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1.  Teaching NeuroImages: Acute neurologic deficits due to Baló concentric sclerosis 
Neurology  2015;84(14):e109-e110.
PMCID: PMC4395881  PMID: 25847002
2.  Relationship Dynamics and Sexual Risk Reduction Strategies Among Heterosexual Young Adults: A Qualitative Study of Sexually Transmitted Infection Clinic Attendees at an Urban Chicago Health Center 
AIDS Patient Care and STDs  2015;29(12):668-674.
Few studies have examined risk-reduction alternatives to consistent condom use for HIV prevention among heterosexual young adults. We used qualitative methodology to explore risk reduction strategies and contextual factors influencing attempts to reduce risk in an urban, high morbidity sexually transmitted infection (STI) clinic. Focus groups were conducted October–December 2014 with heterosexually identified men (n = 13) and women (n = 20) aged 18–29 seeking STI screening at an urban clinic. Groups were audio recorded, transcribed verbatim, and analyzed for thematic content using Atlas.ti software. Quantitative information included sociodemographics, HIV/STI testing history, and 6-month sexual behaviors. Among 33 predominantly African-American participants with a median age of 22, risk-reduction strategies included monogamy agreements, selective condom use with casual and high-risk partners, and frequent HIV/STI testing, though testing was commonly used as a post-hoc reassurance after risk exposure. Many men and women used implicit risk assessment strategies due to mistrust or difficulty communicating. Concurrency was common but rarely discussed within partnerships. Despite attempts to reduce risk, monogamy agreements were often poorly adhered to and not openly discussed. Alcohol and substance use frequently interfered with safer sexual decisions. Participants were aware of HIV/STI risk and commonly practiced risk-reduction strategies, but acknowledged faulty assumptions and poor adherence. This work provides insights into risk-reduction approaches that are already used and may be strengthened as part of effective HIV/STI prevention interventions.
PMCID: PMC4684658  PMID: 26588197
3.  An exploratory comparison of vaginal glycogen and Lactobacillus levels in pre- and post-menopausal women 
Menopause (New York, N.Y.)  2015;22(7):702-709.
Previous studies have suggested that glycogen expression in vaginal epithelium decreases at menopause, resulting in reduced levels of lactobacilli. However, free glycogen in genital fluids and its relationship to Lactobacillus levels has not been compared in pre- and post-menopausal women.
82 cervico-vaginal lavage samples were collected at different phases of the menstrual cycle from 11 pre-menopausal (4 HIV-uninfected and 7 HIV-infected) and 12 post-menopausal (7 HIV-uninfected and 5 HIV-infected) women over a 1–3 month period. Free glycogen was quantified in genital fluid. Lactobacillus levels were quantified by real time PCR. Estrogen and progesterone levels in blood were determined by ELISA.
Free glycogen was detected in both pre- and post-menopausal women. Across all samples, those from post-menopausal women had significantly lower levels of free glycogen than those from pre-menopausal women (median 0.002 vs. 0.065 µg/µl, respectively; p = 0.03). Lactobacillus levels correlated positively with free glycogen in both pre- (Spearman r=0.68, p <0.0001) and post-menopausal women (r=0.60, p <0.002). Samples from pre-menopausal women had higher Lactobacillus levels and a lower vaginal pH (median log=8.1; median pH= 4) than those from post-menopausal women (median log=7.1; median pH=4.6) although these differences were not significant. HIV status had no significant effect on these relationships.
Free glycogen was detected in both pre- and post-menopausal women and correlated with Lactobacillus in both groups. These results point to the complexity of the relationship between menopause and vaginal microbiota and indicate that more careful studies of the role played by glycogen are warranted.
PMCID: PMC4476965  PMID: 25535963
menopause; estrogen; vaginal pH; Lactobacillus; glycogen
4.  Microbial Translocation and Liver Disease Progression in Women Coinfected With HIV and Hepatitis C Virus 
The Journal of Infectious Diseases  2013;208(4):679-689.
Background. Microbial translocation has been implicated in the pathogenesis of liver fibrosis and cirrhosis. We sought to determine whether markers of microbial translocation are associated with liver disease progression during coinfection with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and hepatitis C virus (HCV).
Methods. We measured serial plasma lipopolysaccharide (LPS), endotoxin core antibody, intestinal fatty acid–binding protein (I-FABP), soluble CD14 (sCD14), interleukin 6 (IL-6), interleukin 10, and tumor necrosis factor α (TNF-α) levels over a 5-year period in 44 HIV/HCV-coinfected women, 21 of whom experienced liver disease progression and 23 were nonprogressors.
Results. While LPS levels did not differ significantly over time between progressors and nonprogressors (P = .60), progressors had significantly higher plasma levels of sCD14, a marker of monocyte activation by LPS, at the first time point measured (P = .03) and throughout the study period (P = .001); progressors also had higher IL-6 and I-FABP levels over the 5-year study period (P = .02 and .03, respectively). The associations between progression and sCD14, I-FABP, and IL-6 levels were unchanged in models controlling for HIV RNA and CD4+ T-cell count.
Conclusions. Although LPS levels did not differ between liver disease progressors and nonprogressors, the association of sCD14, I-FABP, and IL-6 levels with liver disease progression suggests that impairment of gut epithelial integrity and consequent microbial translocation may play a role in the complex interaction of HIV and HCV pathogenesis.
PMCID: PMC3719907  PMID: 23687224
HIV; hepatitis C; microbial translocation; fibrosis; liver disease progression; soluble CD14
5.  Association of Hepatitis C Virus Infection With CD4/CD8 Ratio in HIV-Positive Women 
Supplemental Digital Content is Available in the Text.
Recent studies reported that the CD4/CD8 T-cell ratio is inversely associated with biomarkers traditionally used to measure immune activation and systemic inflammation in highly active antiretroviral therapy–treated HIV-infected (HIV+) patients. The relation of hepatitis C virus (HCV) coinfection with the CD4/CD8 ratio in HIV+ patients is unknown.
We examined 50,201 CD4/CD8 ratios measured over 20 years in 3 groups of HIV+ women enrolled in the Women's Interagency HIV Study: HCV antibody negative (n = 1734), cleared HCV (n = 231), and chronic HCV (n = 751) in multivariate models. IFNL4-ΔG genotype and HCV viral load were also considered.
Compared with HCV antibody negative status, chronic HCV infection was associated with lower CD4/CD8 ratios when HIV viral load was suppressed to the lower limit of quantification (β = −0.08; P = 0.002). Cleared HCV (β = −0.10; P = 0.0009), but not IFNL4-ΔG genotype or HCV viral load, was also associated with lower CD4/CD8 ratios when HIV viral load was suppressed to the lower limit of quantification.
The association of HCV coinfection with CD4/CD8 ratio is consistent with previously observed associations of HCV coinfection with biomarkers traditionally used to measure immune activation and systemic inflammation in HIV+ patients. These data provide additional support for the use of CD4/CD8 ratio for routine monitoring of immune activation and inflammation in HIV+ patients, including those with HIV/HCV coinfection; however, the unexpected association between cleared HCV and lower CD4/CD8 ratio requires additional study.
PMCID: PMC4874499  PMID: 27183178
CD4/CD8; hepatitis C virus; HCV; HIV; inflammation; immune activation
6.  Soluble Urokinase Receptor and Chronic Kidney Disease 
The New England journal of medicine  2015;373(20):1916-1925.
Relatively high plasma levels of soluble urokinase-type plasminogen activator receptor (suPAR) have been associated with focal segmental glomerulosclerosis and poor clinical outcomes in patients with various conditions. It is unknown whether elevated suPAR levels in patients with normal kidney function are associated with future decline in the estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) and with incident chronic kidney disease.
We measured plasma suPAR levels in 3683 persons enrolled in the Emory Cardiovascular Biobank (mean age, 63 years; 65% men; median suPAR level, 3040 pg per milliliter) and determined renal function at enrollment and at subsequent visits in 2292 persons. The relationship between suPAR levels and the eGFR at baseline, the change in the eGFR over time, and the development of chronic kidney disease (eGFR <60 ml per minute per 1.73 m2 of body-surface area) were analyzed with the use of linear mixed models and Cox regression after adjustment for demographic and clinical variables.
A higher suPAR level at baseline was associated with a greater decline in the eGFR during follow-up; the annual change in the eGFR was −0.9 ml per minute per 1.73 m2 among participants in the lowest quartile of suPAR levels as compared with −4.2 ml per minute per 1.73 m2 among participants in the highest quartile (P<0.001). The 921 participants with a normal eGFR (≥90 ml per minute per 1.73 m2) at baseline had the largest suPAR-related decline in the eGFR. In 1335 participants with a baseline eGFR of at least 60 ml per minute per 1.73 m2, the risk of progression to chronic kidney disease in the highest quartile of suPAR levels was 3.13 times as high (95% confidence interval, 2.11 to 4.65) as that in the lowest quartile.
An elevated level of suPAR was independently associated with incident chronic kidney disease and an accelerated decline in the eGFR in the groups studied. (Funded by the Abraham J. and Phyllis Katz Foundation and others.)
PMCID: PMC4701036  PMID: 26539835
7.  HIV-associated mucosal gene expression: region-specific alterations 
AIDS (London, England)  2015;29(5):537-546.
Despite the use of HAART to control HIV, systemic immune activation and inflammation persists with the consequence of developing serious non-AIDS events. The mechanisms that contribute to persistent systemic immune activation have not been well defined. The intestine is the major source of “sterile” inflammation and plays a critical role in immune function; thus, we sought to determine whether intestinal gene expression was altered in virally controlled HIV-infected individuals.
Design and methods
Gene expression was compared in biopsy samples collected from HIV-uninfected and HIV-infected individuals from the ileum, right colon (ascending colon), and left colon (sigmoid). Affymetrix gene arrays were performed on tissues and pathway analyses were conducted. Gene expression was correlated with systemic markers of intestinal barrier dysfunction and inflammation and intestinal microbiota composition.
Genes involved in cellular immune response, cytokine signaling, pathogen-influenced signaling, humoral immune response, apoptosis, intracellular and second messenger signaling, cancer, organismal growth and development, and proliferation and development were upregulated in the intestine of HIV-infected individuals with differences observed in the ileum, right, and left colon. Gene expression in the ileum primarily correlated with systemic markers of inflammation (e.g., IL7R, IL2, and TLR2 with serum TNF) whereas expression in the colon correlated with the microbiota community (e.g., IFNG, IL1B, and CD3G with Bacteroides).
These data demonstrate persistent, proinflammatory changes in the intestinal mucosa of virally suppressed HIV-infected individuals. These changes in intestinal gene expression may be the consequence of or contribute to barrier dysfunction and intestinal dysbiosis observed in HIV.
PMCID: PMC4791036  PMID: 25587909
gut leakiness; HIV; immune function; inflammation; intestine gene expression; microbiota
8.  Development of IgG Mediated Antibody Dependent Cell-mediated Cytotoxicity (ADCC) in the Serum and Genital Mucosa of HIV Seroconverters 
We measured antibody-dependent cell mediated cytotoxicity (ADCC) activity in serum and genital fluids of heterosexually exposed women during HIV seroconversion.
Plasma and cervico-vaginal lavage (CVL) fluid from 11 seroconverters (SC) were analyzed biannually from one year pre- to 6 year post-seroconversion using a 51Cr-release assay to measure HIV-1 gp120 specific ADCC.
No SC had significant HIV specific CVL ADCC activity before seroconversion or until 1.5 yr after seroconversion. One individual had a %Specific Release (SR) of 25.4 at 2 years, 26.7 at 3 years and 21.0 at 4 years after seroconversion in CVL. Another sample had 4.7% SR at 2 years, 5.3 at 3 years, 10.9 at 4 years, and 8.4 at 5 years after seroconversion in CVL. A third had no activity until 17% SR 5 years after seroconversion in CVL. A fourth showed activity of 36.5% SR at 6.5 years after seroconversion. Seven women had no ADCC activity in their CVL. Paired serum samples showed HIV specific ADCC activity prior to the appearance of CVL ADCC activity.
HIV specific ADCC activity in CVL rose 2 years after seroconversion; ADCC was present in the serum prior to this time. These data suggest that genital tract ADCC activity is not present until well after acute infection.
PMCID: PMC4718584  PMID: 26798561
Women; HIV; Seroconverters; Antibody dependent cellular cytotoxicity
9.  Transmission clustering among newly diagnosed HIV patients in Chicago, 2008 to 2011: using phylogenetics to expand knowledge of regional HIV transmission patterns 
HIV transmission cluster analyses can inform HIV prevention efforts. We describe the first such assessment for transmission clustering among HIV patients in Chicago.
We performed transmission cluster analyses using HIV pol sequences from newly diagnosed patients presenting to Chicago’s largest HIV clinic between 2008 and 2011. We compared sequences via progressive pairwise alignment, using neighbor joining to construct an un-rooted phylogenetic tree. We defined clusters as >2 sequences among which each sequence had at least one partner within a genetic distance of ≤ 1.5%. We used multivariable regression to examine factors associated with clustering and used geospatial analysis to assess geographic proximity of phylogenetically clustered patients.
We compared sequences from 920 patients; median age 35 years; 75% male; 67% Black, 23% Hispanic; 8% had a Rapid Plasma Reagin (RPR) titer ≥ 1:16 concurrent with their HIV diagnosis. We had HIV transmission risk data for 54%; 43% identified as men who have sex with men (MSM). Phylogenetic analysis demonstrated 123 patients (13%) grouped into 26 clusters, the largest having 20 members. In multivariable regression, age < 25, Black race, MSM status, male gender, higher HIV viral load, and RPR ≥ 1:16 associated with clustering. We did not observe geographic grouping of genetically clustered patients.
Our results demonstrate high rates of HIV transmission clustering, without local geographic foci, among young Black MSM in Chicago. Applied prospectively, phylogenetic analyses could guide prevention efforts and help break the cycle of transmission.
PMCID: PMC4262705  PMID: 25321182
HIV epidemiology; HIV risk; phylogenetics
10.  Association of Chronic Hepatitis C Infection with T-Cell Phenotypes in HIV-Negative and HIV-Positive Women 
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) viremia is thought to have broad, systemic effects on the cellular immune system that go beyond its impact on just those T-cells that are HCV-specific. However, prior studies of chronic HCV and circulating T-cell subsets (activation and differentiation phenotypes) in HIV-negatives used general population controls, rather than a risk-appropriate comparison group. Studies in HIV-positives did not address overall immune status (total CD4+ count).
We used fresh blood from HIV-positive and at-risk HIV-negative women, with and without chronic HCV, to measure percentages of activated CD4+ and CD8+ T-cells, Tregs, and T-cell differentiation phenotypes (naïve, central memory (CM), effector memory (EM), and terminally differentiated effector). This included 158 HIV-negatives and 464 HIV-positives, of whom 18 and 63, respectively, were HCV viremic.
In multivariate models of HIV-negatives, HCV viremia was associated with 25% fewer naïve CD4+ (P=0.03), 33% more EM CD4+ (P=0.0002) and 37% fewer CM CD8+ (P=0.02) T-cells. Among HIV-positives we observed only one of these three relationships: higher percentage of EM CD4+ among HCV viremic women. Further, the association with EM CD4+ among HIV-positives was limited to individuals with diminished immune status (total CD4+ count ≤500 cells/μL), as were associations of HCV viremia with higher percentages of activated CD4+ and Tregs. Among HIV-positives with high CD4+ count, no significant associations were observed.
These data suggest that HCV viremia in HIV-negatives is associated with accelerated T-cell differentiation, but among HIV-positives the impact of HCV viremia is less straightforward and varies by total CD4+ count.
PMCID: PMC4197408  PMID: 25314250
hepatitis C virus; HIV; T-cell; phenotype; activation; differentiation
11.  Human α-amylase Present in Lower-Genital-Tract Mucosal Fluid Processes Glycogen to Support Vaginal Colonization by Lactobacillus 
The Journal of Infectious Diseases  2014;210(7):1019-1028.
Lactobacillus colonization of the lower female genital tract provides protection from the acquisition of sexually transmitted diseases, including human immunodeficiency virus, and from adverse pregnancy outcomes. While glycogen in vaginal epithelium is thought to support Lactobacillus colonization in vivo, many Lactobacillus isolates cannot utilize glycogen in vitro. This study investigated how glycogen could be utilized by vaginal lactobacilli in the genital tract. Several Lactobacillus isolates were confirmed to not grow in glycogen, but did grow in glycogen-breakdown products, including maltose, maltotriose, maltopentaose, maltodextrins, and glycogen treated with salivary α-amylase. A temperature-dependent glycogen-degrading activity was detected in genital fluids that correlated with levels of α-amylase. Treatment of glycogen with genital fluids resulted in production of maltose, maltotriose, and maltotetraose, the major products of α-amylase digestion. These studies show that human α-amylase is present in the female lower genital tract and elucidates how epithelial glycogen can support Lactobacillus colonization in the genital tract.
PMCID: PMC4168305  PMID: 24737800
α-amylase; female genital tract; glycogen; Lactobacillus; maltose
12.  Direct and Indirect Serum Markers of Liver Fibrosis Compared with Transient Elastography among Women in the Women’s Interagency HIV Study 
The aim of this study was to determine the test characteristics of direct and indirect biomarkers for liver fibrosis compared with transient elastography (TE) among a group of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected and uninfected women with or without Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection.
Women enrolled in the Women’s Interagency HIV Study (WIHS) from Washington DC, San Francisco, and Chicago with a body mass index (BMI)<35 underwent liver stiffness measurement using TE between October, 2010 and September, 2012. Serum samples were tested for hyaluronic acid to calculate the SHASTA and aspartate aminotransferase to platelet ratio index (APRI). Receiver operator characteristics (ROC) of significant liver fibrosis (liver stiffness ≥ 7.1 kPa by TE, correlating with a METAVIR fibrosis score of F2-F4) predicted by SHASTA and APRI were compared.
Among 308 women, the median age was 48 years, BMI was 25.6, 67% were non-Hispanic black, 27% HCV+, and 78% HIV+. The overall prevalence of significant liver fibrosis was 20%, and among HIV+ women, 22%. Overall, there was no statistically significant difference in the area under ROC curve (AUROC) between SHASTA and APRI relative to significant fibrosis by TE. Among HCV+ women (with or without HIV), the AUROC ranged from 0.70–0.73 for both the SHASTA and APRI compared to TE. Both SHASTA and APRI were associated with significant misclassification with a false negative rate of 33–40% for significant fibrosis compared with TE among women with HCV infection, with or without HIV.
Both the SHASTA and APRI, direct and indirect serum biomarkers of liver fibrosis respectively, are comparable at detection of significant liver fibrosis among women with HCV infection, regardless of HIV status. However, there was a high false negative rate in detection of significant liver fibrosis of up to 40% which is a significant limitation of use of these biomarkers.
PMCID: PMC4524652  PMID: 26251759
HIV; HCV; Biomarkers; SHASTA; APRI; Transient elastography; WIHS; Women
13.  Effect of pH on Cleavage of Glycogen by Vaginal Enzymes 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(7):e0132646.
Glycogen expressed by the lower genital tract epithelium is believed to support Lactobacillus growth in vivo, although most genital isolates of Lactobacillus are not able to use glycogen as an energy source in vitro. We recently reported that α-amylase is present in the genital fluid of women and that it breaks down glycogen into small carbohydrates that support growth of lactobacilli. Since the pH of the lower genital tract can be very low, we determined how low pH affects glycogen processing by α-amylase. α-amylase in saliva degraded glycogen similarly at pH 6 and 7, but activity was reduced by 52% at pH 4. The glycogen degrading activity in nine genital samples from seven women showed a similar profile with an average reduction of more than 50% at pH 4. However, two samples collected from one woman at different times had a strikingly different pH profile with increased glycogen degradation at pH 4, 5 and 6 compared to pH 7. This second pH profile did not correlate with levels of human α-acid glucosidase or human intestinal maltase glucoamylase. High-performance anion-exchange chromatography showed that mostly maltose was produced from glycogen by samples with the second pH profile in contrast to genital α-amylase that yielded maltose, maltotriose and maltotetraose. These studies show that at low pH, α-amylase activity is reduced to low but detectable levels, which we speculate helps maintain Lactobacillus growth at a limited but sustained rate. Additionally, some women have a genital enzyme distinct from α-amylase with higher activity at low pH. Further studies are needed to determine the identity and distribution of this second enzyme, and whether its presence influences the makeup of genital microbiota.
PMCID: PMC4501710  PMID: 26171967
14.  Nevirapine Concentration in Hair Samples Is a Strong Predictor of Virologic Suppression in a Prospective Cohort of HIV-Infected Patients 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(6):e0129100.
Effective antiretroviral (ARV) therapy depends on adequate drug exposure, yet methods to assess ARV exposure are limited. Concentrations of ARV in hair are the product of steady-state pharmacokinetics factors and longitudinal adherence. We investigated nevirapine (NVP) concentrations in hair as a predictor of treatment response in women receiving ARVs. In participants of the Women’s Interagency HIV Study, who reported NVP use for >1 month from 2003–2008, NVP concentrations in hair were measured via liquid-chromatography-tandem mass-spectrometry. The outcome was virologic suppression (plasma HIV RNA below assay threshold) at the time of hair sampling and the primary predictor was nevirapine concentration categorized into quartiles. We controlled for age, race/ethnicity, pre-treatment HIV RNA, CD4 cell count, and self-reported adherence over the 6-month visit interval (categorized ≤ 74%, 75%–94% or ≥ 95%). We also assessed the relation of NVP concentration with changes in hepatic transaminase levels via multivariate random intercept logistic regression and linear regression analyses. 271 women contributed 1089 person-visits to the analysis (median 3 of semi-annual visits). Viral suppression was least frequent in concentration quartile 1 (86/178 (48.3%)) and increased in higher quartiles (to 158/204 (77.5%) for quartile 4). The odds of viral suppression in the highest concentration quartile were 9.17 times (95% CI 3.2–26, P < 0.0001) those in the lowest. African-American race was associated with lower rates of virologic suppression independent of NVP hair concentration. NVP concentration was not significantly associated with patterns of serum transaminases. Concentration of NVP in hair was a strong independent predictor of virologic suppression in women taking NVP, stronger than self-reported adherence, but did not appear to be strongly predictive of hepatotoxicity.
PMCID: PMC4460031  PMID: 26053176
15.  Cleavage/Alteration of Interleukin-8 by Matrix Metalloproteinase-9 in the Female Lower Genital Tract 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(1):e0116911.
Interleukin-8 (IL-8, CXCL8) plays important roles in immune responses at mucosal sites including in the lower genital tract. Since several types of bacteria produce proteases that cleave IL-8 and many types of bacteria can be present in lower genital tract microbiota, we assessed genital fluids for IL-8 cleavage/alteration.
Study Design
Genital fluids collected by lavage from 200 women (23 HIV-seronegative and 177 HIV-seropositive) were tested for IL-8 cleavage/alteration by ELISA.
IL-8 cleaving/altering activity was observed in fluids from both HIV-positive (28%) and HIV-negative women (35%). There was no clear relationship between the activity and the types of bacteria present in the lower genital tract as determined by high-throughput sequencing of the 16S rRNA gene. Protease inhibitors specific for matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) reduced the activity and a multiplex assay that detects both inactive and active MMPs showed the presence of multiple MMPs, including MMP-1, -3, -7, -8, -9, -10 and -12 in genital secretions from many of the women. The IL-8-cleaving/altering activity significantly correlated with active MMP-9 as well as with cleavage of a substrate that is acted on by several active MMPs.
These studies show that multiple MMPs are present in the genital tract of women and strongly suggest that MMP-9 in genital secretions can cleave IL-8 at this mucosal site. These studies suggest that MMP-mediated cleavage of IL-8 can modulate inflammatory responses in the lower genital tract.
PMCID: PMC4303271  PMID: 25611319
16.  Prevalence and Long-Term Effects of Occult Hepatitis B Virus Infection in HIV-Infected Women 
Occult hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection is of concern in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)–infected persons. We observed that 2% of 400 HIV-infected women with antibodies to hepatitis B core antigen alone had occult HBV infection (i.e., detectable HBV DNA in the absence of HBV surface antigen). CD4 cell counts of <200 cells/mm3 were more common among occult HBV-infected women than among those without occult HBV infection. Aminotransferase levels did not appear to be associated with being positive for HBV DNA.
PMCID: PMC4142488  PMID: 17712758
18.  Comparison of Lower Genital Tract Microbiota in HIV-Infected and Uninfected Women from Rwanda and the US 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(5):e96844.
Previous studies have shown that alterations of the bacterial microbiota in the lower female genital tract influence susceptibility to HIV infection and shedding. We assessed geographic differences in types of genital microbiota between HIV-infected and uninfected women from Rwanda and the United States.
Genera of lower genital tract bacterial microbiota were identified by high-throughput pyrosequencing of the 16S rRNA gene from 46 US women (36 HIV-infected, 10 HIV-uninfected) and 40 Rwandan women (18 HIV-infected, 22 HIV-uninfected) with similar proportions of low (0–3) Nugent scores. Species of Lactobacillus were identified by assembling sequences along with reference sequences into phylogenetic trees. Prevalence of genera and Lactobacillus species were compared using Fisher's exact tests.
Overall the seven most prevalent genera were Lactobacillus (74%), Prevotella (56%), Gardnerella (55%), Atopobium (42%), Sneathia (37%), Megasphaera (30%), and Parvimonas (26%), observed at similar prevalences comparing Rwandan to US women, except for Megasphaera (20% vs. 39%, p = 0.06). Additionally, Rwandan women had higher frequencies of Mycoplasma (23% vs. 7%, p = 0.06) and Eggerthella (13% vs. 0%, p = 0.02), and lower frequencies of Lachnobacterium (8% vs. 35%, p<0.01) and Allisonella (5% vs. 30%, p<0.01), compared with US women. The prevalence of Mycoplasma was highest (p<0.05) in HIV-infected Rwandan women (39%), compared to HIV-infected US women (6%), HIV-uninfected Rwandan (9%) and US (10%) women. The most prevalent lactobacillus species in both Rwandan and US women was L. iners (58% vs. 76%, p = 0.11), followed by L. crispatus (28% vs. 30%, p = 0.82), L. jensenii (20% vs. 24%, p = 0.80), L. gasseri (20% vs. 11%, p = 0.37) and L. vaginalis (20% vs. 7%, p = 0.10).
We found similar prevalence of most major bacterial genera and Lactobacillus species in Rwandan and US women. Further work will be needed to establish whether observed differences differentially impact lower genital tract health or susceptibility to genital infections.
PMCID: PMC4016010  PMID: 24817204
19.  Capacity for Infectious HIV-1 Virion Capture Differs by Envelope Antibody Specificity 
Journal of Virology  2014;88(9):5165-5170.
Antibody capacity to recognize infectious virus is a prerequisite of many antiviral functions. We determined the infectious virion capture index (IVCI) of different antibody specificities. Whereas broadly neutralizing antibodies (bNAbs), except for an MPER bNAb, selectively captured infectious virions, non-bNAbs and mucosal human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1)-positive IgG captured subsets of both infectious and noninfectious virions. Infectious virion capture was additive with a mixture of antibodies, providing proof of concept for vaccine-induced antibodies that together have improved capacity to recognize infectious virions.
PMCID: PMC3993833  PMID: 24554654
20.  Vitamin D insufficiency may impair CD4 recovery among Women’s Interagency HIV Study participants with advanced disease on HAART 
AIDS (London, England)  2013;27(4):573-578.
Recent studies in HIV-infected men report an association between low vitamin D (25OH-D) and CD4 recovery on HAART. We sought to test this relationship in the Women’s Interagency HIV Study (WIHS).
We examined 204 HIV-infected women with advanced disease, who started HAART after enrollment in the WIHS. We measured vitamin D (25OH-D) levels about 6 months prior to HAART initiation. The relationship between CD4 recovery (defined as increases of ≥50, 100, and 200 cells at 6, 12, and 24 months) and exposure variables was examined using logistic regression models at 6, 12 and 24 months post-HAART initiation in unadjusted and adjusted analyses, and using multivariable longitudinal Generalized Estimating Equations (GEE). Vitamin D insufficiency was defined as 25OH-D levels at least 30 ng/ml.
The majority were non-Hispanic black (60%) and had insufficient vitamin D levels (89%). In adjusted analyses, at 24 months after HAART, insufficient vitamin D level (OR 0.20, 95% CI 0.05–0.83) was associated with decreased odds of CD4 recovery. The undetectable viral load (OR 11.38, 95% CI 4.31–30.05) was associated with CD4 recovery. The multivariable GEE model found that average immune reconstitution attenuated significantly (P <0.01) over time among those with insufficient vitamin D levels compared with those with sufficient vitamin D levels.
Vitamin D insufficiency is associated with diminished late CD4 recovery after HAART initiation among US women living with advanced HIV. The mechanism of this association on late CD4 recovery may be late vitamin D-associated production of naive CD4 cells during immune reconstitution.
PMCID: PMC3902982  PMID: 23095316
antiretroviral therapy; HIV; immune reconstitution; vitamin D; women
21.  Lower Liver-Related Death in African American Women With HIV/HCV Co-Infection Compared to Caucasian and Hispanic Women 
Hepatology (Baltimore, Md.)  2012;56(5):1699-1705.
Among individuals with and without concurrent human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), racial/ethnic differences in the natural history of hepatitis C virus (HCV) have been described. African-Americans have lower spontaneous HCV clearance than Caucasians, yet slower rates of liver fibrosis once chronically infected. It is not clear how these differences in the natural history of hepatitis C affect mortality, in either HIV positive or negative individuals. We conducted a cohort study of HIV/HCV co-infected women followed in the multicenter, NIH-funded Women’s Interagency HIV Study (WIHS) to determine the association of self-reported race/ethnicity with all-cause and liver-related mortality. Survival analyses were performed using Cox proportional hazards models. The eligible cohort (n=794) included 140 Caucasians, 159 Hispanics, and 495 African Americans. There were 438 deaths and 49 liver-related deaths during a median follow-up of 8.9 years and maximum follow-up of 16 years. African American co-infected women had significantly lower liver-related mortality compared to Caucasian (HR 0.41 95% CI 0.19–0.88, p=0.022) and Hispanic co-infected women (HR 0.38 95% CI 0.19–0.76, p=0.006). All-cause mortality was similar between racial/ethnic groups (HRs for all comparisons 0.82–1.03, logrank p=0.8).
African American co-infected women were much less likely to die from liver disease as compared to Caucasians and Hispanics, independent of other causes of death. Future studies are needed to investigate the reasons for this marked racial/ethnic discrepancy in liver-related mortality.
PMCID: PMC3440547  PMID: 22618868
race; ethnicity; viral hepatitis; mortality; gender
22.  Assessing mortality in women with hepatitis C virus and HIV using indirect markers of fibrosis 
AIDS (London, England)  2012;26(5):599-607.
Co-infection with hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a major cause of morbidity and mortality in HIV-infected individuals. However, predictors of mortality are poorly defined and most studies have focused predominantly on co-infection in men. We evaluated whether two indirect markers of hepatic fibrosis, aspartate aminotransferase-to-platelet ratio index (APRI) and FIB-4 scores, were predictive of mortality in a well defined longitudinal cohort of HCV/HIV-co-infected women on HAART.
HCV/HIV-co-infected women on antiretroviral therapy enrolled in Women’s Interagency HIV Study (WIHS), a National Institutes of Health-funded prospective, multicenter, cohort study of women with and at risk for HIV infection were included. Using Cox regression analysis, associations between APRI and FIB-4 with all-cause mortality were assessed.
Four hundred and fifty HCV/HIV-co-infected women, of whom 191 women died, had a median follow-up of 6.6 years and 5739 WIHS visits. Compared with women with low APRI or FIB-4 levels, severe fibrosis was significantly associated with an increased risk of all-cause mortality {APRI: hazard ratio 2.78 [95% confidence interval (CI) 1.87, 4.12]; FIB-4: hazard ratio 2.58 (95% CI 1.68, 3.95)}. Crude death rates per 1000 patient-years increased with increasing liver fibrosis: 34.8 for mild, 51.3 for moderate and 167.9 for severe fibrosis as measured by FIB-4. Importantly, both APRI and FIB-4 increased during the 5 years prior to death for all women: the slope of increase was greater for women dying a liver-related death compared with nonliver-related death.
Both APRI and FIB-4 are independently associated with all-cause mortality in HCV/HIV-co-infected women and may have clinical prognostic utility among women with HIV and HCV.
PMCID: PMC3698040  PMID: 22156972
fibrosis markers; hepatitis C virus; HIV; longitudinal study; mortality
23.  Racial/Ethnic Differences in Spontaneous HCV Clearance in HIV Infected and Uninfected Women 
Digestive diseases and sciences  2012;58(5):1341-1348.
Among individuals without human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), African Americans have lower spontaneous clearance of hepatitis C virus (HCV) than Caucasians, and women have higher clearance than men. Few studies report racial/ethnic differences in acute HCV in HIV infected, or Hispanic women. We examined racial/ethnic differences in spontaneous HCV clearance in a population of HCV mono- and co-infected women.
We conducted a cross sectional study of HCV seropositive women (897 HIV infected and 168 HIV uninfected) followed in the US multicenter, NIH-funded Women's Interagency HIV Study (WIHS), to determine the association of race/ethnicity with spontaneous HCV clearance, as defined by undetectable HCV RNA at study entry.
Among HIV and HCV seropositive women, 18.7 % were HCV RNA negative, 60.9 % were African American, 19.3 % Hispanic and 17.7 % Caucasian. HIV infected African American women were less likely to spontaneously clear HCV than Hispanic (OR 0.59, 95 % CI 0.38–0.93, p = 0.022) or Caucasian women (OR 0.57, 95 % CI 0.36–0.93, p = 0.023). Among HIV uninfected women, African Americans had less HCV clearance than Hispanics (OR 0.18, 95 % CI 0.07–0.48, p = 0.001) or Caucasians (OR 0.26, 95 % CI 0.09–0.79, p = 0.017). There were no significant differences in HCV clearance between Hispanics and Caucasians, among either HIV infected (OR 0.97, 95 % CI 0.57–1.66, p = 0.91) or uninfected (OR 1.45, 95 % CI 0.56–3.8, p = 0.45) women.
African Americans were less likely to spontaneously clear HCV than Hispanics or Caucasians, regardless of HIV status. No significant differences in spontaneous HCV clearance were observed between Caucasian and Hispanic women. Future studies incorporating IL28B genotype may further explain these observed racial/ethnic differences in spontaneous HCV clearance.
PMCID: PMC3663918  PMID: 23179159
African American; Hispanic; Acute hepatitis C; Female
24.  The insulin-like growth factor axis and risk of liver disease in hepatitis C virus/HIV-co-infected women 
AIDS (London, England)  2008;22(4):527-531.
Insulin-like growth factor (IGF) I stimulates the proliferation of hepatic stellate cells (HSC), the primary source of extracellular matrix accumulation in liver fibrosis. In contrast, insulin-like growth factor binding protein (IGFBP) 3, the most abundant IGFBP in circulation, negatively modulates HSC mitogenesis. To investigate the role of the IGF axis in hepatitis C virus (HCV)-related liver disease among high-risk patients, we prospectively evaluated HCV-viremic/HIV-positive women.
A cohort investigation.
Total IGF-I and IGFBP-3 were measured in baseline serum specimens obtained from 472 HCV-viremic/HIV-positive subjects enrolled in the Women's Inter-agency HIV Study, a large multi-institutional cohort. The aspartate aminotransferase to platelet ratio index (APRI), a marker of liver fibrosis, was assessed annually.
Normal APRI levels (< 1.0) at baseline were detected in 374 of the 472 HCV-viremic/HIV-positive subjects tested, of whom 302 had complete liver function test data and were studied. IGF-I was positively associated [adjusted odds ratio comparing the highest and lowest quartiles (AORq4–q1), 5.83; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.17–29.1; Ptrend = 0.03], and IGFBP-3 was inversely associated (AORq4–q1, 0.13; 95% CI 0.02–0.76; Ptrend = 0.04), with subsequent (incident) detection of an elevated APRI level(> 1.5), after adjustment for the CD4 T-cell count, alcohol consumption, and other risk factors.
High IGF-I may be associated with increased risk and high IGFBP-3 with reduced risk of liver disease among HCV-viremic/HIV-positive women.
PMCID: PMC3507535  PMID: 18301066
aspartate aminotransferase to platelet ratio index; APRI; hepatitis C virus (HCV); HIV; IGFBP-3; IGF; liver disease
Cytokine  2011;56(2):325-331.
Tuberculosis (TB) is the worldwide leading cause of death among HIV-infected individuals, accounting for more than half of AIDS-related deaths. A high risk of tuberculosis (TB) has been shown in early stages of the HIV disease, even in the presence of normal CD4+ cell counts. Moreover, the factors that determine protective immunity vs. susceptibility to M. tuberculosis cannot be fully explained by simple changes in IFNγ levels or a shift from Th1 to Th2 cytokines. This work investigated the relationship between cytokine expression profiles in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) and susceptibility to M. tuberculosis in ten HIV+ women who went on to develop TB. RNA transcripts for IL-4, IL-4δ2, IL-10, IL-12(p35), IL-13, IL-17A, IFNγ and TNFα were measured by real-time quantitative PCR in unstimulated or TB peptide antigen-stimulated PBMCs from ten HIV+ women with positive tuberculin skin tests (TST) and compared with HIV-seropositive and seronegative women without previous TB and negative TST. Stimulated PBMC cultures showed significantly lower expression of IL-12p35 (p=0.004) and IL-10 (p=0.026) in the HIV+TB+ group six to twelve months before onset of TB compared to HIV+TB− women. Unstimulated PBMC from HIV+TB+ women also had lower expression of Th2 cytokines [IL-4 (p=0.056) and IL-13 (p=0.050)] compared to HIV+TB− women. These results suggest that lower IL-12 production by PBMC in response to TB antigens and lower levels of both Th1 and Th2 cytokines by PBMC correlate with future development of TB in HIV-infected women and may be responsible for their increased susceptibility.
PMCID: PMC3466167  PMID: 21880503
Interferon-γ(IFNγ); Interleukin-4 (IL-4); Interleukin-12 (IL-12); Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV); Tuberculosis (TB)

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