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1.  Admission Cell Free DNA Levels Predict 28-Day Mortality in Patients with Severe Sepsis in Intensive Care 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(6):e100514.
The aim of the current study is to assess the mortality prediction accuracy of circulating cell-free DNA (CFD) level at admission measured by a new simplified method.
Materials and Methods
CFD levels were measured by a direct fluorescence assay in severe sepsis patients on intensive care unit (ICU) admission. In-hospital and/or twenty eight day all-cause mortality was the primary outcome.
Out of 108 patients with median APACHE II of 20, 32.4% have died in hospital/or at 28-day. CFD levels were higher in decedents: median 3469.0 vs. 1659 ng/ml, p<0.001. In multivariable model APACHE II score and CFD (quartiles) were significantly associated with the mortality: odds ratio of 1.05, p = 0.049 and 2.57, p<0.001 per quartile respectively. C-statistics for the models was 0.79 for CFD and 0.68 for APACHE II. Integrated discrimination improvement (IDI) analyses showed that CFD and CFD+APACHE II score models had better discriminatory ability than APACHE II score alone.
CFD level assessed by a new, simple fluorometric-assay is an accurate predictor of acute mortality among ICU patients with severe sepsis. Comparison of CFD to APACHE II score and Procalcitonin (PCT), suggests that CFD has the potential to improve clinical decision making.
PMCID: PMC4067333  PMID: 24955978
2.  Intracellular Bacteria Interfere with Dendritic Cell Functions: Role of the Type I Interferon Pathway 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(6):e99420.
Dendritic cells (DCs) orchestrate host defenses against microorganisms. In infectious diseases due to intracellular bacteria, the inefficiency of the immune system to eradicate microorganisms has been attributed to the hijacking of DC functions. In this study, we selected intracellular bacterial pathogens with distinct lifestyles and explored the responses of monocyte-derived DCs (moDCs). Using lipopolysaccharide as a control, we found that Orientia tsutsugamushi, the causative agent of scrub typhus that survives in the cytosol of target cells, induced moDC maturation, as assessed by decreased endocytosis activity, the ability to induce lymphocyte proliferation and the membrane expression of phenotypic markers. In contrast, Coxiella burnetii, the agent of Q fever, and Brucella abortus, the agent of brucellosis, both of which reside in vacuolar compartments, only partly induced the maturation of moDCs, as demonstrated by a phenotypic analysis. To analyze the mechanisms used by C. burnetii and B. abortus to alter moDC activation, we performed microarray and found that C. burnetii and B. abortus induced a specific signature consisting of TLR4, TLR3, STAT1 and interferon response genes. These genes were down-modulated in response to C. burnetii and B. abortus but up-modulated in moDCs activated by lipopolysaccharide and O. tsutsugamushi. This transcriptional alteration was associated with the defective interferon-β production. This study demonstrates that intracellular bacteria specifically affect moDC responses and emphasizes how C. burnetii and B. abortus interfere with moDC activation and the antimicrobial immune response. We believe that comparing infection by several bacterial species may be useful for defining new pathways and biomarkers and for developing new treatment strategies.
PMCID: PMC4051653  PMID: 24915541
3.  A Novel Approach - The Propensity to Propagate (PTP) Method for Controlling for Host Factors in Studying the Transmission of Mycobacterium Tuberculosis 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(5):e97816.
Understanding the genetic variations among Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB) strains with differential ability to transmit would be a major step forward in preventing transmission.
To describe a method to extend conventional proxy measures of transmissibility by adjusting for patient-related factors, thus strengthening the causal association found with bacterial factors.
Clinical, demographic and molecular fingerprinting data were obtained during routine surveillance of verified MTB cases reported in the Netherlands between 1993 and 2011, and the phylogenetic lineages of the isolates were inferred. Odds ratios for host risk factors for clustering were used to obtain a measure of each patient's and cluster's propensity to propagate (CPP). Mean and median cluster sizes across different categories of CPP were compared amongst four different phylogenetic lineages.
Both mean and median cluster size grew with increasing CPP category. On average, CPP values from Euro-American lineage strains were higher than Beijing and EAI strains. There were no significant differences between the mean and median cluster sizes among the four phylogenetic lineages within each CPP category.
Our finding that the distribution of CPP scores was unequal across four different phylogenetic lineages supports the notion that host-related factors should be controlled for to attain comparability in measuring the different phylogenetic lineages' ability to propagate. Although Euro-American strains were more likely to be in clusters in an unadjusted analysis, no significant differences among the four lineages persisted after we controlled for host factors.
PMCID: PMC4029888  PMID: 24849817
4.  Mycobacterium tuberculosis nitrogen assimilation and host colonization require aspartate 
Nature chemical biology  2013;9(11):10.1038/nchembio.1355.
Here we identify the amino acid transporter AnsP1 as the unique aspartate importer in the human pathogen Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Metabolomic analysis of a mutant inactivated in AnsP1 revealed the transporter is essential for M. tuberculosis to assimilate nitrogen from aspartate. Virulence of the AnsP1 mutant is impaired in vivo, revealing aspartate is a primary nitrogen source required for host colonization by the tuberculosis bacillus.
PMCID: PMC3856356  PMID: 24077180
5.  China Tuberculosis Policy at Crucial Crossroads: Comparing the Practice of Different Hospital and Tuberculosis Control Collaboration Models Using Survey Data 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e90596.
Currently three hospital and tuberculosis (TB) collaboration models exist in China: the dispensary model where TB has to be diagnosed and treated in TB dispensaries, the specialist model where TB specialist hospital also treat TB patients, and the integrated model where TB diagnosis and treatment is integrated into a general hospital. The study compared effects of the three models through exploring patient experience in TB diagnosis and treatment.
We selected two sites in each model of TB service in four provinces of China. In each site, 50 patients were selected from TB patient registries for a structured questionnaire survey, with a total of 293 patients recruited. All participants were newly registered uncomplicated TB cases without any major complications or resistance to first-line anti-TB drugs, and having successfully completed treatment. Diagnostic and treatment procedures were reviewed from medical charts of the surveyed patients to compare with national guidelines.
Specialist sites had the highest patient expenditure, hospitalization rates and mostly used second-line anti-TB drugs, while the integrated model reported the opposite. The median health expenditure was USD 1,499 for the specialist sites and USD 306 for the integrated sites, with 83% and 15% patients respectively having unnecessary hospitalization. 74% of the specialist sites and 19% of the integrated sites used second-line anti-TB drugs. Mixed results were identified in the two dispensary sites. One site had median health expenditure of USD 138 with 12% of patients hospitalized, while the other had USD 912 and 65% respectively.
The study observed prohibitive financial expenditure and a high level of deviation from national guidelines in all sites, which may be related to the profit-seeking behavior of public hospitals. The study supports the integrated model as the better policy option for future TB health reform in China.
PMCID: PMC3951218  PMID: 24621996
6.  Protease Inhibitors from Marine Actinobacteria as a Potential Source for Antimalarial Compound 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e90972.
The study was planned to screen the marine actinobacterial extract for the protease inhibitor activity and its anti- Pf activity under in vitro and in vivo conditions. Out of 100 isolates, only 3 isolates exhibited moderate to high protease inhibitor activities on trypsin, chymotrypsin and proteinase K. Based on protease inhibitor activity 3 isolates were chosen for further studies. The potential isolate was characterized by polyphasic approach and identified as Streptomyces sp LK3 (JF710608). The lead compound was identified as peptide from Streptomyces sp LK3. The double-reciprocal plot displayed inhibition mode is non-competitive and it confirms the irreversible nature of protease inhibitor. The peptide from Streptomyces sp LK3 extract showed significant anti plasmodial activity (IC50: 25.78 µg/ml). In in vivo model, the highest level of parasitemia suppression (≈45%) was observed in 600 mg/kg of the peptide. These analyses revealed no significant changes were observed in the spleen and liver tissue during 8 dpi. The results confirmed up-regulation of TGF-β and down regulation of TNF-α in tissue and serum level in PbA infected peptide treated mice compared to PbA infection. The results obtained infer that the peptide possesses anti- Pf activity activity. It suggests that the extracts have novel metabolites and could be considered as a potential source for drug development.
PMCID: PMC3949715  PMID: 24618707
7.  Mycobacterium tuberculosis Exploits Asparagine to Assimilate Nitrogen and Resist Acid Stress during Infection 
PLoS Pathogens  2014;10(2):e1003928.
Mycobacterium tuberculosis is an intracellular pathogen. Within macrophages, M. tuberculosis thrives in a specialized membrane-bound vacuole, the phagosome, whose pH is slightly acidic, and where access to nutrients is limited. Understanding how the bacillus extracts and incorporates nutrients from its host may help develop novel strategies to combat tuberculosis. Here we show that M. tuberculosis employs the asparagine transporter AnsP2 and the secreted asparaginase AnsA to assimilate nitrogen and resist acid stress through asparagine hydrolysis and ammonia release. While the role of AnsP2 is partially spared by yet to be identified transporter(s), that of AnsA is crucial in both phagosome acidification arrest and intracellular replication, as an M. tuberculosis mutant lacking this asparaginase is ultimately attenuated in macrophages and in mice. Our study provides yet another example of the intimate link between physiology and virulence in the tubercle bacillus, and identifies a novel pathway to be targeted for therapeutic purposes.
Author Summary
Tuberculosis (TB) is still responsible for nearly 1.3 million deaths annually. There is an urgent need to identify novel drug targets in the tubercle bacillus, Mycobacterium tuberculosis, in order to develop novel therapeutics. To proliferate inside its human host, and ensure its spreading, M. tuberculosis must adapt its nutritional requirements and metabolism to the molecular environment it encounters during infection. Elucidating the origin, nature, and acquisition mechanisms of the nutrients required by M. tuberculosis inside its host may help identify targets for novel antimicrobials. In this study we asked how the TB bacillus acquires nitrogen, a vital constituent of all living organisms, from host tissues. We show the amino acid asparagine to be an important source of nitrogen for the bacillus, and we identify two bacterial proteins, AnsP2 and AnsA, that allow the pathogen to capture and ‘digest’ asparagine, respectively. In addition, we report that asparagine ‘digestion’ allows the pathogen to resist the host immune defense and to survive inside host cells and tissues. This study paves the way for future research into M. tuberculosis nitrogen metabolism, and for the development of alternative therapeutic strategies to impair nitrogen acquisition by the bacillus and treat patients with TB.
PMCID: PMC3930563  PMID: 24586151
8.  The Effects on Tuberculosis Treatment Adherence from Utilising Community Health Workers: A Comparison of Selected Rural and Urban Settings in Kenya 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e88937.
Community Health Workers (CHWs) have been utilised for various primary health care activities in different settings especially in developing countries. Usually when utilised in well defined terms, they have a positive impact. To support Kenya's policy on engagement of CHWs for tuberculosis (TB) control, there is need to demonstrate effects of utilising them.
This study assessed TB treatment adherence among patients who utilised CHWs in management of their illness in comparison to those who did not in urban and rural settings.
A retrospective cohort study was conducted in selected health facilities using standard clinical records for each TB patient registered for treatment between 2005 to 2011. Qualitative data was collected from CHWs and health care providers.
The study assessed 2778 tuberculosis patients and among them 1499 (54%) utilized CHWs for their TB treatment. The urban setting in comparison with the rural setting contributed 70% of patients utilising the CHWs (p<0.001). Overall treatment adherence of the cohort was 79%. Categorizing by use of CHWs, adherence among patients who had utilized CHWs was 83% versus 68% among those that had not (p<0.001). In comparison between the rural and urban settings adherence was 76% and 81.5% (p<0.001) respectively and when categorized by use of CHWs it was 73% and 90% (p<0.001) for the rural and urban set ups respectively. Utilisation of CHWs remained significant in enhancing treatment adherence in the cohort with unadjusted and adjusted ORs; OR 2.25, (95% 1.86–2.73) p<0.001 and OR 1.98 (95% 1.51–2.5) p<0.001 respectively. It was most effective in the urban set-up, OR 2.65 (95% 2.02–3.48, p<0.001) in comparison to the rural set up, OR 0.74 (95% 0.56–0.97) p = 0.032.
Utilisation of CHWs enhanced TB treatment adherence and the best effects were in the urban set-up.
PMCID: PMC3928331  PMID: 24558452
9.  Factors Associated with Adherence to Treatment with Isoniazid for the Prevention of Tuberculosis amongst People Living with HIV/AIDS: A Systematic Review of Qualitative Data 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e87166.
To systematically identify from qualitative data in the published literature the main barriers to adherence to isoniazid preventive therapy (IPT) for tuberculosis (TB) among people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHA).
We searched ten data sources, including MEDLINE and EMBASE for articles published in peer-reviewed journals from inception through to December 2011 for evidence relevant to IPT for TB in relation to PLWHA. Studies were assessed for quality using the CASP critical appraisal tool for qualitative studies. Data extracted from studies were then analysed thematically using thematic synthesis.
Eight studies, two of which were conducted within the same clinical trial, met the inclusion criteria. In addition to the influence of personal characteristics, five overarching themes were identified: Individual personal beliefs; HIV treatment and related issues; Socio-economic factors; Family and other social support factors, and Relationships with health providers. The review confirms current understanding of adherence to treatment as influenced by patients' understanding of, and beliefs related to treatment regimens. This is in-turn influenced by broader factors, namely: socio-economic factors such as poverty and lack of health facilities; the level of support available to patients from family and other networks and the stigma that emanates from these relationships; and relationships with health providers, which in-turn become a delicate issue given the sensitivity of dealing with two chronic diseases of significant morbidity and mortality toll. HIV treatment related issues also influence adherence to IPT, whereby challenges related to the acceptance, organisation and administration of these two long-term treatment regimens and stigma related to HIV/AIDS, are seen to be major factors.
Understanding this complex interplay of factors more clearly is essential for healthcare decision-makers to be able to achieve the level of adherence required to effectively mitigate the threat posed by co-infection with TB and HIV/AIDS in developing countries.
PMCID: PMC3911939  PMID: 24498298
10.  Tuberculin Skin Test Distribution following a Change in BCG Vaccination Policy 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e86419.
Epidemiologic data regarding tuberculin skin test (TST) responses are an important basis for TB control strategies. This study analyzed TST responses in Korea, which experienced a rapid change in BCG vaccination status.
TST responses in young adults were examined over 5 years. Participants with active TB lesions were excluded.
A total of 5,552 participants were enrolled with median age of 21 years. When an induration diameter ≥10 mm was used as the criterion for a positive test, TST positivity fell (from 28.0% in 2005 to 15.3% in 2009); however, they remained steady when the criterion was ≥15–20 mm. A positive TST was associated with a personal or family of TB, the presence of a Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) scar, and age (odds ratio [95% confidence interval] = 4.03 [2.61–6.22], 2.91 [1.80–4.71], 1.50 [1.31–1.72], and 1.15 [1.09–1.20], respectively). Among these factors, the decrease of participants with BCG scars was the most prominent change, which appeared to be associated with the change of TST positivity rate.
Overall, the rate of TST positivity in Korea decreased. However, this trend seems associated with the change of BCG vaccination strategy rather than successful control of LTBI. This study showed that change in BCG vaccination strategy can have great impact on TB epidemiologic survey based on TST.
PMCID: PMC3900524  PMID: 24466082
11.  Ail Proteins of Yersinia pestis and Y. pseudotuberculosis Have Different Cell Binding and Invasion Activities 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e83621.
The Yersinia pestis adhesin Ail mediates host cell binding and facilitates delivery of cytotoxic Yop proteins. Ail from Y. pestis and Y. pseudotuberculosis is identical except for one or two amino acids at positions 43 and 126 depending on the Y. pseudotuberculosis strain. Ail from Y. pseudotuberculosis strain YPIII has been reported to lack host cell binding ability, thus we sought to determine which amino acid difference(s) are responsible for the difference in cell adhesion. Y. pseudotuberculosis YPIII Ail expressed in Escherichia coli bound host cells, albeit at ∼50% the capacity of Y. pestis Ail. Y. pestis Ail single mutants, Ail-E43D and Ail-F126V, both have decreased adhesion and invasion in E. coli when compared to wild-type Y. pestis Ail. Y. pseudotuberculosis YPIII Ail also had decreased binding to the Ail substrate fibronectin, relative to Y. pestis Ail in E. coli. When expressed in Y. pestis, there was a 30–50% decrease in adhesion and invasion depending on the substitution. Ail-mediated Yop delivery by both Y. pestis Ail and Y. pseudotuberculosis Ail were similar when expressed in Y. pestis, with only Ail-F126V giving a statistically significant reduction in Yop delivery of 25%. In contrast to results in E. coli and Y. pestis, expression of Ail in Y. pseudotuberculosis led to no measurable adhesion or invasion, suggesting the longer LPS of Y. pseudotuberculosis interferes with Ail cell-binding activity. Thus, host context affects the binding activities of Ail and both Y. pestis and Y. pseudotuberculosis Ail can mediate cell binding, cell invasion and facilitate Yop delivery.
PMCID: PMC3873954  PMID: 24386237
12.  Sputum Microbiota Associated with New, Recurrent and Treatment Failure Tuberculosis 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e83445.
Microbiota have recently been shown to be associated with many disease conditions. However, the microbiota associated with tuberculosis (TB) infection, recurrence and treatment outcome have not been systematically characterized. Here, we used high throughput 16S RNA sequencing to analyze the sputum microbiota associated with Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection and also to identify the microorganisms associated with different outcomes of TB treatment. We recruited 25 new TB patients, 30 recurrent TB patients and 20 TB patients with treatment failure, as well as 20 healthy controls. Streptococcus, Gramulicatella and Pseudomonas were more abundant in TB patients while Prevotella, Leptotrichia, Treponema, Catonella and Coprococcus were less abundant in TB patients than in the healthy controls. We found reduced frequency and abundance of some genera such as Bulleidia and Atopobium in recurrent TB patients compared with those in new TB patients. In addition, the ratio of Pseudomonas / Mycobacterium in recurrent TB was higher than that in new TB while the ratio of Treponema / Mycobacterium in recurrent TB was lower than that in new TB, indicating that disruption of these bacteria may be a risk factor of TB recurrence. Furthermore, Pseudomonas was more abundant and more frequently present in treatment failure patients than in cured new patients, and the ratio of Pseudomonas / Mycobacterium in treatment failure was higher than that in new TB. Our data suggest that the presence of certain bacteria and the disorder of lung microbiota may be associated with not only onset of TB but also its recurrence and treatment failure. These findings indicate that lung microbiota may play a role in pathogenesis and treatment outcome of TB and may need to be taken into consideration for improved treatment and control of TB in the future.
PMCID: PMC3862690  PMID: 24349510
13.  Which Urban Migrants Default from Tuberculosis Treatment in Shanghai, China? 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e81351.
Migration is a major challenge to tuberculosis (TB) control worldwide. TB treatment requires multiple drugs for at least six months. Some TB patients default before completing their treatment regimen, which can lead to ongoing infectiousness and drug resistance.
We conducted a retrospective analysis of 29,943 active TB cases among urban migrants that were reported between 2000 to 2008 in Shanghai, China. We used logistic regression models to identify factors independently associated with treatment defaults in TB patients among urban migrants during 2005-2008.
Fifty-two percent of the total TB patients reported in Shanghai during the study period were among urban migrants. Three factors increased the odds of a treatment default: case management using self-administered therapy (OR, 5.84, 95% CI, 3.14-10.86, p<0.0005), being a retreatment case (OR, 1.47, 95% CI, 1.25-1.71, p<0.0005), and age >60 years old (OR, 1.33, 95% CI, 1.05-1.67, p=0.017). The presence of a cavity in the initial chest radiograph decreased the odds for a treatment default (OR, 0.87, 95% CI, 0.77-0.97, p=0.015), as did migration from central China (OR, 0.85, 95% CI, 0.73-0.99, p=0.042), case management by family members (OR, 0.73, 95% CI 0.66-0.81, p<0.0005), and the combination of case detection by a required physical exam and case management by health care staff (OR, 0.64, 95% CI, 0.45-0.93, p=0.019).
Among TB patients who were urban migrants in Shanghai, case management using self-administered therapy was the strongest modifiable risk factor that was independently associated with treatment defaults. Interventions that target retreated TB cases could also reduce treatment defaults among urban migrants. Health departments should develop effective measures to prevent treatment defaults among urban migrants, to ensure completion of therapy among urban migrants who move between cities and provinces, and to improve reporting of treatment outcomes.
PMCID: PMC3842957  PMID: 24312292
14.  Pre-Exposure of Mycobacterium tuberculosis-Infected Macrophages to Crystalline Silica Impairs Control of Bacterial Growth by Deregulating the Balance between Apoptosis and Necrosis 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e80971.
Inhalation of crystalline silica (CS) particles increases the risk of pulmonary tuberculosis; however, the precise mechanism through which CS exposure facilitates Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) infection is unclear. We speculate that macrophage exposure to CS deregulates the cell death pathways that could explain, at least in part, the association observed between exposure to CS and pulmonary tuberculosis. We therefore established an in vitro model in which macrophages were exposed to CS and then infected with Mtb. Expression of surface markers was analyzed by flow cytometry, JNK1/2, ASK1, caspase 9, P-p38, Bcl-2 and Mcl-1 were analyzed by Western blot, and cytokines by ELISA. Our results show that exposure to CS limits macrophage ability to control Mtb growth. Moreover, this exposure reduced the expression of TLR2, Bcl-2 and Mcl-1, but increased that of JNK1 and ASK1 molecules in the macrophages. Finally, when the pre-exposed macrophages were infected with Mtb, the concentrations of TNFα, IL-1β and caspase-9 expression increased. This pro-inflammatory profile of the macrophage unbalanced the apoptosis/necrosis pathway. Taken together, these data suggest that macrophages exposed to CS are sensitized to cell death by MAPK kinase-dependent signaling pathway. Secretion of TNF-α and IL-1β by Mtb-infected macrophages promotes necrosis, and this deregulation of cell death pathways may favor the release of viable bacilli, thus leading to the progression of tuberculosis.
PMCID: PMC3838437  PMID: 24278357
15.  Evaluation of a Simple in-House Test to Presumptively Differentiate Mycobacterium tuberculosis Complex from Nontuberculous Mycobacteria by Detection of p-Nitrobenzoic Acid Metabolites  
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e80877.
The timely differentiation of Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex (MTC) and non-tubercular mycobacterium (NTM) species is urgently needed in patient care since the routine laboratory method is time consuming and cumbersome. An easy and cheap method which can successfully distinguish MTC from NTM was established and evaluated. 38 mycobacterial type and reference strains and 65 clinical isolates representing 10 species of mycobacterium were included in this study. Metabolites of p-nitrobenzoic acid (PNB) reduction were identified using liquid chromatography and tandem mass spectrometry (LC/MS/MS). A spectrophotometric method was developed to detect these metabolites, which was evaluated on a number of MTC and NTM species. All of the tested NTM species and strains reduced PNB to p-aminobenzoic acid (PABA), while none of the MTC strains showed a similar activity. Spectrophotometric detection of PABA had 100% sensitivity and specificity for MTC and NTM differentiation among the type strains and the clinical isolates tested. PABA was identified as one of the metabolites of PNB reduction. All the tested NTM species metabolized PNB to PABA whereas the MTC members lacked this activity. A simple, specific and cost-effective method based on PABA production was established in order to discriminate MTC from NTM from cultured organisms.
PMCID: PMC3832607  PMID: 24260497
16.  Expression and Antimicrobial Function of Beta-Defensin 1 in the Lower Urinary Tract  
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e77714.
Beta defensins (BDs) are cationic peptides with antimicrobial activity that defend epithelial surfaces including the skin, gastrointestinal, and respiratory tracts. However, BD expression and function in the urinary tract are incompletely characterized. The purpose of this study was to describe Beta Defensin-1 (BD-1) expression in the lower urinary tract, regulation by cystitis, and antimicrobial activity toward uropathogenic Escherichia coli (UPEC) in vivo. Human DEFB1 and orthologous mouse Defb1 mRNA are detectable in bladder and ureter homogenates, and human BD-1 protein localizes to the urothelium. To determine the relevance of BD-1 to lower urinary tract defense in vivo, we evaluated clearance of UPEC by Defb1 knockout (Defb1-/-) mice. At 6, 18, and 48 hours following transurethral UPEC inoculation, no significant differences were observed in bacterial burden in bladders or kidneys of Defb1-/- and wild type C57BL/6 mice. In wild type mice, bladder Defb1 mRNA levels decreased as early as two hours post-infection and reached a nadir by six hours. RT-PCR profiling of BDs identified expression of Defb3 and Defb14 mRNA in murine bladder and ureter, which encode for mBD-3 and mBD-14 protein, respectively. MBD-14 protein expression was observed in bladder urothelium following UPEC infection, and both mBD-3 and mBD-14 displayed dose-dependent bactericidal activity toward UPEC in vitro. Thus, whereas mBD-1 deficiency does not alter bladder UPEC burden in vivo, we have identified mBD-3 and mBD-14 as potential mediators of mucosal immunity in the lower urinary tract.
PMCID: PMC3804605  PMID: 24204930
17.  Tuberculosis Transmission among Immigrants and Autochthonous Populations of the Eastern Province of Saudi Arabia 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e77635.
Eastern province of Saudi Arabia is an industrial zone with large immigrant population and high level of tuberculosis case notification among immigrants. The impact of immigration and current trends of tuberculosis transmission among immigrants and autochthonous population in the region had not been investigated so far using molecular tools.
During 2009- 2011, a total of 524 Mycobacterium tuberculosis isolates were collected from the central tuberculosis reference laboratory, representing an estimated 79.2% of the culture-positive tuberculosis cases over the study period in the province. These isolates were genotyped by using 24 locus-based MIRU-VNTR typing and spoligotyping followed by first line drug susceptibility testing. The molecular clustering profiles and phylogenetic diversity of isolates were determined and compared to the geographical origins of the patients.
Principle Findings
Genotyping showed an overall predominance of Delhi/CAS (29.4%), EAI (23.8%) and Ghana (13.3%) lineages, with slightly higher proportions of Delhi/CAS among autochthonous population (33.3 %) and EAI (30.9%) among immigrants. Rate of any drug resistance was 20.2% with 2.5% of multi-drug resistance. Strain cluster analysis indicated 42 clusters comprising 210 isolates, resulting in a calculated recent transmission index of 32.1%. Overall shared cluster ratio was 78.6% while 75.8% were shared between autochthonous population and immigrant population with a predominance of immigrants from South east Asia (40.7%). In contrast, cross national transmission within the immigrant population was limited (24.2%). Younger age (15-30- p value-0.043, 16-45, p value 0.030), Saudi nationality (p value-0.004) and South East Asian origin (p value-0.011) were identified as significant predisposing factors for molecular strain clustering.
The high proportion of molecular clusters shared among the autochthonous and immigrant populations suggests a high permeability of tuberculosis transmission between both populations in the province. These results prompt for the need to strengthen the current tuberculosis control strategies and surveillance programs.
PMCID: PMC3798324  PMID: 24147042
18.  The Impact of Isoniazid Resistance on the Treatment Outcomes of Smear Positive Re-Treatment Tuberculosis Patients in the State of Andhra Pradesh, India 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e76189.
Multi drug resistant and rifampicin resistant TB patients in India are treated with the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended standardized treatment regimens but no guidelines are available for the management of isoniazid (INH) resistant TB patients. There have been concerns that the standard eight-month retreatment regimen being used in India (2H3R3Z3E3S3/1H3R3Z3E3/5H3R3E3; H-Isoniazid; R-Rifampicin; Z-Pyrazinamide; E-Ethambutol; S-Streptomycin) may be inadequate to treat INH resistant TB cases and leads to poor treatment outcomes. We aimed to assess if INH resistance is associated with unfavorable treatment outcomes (death, default, failure and transferred out) among a cohort of smear positive retreatment TB patients registered in three districts of Andhra Pradesh, India.
We conducted a retrospective record review of all smear positive retreatment TB patients without rifampicin resistance registered during April–December 2011.
Of 1,947 TB patients, 1,127 (58%) were tested with LPA—50 (4%) were rifampicin resistant, 933 (84%) were sensitive to INH and rifampicin and 144 (12%) were INH resistant. Of 144 INH resistant cases, 64 (44%) had poor treatment outcomes (25 (17%) default, 22 (15%) death, 12 (8%) failure and 5 (3%) transfer out) as compared to 287 (31%) among INH sensitive cases [aRR 1.46; 95%CI (1.19–1.78)].
Our study confirms that INH resistance is independently associated with unfavorable treatment outcomes among smear positive retreatment TB patients, indicating that the current treatment regimen may be inadequate. These findings call for an urgent need for randomized controlled trials to discover the most effective treatment regimen for managing INH resistant TB.
PMCID: PMC3795751  PMID: 24146839
19.  Clinical Predictors and Accuracy of Empiric Tuberculosis Treatment among Sputum Smear-Negative HIV-Infected Adult TB Suspects in Uganda 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e74023.
The existing diagnostic algorithms for sputum smear-negative tuberculosis (TB) are complicated, time-consuming, and often difficult to implement. The decision to initiate TB treatment in resource-limited countries is often largely based on clinical predictors. We sought to determine the clinical predictors and accuracy of empiric TB treatment initiation in HIV-infected sputum smear-negative TB suspects using sputum culture as a reference standard.
Out-patient HIV-TB integrated urban clinic in Kampala, Uganda.
HIV-infected TB suspects were screened using sputum smear microscopy, and mycobacterial sputum liquid and solid cultures were performed. Smear results were made available to the clinician who made a clinical decision on empiric TB treatment initiation for sputum smear-negative patients. Clinic records were reviewed for patients whose sputum smears were negative to collect data on socio-demographics, TB symptomatology, chest X-ray findings, CD4 cell counts and TB treatment initiation.
Of 253 smear-negative TB suspects, 56% (142/253) were females, median age 38 IQR (31–44) years, with a median CD4 cell count of 291 IQR (150–482) cells/mm3. Of the 85 (33.6%) smear-negative patients empirically initiated on TB treatment, 35.3% (n = 30) were sputum culture positive compared to only 18 (10.7%) of the 168 untreated patients (p<0.001). Abnormal chest X-ray [aOR 10.18, 95% CI (3.14–33.00), p<0.001] and advanced HIV clinical stage [aOR 3.92, 95% CI (1.20–12.85), p = 0.024] were significantly associated with empiric TB treatment initiation. The sensitivity and specificity of empiric TB treatment initiation in the diagnosis of TB in HIV-infected patients after negative smear microscopy was 62.5% and 73.7% respectively.
In resource-limited settings, clinically advanced HIV and abnormal chest X-ray significantly predict a clinical decision to empirically initiate TB treatment in smear-negative HIV-infected patients. Empiric TB treatment initiation correlates poorly with TB cultures. Affordable, accurate and rapid point-of-care diagnostics are needed in resource-limited settings to more accurately determine which HIV-infected TB suspects have smear-negative TB.
PMCID: PMC3765314  PMID: 24040151
20.  Host Targeted Activity of Pyrazinamide in Mycobacterium tuberculosis Infection 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e74082.
Pyrazinamide (PZA) is one of the first line antibiotics used for the treatment of tuberculosis (TB). In the present study, we have used in vitro and in vivo systems to investigate whether PZA, in addition to its known anti-mycobacterial properties, modulate the host immune response during Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) infection. In vitro we have examined the effect of PZA on cytokine and chemokine release by Mtb-infected or Toll-like receptor (TLR) -stimulated primary human monocytes. In vivo, we have investigated at the transcriptional levels using genome-wide microarray gene expression analysis, whether PZA treatment of Mtb-infected mice alters the host immune response to Mtb infection in the lungs. Here, we report that PZA treatment of Mtb-infected human monocytes and mice significantly reduces the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines and chemokines, including IL-1β, IL-6, TNF-α and MCP-1 at the protein and at the gene transcription levels, respectively. Data from microarray analysis also reveal that PZA treatment of Mtb-infected mice significantly alters the expression level of genes involved in the regulation of the pro-inflammatory mediators, lung inflammatory response and TLR signaling networks. Specifically, genes coding for adenylate cyclase and Peroxisome-Proliferator Activated Receptor (PPAR), molecules known for their anti-inflammatory effect, were found to be up-regulated in the lungs of PZA-treated Mtb-infected mice. Based on the microarray findings, we propose that PZA treatment modulates the host immune response to Mtb infection by reducing pro-inflammatory cytokine production, probably through PPAR- and NF-kB- dependent pathways. In addition, our results suggest that inclusion or exclusion of PZA in the TB treatment regimen could potentially affect the biomarker signature detected in the circulation of TB patients.
PMCID: PMC3755974  PMID: 24015316
21.  Comparative Genome Analysis of Mycobacterium avium Revealed Genetic Diversity in Strains that Cause Pulmonary and Disseminated Disease 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e71831.
Mycobacterium avium complex (MAC) infection causes disseminated disease in immunocompromised hosts, such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-positive patients, and pulmonary disease in persons without systemic immunosuppression, which has been increasing in many countries. In Japan, the incidence of pulmonary MAC disease caused by M. avium is about 7 times higher than that caused by M. intracellulare. To explore the bacterial factors that affect the pathological state of MAC disease caused by M. avium, we determined the complete genome sequence of the previously unreported M. avium subsp. hominissuis strain TH135 isolated from a HIV-negative patient with pulmonary MAC disease and compared it with the known genomic sequence of M. avium strain 104 derived from an acquired immunodeficiency syndrome patient with MAC disease. The genome of strain TH135 consists of a 4,951,217-bp circular chromosome with 4,636 coding sequences. Comparative analysis revealed that 4,012 genes are shared between the two strains, and strains TH135 and 104 have 624 and 1,108 unique genes, respectively. Many strain-specific regions including virulence-associated genes were found in genomes of both strains, and except for some regions, the G+C content in the specific regions was low compared with the mean G+C content of the corresponding chromosome. Screening of clinical isolates for genes located in the strain-specific regions revealed that the detection rates of strain TH135-specific genes were relatively high in specimens isolated from pulmonary MAC disease patients, while, those of strain 104-specific genes were relatively high in those from HIV-positive patients. Collectively, M. avium strains that cause pulmonary and disseminated disease possess genetically distinct features, and it suggests that the acquisition of specific genes during strain evolution has played an important role in the pathological manifestations of MAC disease.
PMCID: PMC3749206  PMID: 23990995
22.  Isoniazid Inhibits the Heme-Based Reactivity of Mycobacterium tuberculosis Truncated Hemoglobin N 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e69762.
Isoniazid represents a first-line anti-tuberculosis medication in prevention and treatment. This prodrug is activated by a mycobacterial catalase-peroxidase enzyme called KatG in Mycobacterium tuberculosis), thereby inhibiting the synthesis of mycolic acid, required for the mycobacterial cell wall. Moreover, isoniazid activation by KatG produces some radical species (e.g., nitrogen monoxide), that display anti-mycobacterial activity. Remarkably, the ability of mycobacteria to persist in vivo in the presence of reactive nitrogen and oxygen species implies the presence in these bacteria of (pseudo-)enzymatic detoxification systems, including truncated hemoglobins (trHbs). Here, we report that isoniazid binds reversibly to ferric and ferrous M. tuberculosis trHb type N (or group I; Mt-trHbN(III) and Mt-trHbN(II), respectively) with a simple bimolecular process, which perturbs the heme-based spectroscopic properties. Values of thermodynamic and kinetic parameters for isoniazid binding to Mt-trHbN(III) and Mt-trHbN(II) are K = (1.1±0.1)×10−4 M, kon = (5.3±0.6)×103 M−1 s−1 and koff = (4.6±0.5)×10−1 s−1; and D = (1.2±0.2)×10−3 M, don = (1.3±0.4)×103 M−1 s−1, and doff = 1.5±0.4 s−1, respectively, at pH 7.0 and 20.0°C. Accordingly, isoniazid inhibits competitively azide binding to Mt-trHbN(III) and Mt-trHbN(III)-catalyzed peroxynitrite isomerization. Moreover, isoniazid inhibits Mt-trHbN(II) oxygenation and carbonylation. Although the structure of the Mt-trHbN-isoniazid complex is not available, here we show by docking simulation that isoniazid binding to the heme-Fe atom indeed may take place. These data suggest a direct role of isoniazid to impair fundamental functions of mycobacteria, e.g. scavenging of reactive nitrogen and oxygen species, and metabolism.
PMCID: PMC3731299  PMID: 23936350
23.  Exploring the Mode of Action of Bioactive Compounds by Microfluidic Transcriptional Profiling in Mycobacteria 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e69191.
Most candidate anti-bacterials are identified on the basis of their whole cell anti-bacterial activity. A critical bottleneck in the early discovery of novel anti-bacterials is tracking the structure activity relationship (SAR) of the novel compounds synthesized during the hit to lead and lead optimization stage. It is often very difficult for medicinal chemists to visualize if the novel compounds synthesized for understanding SAR of a particular scaffold have similar molecular mechanism of action (MoA) as that of the initial hit. The elucidation of the molecular MoA of bioactive inhibitors is critical. Here, a new strategy and routine assay for MoA de-convolution, using a microfluidic platform for transcriptional profiling of bacterial response to inhibitors with whole cell activity has been presented. First a reference transcriptome compendium of Mycobacterial response to various clinical and investigational drugs was built. Using feature reduction, it was demonstrated that subsets of biomarker genes representative of the whole genome are sufficient for MoA classification and deconvolution in a medium-throughput microfluidic format ultimately leading to a cost effective and rapid tool for routine antibacterial drug-discovery programs.
PMCID: PMC3729944  PMID: 23935951
24.  Secreted Acid Phosphatase (SapM) of Mycobacterium tuberculosis Is Indispensable for Arresting Phagosomal Maturation and Growth of the Pathogen in Guinea Pig Tissues 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e70514.
Tuberculosis (TB) is responsible for nearly 1.4 million deaths globally every year and continues to remain a serious threat to human health. The problem is further complicated by the growing incidence of multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB) and extensively drug-resistant TB (XDR-TB), emphasizing the need for the development of new drugs against this disease. Phagosomal maturation arrest is an important strategy employed by Mycobacterium tuberculosis to evade the host immune system. Secretory acid phosphatase (SapM) of M.tuberculosis is known to dephosphorylate phosphotidylinositol 3-phosphate (PI3P) present on phagosomes. However, there have been divergent reports on the involvement of SapM in phagosomal maturation arrest in mycobacteria. This study was aimed at reascertaining the involvement of SapM in phagosomal maturation arrest in M.tuberculosis. Further, for the first time, we have also studied whether SapM is essential for the pathogenesis of M.tuberculosis. By deleting the sapM gene of M.tuberculosis, we demonstrate that MtbΔsapM is defective in the arrest of phagosomal maturation as well as for growth in human THP-1 macrophages. We further show that MtbΔsapM is severely attenuated for growth in the lungs and spleen of guinea pigs and has a significantly reduced ability to cause pathological damage in the host when compared with the parental strain. Also, the guinea pigs infected with MtbΔsapM exhibited a significantly enhanced survival when compared with M.tuberculosis infected animals. The importance of SapM in phagosomal maturation arrest as well as in the pathogenesis of M.tuberculosis establishes it as an attractive target for the development of new therapeutic molecules against tuberculosis.
PMCID: PMC3724783  PMID: 23923000
25.  Dexamethasone Rescues Neurovascular Unit Integrity from Cell Damage Caused by Systemic Administration of Shiga Toxin 2 and Lipopolysaccharide in Mice Motor Cortex 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e70020.
Shiga toxin 2 (Stx2)-producing Escherichia coli (STEC) causes hemorrhagic colitis and hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) that can lead to fatal encephalopathies. Neurological abnormalities may occur before or after the onset of systemic pathological symptoms and motor disorders are frequently observed in affected patients and in studies with animal models. As Stx2 succeeds in crossing the blood-brain barrier (BBB) and invading the brain parenchyma, it is highly probable that the observed neurological alterations are based on the possibility that the toxin may trigger the impairment of the neurovascular unit and/or cell damage in the parenchyma. Also, lipopolysaccharide (LPS) produced and secreted by enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) may aggravate the deleterious effects of Stx2 in the brain. Therefore, this study aimed to determine (i) whether Stx2 affects the neurovascular unit and parenchymal cells, (ii) whether the contribution of LPS aggravates these effects, and (iii) whether an inflammatory event underlies the pathophysiological mechanisms that lead to the observed injury. The administration of a sub-lethal dose of Stx2 was employed to study in detail the motor cortex obtained from a translational murine model of encephalopathy. In the present paper we report that Stx2 damaged microvasculature, caused astrocyte reaction and neuronal degeneration, and that this was aggravated by LPS. Dexamethasone, an anti-inflammatory, reversed the pathologic effects and proved to be an important drug in the treatment of acute encephalopathies.
PMCID: PMC3720947  PMID: 23894578

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