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1.  Development and Validation of a Novel Diagnostic Test for Human Brucellosis Using a Glyco-engineered Antigen Coupled to Magnetic Beads 
Brucellosis is a highly contagious zoonosis and still a major human health problem in endemic areas of the world. Although several diagnostic tools are available, most of them are difficult to implement especially in developing countries where complex health facilities are limited. Taking advantage of the identical structure and composition of the Brucella spp. and Yersinia enterocolitica O:9 O-polysaccharide, we explored the application of a recombinant Y. enterocolitica O:9-polysaccharide-protein conjugate (OAg-AcrA) as a novel antigen for diagnosis of human brucellosis. We have developed and validated an indirect immunoassay using OAg-AcrA coupled to magnetic beads. OAg-AcrA was produced and purified with high yields in Y. enterocolitica O:9 cells co-expressing the oligosaccharyltransferase PglB and the protein acceptor AcrA of Campylobacter jejuni without the need for culturing Brucella. Expression of PglB and AcrA in Y. enterocolitica resulted in the transfer of the host O-polysaccharide from its lipid carrier to AcrA. To validate the assay and determine the cutoff values, a receiver-operating characteristic analysis was performed using a panel of characterized serum samples obtained from healthy individuals and patients of different clinical groups. Our results indicate that, using this assay, it is possible to detect infection caused by the three main human brucellosis agents (B. abortus, B. melitensis and B. suis) and select different cutoff points to adjust sensitivity and specificity levels as needed. A cutoff value of 13.20% gave a sensitivity of 100% and a specificity of 98.57%, and a cutoff value of 16.15% resulted in a test sensitivity and specificity of 93.48% and 100%, respectively. The high diagnostic accuracy, low cost, reduced assay time and simplicity of this new glycoconjugate-magnetic beads assay makes it an attractive diagnostic tool for using not only in clinics and brucellosis reference laboratories but also in locations with limited laboratory infrastructure and/or minimally trained community health workers.
Author Summary
Brucellosis is one of the most widespread zoonoses in the world and still represents a mayor animal and human health problem in many endemic areas. Central for early diagnosis and appropriate treatment of the disease in humans is to have an easy to implement, fast and accurate diagnostic test for the disease. Currently, most of the diagnostic tests for human brucellosis are not of simple implementation in areas where laboratory infrastructure or trained personnel are not available. We present here a novel and simple diagnostic test for human brucellosis using a glyco-engineered antigen coupled to magnetic beads. Our results show that, with this new method, it is possible to detect infection caused by the three main human brucellosis agents with high sensitivity and specificity. We additionally demonstrate that this assay allows the selection of different cutoff points so that the desired operating characteristics of the test in terms of diagnostic sensitivity and specificity can be adjusted according to the needs of the operator. We believe that the high accuracy, low cost and simplicity of this new test makes it an attractive diagnostic tool not only for clinics and brucellosis reference laboratories but also for locations with limited laboratory infrastructure and/or minimally trained community health workers.
PMCID: PMC3573069  PMID: 23459192
2.  Dynamics of Adrenal Steroids Are Related to Variations in Th1 and Treg Populations during Mycobacterium tuberculosis Infection in HIV Positive Persons 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(3):e33061.
Tuberculosis (TB) remains the most frequent cause of illness and death from an infectious agent, and its interaction with HIV has devastating effects. We determined plasma levels of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), its circulating form DHEA-suphate (DHEA-s) and cortisol in different stages of M. tuberculosis infection, and explored their role on the Th1 and Treg populations during different scenarios of HIV-TB coinfection, including the immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome (IRIS), a condition related to antiretroviral treatment. DHEA levels were diminished in HIV-TB and HIV-TB IRIS patients compared to healthy donors (HD), HIV+ individuals and HIV+ individuals with latent TB (HIV-LTB), whereas dehydroepiandrosterone sulfate (DHEA-s) levels were markedly diminished in HIV-TB IRIS individuals. HIV-TB and IRIS patients presented a cortisol/DHEA ratio significantly higher than HIV+, HIV-LTB and HD individuals. A positive correlation was observed between DHEA-s and CD4 count among HIV-TB individuals. Conversely, cortisol plasma level inversely correlated with CD4 count within HIV-TB individuals. M. tuberculosis-specific Th1 lymphocyte count was increased after culturing PBMC from HIV-TB individuals in presence of DHEA. We observed an inverse correlation between DHEA-s plasma level and Treg frequency in co-infected individuals, and CD4+FoxP3+ Treg frequency was increased in HIV-TB and IRIS patients compared to other groups. Strikingly, we observed a prominent CD4+CD25-FoxP3+ population across HIV-TB and HIV-TB IRIS patients, which frequency correlated with DHEA plasma level. Finally, DHEA treatment negatively regulated FoxP3 expression without altering Treg frequency in co-infected patients. These data suggest an enhancing role for DHEA in the immune response against M. tuberculosis during HIV-TB coinfection and IRIS.
PMCID: PMC3303789  PMID: 22431997
3.  Brucella abortus Inhibits Major Histocompatibility Complex Class II Expression and Antigen Processing through Interleukin-6 Secretion via Toll-Like Receptor 2▿  
Infection and Immunity  2007;76(1):250-262.
The strategies that allow Brucella abortus to survive inside macrophages for prolonged periods and to avoid the immunological surveillance of major histocompatibility complex class II (MHC-II)-restricted gamma interferon (IFN-γ)-producing CD4+ T lymphocytes are poorly understood. We report here that infection of THP-1 cells with B. abortus inhibited expression of MHC-II molecules and antigen (Ag) processing. Heat-killed B. abortus (HKBA) also induced both these phenomena, indicating the independence of bacterial viability and involvement of a structural component of the bacterium. Accordingly, outer membrane protein 19 (Omp19), a prototypical B. abortus lipoprotein, inhibited both MHC-II expression and Ag processing to the same extent as HKBA. Moreover, a synthetic lipohexapeptide that mimics the structure of the protein lipid moiety also inhibited MHC-II expression, indicating that any Brucella lipoprotein could down-modulate MHC-II expression and Ag processing. Inhibition of MHC-II expression and Ag processing by either HKBA or lipidated Omp19 (L-Omp19) depended on Toll-like receptor 2 and was mediated by interleukin-6. HKBA or L-Omp19 also inhibited MHC-II expression and Ag processing of human monocytes. In addition, exposure to the synthetic lipohexapeptide inhibited Ag-specific T-cell proliferation and IFN-γ production of peripheral blood mononuclear cells from Brucella-infected patients. Together, these results indicate that there is a mechanism by which B. abortus may prevent recognition by T cells to evade host immunity and establish a chronic infection.
PMCID: PMC2223644  PMID: 17984211
4.  Antibody Reactivity to Omp31 from Brucella melitensis in Human and Animal Infections by Smooth and Rough Brucellae 
Group 3 of outer membrane proteins (OMPs) of Brucella includes Omp25 and Omp31, which share 34% identity. Omp25 is highly conserved in Brucella species, and Omp31 is present in all Brucella species, except Brucella abortus. Antibodies to Brucella melitensis Omp31 have been sought only in infected sheep, and Western blotting of sera from infected sheep did not reveal anti-Omp31 reactivity. We obtained recombinant purified Omp31 (B. melitensis) and tested its recognition by sera from humans and animals suffering from brucellosis by an indirect enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Serum samples from 74 patients, 57 sheep, and 47 dogs were analyzed; brucellosis was confirmed by bacteriological isolation in all ovine and canine cases and 31 human cases of brucellosis. Thirty-five patients (47%) were positive for antibodies to Omp31, including seven cases of Brucella suis infection, two cases of B. abortus infection, and three cases of B. melitensis infection. Of 39 sheep naturally infected with B. melitensis (biovars 1 and 3), 23 (59%) were positive for antibodies to Omp31. Anti-Omp31 antibodies were also detected in 12 of 18 rams (67%) in which Brucella ovis was isolated from semen. Antibodies to Omp31 were also found in 41 (87%) of the 47 dogs, including 13 with recent infection. These results suggest that an indirect ELISA using recombinant purified Omp31 from B. melitensis would be of limited value for the diagnosis of human and animal brucellosis. Nevertheless, the potential usefulness of this antigen in combination with other recombinant proteins from Brucella should not be dismissed.
PMCID: PMC321362  PMID: 14715555
5.  Human Infection with M- Strain of Brucella canis 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2004;10(1):146-148.
The less mucoid strain of Brucella canis or M- strain is used for the serologic diagnosis of canine brucellosis. While this strain is avirulent in dogs, we report the case of clinical brucellosis that developed in a laboratory worker a few days after handling live M- cells for antigen production.
PMCID: PMC3322762  PMID: 15078613
brucella canis; M- strain; human infection; clinical picture; immune response
6.  Detection of Antibodies to Brucella Cytoplasmic Proteins in the Cerebrospinal Fluid of Patients with Neurobrucellosis 
The diagnosis of human neurobrucellosis usually relies on the detection of antibodies to Brucella lipopolysaccharide (LPS) in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) by agglutination tests or enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Here we describe the detection of immunoglobulin G (IgG) to cytoplasmic proteins (CP) of Brucella spp. by ELISA and Western blotting in seven CSF samples from five patients with neurobrucellosis. While IgG to CP (titers of 200 to 12,800) and IgG to LPS (800 to 6,400) were found in the CSF of these patients, these antibodies were not detected in CSF samples from two patients who had systemic brucellosis without neurological involvement. The latter, however, had serum IgG and IgM to both LPS and CP. No reactivity to these antigens was found in CSF samples from 14 and 20 patients suffering from nonbrucellar meningitis and noninfectious diseases, respectively. These findings suggest that, in addition to its usefulness in the serological diagnosis of human systemic brucellosis, the ELISA with CP antigen can be used for the specific diagnosis of human neurobrucellosis.
PMCID: PMC95768  PMID: 10473531

Results 1-6 (6)