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1.  A comparison of bats and rodents as reservoirs of zoonotic viruses: are bats special? 
Bats are the natural reservoirs of a number of high-impact viral zoonoses. We present a quantitative analysis to address the hypothesis that bats are unique in their propensity to host zoonotic viruses based on a comparison with rodents, another important host order. We found that bats indeed host more zoonotic viruses per species than rodents, and we identified life-history and ecological factors that promote zoonotic viral richness. More zoonotic viruses are hosted by species whose distributions overlap with a greater number of other species in the same taxonomic order (sympatry). Specifically in bats, there was evidence for increased zoonotic viral richness in species with smaller litters (one young), greater longevity and more litters per year. Furthermore, our results point to a new hypothesis to explain in part why bats host more zoonotic viruses per species: the stronger effect of sympatry in bats and more viruses shared between bat species suggests that interspecific transmission is more prevalent among bats than among rodents. Although bats host more zoonotic viruses per species, the total number of zoonotic viruses identified in bats (61) was lower than in rodents (68), a result of there being approximately twice the number of rodent species as bat species. Therefore, rodents should still be a serious concern as reservoirs of emerging viruses. These findings shed light on disease emergence and perpetuation mechanisms and may help lead to a predictive framework for identifying future emerging infectious virus reservoirs.
doi:10.1098/rspb.2012.2753
PMCID: PMC3574368  PMID: 23378666
trait-based approaches; zoonoses; viral richness; reservoir host; spillover; Chiroptera
2.  New World Bats Harbor Diverse Influenza A Viruses 
PLoS Pathogens  2013;9(10):e1003657.
Aquatic birds harbor diverse influenza A viruses and are a major viral reservoir in nature. The recent discovery of influenza viruses of a new H17N10 subtype in Central American fruit bats suggests that other New World species may similarly carry divergent influenza viruses. Using consensus degenerate RT-PCR, we identified a novel influenza A virus, designated as H18N11, in a flat-faced fruit bat (Artibeus planirostris) from Peru. Serologic studies with the recombinant H18 protein indicated that several Peruvian bat species were infected by this virus. Phylogenetic analyses demonstrate that, in some gene segments, New World bats harbor more influenza virus genetic diversity than all other mammalian and avian species combined, indicative of a long-standing host-virus association. Structural and functional analyses of the hemagglutinin and neuraminidase indicate that sialic acid is not a ligand for virus attachment nor a substrate for release, suggesting a unique mode of influenza A virus attachment and activation of membrane fusion for entry into host cells. Taken together, these findings indicate that bats constitute a potentially important and likely ancient reservoir for a diverse pool of influenza viruses.
Author Summary
Previous studies indicated that a novel influenza A virus (H17N10) was circulating in fruit bats from Guatemala (Central America). Herein, we investigated whether similar viruses are present in bat species from South America. Analysis of rectal swabs from bats sampled in the Amazon rainforest region of Peru identified another new influenza A virus from bats that is phylogenetically distinct from the one identified in Guatemala. The genes that encode the surface proteins of the new virus from the flat-faced fruit bat were designated as new subtype H18N11. Serologic testing of blood samples from several species of Peruvian bats indicated a high prevalence of antibodies to the surface proteins. Phylogenetic analyses demonstrate that bat populations from Central and South America maintain as much influenza virus genetic diversity in some gene segments as all other mammalian and avian species combined. The crystal structures of the hemagglutinin and neuraminidase proteins indicate that sialic acid is not a receptor for virus attachment nor a substrate for release, suggesting a novel mechanism of influenza A virus attachment and activation of membrane fusion for entry into host cells. In summary, our findings indicate that bats constitute a potentially important reservoir for influenza viruses.
doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1003657
PMCID: PMC3794996  PMID: 24130481
3.  Prevalence and Diversity of Bartonella spp. in Bats in Peru 
Bartonella infections were investigated in bats in the Amazon part of Peru. A total of 112 bats belonging to 19 species were surveyed. Bartonella bacteria were cultured from 24.1% of the bats (27/112). Infection rates ranged from 0% to 100% per bat species. Phylogenetic analyses of gltA of the Bartonella isolates revealed 21 genetic variants clustering into 13 divergent phylogroups. Some Bartonella strains were shared by bats of multiple species, and bats of some species were infected with multiple Bartonella strains, showing no evident specific Bartonella sp.–bat relationships. Rarely found in other bat species, the Bartonella strains of phylogroups I and III discovered from the common vampire bats (Desmodus rotundus) were more specific to the host bat species, suggesting some level of host specificity.
doi:10.4269/ajtmh.2012.12-0097
PMCID: PMC3435358  PMID: 22826480
4.  IgG4 antibodies and cancer-associated inflammation 
Oncoimmunology  2013;2(7):e24889.
The role of B cells and antibodies in cancer is insufficiently understood but is receiving increasing attention. We have recently identified IgG4 as an antibody subclass elicited by melanoma-associated interleukin-10-driven inflammation. In this setting, IgG4 exhibit inefficient immunostimulatory capacity and block the cytotoxic activities of other antibodies. These previously unappreciated mechanisms of immune escape may constitute promising targets for the development of novel anticancer immunotherapies.
doi:10.4161/onci.24889
PMCID: PMC3782134  PMID: 24073371
B cells; FcγRI; IL-10; IgG4; VEGF; antibody effector functions; cancer inflammation; immune escape; melanoma
5.  IgG4 subclass antibodies impair antitumor immunity in melanoma 
The Journal of Clinical Investigation  2013;123(4):1457-1474.
Host-induced antibodies and their contributions to cancer inflammation are largely unexplored. IgG4 subclass antibodies are present in IL-10–driven Th2 immune responses in some inflammatory conditions. Since Th2-biased inflammation is a hallmark of tumor microenvironments, we investigated the presence and functional implications of IgG4 in malignant melanoma. Consistent with Th2 inflammation, CD22+ B cells and IgG4+-infiltrating cells accumulated in tumors, and IL-10, IL-4, and tumor-reactive IgG4 were expressed in situ. When compared with B cells from patient lymph nodes and blood, tumor-associated B cells were polarized to produce IgG4. Secreted B cells increased VEGF and IgG4, and tumor cells enhanced IL-10 secretion in cocultures. Unlike IgG1, an engineered tumor antigen-specific IgG4 was ineffective in triggering effector cell–mediated tumor killing in vitro. Antigen-specific and nonspecific IgG4 inhibited IgG1-mediated tumoricidal functions. IgG4 blockade was mediated through reduction of FcγRI activation. Additionally, IgG4 significantly impaired the potency of tumoricidal IgG1 in a human melanoma xenograft mouse model. Furthermore, serum IgG4 was inversely correlated with patient survival. These findings suggest that IgG4 promoted by tumor-induced Th2-biased inflammation may restrict effector cell functions against tumors, providing a previously unexplored aspect of tumor-induced immune escape and a basis for biomarker development and patient-specific therapeutic approaches.
doi:10.1172/JCI65579
PMCID: PMC3613918  PMID: 23454746
6.  Evidence of Rabies Virus Exposure among Humans in the Peruvian Amazon 
In May of 2010, two communities (Truenococha and Santa Marta) reported to be at risk of vampire bat depredation were surveyed in the Province Datem del Marañón in the Loreto Department of Perú. Risk factors for bat exposure included age less than or equal to 25 years and owning animals that had been bitten by bats. Rabies virus neutralizing antibodies (rVNAs) were detected in 11% (7 of 63) of human sera tested. Rabies virus ribonucleoprotein (RNP) immunoglobulin G (IgG) antibodies were detected in the sera of three individuals, two of whom were also seropositive for rVNA. Rabies virus RNP IgM antibodies were detected in one respondent with no evidence of rVNA or RNP IgG antibodies. Because one respondent with positive rVNA results reported prior vaccination and 86% (six of seven) of rVNA-positive respondents reported being bitten by bats, these data suggest nonfatal exposure of persons to rabies virus, which is likely associated with vampire bat depredation.
doi:10.4269/ajtmh.2012.11-0689
PMCID: PMC3414554  PMID: 22855749
7.  Monitoring the Systemic Human Memory B Cell Compartment of Melanoma Patients for Anti-Tumor IgG Antibodies 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(4):e19330.
Melanoma, a potentially lethal skin cancer, is widely thought to be immunogenic in nature. While there has been much focus on T cell-mediated immune responses, limited knowledge exists on the role of mature B cells. We describe an approach, including a cell-based ELISA, to evaluate mature IgG antibody responses to melanoma from human peripheral blood B cells. We observed a significant increase in antibody responses from melanoma patients (n = 10) to primary and metastatic melanoma cells compared to healthy volunteers (n = 10) (P<0.0001). Interestingly, we detected a significant reduction in antibody responses to melanoma with advancing disease stage in our patient cohort (n = 21) (P<0.0001). Overall, 28% of melanoma patient-derived B cell cultures (n = 1,800) compared to 2% of cultures from healthy controls (n = 600) produced antibodies that recognized melanoma cells. Lastly, a patient-derived melanoma-specific monoclonal antibody was selected for further study. This antibody effectively killed melanoma cells in vitro via antibody-mediated cellular cytotoxicity. These data demonstrate the presence of a mature systemic B cell response in melanoma patients, which is reduced with disease progression, adding to previous reports of tumor-reactive antibodies in patient sera, and suggesting the merit of future work to elucidate the clinical relevance of activating humoral immune responses to cancer.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0019330
PMCID: PMC3084832  PMID: 21559411
8.  Antimicrobial Activities of Amine- and Guanidine-Functionalized Cholic Acid Derivatives 
Compounds in a series of cholic acid derivatives, designed to mimic the activities of polymyxin B and its derivatives, act as both potent antibiotics and effective permeabilizers of the outer membranes of gram-negative bacteria. Some of these compounds rival polymyxin B in antibacterial activity against gram-negative bacteria and are also very active against gram-positive organisms. Other compounds interact synergistically with hydrophobic antibiotics to inhibit bacterial growth.
PMCID: PMC89276  PMID: 10348750

Results 1-8 (8)