into naïve hosts leading to microbial persistence in the brain.
PMCID: PMC3552853  PMID: 23355888
6.  Genotypes and Mouse Virulence of Toxoplasma gondii Isolates from Animals and Humans in China 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e53483.
Recent population structure studies of T. gondii revealed that a few major clonal lineages predominated in different geographical regions. T. gondii in South America is genetically and biologically divergent, whereas this parasite is remarkably clonal in North America and Europe with a few major lineages including Types I, II and III. Information on genotypes and mouse virulence of T. gondii isolates from China is scarce and insufficient to investigate its population structure, evolution, and transmission.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Genotyping of 23 T. gondii isolates from different hosts using 10 markers for PCR-restriction fragment length polymorphism analyses (SAG1, SAG2, SAG3, BTUB, GRA6, c22-8, c29-2, L358, PK1 and Apico) revealed five genotypes; among them three genotypes were atypical and two were archetypal. Fifteen strains belong to the Chinese 1 lineage, which has been previously reported as a widespread lineage from swine, cats, and humans in China. Two human isolates fall into the type I and II lineages and the remaining isolates belong to two new atypical genotypes (ToxoDB#204 and #205) which has never been reported in China. Our results show that these genotypes of T. gondii isolates are intermediately or highly virulent in mice except for the strain TgCtwh6, which maintained parasitemia in mice for 35 days post infection although it possesses the uniform genotype of Chinese 1. Additionally, phylogenetic network analyses of all isolates of genotype Chinese 1 are identical, and there is no variation based on the sequence data generated for four introns (EF1, HP2, UPRT1 and UPRT7) and two dense granule proteins (GRA6 and GRA7).
A limited genetic diversity was found and genotype Chinese 1 (ToxoDB#9) is dominantly circulating in mainland China. The results will provide a useful profile for deep insight to the population structure, epidemiology and biological characteristics of T. gondii in China.
PMCID: PMC3538538  PMID: 23308233
7.  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
8.  DNA Persistence and Relapses Questions on the Treatment Strategies of Enterococcus Infections of Prosthetic Valves 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(12):e53335.
We used amplification of the 16S rRNA gene followed by sequencing to evaluate the persistence of bacterial DNA in explanted heart valve tissue as part of the routine work of a clinical microbiology laboratory, and we analyzed the role of this persistence in the relapses observed in our center. We enrolled 286 patients treated for infective endocarditis (IE) who had valve replacement surgery and were diagnosed according to the modified Duke’s criteria described by Li et al. from a total of 579 IE cases treated in our center. The patients were grouped based on the infecting bacteria, and we considered the 4 most common bacterial genus associated with IE separately (144 were caused by Streptococcus spp., 52 by Enterococcus spp., 58 by Staphylococcus aureus and 32 by coagulase-negative Staphylococcus). Based on our cohort, the risk of relapse in patients with enterococcal prosthetic valve infections treated with antibiotics alone was 11%. Bacterial DNA is cleared over time, but this might be a very slow process, especially with Enterococcus spp. Based on a comprehensive review of the literature performed on Medline, most reports still advise combined treatment with penicillin and an aminoglycoside for as long as 4–6 weeks, but there has been no consensus for the treatment of enterococcal infection of prostheses in IE patients.
PMCID: PMC3534059  PMID: 23300913
9.  An Early Reduction in Treg Cells Correlates with Enhanced Local Inflammation in Cutaneous Leishmaniasis in CCR6-Deficient Mice 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(9):e44499.
Resistance to Leishmania major infection is dependent on the development of a cell-mediated Th1 immune response in resistant C57BL/6 mice whereas Th2-prone BALB/c mice develop non-healing lesions after infection. The chemokine receptor CCR6 is shared by anti-inflammatory regulatory T cells and pro-inflammatory Th17 cells. In a recent study we showed that C57BL/6 mice deficient in CCR6 exhibited enhanced footpad swelling and impaired T helper cell migration indicated by reduced recruitment of total T helper cells into the skin after infection and a reduced delayed type hypersensitivity reaction. Based on these findings we tested whether the lack of CCR6 alters Treg or Th17 cell responses during the course of Leishmania major infection. When we analyzed T cell subsets in the lymph nodes of CCR6-deficient mice, Th17 cell numbers were not different. However, reduced numbers of Treg cells paralleled with a stronger IFNγ response. Furthermore, the early increase in IFNγ-producing cells correlated with increased local tissue inflammation at later time points. Our data indicate an important role of CCR6 for Treg cells and a redundant role for Th17 cells in a Th1 cell-driven anti-parasitic immune response against Leishmania major parasites in resistant C57BL/6 mice.
PMCID: PMC3460949  PMID: 23028548
10.  Hit-to-Lead Development of the Chamigrane Endoperoxide Merulin A for the Treatment of African Sleeping Sickness 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(9):e46172.
Human African trypanosomiasis (HAT) is an infectious disease with a large global health burden occurring primarily in Central and Eastern Africa. Most current treatments have poor blood brain barrier (BBB) penetration, which prevent them from targeting the most lethal stage of the infection. In addition, current therapeutics suffer from a variety of limitations ranging from serious side effects to difficulties with treatment administration. Therefore it is of crucial importance to find new treatments that are safe, affordable, and effective against both sub-species of Trypanosoma brucei.
Semi-synthetic derivatization of the fungally-derived natural product merulin A (1) has led to the discovery of new development candidates for the protozoan parasite T. brucei, the causative agent of HAT. Creation of an initial SAR library based around the merulin scaffold revealed several key features required for activity, including the endoperoxide bridge, as well as one position suitable for further derivatization. Subsequent synthesis of a 20-membered analogue library, guided by the addition of acyl groups that improve the drug-like properties of the merulin A core, resulted in the development of compound 12 with an IC50 of 60 nM against T. brucei, and a selectivity index greater than 300-fold against HeLa and immortalized glial cells.
We report the semi-synthetic optimization of the merulin class of endoperoxide natural products as development candidates against T. brucei. We have identified compounds with low nM antiparasitic activities and high selectivity indices against HeLa cells. These compounds can be produced economically in large quantities via a one step derivatization from the microbial fermentation broth isolate, making them encouraging lead candidates for further development.
PMCID: PMC3459870  PMID: 23029428
11.  Is Universal HBV Vaccination of Healthcare Workers a Relevant Strategy in Developing Endemic Countries? The Case of a University Hospital in Niger 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(9):e44442.
Exposure to hepatitis B virus (HBV) remains a serious risk to healthcare workers (HCWs) in endemic developing countries owing to the strong prevalence of HBV in the general and hospital populations, and to the high rate of occupational blood exposure. Routine HBV vaccination programs targeted to high-risk groups and especially to HCWs are generally considered as a key element of prevention strategies. However, the high rate of natural immunization among adults in such countries where most infections occur perinatally or during early childhood must be taken into account.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We conducted a cross sectional study in 207 personnel of 4 occupational groups (medical, paramedical, cleaning staff, and administrative) in Niamey’s National Hospital, Niger, in order to assess the prevalence of HBV markers, to evaluate susceptibility to HBV infection, and to identify personnel who might benefit from vaccination. The proportion of those who declared a history of occupational blood exposure ranged from 18.9% in the administrative staff to 46.9% in paramedical staff. Only 7.2% had a history of vaccination against HBV with at least 3 injections. Ninety two percent were anti-HBc positive. When we focused on170 HCWs, only 12 (7.1%) showed no biological HBV contact. Twenty six were HBsAg positive (15,3%; 95% confidence interval: 9.9%–20.7%) of whom 8 (32%) had a viral load >2000 IU/ml.
The very small proportion of HCWs susceptible to HBV infection in our study and other studies suggests that in a global approach to prevent occupational infection by bloodborne pathogens, a universal hepatitis B vaccination of HCWs is not priority in these settings. The greatest impact on the risk will most likely be achieved by focusing efforts on primary prevention strategies to reduce occupational blood exposure. HBV screening in HCWs and treatment of those with chronic HBV infection should be however considered.
PMCID: PMC3436880  PMID: 22970218
12.  Novel African Trypanocidal Agents: Membrane Rigidifying Peptides 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(9):e44384.
The bloodstream developmental forms of pathogenic African trypanosomes are uniquely susceptible to killing by small hydrophobic peptides. Trypanocidal activity is conferred by peptide hydrophobicity and charge distribution and results from increased rigidity of the plasma membrane. Structural analysis of lipid-associated peptide suggests a mechanism of phospholipid clamping in which an internal hydrophobic bulge anchors the peptide in the membrane and positively charged moieties at the termini coordinate phosphates of the polar lipid headgroups. This mechanism reveals a necessary phenotype in bloodstream form African trypanosomes, high membrane fluidity, and we suggest that targeting the plasma membrane lipid bilayer as a whole may be a novel strategy for the development of new pharmaceutical agents. Additionally, the peptides we have described may be valuable tools for probing the biosynthetic machinery responsible for the unique composition and characteristics of African trypanosome plasma membranes.
PMCID: PMC3436892  PMID: 22970207
13.  Biotin IgM Antibodies in Human Blood: A Previously Unknown Factor Eliciting False Results in Biotinylation-Based Immunoassays 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(8):e42376.
Biotin is an essential vitamin that binds streptavidin or avidin with high affinity and specificity. As biotin is a small molecule that can be linked to proteins without affecting their biological activity, biotinylation is applied widely in biochemical assays. In our laboratory, IgM enzyme immuno assays (EIAs) of µ-capture format have been set up against many viruses, using as antigen biotinylated virus like particles (VLPs) detected by horseradish peroxidase-conjugated streptavidin. We recently encountered one serum sample reacting with the biotinylated VLP but not with the unbiotinylated one, suggesting in human sera the occurrence of biotin-reactive antibodies. In the present study, we search the general population (612 serum samples from adults and 678 from children) for IgM antibodies reactive with biotin and develop an indirect EIA for quantification of their levels and assessment of their seroprevalence. These IgM antibodies were present in 3% adults regardless of age, but were rarely found in children. The adverse effects of the biotin IgM on biotinylation-based immunoassays were assessed, including four inhouse and one commercial virus IgM EIAs, showing that biotin IgM do cause false positivities. The biotin can not bind IgM and streptavidin or avidin simultaneously, suggesting that these biotin-interactive compounds compete for the common binding site. In competitive inhibition assays, the affinities of biotin IgM antibodies ranged from 2.1×10−3 to 1.7×10−4 mol/L. This is the first report on biotin antibodies found in humans, providing new information on biotinylation-based immunoassays as well as new insights into the biomedical effects of vitamins.
PMCID: PMC3411747  PMID: 22879954
14.  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
15.  Thrombospondin-1 Interacts with Trypanosoma cruzi Surface Calreticulin to Enhance Cellular Infection 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(7):e40614.
Trypanosoma cruzi causes Chagas disease, which is a neglected tropical disease that produces severe pathology and mortality. The mechanisms by which the parasite invades cells are not well elucidated. We recently reported that T. cruzi up-regulates the expression of thrombospondin-1 (TSP-1) to enhance the process of cellular invasion. Here we characterize a novel TSP-1 interaction with T. cruzi that enhances cellular infection. We show that labeled TSP-1 interacts specifically with the surface of T. cruzi trypomastigotes. We used TSP-1 to pull down interacting parasite surface proteins that were identified by mass spectrometry. We also show that full length TSP-1 and the N-terminal domain of TSP-1 (NTSP) interact with T. cruzi surface calreticulin (TcCRT) and other surface proteins. Pre-exposure of recombinant NTSP or TSP-1 to T. cruzi significantly enhances cellular infection of wild type mouse embryo fibroblasts (MEF) compared to the C-terminal domain of TSP-1, E3T3C1. In addition, blocking TcCRT with antibodies significantly inhibits the enhancement of cellular infection mediated by the TcCRT-TSP-1 interaction. Taken together, our findings indicate that TSP-1 interacts with TcCRT on the surface of T. cruzi through the NTSP domain and that this interaction enhances cellular infection. Thus surface TcCRT is a virulent factor that enhances the pathogenesis of T. cruzi infection through TSP-1, which is up-regulated by the parasite.
PMCID: PMC3394756  PMID: 22808206
16.  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
17.  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
18.  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
19.  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

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