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1.  Seven-Valent Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine and Nasopharyngeal Microbiota in Healthy Children 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2014;20(2):201-210.
Careful monitoring of vaccines against common bacterial colonizers is needed.
Seven-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV-7) is effective against vaccine serotype disease and carriage. Nevertheless, shifts in colonization and disease toward nonvaccine serotypes and other potential pathogens have been described. To understand the extent of these shifts, we analyzed nasopharyngeal microbial profiles of 97 PCV-7–vaccinated infants and 103 control infants participating in a randomized controlled trial in the Netherlands. PCV-7 immunization resulted in a temporary shift in microbial community composition and increased bacterial diversity. Immunization also resulted in decreased presence of the pneumococcal vaccine serotype and an increase in the relative abundance and presence of nonpneumococcal streptococci and anaerobic bacteria. Furthermore, the abundance of Haemophilus and Staphylococcus bacteria in vaccinees was increased over that in controls. This study illustrates the much broader effect of vaccination with PCV-7 on the microbial community than currently assumed, and highlights the need for careful monitoring when implementing vaccines directed against common colonizers.
PMCID: PMC3901477  PMID: 24447437
seven-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine; PCV-7; pneumococcal conjugate vaccine; pneumococcal conjugate vaccination; pneumococci; bacteria; respiratory tract; colonization; randomized controlled trial; nasopharyngeal microbiota; children
2.  Alternative Sampling Methods for Detecting Bacterial Pathogens in Children with Upper Respiratory Tract Infections 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2012;50(12):4134-4137.
Nasopharyngeal sampling is used for detecting bacteria commonly involved in upper respiratory tract infections, but it requires training and may not always be well tolerated. We sampled children (n = 66) of ages 0 to 4 years, with rhinorrhea, by using a nasopharyngeal swab, a nasal swab, and nose blowing/wiping into a paper tissue. Streptococcus pneumoniae, Haemophilus influenzae, Moraxella catarrhalis, and Staphylococcus aureus were cultured at similar rates across methods with high concordance (80 to 97%), indicating that they are reliably detected by alternative means.
PMCID: PMC3502957  PMID: 23052306
3.  Superiority of Trans-Oral over Trans-Nasal Sampling in Detecting Streptococcus pneumoniae Colonization in Adults 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e60520.
The human nasopharynx is the main reservoir for Streptococcus pneumoniae. We applied conventional and molecular methods to determine the prevalence of S. pneumoniae nasopharyngeal colonization in adults. Paired trans-orally and trans-nasally obtained nasopharyngeal samples from 268 parents of 24-month-old children were assessed for pneumococcal presence. Parents were classified as colonized when live pneumococci were recovered from either sample cultured on medium selective for S. pneumoniae. Of the 52 (19%) colonized parents 49 (18%) were culture-positive in trans-nasal and 10 (4%) in trans-oral samples. Bacterial growth was harvested from these cultures, DNA isolated and tested by quantitative-PCR (qPCR) targeting lytA and piaA genes specific for S. pneumoniae. A sample was considered positive if signals for both genes were detected. Altogether 105 (39%) individuals were classified as positive for pneumococcus by qPCR including 50 (19%) in trans-nasal and 94 (35%) in trans-oral settings. Although significantly more trans-nasal compared to trans-oral samples were culture-positive for S. pneumoniae at the primary diagnostic step (p<0.001) the opposite was observed in qPCR results (p<0.001). To confirm the presence of live pneumococcus in samples positive by qPCR but negative at the initial diagnostic step, we serially-diluted cell harvests, re-cultured and carefully examined for S. pneumoniae presence. Live pneumococci were recovered from an additional 43 parents including 42 positive in trans-oral and 4 in trans-nasal samples increasing the number of individuals culture- and qPCR-positive to 93 (35%) and positive by either of two methods to 107 (40%). There were significantly more trans-oral than trans-nasal samples positive for pneumococcus by both culture and qPCR (n = 71; 27%; vs. n = 50; 19%; p<0.05). Our data suggest that pneumococcal colonization is more common in adults than previously estimated and point towards the superiority of a trans-oral over a trans-nasal approach when testing adults for colonization with S. pneumoniae.
PMCID: PMC3610877  PMID: 23555985
4.  Nasopharyngeal Colonization Elicits Antibody Responses to Staphylococcal and Pneumococcal Proteins That Are Not Associated with a Reduced Risk of Subsequent Carriage 
Infection and Immunity  2012;80(6):2186-2193.
Knowledge of the immunological correlates of Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pneumoniae colonization is required for the search for future protein vaccines. We evaluated natural antibody levels against pneumococcal and staphylococcal proteins in relation to previous bacterial colonization with both pathogens. In a randomized controlled trial, nasopharyngeal samples were obtained from children at 1.5, 6, 12, 18, and 24 months and cultured for S. aureus and S. pneumoniae. Approximately 50% of the children were PCV7 vaccinated. Serum IgG against 18 pneumococcal and 40 staphylococcal proteins was semiquantified by Luminex technology from 111 12 month olds and 158 24 month olds. Previous culture-proven S. aureus colonization was associated with higher IgG levels against 6/40 staphylococcal proteins (ClfB, ClfA, Efb, CHIPS, LukD, and LukF [P ≤ 0.001]) compared to noncarriers. Previous pneumococcal colonization was associated with increased IgG levels against 12/18 pneumococcal proteins compared to noncarriers (P ≤ 0.003). Increasing age was associated with higher levels of antibodies to most pneumococcal proteins and lower levels of antibodies to over half the staphylococcal proteins, reflecting natural colonization dynamics. Anti-S. pneumoniae and anti-S. aureus protein antibodies at the age of 12 months were not negatively correlated with subsequent colonization with the homologous species in the following year and did not differ between PCV7-vaccinated and nonvaccinated children. Colonization with S. aureus and S. pneumoniae induces serum IgG against many proteins, predominantly proteins with immune-modulating functions, irrespective of PCV7 vaccination. None of them appeared to be protective against new acquisition with both pathogens, possibly due to the polymorphic nature of those proteins in the circulating bacterial population.
PMCID: PMC3370583  PMID: 22451514
5.  Effects of the 10-Valent Pneumococcal Nontypeable Haemophilus influenzae Protein D–Conjugate Vaccine on Nasopharyngeal Bacterial Colonization in Young Children: A Randomized Controlled Trial 
This study evaluated effects of the 10-valent pneumococcal nontypeable Haemophilus influenzae protein D-conjugate vaccine (PHiDCV) compared with the 7-valent vaccine on nasopharyngeal bacterial colonization, specifically nontypeable Haemophilus influenzae (NTHi). PHiD-CV had no differential effect on nasopharyngeal NTHi colonization.
Background. This study evaluated the effects of the 10-valent pneumococcal nontypeable Haemophilus influenzae protein D–conjugate vaccine (PHiD-CV) on nasopharyngeal bacterial colonization compared with the 7-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (7vCRM) in young children.
Methods. A randomized controlled trial in the Netherlands, initiated 2 years after 7vCRM introduction, was conducted between 1 April 2008 and 1 December 2010. Infants (N = 780) received either PHiD-CV or 7vCRM (2:1) at 2, 3, 4, and 11–13 months of age. Nasopharyngeal samples taken at 5, 11, 14, 18, and 24 months of age were cultured to detect Haemophilus influenzae, Streptococcus pneumoniae, Moraxella catarrhalis, and Staphylococcus aureus. Polymerase chain reaction assays quantified H. influenzae and S. pneumoniae and confirmed H. influenzae as nontypeable (NTHi). Primary outcome measure was vaccine efficacy (VE) against NTHi colonization.
Results. In both groups, NTHi colonization increased with age from 33% in 5-month-olds to 65% in 24-month-olds. Three months postbooster, VE against colonization was 0.5% (95% confidence interval [CI], −21.8% to 18.4%) and VE against acquisition 10.9% (95% CI, −31.3% to 38.9%). At each sampling moment, no differences between groups in either NTHi prevalence or H. influenzae density were detected. Streptococcus pneumoniae (range, 39%–57%), M. catarrhalis (range, 63%­–69%), and S. aureus (range, 9%–30%) colonization patterns were similar between groups.
Conclusions. PHiD-CV had no differential effect on nasopharyngeal NTHi colonization or H. influenzae density in healthy Dutch children up to 2 years of age, implying that herd effects for NTHi are not to be expected. Other bacterial colonization patterns were also similar.
Clinical Trials Registration NCT00652951.
PMCID: PMC3540043  PMID: 23118268
pneumococcal conjugate vaccination; nasopharyngeal bacterial colonization; carriage; nontypeable Haemophilus influenza; Streptococcus pneumonia
6.  Associations between Pathogens in the Upper Respiratory Tract of Young Children: Interplay between Viruses and Bacteria 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e47711.
High rates of potentially pathogenic bacteria and respiratory viruses can be detected in the upper respiratory tract of healthy children. Investigating presence of and associations between these pathogens in healthy individuals is still a rather unexplored field of research, but may have implications for interpreting findings during disease.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We selected 986 nasopharyngeal samples from 433 6- to 24-month-old healthy children that had participated in a randomized controlled trial. We determined the presence of 20 common respiratory viruses using real-time PCR. Streptococcus pneumoniae, Haemophilus influenzae, Moraxella catarrhalis and Staphylococcus aureus were identified by conventional culture methods. Information on risk factors was obtained by questionnaires. We performed multivariate logistic regression analyses followed by partial correlation analysis to identify the overall pattern of associations. S. pneumoniae colonization was positively associated with the presence of H. influenzae (adjusted odds ratio 1.60, 95% confidence interval 1.18–2.16), M. catarrhalis (1.78, 1.29–2.47), human rhinoviruses (1.63, 1.19–2.22) and enteroviruses (1.97, 1.26–3.10), and negatively associated with S. aureus presence (0.59, 0.35–0.98). H. influenzae was positively associated with human rhinoviruses (1.63, 1.22–2.18) and respiratory syncytial viruses (2.78, 1.06–7.28). M. catarrhalis colonization was positively associated with coronaviruses (1.99, 1.01–3.93) and adenoviruses (3.69, 1.29–10.56), and negatively with S. aureus carriage (0.42, 0.25–0.69). We observed a strong positive association between S. aureus and influenza viruses (4.87, 1.59–14.89). In addition, human rhinoviruses and enteroviruses were positively correlated (2.40, 1.66–3.47), as were enteroviruses and human bocavirus, WU polyomavirus, parainfluenza viruses, and human parechovirus. A negative association was observed between human rhinoviruses and coronaviruses.
Our data revealed high viral and bacterial prevalence rates and distinct bacterial-bacterial, viral-bacterial and viral-viral associations in healthy children, hinting towards the complexity and potential dynamics of microbial communities in the upper respiratory tract. This warrants careful consideration when associating microbial presence with specific respiratory diseases.
PMCID: PMC3474735  PMID: 23082199
7.  Salivary Immune Responses to the 7-Valent Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine in the First 2 Years of Life 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e46916.
The CRM197-conjugated 7-valent pneumococcal vaccine (PCV7) is protective against vaccine serotype disease and nasopharyngeal carriage. Data on PCV7-induced mucosal antibodies in relation to systemic or natural anticapsular antibodies are scarce.
In a randomized controlled setting, children received PCV7 at age 2 and 4 months (2-dose group), at age 2, 4 and 11 months (2+1-dose group) or no PCV7 (control group). From 188 children paired saliva samples were collected at 12 and 24 months of age. From a subgroup of 15 immunized children also serum samples were collected. IgG and IgA antibody-levels were measured by multiplex immunoassay.
At 12 months, both vaccine groups showed higher serum and saliva IgG-levels against vaccine serotypes compared with controls which sustained until 24 months for most serotypes. Salivary IgG-levels were 10–20-fold lower compared to serum IgG, however, serum and saliva IgG-levels were highly correlated. Serum and salivary IgA-levels were higher in both vaccine groups at 12 months compared with controls, except for serotype 19F. Higher salivary IgA levels remained present for most serotypes in the 2+1-dose group until 24 months, but not in the 2-dose group. Salivary IgA more than IgG, increased after documented carriage of serotypes 6B, 19F and 23F In contrast to IgG, salivary IgA-levels were comparable with serum, suggesting local IgA-production.
PCV7 vaccination results in significant increases in salivary IgG and IgA-levels, which are more pronounced for IgG when compared to controls. In contrast, salivary anticapsular IgA-levels seemed to respond more to natural boosting. Salivary IgG and IgA-levels correlate well with systemic antibodies, suggesting saliva might be useful as potential future surveillance tool.
PMCID: PMC3473066  PMID: 23077532
9.  Long-Term Effects of Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine on Nasopharyngeal Carriage of S. pneumoniae, S. aureus, H. influenzae and M. catarrhalis 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(6):e39730.
Shifts in pneumococcal serotypes following introduction of 7-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV-7) may alter the presence of other bacterial pathogens co-inhabiting the same nasopharyngeal niche.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Nasopharyngeal prevalence rates of S. pneumoniae, S. aureus, H. influenzae and M. catarrhalis were investigated before, 3 and 4.5 years after introduction of PCV-7 in the national immunisation program in children at 11 and 24 months of age, and parents of 24-month-old children (n≈330/group) using conventional culture methods. Despite a virtual disappearance of PCV-7 serotypes over time, similar overall pneumococcal rates were observed in all age groups, except for a significant reduction in the 11-month-old group (adjusted Odds Ratio after 4.5 years 0.48, 95% Confidence Interval 0.34–0.67). Before, 3 and 4.5 years after PCV-7 implementation, prevalence rates of S. aureus were 5%, 9% and 14% at 11 months of age (3.59, 1.90–6.79) and 20%, 32% and 34% in parents (1.96, 1.36–2.83), but remained similar at 24 months of age, respectively. Prevalence rates of H. influenzae were 46%, 65% and 65% at 11 months (2.22, 1.58–3.13), 52%, 73% and 76% at 24 months of age (2.68, 1.88–3.82) and 23%, 30% and 40% in parents (2.26, 1.58–3.33), respectively. No consistent changes in M. catarrhalis carriage rates were observed over time.
In addition to large shifts in pneumococcal serotypes, persistently higher nasopharyngeal prevalence rates of S. aureus and H. influenzae were observed among young children and their parents after PCV-7 implementation. These findings may have implications for disease incidence and antibiotic treatment in the post-PCV era.
PMCID: PMC3382588  PMID: 22761879
10.  Effect of Seven-Valent Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine on Staphylococcus aureus Colonisation in a Randomised Controlled Trial 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(6):e20229.
Heptavalent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV7) shifts nasopharyngeal colonisation with vaccine serotype pneumococci towards nonvaccine serotypes. Because of the reported negative association of vaccine serotype pneumococci and Staphylococcus aureus in the nasopharynx, we explored the effect of PCV7 on nasopharyngeal colonisation with S. aureus in children and parents.
Methodology/Principal Findings
This study was part of a randomised controlled trial on the effect of PCV7 on pneumococcal carriage, enrolling healthy newborns who were randomly assigned (1∶1∶1) to receive PCV7 (1) at 2 and 4 months of age (2) at 2, 4 and 11 months or (3) no PCV7 (controls). Nasopharyngeal colonisation of S. aureus was a planned secondary outcome. Nasopharyngeal swabs were obtained from all children over a 2-year period with 6-months interval and from one parent at the child's age of 12 and 24 months and cultured for Streptococcus pneumoniae and S. aureus. Between July 2005 and February 2006, 1005 children were enrolled and received either 2-doses of PCV7 (n = 336), 2+1-doses (336) or no dose (n = 333) before PCV7 implementation in the Dutch national immunization program. S. aureus colonisation had doubled in children in the 2+1-dose group at 12 months of age compared with unvaccinated controls (10.1% versus 5.0%; p = 0.019). A negative association for co-colonisation of S. pneumoniae and S. aureus was observed for both vaccine serotype (adjusted odds ratio (aOR) 0.53, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.38–0.74) and nonvaccine serotype pneumococci (aOR 0.67, 95% CI 0.52–0.88).
PCV7 induces a temporary increase in S. aureus colonisation in children around 12 months of age after a 2+1-dose PCV7 schedule. The potential clinical consequences are unknown and monitoring is warranted.
Trial Registration NCT00189020
PMCID: PMC3112202  PMID: 21695210
11.  Carriage of Streptococcus pneumoniae 3 Years after Start of Vaccination Program, the Netherlands 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2011;17(4):584-591.
To evaluate the effectiveness of the 7-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV7) program, we conducted a cross-sectional observational study on nasopharyngeal carriage of Streptococcus pneumoniae 3 years after implementation of the program in the Netherlands. We compared pneumococcal serotypes in 329 prebooster 11-month-old children, 330 fully vaccinated 24-month-old children, and 324 parents with age-matched pre-PCV7 (unvaccinated) controls (ages 12 and 24 months, n = 319 and n = 321, respectively) and 296 of their parents. PCV7 serotype prevalences before and after PCV7 implementation, respectively, were 38% and 8% among 11-month-old children, 36% and 4% among 24-month-old children, and 8% and 1% among parents. Non-PCV7 serotype prevalences were 29% and 39% among 11-month-old children, 30% and 45% among 24-month-old children, and 8% and 15% among parents, respectively; serotypes 11A and 19A were most frequently isolated. PCV7 serotypes were largely replaced by non-PCV7 serotypes. Disappearance of PCV7 serotypes in parents suggests strong transmission reduction through vaccination.
PMCID: PMC3377405  PMID: 21470445
Streptococcus pneumoniae; nasopharyngeal colonization; heptavalent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine; infectious disease transmission; herd immunity; parents; infants; bacteria; research
12.  Reliability and validity of functional health status and health-related quality of life questionnaires in children with recurrent acute otitis media 
Quality of Life Research  2007;16(8):1357-1373.
In this study the reliability and validity of generic and disease-specific questionnaires has been assessed focusing on responsiveness. This is part of a study on the effects of recurrent acute otitis media (rAOM) on functional health status (FHS) and health-related quality of life (HRQoL) in 383 children with rAOM participating in a randomized clinical trial. The following generic questionnaires were studied: 1. RAND general health rating index, 2. Functional Status Questionnaire (FSQ Generic and FSQ Specific), 3. TNO-AZL Infant Quality of Life (TAIQOL), and the following disease-specific questionnaires: 1. Otitis Media-6 (OM-6), 2. Numerical rating scales (NRS) for child and caregiver (NRS Child and NRS Caregiver), and 3. a new Family Functioning Questionnaire (FFQ). Reliability was good to excellent (Cronbach’s α range 0.80–0.90, intraclass correlation coefficient range 0.76–0.93). Moderate to strong correlations were found between the questionnaires as well as between questionnaires and relevant clinical indicators (r = 0.29–0.49), demonstrating construct validity. Discriminant validity for children with few versus frequent episodes of acute otitis media per year was good for most questionnaires (P < 0.004) but poor for the otitis media-related subscales of the TAIQOL (P = 0.10–0.97) and both NRS (P = 0.22 and 0.48). Except for the TAIQOL subscales, change scores were significant (P < 0.003) for generic and disease-specific questionnaires. Effect sizes were somewhat higher for disease-specific compared to generic questionnaires (0.55–0.95 versus 0.32–0.60) except for the TAIQOL subscales, which showed very poor sensitivity to change. Anchor-based methods resulted in a somewhat larger range of estimates of MCID than distribution-based methods. Combining distribution-based and anchor-based methods resulted in similar ranges for the minimally clinical important differences for generic and disease-specific questionnaires: 2–15 points on a 0–100 scale. Apart from the generic TAIQOL subscales, both generic and disease-specific questionnaires used in this study showed good psychometric qualities and responsiveness for use in clinical studies on children with rAOM.
PMCID: PMC2039822  PMID: 17668290
Childhood infection; Acute otitis media; Functional health status; Quality of life; Reliability; Validity; Responsiveness

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