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author:("thiel, T")
1.  Emergence of carbapenem-resistant Acinetobacter baumannii as the major cause of ventilator-associated pneumonia in intensive care unit patients at an infectious disease hospital in southern Vietnam 
Journal of Medical Microbiology  2014;63(Pt 10):1386-1394.
Ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP) is a serious healthcare-associated infection that affects up to 30 % of intubated and mechanically ventilated patients in intensive care units (ICUs) worldwide. The bacterial aetiology and corresponding antimicrobial susceptibility of VAP is highly variable, and can differ between countries, national provinces and even between different wards in the same hospital. We aimed to understand and document changes in the causative agents of VAP and their antimicrobial susceptibility profiles retrospectively over an 11 year period in a major infectious disease hospital in southern Vietnam. Our analysis outlined a significant shift from Pseudomonas aeruginosa to Acinetobacter spp. as the most prevalent bacteria isolated from quantitative tracheal aspirates in patients with VAP in this setting. Antimicrobial resistance was common across all bacterial species and we found a marked proportional annual increase in carbapenem-resistant Acinetobacter spp. over a 3 year period from 2008 (annual trend; odds ratio 1.656, P = 0.010). We further investigated the possible emergence of a carbapenem-resistant Acinetobacter baumannii clone by multiple-locus variable number tandem repeat analysis, finding a blaOXA-23-positive strain that was associated with an upsurge in the isolation of this pathogen. We additionally identified a single blaNDM-1-positive A. baumannii isolate. This work highlights the emergence of a carbapenem-resistant clone of A. baumannii and a worrying trend of antimicrobial resistance in the ICU of the Hospital for Tropical Diseases in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
PMCID: PMC4170484  PMID: 25038137
2.  Two Cases of Bacteriemia Caused by Nontoxigenic, Non-O1, Non-O139 Vibrio cholerae Isolates in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2014;52(10):3819-3821.
The toxigenic bacterium Vibrio cholerae belonging to the O1 and O139 serogroups is commonly associated with epidemic diarrhea in tropical settings; other diseases caused by this environmental pathogen are seldom identified. Here we report two unassociated cases of nonfatal, nontoxigenic V. cholerae non-O1, non-O139 bacteremia in patients with comorbidities in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, that occurred within a 4-week period.
PMCID: PMC4187776  PMID: 25122858
3.  Cells of origin and tumor-initiating cells for nonmelanoma skin cancers 
Cancer letters  2012;338(1):82-88.
The epidermis of the skin is a multilayered stratified epithelium whose primary function is to provide a barrier against our external environment. As a result, cells in the epidermis are subject to constant assault from environmental pathogens, many of which can cause deleterious mutations. However, most of these mutations do not lead to skin cancer. One explanation is that most genetic hits are sustained by mature or transit cells with limited proliferative capacity and only stem cells that acquire genetic alterations have the potential to propagate a frank tumor. In this mini-review we will discuss recent studies that provide some of the first genetic evidence to support a stem cell origin for a number of skin cancer types.
PMCID: PMC3422447  PMID: 22579650
epidermis; hair follicle; keratinocyte; stem cell; cancer stem cell
4.  Salmonella Typhi and Salmonella Paratyphi A elaborate distinct systemic metabolite signatures during enteric fever 
eLife  2014;3:e03100.
The host–pathogen interactions induced by Salmonella Typhi and Salmonella Paratyphi A during enteric fever are poorly understood. This knowledge gap, and the human restricted nature of these bacteria, limit our understanding of the disease and impede the development of new diagnostic approaches. To investigate metabolite signals associated with enteric fever we performed two dimensional gas chromatography with time-of-flight mass spectrometry (GCxGC/TOFMS) on plasma from patients with S. Typhi and S. Paratyphi A infections and asymptomatic controls, identifying 695 individual metabolite peaks. Applying supervised pattern recognition, we found highly significant and reproducible metabolite profiles separating S. Typhi cases, S. Paratyphi A cases, and controls, calculating that a combination of six metabolites could accurately define the etiological agent. For the first time we show that reproducible and serovar specific systemic biomarkers can be detected during enteric fever. Our work defines several biologically plausible metabolites that can be used to detect enteric fever, and unlocks the potential of this method in diagnosing other systemic bacterial infections.
eLife digest
Enteric fever is estimated to affect over 37 million people every year. Although treatable with antimicrobial drugs, a slow and/or incorrect diagnosis can result in serious and often life-threatening complications.
Enteric fever is the combined name for typhoid fever and paratyphoid fever. While the symptoms of these diseases are indistinguishable, the strains of Salmonella bacteria that cause them are genetically distinct. Moreover, the two organisms that cause the disease exhibit different propensities to develop resistance to antimicrobials. It is important, therefore, to be able to distinguish between typhoid fever and paratyphoid fever so that the correct treatment can be prescribed. However, the diagnostic tools available today struggle to discriminate between Salmonella Typhi (which causes typhoid fever) and Salmonella Paratyphi A (which causes paratyphoid fever).
Now, Näsström et al. have developed a methodology that can determine if an individual is infected by Salmonella Typhi or Salmonella Paratyphi A, or neither. Rather than trying to detect the bacteria themselves, the test relies on measuring the levels of various metabolites—molecules produced during metabolism—in the blood. Näsström et al. discovered a set of six metabolites that are affected in different ways by typhoid and paratyphoid fever. The next challenge is to develop this approach so it can be used in endemic settings.
PMCID: PMC4077204  PMID: 24902583
metabolites; mass spectrometry; enteric fever; typhoid; Salmonella Typhi; Salmonella Paratyphi A; human
5.  Evaluation of the Diagnostic Accuracy of a Typhoid IgM Flow Assay for the Diagnosis of Typhoid Fever in Cambodian Children Using a Bayesian Latent Class Model Assuming an Imperfect Gold Standard 
Rapid diagnostic tests are needed for typhoid fever (TF) diagnosis in febrile children in endemic areas. Five hundred children admitted to the hospital in Cambodia between 2009 and 2010 with documented fever (≥ 38°C) were investigated using blood cultures (BCs), Salmonella Typhi/Paratyphi A real-time polymerase chain reactions (PCRs), and a Typhoid immunoglobulin M flow assay (IgMFA). Test performance was determined by conventional methods and Bayesian latent class modeling. There were 32 cases of TF (10 BC- and PCR-positive cases, 14 BC-positive and PCR-negative cases, and 8 BC-negative and PCR-positive cases). IgMFA sensitivity was 59.4% (95% confidence interval = 41–76), and specificity was 97.8% (95% confidence interval = 96–99). The model estimate sensitivity for BC was 81.0% (95% credible interval = 54–99). The model estimate sensitivity for PCR was 37.8% (95% credible interval = 26–55), with a specificity of 98.2% (95% credible interval = 97–99). The model estimate sensitivity for IgMFA (≥ 2+) was 77.9% (95% credible interval = 58–90), with a specificity of 97.5% (95% credible interval = 95–100). The model estimates of IgMFA sensitivity and specificity were comparable with BCs and better than estimates using conventional analysis.
PMCID: PMC3886406  PMID: 24218407
6.  Fitness benefits in fluoroquinolone-resistant Salmonella Typhi in the absence of antimicrobial pressure 
eLife  2013;2:e01229.
Fluoroquinolones (FQ) are the recommended antimicrobial treatment for typhoid, a severe systemic infection caused by the bacterium Salmonella enterica serovar Typhi. FQ-resistance mutations in S. Typhi have become common, hindering treatment and control efforts. Using in vitro competition experiments, we assayed the fitness of eleven isogenic S. Typhi strains with resistance mutations in the FQ target genes, gyrA and parC. In the absence of antimicrobial pressure, 6 out of 11 mutants carried a selective advantage over the antimicrobial-sensitive parent strain, indicating that FQ resistance in S. Typhi is not typically associated with fitness costs. Double-mutants exhibited higher than expected fitness as a result of synergistic epistasis, signifying that epistasis may be a critical factor in the evolution and molecular epidemiology of S. Typhi. Our findings have important implications for the management of drug-resistant S. Typhi, suggesting that FQ-resistant strains would be naturally maintained even if fluoroquinolone use were reduced.
eLife digest
The fluoroquinolones are a group of antimicrobials that are used to treat a variety of life-threatening bacterial infections, including typhoid fever. Before the introduction of antimicrobials, the mortality rate from typhoid fever was 10–20%. Prompt treatment with fluoroquinolones has reduced this to less than 1%, and has also decreased the severity of symptoms suffered by people with the disease.
Now, however, the usefulness of many antimicrobials, including the fluoroquinolones, is threatened by the evolution of antimicrobial resistance within the bacterial populations being treated. Drug resistance in bacteria typically arises through specific mutations, or following the acquisition of antimicrobial resistance genes from other bacteria. It is thought that the frequent use of antimicrobials in human and animal health puts selective pressure on bacterial populations, allowing bacterial strains with mutations or genes that confer antimicrobial resistance to survive, while bacterial strains that are sensitive to the antimicrobials die out.
At first it was thought that specific mutations conferring antimicrobial resistance came at a fitness cost, which would mean that such mutations would be rare in the absence of antimicrobials. Now, based on research into typhoid fever, Baker et al. describe a system in which the majority of evolutionary routes to drug resistance are marked by significant fitness benefits, even in the absence of antimicrobial exposure.
Typhoid is caused by a bacterial pathogen known as Salmonella Typhi, and mutations in two genes—gyrA and parC—result in resistance to fluoroquinolones. Baker et al. show that mutations in these genes confer a measurable fitness advantage over strains without these mutations, even in the absence of exposure to fluoroquinolones. Moreover, strains with two mutations in one of these genes exhibited a higher than predicted fitness, suggesting that there is a synergistic interaction between the two mutations. This work challenges the dogma that antimicrobial resistant organisms have a fitness disadvantage in the absence of antimicrobials, and suggests that increasing resistance to the fluoroquinolones is not solely driven by excessive use of this important group of drugs.
PMCID: PMC3857714  PMID: 24327559
Salmonella; typhoid; fitness cost; epistasis; fluoroquinolone; Other
7.  Identification of Salmonella enterica Serovar Typhi Genotypes by Use of Rapid Multiplex Ligation-Dependent Probe Amplification 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2013;51(9):2950-2958.
Salmonella enterica serovar Typhi, the causative agent of typhoid fever, is highly clonal and genetically conserved, making isolate subtyping difficult. We describe a standardized multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification (MLPA) genotyping scheme targeting 11 key phylogenetic markers of the S. Typhi genome. The MLPA method demonstrated 90% concordance with single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) typing, the gold standard for S. Typhi genotyping, and had the ability to identify isolates of the H58 haplotype, which is associated with resistance to multiple antimicrobials. Additionally, the assay permitted the detection of fluoroquinolone resistance-associated mutations in the DNA gyrase-encoding gene gyrA and the topoisomerase gene parC with a sensitivity of 100%. The MLPA methodology is simple and reliable, providing phylogenetically and phenotypically relevant genotyping information. This MLPA scheme offers a more-sensitive and interpretable alternative to the nonphylogenetic subgrouping methodologies that are currently used in reference and research laboratories in areas where typhoid is endemic.
PMCID: PMC3754622  PMID: 23824765
8.  Differential Epidemiology of Salmonella Typhi and Paratyphi A in Kathmandu, Nepal: A Matched Case Control Investigation in a Highly Endemic Enteric Fever Setting 
Enteric fever, a systemic infection caused by the bacteria Salmonella Typhi and Salmonella Paratyphi A, is endemic in Kathmandu, Nepal. Previous work identified proximity to poor quality water sources as a community-level risk for infection. Here, we sought to examine individual-level risk factors related to hygiene and sanitation to improve our understanding of the epidemiology of enteric fever in this setting.
Methodology and principal findings
A matched case-control analysis was performed through enrollment of 103 blood culture positive enteric fever patients and 294 afebrile community-based age and gender-matched controls. A detailed questionnaire was administered to both cases and controls and the association between enteric fever infection and potential exposures were examined through conditional logistic regression. Several behavioral practices were identified as protective against infection with enteric fever, including water storage and hygienic habits. Additionally, we found that exposures related to poor water and socioeconomic status are more influential in the risk of infection with S. Typhi, whereas food consumption habits and migration play more of a role in risk of S. Paratyphi A infection.
Conclusions and significance
Our work suggests that S. Typhi and S. Paratyphi A follow different routes of infection in this highly endemic setting and that sustained exposure to both serovars probably leads to the development of passive immunity. In the absence of a polyvalent vaccine against S. Typhi and S. Paratyphi A, we advocate better systems for water treatment and storage, improvements in the quality of street food, and vaccination with currently available S. Typhi vaccines.
Author Summary
Enteric fever, caused by ingestion of bacteria Salmonella Typhi or Salmonella Paratyphi A, is common in regions with poor water quality and sanitation. We sought to identify individual-level risks for infection in Kathmandu, Nepal, a region endemic for enteric fever. In this study, we enrolled patients presenting to hospital who were blood-culture positive for enteric fever and a series of community controls matched for age, gender and residential ward. Our findings suggest that while some risks for infection with S. Typhi and S. Paratyphi A overlap, these organisms also have distinctive routes of infection in this setting; poor water and socioeconomic status seemed more influential in infection with S. Typhi, whereas food consumption habits and migratory status were shown to play a larger role in infection with S. Paratyphi A. Additionally, serological evaluation of IgG levels against the Vi (Salmonella Typhi) and the O:2 (Salmonella Paratyphi A) antigens demonstrated high titers against both antigens throughout life, suggesting frequent and constant exposure to these organisms in Kathmandu. As major improvements in sanitation infrastructure are unlikely in this setting, we recommend water treatment and storage-based prevention strategies, as well as street food quality regulation, and the promotion of vaccination with existing typhoid vaccines.
PMCID: PMC3749961  PMID: 23991240
9.  Identification of Immunogenic Salmonella enterica Serotype Typhi Antigens Expressed in Chronic Biliary Carriers of S. Typhi in Kathmandu, Nepal 
Salmonella enterica serotype Typhi can colonize and persist in the biliary tract of infected individuals, resulting in a state of asymptomatic chronic carriage. Chronic carriers may act as persistent reservoirs of infection within a community and may introduce infection to susceptible individuals and new communities. Little is known about the interaction between the host and pathogen in the biliary tract of chronic carriers, and there is currently no reliable diagnostic assay to identify asymptomatic S. Typhi carriage.
Methodology/Principal Findings
To study host-pathogen interactions in the biliary tract during S. Typhi carriage, we applied an immunoscreening technique called in vivo-induced antigen technology (IVIAT), to identify potential biomarkers unique to carriers. IVIAT identifies humorally immunogenic bacterial antigens expressed uniquely in the in vivo environment, and we hypothesized that S. Typhi surviving in the biliary tract of humans may express a distinct antigenic profile. Thirteen S. Typhi antigens that were immunoreactive in carriers, but not in healthy individuals from a typhoid endemic area, were identified. The identified antigens included a number of putative membrane proteins, lipoproteins, and hemolysin-related proteins. YncE (STY1479), an uncharacterized protein with an ATP-binding motif, gave prominent responses in our screen. The response to YncE in patients whose biliary tract contained S. Typhi was compared to responses in patients whose biliary tract did not contain S. Typhi, patients with acute typhoid fever, and healthy controls residing in a typhoid endemic area. Seven of 10 (70%) chronic carriers, 0 of 8 bile culture-negative controls (0%), 0 of 8 healthy Bangladeshis (0%), and 1 of 8 (12.5%) Bangladeshis with acute typhoid fever had detectable anti-YncE IgG in blood. IgA responses were also present.
Further evaluation of YncE and other antigens identified by IVIAT could lead to the development of improved diagnostic assays to identify asymptomatic S. Typhi carriers.
Author Summary
Salmonella enterica serotype Typhi is the cause of typhoid fever and infects over 21 million individuals and causes 200,000 deaths each year. With adequate treatment, most patients recover from their acute stage of illness and clear infection. However, a small percentage of S. Typhi infected individuals develop a chronic but asymptomatic infection in the biliary tract that can persist for decades. Since S. Typhi is a human-restricted pathogen, chronic carriers may act as reservoirs of infection. Correctly identifying and treating asymptomatic chronic carriers could be critical for ultimate control of typhoid fever. Using an immunoscreening technique called in vivo-induced antigen technology (IVIAT), we have identified potential biomarkers unique to S. Typhi chronic carriers. Further evaluation of these antigens could lead to the development of improved diagnostic assays to detect asymptomatic S. Typhi carriers in typhoid endemic zones, and to an improved understanding of the pathogenesis of S. Typhi in the chronic carrier state.
PMCID: PMC3731212  PMID: 23936575
10.  Immune profiling with a Salmonella Typhi antigen microarray identifies new diagnostic biomarkers of human typhoid 
Scientific Reports  2013;3:1043.
Current serological diagnostic assays for typhoid fever are based on detecting antibodies against Salmonella LPS or flagellum, resulting in a high false-positive rate. Here we used a protein microarray containing 2,724 Salmonella enterica serovar Typhi antigens (>63% of proteome) and identified antibodies against 16 IgG antigens and 77 IgM antigens that were differentially reactive among acute typhoid patients and healthy controls. The IgG target antigens produced a sensitivity of 97% and specificity of 80%, whereas the IgM target antigens produced 97% and 91% sensitivity and specificity, respectively. Our analyses indicated certain features such as membrane association, secretion, and protein expression were significant enriching features of the reactive antigens. About 72% of the serodiagnostic antigens were within the top 25% of the ranked antigen list using a Naïve bayes classifier. These data provide an important resource for improved diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccine development against an important human pathogen.
PMCID: PMC3540400  PMID: 23304434
11.  The validation and utility of a quantitative one-step multiplex RT real-time PCR targeting Rotavirus A and Norovirus 
Journal of Virological Methods  2013;187(1-6):138-143.
► A multiplex real-time PCR was developed for the detection and quantitation of Rotavirus A and Norovirus genogroup II. ► An internal extraction and amplification control was incorporated. ► Real-time PCR was compared to the current gold standard, enzyme immunoassay. ► Real-time PCR was significantly more sensitive than enzyme immunoassay. ► Quantitation demonstrated that the viral loads of both pathogens were ten times greater in stools children with diarrhea than in children without diarrhea.
Rotavirus (RoV) and Norovirus (NoV) are the main causes of viral gastroenteritis. Currently, there is no validated multiplex real-time PCR that can detect and quantify RoV and NoV simultaneously. The aim of the study was to develop, validate, and internally control a multiplex one-step RT real-time PCR to detect and quantify RoV and NoV in stool samples. PCR sensitivity was assessed by comparing amplification against the current gold standard, enzyme immunoassay (EIA), on stool samples from 94 individuals with diarrhea and 94 individuals without diarrhea. PCR detected 10% more RoV positive samples than EIA in stools samples from patients with diarrhea. PCR detected 23% more NoV genogroup II positive samples from individuals with diarrhea and 9% more from individuals without diarrhea than EIA, respectively. Genotyping of the PCR positive/EIA negative samples suggested the higher rate of PCR positivity, in comparison to EIA, was due to increased sensitivity, rather than nonspecific hybridization. Quantitation demonstrated that the viral loads of RoV and NoV in the stools of diarrheal patients were an order of magnitude greater than in individuals without diarrhea. This internally controlled real-time PCR method is robust, exhibits a high degree of reproducibility, and may have a greater utility and sensitivity than commercial EIA kits.
PMCID: PMC3528950  PMID: 23046990
Rotavirus; Norovirus; Real-time PCR; Quantitation; Internally controlled
12.  The Microbiological and Clinical Characteristics of Invasive Salmonella in Gallbladders from Cholecystectomy Patients in Kathmandu, Nepal 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e47342.
Gallbladder carriage of invasive Salmonella is considered fundamental in sustaining typhoid fever transmission. Bile and tissue was obtained from 1,377 individuals undergoing cholecystectomy in Kathmandu to investigate the prevalence, characteristics and relevance of invasive Salmonella in the gallbladder in an endemic area. Twenty percent of bile samples contained a Gram-negative organism, with Salmonella Typhi and Salmonella Paratyphi A isolated from 24 and 22 individuals, respectively. Gallbladders that contained Salmonella were more likely to show evidence of acute inflammation with extensive neutrophil infiltrate than those without Salmonella, corresponding with higher neutrophil and lower lymphocyte counts in the blood of Salmonella positive individuals. Antimicrobial resistance in the invasive Salmonella isolates was limited, indicating that gallbladder colonization is unlikely to be driven by antimicrobial resistance. The overall role of invasive Salmonella carriage in the gallbladder is not understood; here we show that 3.5% of individuals undergoing cholecystectomy in this setting have a high concentration of antimicrobial sensitive, invasive Salmonella in their bile. We predict that such individuals will become increasingly important if current transmission mechanisms are disturbed; prospectively identifying these individuals is, therefore, paramount for rapid local and regional elimination.
PMCID: PMC3471863  PMID: 23077595
13.  The Co-Selection of Fluoroquinolone Resistance Genes in the Gut Flora of Vietnamese Children 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(8):e42919.
Antimicrobial consumption is one of the major contributing factors facilitating the development and maintenance of bacteria exhibiting antimicrobial resistance. Plasmid-mediated quinolone resistance (PMQR) genes, such as the qnr family, can be horizontally transferred and contribute to reduced susceptibility to fluoroquinolones. We performed an observational study, investigating the copy number of PMQR after antimicrobial therapy. We enrolled 300 children resident in Ho Chi Minh City receiving antimicrobial therapy for acute respiratory tract infections (ARIs). Rectal swabs were taken on enrollment and seven days subsequently, counts for Enterobacteriaceae were performed and qnrA, qnrB and qnrS were quantified by using real-time PCR on metagenomic stool DNA. On enrollment, we found no association between age, gender or location of the participants and the prevalence of qnrA, qnrB or qnrS. Yet, all three loci demonstrated a proportional increase in the number of samples testing positive between day 0 and day 7. Furthermore, qnrB demonstrated a significant increase in copy number between paired samples (p<0.001; Wilcoxon rank-sum), associated with non-fluoroquinolone combination antimicrobial therapy. To our knowledge, this is the first study describing an association between the use of non-fluoroquinolone antimicrobials and the increasing relative prevalence and quantity of qnr genes. Our work outlines a potential mechanism for the selection and maintenance of PMQR genes and predicts a strong effect of co-selection of these resistance determinants through the use of unrelated and potentially unnecessary antimicrobial regimes.
PMCID: PMC3427306  PMID: 22937000
14.  Nicotine Receptor Subtype-Specific Effects on Auditory Evoked Oscillations and Potentials 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(7):e39775.
Individuals with schizophrenia show increased smoking rates which may be due to a beneficial effect of nicotine on cognition and information processing. Decreased amplitude of the P50 and N100 auditory event-related potentials (ERPs) is observed in patients. Both measures show normalization following administration of nicotine. Recent studies identified an association between deficits in auditory evoked gamma oscillations and impaired information processing in schizophrenia, and there is evidence that nicotine normalizes gamma oscillations. Although the role of nicotine receptor subtypes in augmentation of ERPs has received some attention, less is known about how these receptor subtypes regulate the effect of nicotine on evoked gamma activity.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We examined the effects of nicotine, the α7 nicotine receptor antagonist methyllycaconitine (MLA) the α4β4/α4β2 nicotine receptor antagonist dihydro-beta-erythroidine (DHβE), and the α4β2 agonist AZD3480 on P20 and N40 amplitude as well as baseline and event-related gamma oscillations in mice, using electrodes in hippocampal CA3. Nicotine increased P20 amplitude, while DHβE blocked nicotine-induced enhancements in P20 amplitude. Conversely, MLA did not alter P20 amplitude either when presented alone or with nicotine. Administration of the α4β2 specific agonist AZD3480 did not alter any aspect of P20 response, suggesting that DHβE blocks the effects of nicotine through a non-α4β2 receptor specific mechanism. Nicotine and AZD3480 reduced N40 amplitude, which was blocked by both DHβE and MLA. Finally, nicotine significantly increased event-related gamma, as did AZD3480, while DHβE but not MLA blocked the effect of nicotine on event-related gamma.
These results support findings showing that nicotine-induced augmentation of P20 amplitude occurs via a DHβE sensitive mechanism, but suggests that this does not occur through activation of α4β2 receptors. Event-related gamma is strongly influenced by activation of α4β2, but not α7, receptor subtypes, while disruption of N40 amplitude requires the activation of multiple receptor subtypes.
PMCID: PMC3401200  PMID: 22911690
15.  GABAB-mediated rescue of altered excitatory–inhibitory balance, gamma synchrony and behavioral deficits following constitutive NMDAR-hypofunction 
Translational Psychiatry  2012;2(7):e142-.
Reduced N-methyl-D-aspartate-receptor (NMDAR) signaling has been associated with schizophrenia, autism and intellectual disability. NMDAR-hypofunction is thought to contribute to social, cognitive and gamma (30–80 Hz) oscillatory abnormalities, phenotypes common to these disorders. However, circuit-level mechanisms underlying such deficits remain unclear. This study investigated the relationship between gamma synchrony, excitatory–inhibitory (E/I) signaling, and behavioral phenotypes in NMDA-NR1neo−/− mice, which have constitutively reduced expression of the obligate NR1 subunit to model disrupted developmental NMDAR function. Constitutive NMDAR-hypofunction caused a loss of E/I balance, with an increase in intrinsic pyramidal cell excitability and a selective disruption of parvalbumin-expressing interneurons. Disrupted E/I coupling was associated with deficits in auditory-evoked gamma signal-to-noise ratio (SNR). Gamma-band abnormalities predicted deficits in spatial working memory and social preference, linking cellular changes in E/I signaling to target behaviors. The GABAB-receptor agonist baclofen improved E/I balance, gamma-SNR and broadly reversed behavioral deficits. These data demonstrate a clinically relevant, highly translatable neural-activity-based biomarker for preclinical screening and therapeutic development across a broad range of disorders that share common endophenotypes and disrupted NMDA-receptor signaling.
PMCID: PMC3410621  PMID: 22806213
animal model; GABAergic signaling; gamma oscillation; neuropsychiatric disease; NMDA-receptor
16.  Aetiologies of Central Nervous System Infection in Viet Nam: A Prospective Provincial Hospital-Based Descriptive Surveillance Study 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(5):e37825.
Infectious diseases of the central nervous system (CNS) remain common and life-threatening, especially in developing countries. Knowledge of the aetiological agents responsible for these infections is essential to guide empiric therapy and develop a rational public health policy. To date most data has come from patients admitted to tertiary referral hospitals in Asia and there is limited aetiological data at the provincial hospital level where most patients are seen.
We conducted a prospective Provincial Hospital-based descriptive surveillance study in adults and children at thirteen hospitals in central and southern Viet Nam between August 2007– April 2010. The pathogens of CNS infection were confirmed in CSF and blood samples by using classical microbiology, molecular diagnostics and serology.
We recruited 1241 patients with clinically suspected infection of the CNS. An aetiological agent was identified in 640/1241 (52%) of the patients. The most common pathogens were Streptococcus suis serotype 2 in patients older than 14 years of age (147/617, 24%) and Japanese encephalitis virus in patients less than 14 years old (142/624, 23%). Mycobacterium tuberculosis was confirmed in 34/617 (6%) adult patients and 11/624 (2%) paediatric patients. The acute case fatality rate (CFR) during hospital admission was 73/617 (12%) in adults and to 42/624 (7%) in children.
Zoonotic bacterial and viral pathogens are the most common causes of CNS infection in adults and children in Viet Nam.
PMCID: PMC3360608  PMID: 22662232
18.  Combined high-resolution genotyping and geospatial analysis reveals modes of endemic urban typhoid fever transmission 
Open biology  2011;1(2):110008.
Typhoid is a systemic infection caused by Salmonella Typhi and Salmonella Paratyphi A, human-restricted bacteria that are transmitted faeco-orally. Salmonella Typhi and S. Paratyphi A are clonal, and their limited genetic diversity has precluded the identification of long-term transmission networks in areas with a high disease burden. To improve our understanding of typhoid transmission we have taken a novel approach, performing a longitudinal spatial case–control study for typhoid in Nepal, combining single-nucleotide polymorphism genotyping and case localization via global positioning. We show extensive clustering of typhoid occurring independent of population size and density. For the first time, we demonstrate an extensive range of genotypes existing within typhoid clusters, and even within individual households, including some resulting from clonal expansion. Furthermore, although the data provide evidence for direct human-to-human transmission, we demonstrate an overwhelming contribution of indirect transmission, potentially via contaminated water. Consistent with this, we detected S. Typhi and S. Paratyphi A in water supplies and found that typhoid was spatially associated with public water sources and low elevation. These findings have implications for typhoid-control strategies, and our innovative approach may be applied to other diseases caused by other monophyletic or emerging pathogens.
PMCID: PMC3352080  PMID: 22645647
Salmonella; Typhoid; Paratyphoid; genotyping; transmission; geospatial
19.  Typhoid Fever among Hospitalized Febrile Children in Siem Reap, Cambodia 
Journal of Tropical Pediatrics  2011;58(1):68-70.
Typhoid fever was confirmed by positive blood culture in 5 (3.7%) of 134 febrile children hospitalized in Cambodia. Typhoid was suspected in an additional 25 (18.7 %) blood culture-negative children based on: a positive immunoglobulin M lateral flow assay (IgMFA) (16); a positive polymerase chain reaction (PCR) for Salmonella typhi (2); or clinical assessment (7). The specificity of the IgMFA and PCR assays requires further study.
PMCID: PMC3739416  PMID: 21508082
typhoid fever; nucleic acid amplification test; rapid diagnostic test; blood culture; children
20.  A Multi-Center Randomized Trial to Assess the Efficacy of Gatifloxacin versus Ciprofloxacin for the Treatment of Shigellosis in Vietnamese Children 
The bacterial genus Shigella is the leading cause of dysentery. There have been significant increases in the proportion of Shigella isolated that demonstrate resistance to nalidixic acid. While nalidixic acid is no longer considered as a therapeutic agent for shigellosis, the fluoroquinolone ciprofloxacin is the current recommendation of the World Health Organization. Resistance to nalidixic acid is a marker of reduced susceptibility to older generation fluoroquinolones, such as ciprofloxacin. We aimed to assess the efficacy of gatifloxacin versus ciprofloxacin in the treatment of uncomplicated shigellosis in children.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We conducted a randomized, open-label, controlled trial with two parallel arms at two hospitals in southern Vietnam. The study was designed as a superiority trial and children with dysentery meeting the inclusion criteria were invited to participate. Participants received either gatifloxacin (10 mg/kg/day) in a single daily dose for 3 days or ciprofloxacin (30 mg/kg/day) in two divided doses for 3 days. The primary outcome measure was treatment failure; secondary outcome measures were time to the cessation of individual symptoms. Four hundred and ninety four patients were randomized to receive either gatifloxacin (n  =  249) or ciprofloxacin (n  =  245), of which 107 had a positive Shigella stool culture. We could not demonstrate superiority of gatifloxacin and observed similar clinical failure rate in both groups (gatifloxacin; 12.0% and ciprofloxacin; 11.0%, p  =  0.72). The median (inter-quartile range) time from illness onset to cessation of all symptoms was 95 (66–126) hours for gatifloxacin recipients and 93 (68–120) hours for the ciprofloxacin recipients (Hazard Ratio [95%CI]  =  0.98 [0.82–1.17], p  =  0.83).
We conclude that in Vietnam, where nalidixic acid resistant Shigellae are highly prevalent, ciprofloxacin and gatifloxacin are similarly effective for the treatment of acute shigellosis.
Trial Registration
Controlled trials number ISRCTN55945881
Author Summary
The bacterial genus Shigella is the most common cause of dysentery (diarrhea containing blood and/or mucus) and the disease is common in developing countries with limitations in sanitation. Children are most at risk of infection and frequently require hospitalization and antimicrobial therapy. The WHO currently recommends the fluoroquinolone, ciprofloxacin, for the treatment of childhood Shigella infections. In recent years there has been a sharp increase in the number of organisms that exhibit resistance to nalidixic acid (an antimicrobial related to ciprofloxacin), corresponding with reduced susceptibility to ciprofloxacin. We hypothesized that infections with Shigella strains that demonstrate resistance to nalidixic acid may prevent effective treatment with ciprofloxacin. We performed a randomized controlled trial to compare 3 day ciprofloxacin therapy with 3 days of gatifloxacin, a newer generation fluoroquinolone with greater activity than ciprofloxacin. We measured treatment failure and time to the cessation of individual disease symptoms in 249 children with dysentery treated with gatifloxacin and 245 treated with ciprofloxacin. We could identify no significant differences in treatment failure between the two groups or in time to the cessation of individual symptoms. We conclude that, in Vietnam, ciprofloxacin and gatifloxacin are similarly effective for the treatment of acute dysentery.
PMCID: PMC3149021  PMID: 21829747
21.  Real-time PCR for detection of Streptococcus suis serotype 2 in cerebrospinal fluid of human patients with meningitis 
Streptococcus suis serotype 2 is an emerging zoonotic pathogen and is the main cause of acute bacterial meningitis in adult patients in Vietnam. We developed an internally controlled real-time PCR for detection of S. suis serotype 2 in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) samples targeted at the cps2J gene. Sensitivity and specificity in culture-confirmed clinical samples were 100%. The PCR detected S. suis serotype 2 infection in 101 of 238 (42.4%) prospectively collected CSF samples, of which 55 (23%) were culture positive. Culture-negative but PCR-positive CSF samples were significantly associated with the use of antimicrobial agents before admission. S. suis serotype 2 infection was more common than infections with Streptococcus pneumoniae and Neisseria meningitidis combined. Our results strikingly illustrate the additional diagnostic value of PCR in patients who are pretreated with antimicrobial agents and demonstrate the extremely high prevalence of S. suis infections among Vietnamese adult patients with bacterial meningitis.
PMCID: PMC3146703  PMID: 21767702
Bacterial meningitis; Streptococcus suis serotype 2; CSF; Real-time PCR
22.  The HIV-1 Vpr and glucocorticoid receptor complex is a gain-of-function interaction that prevents the nuclear localization of PARP-1 
Nature cell biology  2006;8(2):170-179.
The Vpr protein of HIV-1 functions as a vital accessory gene by regulating various cellular functions, including cell differentiation, apoptosis, nuclear factor of κB (NF-κB) suppression and cell-cycle arrest of the host cell. Several reports have indicated that Vpr complexes with the glucocorticoid receptor (GR), but it remains unclear whether the GR pathway is required for Vpr to function1. Here, we report that Vpr uses the GR pathway as a recruitment vehicle for the NF-κB co-activating protein, poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase-1 (PARP-1). The GR interaction with Vpr is both necessary and sufficient to facilitate this interaction by potentiating the formation of a Vpr–GR–PARP-1 complex. The recruitment of PARP-1 by the Vpr–GR complex prevents its nuclear localization, which is necessary for Vpr to suppress NF-κB. The association of GR with PARP-1 is not observed with steroid (glucocorticoid) treatment, indicating that the GR association with PARP-1 is a gain of function that is solely attributed to HIV-1 Vpr. These data provide important insights into Vpr biology and its role in HIV pathogenesis.
PMCID: PMC3142937  PMID: 16429131
23.  Emergence of a Globally Dominant IncHI1 Plasmid Type Associated with Multiple Drug Resistant Typhoid 
Typhoid fever, caused by Salmonella enterica serovar Typhi (S. Typhi), remains a serious global health concern. Since their emergence in the mid-1970s multi-drug resistant (MDR) S. Typhi now dominate drug sensitive equivalents in many regions. MDR in S. Typhi is almost exclusively conferred by self-transmissible IncHI1 plasmids carrying a suite of antimicrobial resistance genes. We identified over 300 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) within conserved regions of the IncHI1 plasmid, and genotyped both plasmid and chromosomal SNPs in over 450 S. Typhi dating back to 1958. Prior to 1995, a variety of IncHI1 plasmid types were detected in distinct S. Typhi haplotypes. Highly similar plasmids were detected in co-circulating S. Typhi haplotypes, indicative of plasmid transfer. In contrast, from 1995 onwards, 98% of MDR S. Typhi were plasmid sequence type 6 (PST6) and S. Typhi haplotype H58, indicating recent global spread of a dominant MDR clone. To investigate whether PST6 conferred a selective advantage compared to other IncHI1 plasmids, we used a phenotyping array to compare the impact of IncHI1 PST6 and PST1 plasmids in a common S. Typhi host. The PST6 plasmid conferred the ability to grow in high salt medium (4.7% NaCl), which we demonstrate is due to the presence in PST6 of the Tn6062 transposon encoding BetU.
Author Summary
Typhoid fever is caused by the bacterium Salmonella enterica serovar Typhi (S. Typhi). Treatment relies on antimicrobial drugs, however many S. Typhi are multi-drug resistant (MDR), severely compromising treatment options. MDR typhoid is associated with multiple drug resistance genes, which can be transferred between S. Typhi and other bacteria via self-transmissible plasmids. We used sequence analysis to identify single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) within these plasmids, and used high-resolution SNP typing to trace the subtypes (termed haplotypes) of both the S. Typhi bacteria and their MDR plasmids isolated from more than 450 typhoid patients since 1958. Among isolates collected before 1995, a variety of plasmid haplotypes and S. Typhi haplotypes were detected, indicating that MDR typhoid was caused by a diverse range of S. Typhi and MDR plasmids. In contrast, 98% of MDR S. Typhi samples isolated from 1995 were of the same S. Typhi haplotype and plasmid haplotype, indicating that the recent increase in rates of MDR typhoid is due to the global spread of a dominant S. Typhi-plasmid combination. We demonstrate this particular plasmid type contains a transposon encoding two transporter genes, enabling its S. Typhi host to grow in the presence of high salt concentrations.
PMCID: PMC3139670  PMID: 21811646
24.  Social and environmental determinants of malaria in space and time in Viet Nam 
The malaria burden in Viet Nam has been in decline in recent decades, but localised areas of high transmission remain. We used spatiotemporal analytical tools to determine the social and environmental drivers of malaria risk and to identify residual high-risk areas where control and surveillance resources can be targeted. Counts of reported Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax malaria cases by month (January 2007–December 2008) and by district were assembled. Zero-inflated Poisson regression models were developed in a Bayesian framework. Models had the percentage of the district’s population living below the poverty line, percent of the district covered by forest, median elevation, median long-term average precipitation, and minimum temperature included as fixed effects, and terms for temporal trend and residual district-level spatial autocorrelation. Strong temporal and spatial heterogeneity in counts of malaria cases was apparent. Poverty and forest cover were significantly associated with an increased count of malaria cases but the magnitude and direction of associations between climate and malaria varied by socio-ecological zone. There was a declining trend in counts of malaria cases during the study period. After accounting for the social and environmental fixed effects, substantial spatial heterogeneity was still evident. Unmeasured factors which may contribute to this residual variation include malaria control activities, population migration and accessibility to health care. Forest-related activities and factors encompassed by poverty indicators are major drivers of malaria incidence in Viet Nam.
PMCID: PMC3086784  PMID: 20833173
Malaria; Spatial epidemiology; Surveillance; Bayesian statistics; Plasmodium falciparum; Plasmodium vivax; Poverty; Forest cover

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