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1.  Cell-Based Measures of Viral Persistence Are Associated With Immune Activation and Programmed Cell Death Protein 1 (PD-1)–Expressing CD4+ T cells 
Background. Studies aimed at defining the association between host immune responses and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) persistence during therapy are necessary to develop new strategies for cure.
Methods. We performed a comprehensive assessment of ultrasensitive plasma HIV RNA levels, cell-associated HIV RNA levels, proviral HIV DNA levels, and T cell immunophenotyping in a cohort of 190 subjects in whom HIV levels were suppressed by highly active antiretroviral therapy.
Results. The median CD4+ T cell count was 523 cells/mm3, and the median duration of viral suppression was 31 months. Cell-associated RNA and proviral DNA levels (but not ultrasensitive plasma HIV RNA levels) were positively correlated with frequencies of CD4+ and CD8+ T cells expressing markers of T-cell activation/dysfunction (CD38, HLA-DR, CCR5, and/or programmed cell death protein 1 [PD-1]) (P < .05). Having a low CD4+ T-cell count despite receipt of virologically suppressive therapy was associated with high cell-associated RNA and proviral DNA levels (P < .01) and higher frequencies of CD4+ T cells expressing CD38, HLA-DR, CCR5, and/or PD-1 (P < .0001).
Conclusions. Cell-based measurements of viral persistence were consistently associated with markers of immune activation and the frequency of PD-1–expressing CD4+ T cells. Treated patients with a low CD4+ T-cell count had higher frequencies of PD-1–expressing CD4+ T cells and cell-based measures of viral persistence, suggesting that HIV infection in these individuals may be more difficult to cure and may require unique interventions.
PMCID: PMC3666131  PMID: 23089590
HIV; raltegravir intensification; 2-LTR circles; ongoing viral replication; D-dimer
2.  Identification of a Novel HIV-1 Circulating Recombinant Form (CRF72_BF1) in Deep Sequencing Data from Blood Donors in Southeastern Brazil 
Genome Announcements  2014;2(3):e00386-14.
We report the identification of a novel HIV-1 circulating recombinant form (CRF72_BF1) in deep sequencing data from peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) of five blood donors in southeastern Brazil. Detection of this circulating recombinant form (CRF) confirms the need for effective surveillance to monitor the prevalence and distribution of HIV variants in a variety of settings in Brazil.
PMCID: PMC4056286  PMID: 24926043
3.  Long-Term Reduction in Peripheral Blood HIV Type 1 Reservoirs Following Reduced-Intensity Conditioning Allogeneic Stem Cell Transplantation 
The Journal of Infectious Diseases  2013;207(11):1694-1702.
Background. The long-term impact of allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) on human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) reservoirs in patients receiving combination antiretroviral therapy (cART) is largely unknown.
Methods. We studied the effects of a reduced-intensity conditioning allogeneic HSCT from donors with wild-type–CCR5+ cells on HIV-1 peripheral blood reservoirs in 2 patients heterozygous for the ccr5Δ32 mutation. In-depth analyses of the HIV-1 reservoir size in peripheral blood, coreceptor use, and specific antibody responses were performed on samples obtained before and up to 3.5 years after HSCT receipt.
Results. Although HIV-1 DNA was readily detected in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) before and 2–3 months after HSCT receipt, HIV-1 DNA and RNA were undetectable in PBMCs, CD4+ T cells, or plasma up to 21 and 42 months after HSCT. The loss of detectable HIV-1 correlated temporally with full donor chimerism, development of graft-versus-host disease, and decreases in HIV-specific antibody levels.
Conclusions. The ability of donor cells to engraft without evidence of ongoing HIV-1 infection suggests that HIV-1 replication may be fully suppressed during cART and does not contribute to maintenance of viral reservoirs in peripheral blood in our patients. HSCTs with wild-type–CCR5+ donor cells can lead to a sustained reduction in the size of the peripheral reservoir of HIV-1.
PMCID: PMC3636784  PMID: 23460751
HIV-1; viral reservoirs; hematopoietic stem cell transplantation; HIV-1 persistence; CCR5; reduced-intensity allogeneic stem cell transplantation
4.  Methodological Guidelines for Reducing the Complexity of Data Warehouse Development for Transactional Blood Bank Systems 
Decision support systems  2013;55(3):728-739.
Over time, data warehouse (DW) systems have become more difficult to develop because of the growing heterogeneity of data sources. Despite advances in research and technology, DW projects are still too slow for pragmatic results to be generated. Here, we address the following question: how can the complexity of DW development for integration of heterogeneous transactional information systems be reduced? To answer this, we proposed methodological guidelines based on cycles of conceptual modeling and data analysis, to drive construction of a modular DW system. These guidelines were applied to the blood donation domain, successfully reducing the complexity of DW development.
PMCID: PMC3665424  PMID: 23729945
modular architecture; conceptual modeling; heterogeneous systems; blood donation process; data warehouse; data analysis
5.  Prevalence of Serological Markers for Hepatitis B and C Viruses in Brazilian Blood Donors, and Incidence and Residual Risk of Transfusion-Transmission of Hepatitis C Virus 
Transfusion  2012;53(4):827-834.
We evaluate the current prevalence of serological markers for HBV and HCV in blood donors and estimated HCV incidence and residual transfusion-transmitted risk at three large Brazilian blood centers.
Material and Methods
Data on whole blood and platelet donations were collected from January through December 2007 and analyzed by center, donor type (replacement vs. community), age, sex, donation status (first-time vs. repeat), and serological results for HBsAg, anti-HBc and anti-HCV. HBV (HBsAg+/anti-HBc+) and HCV (anti-HCV) prevalence rates were calculated for all first time donations. HCV incidence was derived including inter-donation intervals that preceded first repeat donations given during the study and HCV residual risk was estimated for transfusions derived from repeat donors.
There were 307,354 donations from January through December 2007. Overall prevalence of concordant HBsAg and anti-HBc reactivity was 289 per 100,000 donations and of anti-HCV confirmed reactivity 191 per 100,000 donations. There were significant associations between older age and hepatitis markers, especially for HCV. HCV incidence was 3.11 (95% CI 0.77-7.03) per 100,000 person-years, and residual risk of HCV window-phase infections was estimated at 5.0 per million units transfused.
Improvement in blood donor selection, socioeconomic conditions and preventive measures, implemented over time, may have helped to decrease prevalence of hepatitis B and C viruses, relative to previous reports. Incidence and residual risk of HCV are also diminishing. Ongoing monitoring of hepatitis B and C viral markers among Brazilian blood donors should help guide improved recruitment procedures, donor selection, laboratory screening methods and counseling strategies.
PMCID: PMC3499633  PMID: 22882510
Blood donors; Brazil; Residual Risk; Hepatitis B; Hepatitis C; Prevalence; Incidence
6.  Increased Frequency of Tim-3 Expressing T Cells Is Associated with Symptomatic West Nile Virus Infection 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e92134.
More than a decade after West Nile virus (WNV) entered North America, and despite a significant increase in reported cases during the 2012 and 2013 seasons, no treatment or vaccine for humans is available. Although antiviral T cells contribute to the control of WNV, little is known about their regulation during acute infection. We analyzed the expression of Tim-3 and PD-1, two recently identified T cell negative immune checkpoint receptors, over the course of WNV infection. Symptomatic WNV+ donors exhibited higher frequencies of Tim-3+ cells than asymptomatic subjects within naïve/early differentiated CD28+/–CD57–CD4+ and differentiated CD28–CD57–CD8+ T cells. Our study links Tim-3-expression on T cells during acute WNV infection with the development of symptomatic disease, suggesting Tim-3 and its ligands could be targeted therapeutically to alter anti-WNV immunity and improve disease outcome.
PMCID: PMC3958446  PMID: 24642562
7.  Ten-Year Incidence of Chagas Cardiomyopathy Among Asymptomatic Trypanosoma cruzi–Seropositive Former Blood Donors 
Circulation  2013;127(10):1105-1115.
Very few studies have measured disease penetrance and prognostic factors of Chagas cardiomyopathy among asymptomatic Trypanosoma cruzi–infected persons.
Methods and Results
We performed a retrospective cohort study among initially healthy blood donors with an index T cruzi–seropositive donation and age-, sex-, and period-matched seronegatives in 1996 to 2002 in the Brazilian cities of São Paulo and Montes Claros. In 2008 to 2010, all subjects underwent medical history, physical examination, ECGs, and echocardiograms. ECG and echocardiogram results were classified by blinded core laboratories, and records with abnormal results were reviewed by a blinded panel of 3 cardiologists who adjudicated the outcome of Chagas cardiomyopathy. Associations with Chagas cardiomyopathy were tested with multivariate logistic regression. Mean follow-up time between index donation and outcome assessment was 10.5 years for the seropositives and 11.1 years for the seronegatives. Among 499 T cruzi seropositives, 120 (24%) had definite Chagas cardiomyopathy, and among 488 T cruzi seronegatives, 24 (5%) had cardiomyopathy, for an incidence difference of 1.85 per 100 person-years attributable to T cruzi infection. Of the 120 seropositives classified as having Chagas cardiomyopathy, only 31 (26%) presented with ejection fraction <50%, and only 11 (9%) were classified as New York Heart Association class II or higher. Chagas cardiomyopathy was associated (P<0.01) with male sex, a history of abnormal ECG, and the presence of an S3 heart sound.
There is a substantial annual incidence of Chagas cardiomyopathy among initially asymptomatic T cruzi–seropositive blood donors, although disease was mild at diagnosis.
PMCID: PMC3643805  PMID: 23393012
blood donors; Brazil; Chagas cardiomyopathy; Chagas disease; incidence
8.  Frequent Longitudinal Sampling of Hepatitis C Virus Infection in Injection Drug Users Reveals Intermittently Detectable Viremia and Reinfection 
Defining clear hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection outcomes, including reinfection and viral intercalation after clearance of infection, requires ongoing, frequent follow-up, most importantly with longitudinal viral sequencing. Patients who have cleared HCV infection may demonstrate sustained viral clearance despite ongoing HCV exposure.
Background. Detection of hepatitis C virus (HCV) reinfection and intercalation (ie, intermittent recurrent bouts of viremia with homologous virus interspersed with aviremic periods) requires extensive and frequent evaluation and viral sequencing.
Methods. HCV infection outcomes were studied prospectively in active injection drug users with recurrent HCV RNA–positive tests after serial negative results. HCV viremia and viral sequences (Core/E1) were assessed from monthly blood samples.
Results. Viral clearance, reinfection, and intercalating infection were all detected. Among 44 participants with apparently resolved HCV (26 incident HCV clearers and 18 enrolled with already resolved infection), 36 (82%) remained persistently HCV RNA negative, but 8 demonstrated intermittent recurrent viremia. Four of these (50%) had confirmed reinfection with a heterologous virus; 3 demonstrated viral intercalation, and 1 was not classifiable as either. Estimated incidence of first reinfection was 5.4 per 100 person-years (95% confidence interval, 2.0–14.5). Six (75%) participants, including 3 of 4 with reinfection, demonstrated sustained viral clearance for a median of 26 months since last HCV RNA test.
Conclusions. These results show that frequent monitoring and viral sequencing are required to correctly assess HCV outcomes and estimate incidence of reinfection (which was previously overestimated). Sustained clearance may take many months and occur after episodes of reinfection and viral intercalation. Three of 4 subjects who had confirmed reinfection showed evidence of long-term clearance. Viral intercalation occurs with significant frequency. Further studies of these events, especially immunological, are needed to inform HCV clinical care and vaccine development.
PMCID: PMC3540042  PMID: 23090930
hepatitis C virus; viral sequencing; reinfection; intercalation; young IDU
9.  Analysis of maternal microchimerism in rhesus monkeys (Macaca mulatta) using real-time quantitative PCR amplification of MHC polymorphisms 
Chimerism  2014;5(1):6-15.
Although pregnancy-associated microchimerism is known to exist in humans, its clinical significance remains unclear. Fetal microchimerism has been documented in rhesus monkeys, but the trafficking and persistence of maternal cells in the monkey fetus and infant have not been fully explored. To investigate the frequency of maternal microchimerism in the rhesus monkey (Macaca mulatta), a real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) strategy was developed and validated to target polymorphic major histocompatibility complex (MHC) gene sequences. Informative PCR assays were identified for 19 of 25 dams and their respective offspring. Analyses were performed on tissues (thymus, liver, spleen, lymph nodes, and bone marrow) and peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) collected prenatally and postnatally in a subset of animals. Seven of 19 monkeys had detectable maternal microchimerism in at least one compartment (range: 0.001–1.9% chimeric cells). In tissues, maternal microchimerism was found in 2 of 7 fetuses and 3 of 12 juveniles (1–1.5 years of age), and most of the animals that were positive had microchimeric cells in more than one tissue. Maternal microchimerism was detected in PBMCs from all (4 of 4) fetuses. These observations suggest that maternal microchimerism occurs in the rhesus monkey fetus and can be detected in tissues in a subset of offspring after birth.
PMCID: PMC3988117  PMID: 24451553
major histocompatibility complex; microchimerism; quantitative PCR; rhesus monkey; transplacental transfer
10.  Pegylated Interferon Alfa-2a Monotherapy Results in Suppression of HIV Type 1 Replication and Decreased Cell-Associated HIV DNA Integration 
The Journal of Infectious Diseases  2012;207(2):213-222.
Background. Antiretroviral therapy (ART)–mediated immune reconstitution fails to restore the capacity of the immune system to spontaneously control human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) replication.
Methods. A total of 23 HIV type 1 (HIV-1)–infected, virologically suppressed subjects receiving ART (CD4+ T-cell count, >450 cells/μL) were randomly assigned to have 180 μg/week (for arm A) or 90 μg/week (for arm B) of pegylated (Peg) interferon alfa-2a added to their current ART regimen. After 5 weeks, ART was interrupted, and Peg–interferon alfa-2a was continued for up to 12 weeks (the primary end point), with an option to continue to 24 weeks. End points included virologic failure (viral load, ≥400 copies/mL) and adverse events. Residual viral load and HIV-1 DNA integration were also assessed.
Results. At week 12 of Peg–interferon alfa-2a monotherapy, viral suppression was observed in 9 of 20 subjects (45%), a significantly greater proportion than expected (arm A, P = .0088; arm B, P = .0010; combined arms, P < .0001). Over 24 weeks, both arms had lower proportions of subjects who had viral load, compared with the proportion of subjects in a historical control group (arm A, P = .0046; arm B, P = .0011). Subjects who had a sustained viral load of <400 copies/mL had decreased levels of integrated HIV DNA (P = .0313) but increased residual viral loads (P = .0078), compared with subjects who experienced end-point failure.
Conclusions. Peg–interferon alfa-2a immunotherapy resulted in control of HIV replication and decreased HIV-1 integration, supporting a role for immunomediated approaches in HIV suppression and/or eradication.
Clinical Trials Registration. NCT00594880.
PMCID: PMC3532820  PMID: 23105144
HIV-1; interferon-alpha; viral integration; immunotherapy
11.  Transfusion Associated Microchimerism: The Hybrid Within 
Transfusion medicine reviews  2012;27(1):10-20.
Microchimerism, the coexistence of genetically disparate populations of cells in a receptive host, is well described in both clinical and physiological settings, including transplantation and pregnancy. Microchimerism can also occur following allogeneic blood transfusion in traumatically injured patients, where donor cells have been observed decades after transfusion. To date, transfusion-associated microchimerism (TA-MC) appears confined to this clinical subset, most likely due to the immune perturbations that occur following severe trauma that allow foreign donor cells to survive. TA-MC appears to be unaffected by leukoreduction and has been documented following transfusion with an array of blood products. The only significant predictor of TA-MC to date is the age of red cells, with fresher units associated with higher risk. Thus far, no adverse clinical effect has been observed in limited studies of TA-MC. There are, however, hypothesized links to transfusion-associated graft vs. host disease (TA-GvHD) that may be unrecognized and consequently under-reported. Microchimerism in other settings has gained increasing attention due to a plausible link to autoimmune diseases, as well as its diagnostic and therapeutic potential vis-a-vis ante-natal testing and adoptive immunotherapy, respectively. Furthermore, microchimerism provides a tool to further our understanding of immune tolerance and regulation.
PMCID: PMC3518667  PMID: 23102759
Microchimerism; transfusion; chimerism; trauma; immunity; immune tolerance
12.  Cancer Incidence and Mortality in a Cohort of US Blood Donors: A 20-Year Study 
Journal of Cancer Epidemiology  2013;2013:814842.
Blood donors are considered one of the healthiest populations. This study describes the epidemiology of cancer in a cohort of blood donors up to 20 years after blood donation. Records from donors who participated in the Retroviral Epidemiology Donor Study (REDS, 1991–2002) at Blood Centers of the Pacific (BCP), San Francisco, were linked to the California Cancer Registry (CCR, 1991–2010). Standardized incidence ratios (SIR) were estimated using standard US 2000 population, and survival analysis used to compare all-cause mortality among donors and a random sample of nondonors with cancer from CCR. Of 55,158 eligible allogeneic blood donors followed-up for 863,902 person-years, 4,236 (7.7%) primary malignant cancers were diagnosed. SIR in donors was 1.59 (95% CI = 1.54,1.64). Donors had significantly lower mortality (adjusted HR = 0.70, 95% CI = 0.66–0.74) compared with nondonor cancer patients, except for respiratory system cancers (adjusted HR = 0.93, 95% CI = 0.82–1.05). Elevated cancer incidence among blood donors may reflect higher diagnosis rates due to health seeking behavior and cancer screening in donors. A “healthy donor effect” on mortality following cancer diagnosis was demonstrated. This population-based database and sample repository of blood donors with long-term monitoring of cancer incidence provides the opportunity for future analyses of genetic and other biomarkers of cancer.
PMCID: PMC3893810  PMID: 24489545
Antiviral therapy  2012;17(7 0 0):1423-1429.
Improved blood banking practices and the development and implementation of increasingly sensitive serological and nucleic acid amplification technology (NAT) assays for screening donors for HCV over the past few decades have helped minimize the residual risk from transfusion-transmitted HCV in the developed world. Furthermore, studies of transfusion-transmitted infections and of donors identified as infected by routine screening have provided significant insights into HCV transmission, epidemiology and pathogenesis. However, transfusion-transmission of HCV is still a significant route of infection in the developing world. Key preventive mechanisms to ensure safe blood include elimination of paid donors and development of national donor pools comprised of volunteer repeat blood donors, combined with implementation of standardized and maximally sensitive screening assays for HCV. There is also a need to develop up-to-date data on HCV disease burden on a global scale, in part derived from systematic screening of donors for HCV. We suggest the creation of blood donor databases and specimen repositories, both at national and international levels, to facilitate epidemiological surveillance and pathogenesis and treatment studies in the future.
PMCID: PMC3725987  PMID: 23322562
14.  Performance of Rapid Point-of-Care and Laboratory Tests for Acute and Established HIV Infection in San Francisco 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e80629.
Current laboratory and point-of-care tests for HIV detect different analytes and use different sample types. Some have fast turnaround times (<1 hour). We investigated how HIV test choice could impact case finding by testing programs.
We analyzed 21,234 consecutive HIV tests with venous blood obtained by San Francisco HIV testing programs from 2003 to 2008. For a subset, oral fluid (n = 6446) or fingerstick blood (n = 8127) samples were also obtained for rapid testing. In all cases, HIV status was determined using an HIV antibody-plus-RNA test algorithm. We assessed how the screening antibody tests performed individually versus the gold standard of the full algorithm. We then evaluated the potential ability of other tests (including new tests) to detect more cases, by re-testing all specimens that had negative/discrepant antibody results on initial screening.
The antibody-RNA algorithm identified 58 acute and 703 established HIV infection cases. 1st-generation (Vironostika) and 3rd-generation (Genetic Systems) immunoassays had 92 and 96 percent sensitivity, respectively. The Oraquick rapid test had clinical sensitivity of only 86 percent on oral fluid samples, but 92 percent on finger-stick blood. Newer 4th-generation, antigen-antibody combo rapid immunoassay (ARCHITECT) detected HIV in 87 percent of all the acute cases that had been missed by one of the previous screening assays. A point-of-care 4th generation antigen-antibody combo rapid test (Determine) detected about 54 percent of such acute cases.
Our study suggests that some rapid antibody blood tests will give similar case detection to laboratory antibody tests, but that oral fluid testing greatly reduces ability to detect HIV. New 4th-generation combo tests can detect the majority of acute infections detectable by HIV RNA but with rapid results. Using these tests as a primary screening assay in high-risk HIV testing programs could reduce or eliminate the need for HIV RNA testing.
PMCID: PMC3861178  PMID: 24349007
15.  Distinct roles of trauma and transfusion in induction of immune modulation post-injury 
Transfusion  2012;52(12):2533-2550.
Trauma and transfusion can both alter immunity, and while transfusions are common among traumatically injured patients, few studies have examined their combined effects on immunity.
We tracked the plasma levels of 41 immunomodulatory proteins in 56 trauma patients from time of injury up to 1 year later. In addition, a murine model was developed to distinguish between the effects of transfusion and underlying injury and blood loss.
Thirty-one of the proteins had a statistically significant change over time after traumatic injury, with a mixed early response that was predominantly anti-inflammatory followed by a later increase in proteins involved in wound healing and homeostasis. Results from the murine model revealed similar cytokine responses to humans. In mice, trauma/hemorrhage caused early perturbations in a number of the pro- and anti-inflammatory mediators measured, and transfusion blunted early elevations in IL-6, IL-10, MMP-9, and IFN-γ. Transfusion caused or exacerbated changes in MCP-1, IL-1α, IL-5, IL-15, and soluble E-selectin. Finally, trauma/hemorrhage alone increased KC and IL-13.
This work provides a detailed characterization of the major shift in the immunological environment in response to trauma and transfusion and clarifies which immune mediators are affected by trauma/hemorrhage and which by transfusion.
PMCID: PMC3392528  PMID: 22452342
Allogeneic Transfusion; Trauma/Hemorrhage; Mouse model; Cytokines; Immune Dysregulation
16.  Genome Wide Association Study (GWAS) of Chagas Cardiomyopathy in Trypanosoma cruzi Seropositive Subjects 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e79629.
Familial aggregation of Chagas cardiac disease in T. cruzi–infected persons suggests that human genetic variation may be an important determinant of disease progression.
To perform a GWAS using a well-characterized cohort to detect single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and genes associated with cardiac outcomes.
A retrospective cohort study was developed by the NHLBI REDS-II program in Brazil. Samples were collected from 499 T. cruzi seropositive blood donors who had donated between1996 and 2002, and 101 patients with clinically diagnosed Chagas cardiomyopathy. In 2008–2010, all subjects underwent a complete medical examination. After genotype calling, quality control filtering with exclusion of 20 cases, and imputation of 1,000 genomes variants; association analysis was performed for 7 cardiac and parasite related traits, adjusting for population stratification.
The cohort showed a wide range of African, European, and modest Native American admixture proportions, consistent with the recent history of Brazil. No SNPs were found to be highly (P<10−8) associated with cardiomyopathy. The two mostly highly associated SNPs for cardiomyopathy (rs4149018 and rs12582717; P-values <10−6) are located on Chromosome 12p12.2 in the SLCO1B1 gene, a solute carrier family member. We identified 44 additional genic SNPs associated with six traits at P-value <10-6: Ejection Fraction, PR, QRS, QT intervals, antibody levels by EIA, and parasitemia by PCR.
This GWAS identified suggestive SNPs that may impact the risk of progression to cardiomyopathy. Although this Chagas cohort is the largest examined by GWAS to date, (580 subjects), moderate sample size may explain in part the limited number of significant SNP variants. Enlarging the current sample through expanded cohorts and meta-analyses, and targeted studies of candidate genes, will be required to confirm and extend the results reported here. Future studies should also include exposed seronegative controls to investigate genetic associations with susceptibility or resitance to T. cruzi infection and non-Chagas cardiomathy.
PMCID: PMC3854669  PMID: 24324551
17.  A Randomized, Controlled Trial Assessing the Effects of Raltegravir Intensification on Endothelial Function in Treated HIV Infection 
To determine whether intensification with raltegravir improves endothelial function in antiretroviral-treated, HIV-infected individuals.
Randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled study.
Fifty-six subjects with treatment-mediated viral suppression for at least one year were randomized to add raltegravir 400 mg twice daily or matching placebo for 24 weeks. The primary endpoint was the difference in rate of change in endothelial function (as assessed by flow-mediated vasodilation of the brachial artery [FMD]) from baseline to week 24 between the raltegravir and placebo groups. Linear mixed models were used to evaluate the association of treatment group with changes in FMD, immune activation, and measures of viral persistence.
At baseline, the median CD4+ T cell count was 498 cells/mm3, nadir CD4+ T cell count was 191 cells/mm3, duration of HIV infection was 18 years, FMD was 3.3%, and hyperemic velocity (a marker of microvascular function) was 68.3 cm. There were no significant differences between treatment groups in rate of change in FMD (raltegravir group +0.032% per week, placebo group +0.023% per week; p=0.60). There were also no differences between treatment groups in rate of change in hyperemic velocity, immune activation, or viral persistence. In multivariable analysis, older age, longer duration of HIV infection, and current abacavir use were associated with lower FMD. Lower CD4+ T cell count and current abacavir use were associated with lower hyperemic velocity.
The addition of raltegravir to suppressive antiretroviral therapy did not have a significant impact on cardiovascular risk, as assessed by endothelial function ( NCT00843713).
PMCID: PMC3480968  PMID: 22918156
HIV; raltegravir intensification; endothelial function; flow-mediated vasodilation
18.  Prospective Antiretroviral Treatment of Asymptomatic, HIV-1 Infected Controllers 
PLoS Pathogens  2013;9(10):e1003691.
The study of HIV-infected “controllers” who are able to maintain low levels of plasma HIV RNA in the absence of antiretroviral therapy (ART) may provide insights for HIV cure and vaccine strategies. Despite maintaining very low levels of plasma viremia, controllers have elevated immune activation and accelerated atherosclerosis. However, the degree to which low-level replication contributes to these phenomena is not known. Sixteen asymptomatic controllers were prospectively treated with ART for 24 weeks. Controllers had a statistically significant decrease in ultrasensitive plasma and rectal HIV RNA levels with ART. Markers of T cell activation/dysfunction in blood and gut mucosa also decreased substantially with ART. Similar reductions were observed in the subset of “elite” controllers with pre-ART plasma HIV RNA levels below conventional assays (<40 copies/mL). These data confirm that HIV replication persists in controllers and contributes to a chronic inflammatory state. ART should be considered for these individuals ( NCT01025427).
Author Summary
HIV-infected “controllers” are rare individuals who are HIV-seropositive but are able to maintain low levels of plasma HIV RNA in the absence of antiretroviral therapy (ART). There has been intense interest in characterizing these unique individuals because they have been considered as a potential model for a “functional cure” of HIV. Previously, our group has shown that controllers have elevated levels of T cell activation and accelerated atherosclerosis, suggesting that very low levels of viral replication may lead to disproportionately high levels of immune activation. However, the degree to which viral replication contributes to these outcomes is not known. We therefore conducted the first, prospective study of ART initiation in a cohort of asymptomatic HIV-infected controllers, in order to determine the virologic and immunologic effects of treating controllers with ART. Controllers had a significant decreases in ultrasensitive plasma HIV RNA, rectal HIV RNA, and markers of T cell activation/dysfunction in blood and gut mucosa with ART. Similar reductions were observed in the subset of “elite” controllers with extremely low pre-ART plasma HIV RNA levels (<40 copies/mL). These data suggest that HIV replication persists in controllers and contributes to a chronic inflammatory state.
PMCID: PMC3795031  PMID: 24130489
19.  The NHLBI Retrovirus Epidemiology Donor Studies (REDS and REDS-II): Twenty years of research to advance blood product safety and availability 
Transfusion medicine reviews  2012;26(4):281-304.e2.
The Retrovirus Epidemiology Donor Study (REDS), conducted from 1989–2001, and the Retrovirus Epidemiology Donor Study-II (REDS-II), conducted from 2004–2012, were National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) funded multicenter programs focused on improving blood safety and availability in the United States. REDS-II also included international study sites in Brazil and China. The three major research domains of REDS/REDS-II have been infectious disease risk evaluation, blood donation availability, and blood donor characterization. Both programs have made significant contributions to transfusion medicine research methodology by the use of mathematical modeling, large-scale donor surveys, innovative methods of repository sample storage, and establishing an infrastructure that responded to potential emerging blood safety threats such as XMRV. Blood safety studies have included protocols evaluating epidemiologic and/or laboratory aspects of HIV, HTLV I/II, HCV, HBV, WNV, CMV, HHV-8, B19V, malaria, CJD, influenza, and T. cruzi infections. Other analyses have characterized: blood donor demographics, motivations to donate, factors influencing donor return, behavioral risk factors, donors’ perception of the blood donation screening process, and aspects of donor deferral. In REDS-II, two large-scale blood donor protocols examined iron deficiency in donors and the prevalence of leukocyte antibodies. This review describes the major study results from over 150 peer-reviewed articles published by these two REDS programs. In 2011, a new seven year program, the Recipient Epidemiology and Donor Evaluation Study-III (REDS-III), was launched. REDS-III expands beyond donor-based research to include studies of blood transfusion recipients in the hospital setting, and adds a third country, South Africa, to the international program.
PMCID: PMC3448800  PMID: 22633182
blood safety; transfusion-transmitted infections; blood availability; blood donors
20.  Distribution of Parvovirus B19 DNA in Blood Compartments and Persistence of Virus in Blood Donors 
Transfusion  2011;51(9):1896-1908.
Because the receptor for Parvovirus B19 (B19V) is on erythrocytes, we investigated B19V distribution in blood by in-vitro spiking experiments and evaluated viral compartmentalization and persistence in natural infection.
Two whole blood protocols (ultracentrifugation and a rapid RBC lysis/removal protocol) were evaluated using quantitative real-time PCR. Whole blood (WB) was spiked with known concentrations of B19V and recovery in various blood fractions was determined. The rapid RBC lysis/removal protocol was then used to compare B19V concentrations in 104 paired whole blood and plasma samples collected longitudinally from 43 B19V infected donors with frozen specimens in the REDS Allogeneic Donor and Recipient Repository (RADAR).
In B19V spiking experiments, ~one-third of viral DNA was recovered in plasma and two-thirds was loosely bound to erythrocytes. In the IgM positive stage of infection in blood donors when plasma B19V DNA concentrations were > 100 IU/mL, median DNA concentrations were ~30-fold higher in WB than in plasma. In contrast, when IgM was absent and when the B19V DNA concentration was lower, the median whole blood to plasma ratio was ~1. Analysis of longitudinal samples demonstrated persistent detection of B19V in WB but declining ratios of WB/plasma B19V with declining plasma VL levels and loss of IgM-reactivity.
The WB/plasma B19V DNA ratio varies by stage of infection. Further study is required to determine if this is related to the presence of circulating DNA-positive erythrocytes derived from B19V infected erythroblasts, B19V-specific IgM mediated binding of virus to cells, or other factors.
PMCID: PMC3591477  PMID: 21303368
21.  Genome wide association study of spontaneous resolution of hepatitis C virus infection 
Annals of internal medicine  2013;158(4):235-245.
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infections occur worldwide and either spontaneously resolve or persist and markedly increase the person’s lifetime risk of cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma. Although HCV persistence occurs more often in persons of African ancestry and in persons with a genetic variant near IL28B, the genetic basis is not well understood.
To evaluate the host genetic basis for spontaneous resolution of HCV infection.
Two-stage genome wide association study (GWAS).
13 international multicenter study sites.
919 individuals with serum HCV antibodies but no HCV RNA (spontaneous resolution) and 1482 individuals with serum HCV antibodies and RNA (persistence).
Frequencies of 792,721 SNPs.
Differences in allele frequencies between persons with spontaneous resolution and persistence were identified on chromosomes 19q13.13 and 6p21.32. On chromosome 19, allele frequency differences localized near IL28B and included rs12979860 (overall per-allele OR = 0.45, P = 2.17 × 10−30) and 10 additional SNPs spanning 55,000 bases. On chromosome 6, allele frequency differences localized near genes for class II human leukocyte antigens (HLA) and included rs4273729 (overall per-allele OR= 0.59, P = 1.71 × 10−16) near DQB1*03:01 and an additional 116 SNPs spanning 1,090,000 base pairs. The associations in chromosomes 19 and 6 were independent, additive, and explain an estimated 14.9% (95% CI: 8.5–22.6%) of the variation in HCV resolution in those of European-Ancestry, and 15.8% (95% CI:4.4–31.0%) in individuals of African-Ancestry. Replication of the chromosome 6 SNP, rs4272729 in an additional 746 individuals confirmed the findings (p=0.015).
Epigenetic effects were not studied.
IL28B and HLA class II are independently associated with spontaneous resolution of HCV infection and SNPs marking IL28B and DQB1*03:01 may explain ~15% of spontaneous resolution of HCV infection.
PMCID: PMC3638215  PMID: 23420232
22.  Dengue in the context of “safe blood” and global epidemiology: to screen or not to screen? 
Transfusion  2012;52(8):1634-1639.
PMCID: PMC3509801  PMID: 22882092
23.  Detection of host immune responses in acute phase sera of spontaneous resolution versus persistent hepatitis C virus infection 
The Journal of General Virology  2012;93(Pt 8):1673-1679.
Prior to the identification of hepatitis C virus (HCV), transfusion-transmission was common. Viral transmission in subjects with a known date of infection allows the study of the immune responses to acute HCV infection. We analysed 39 soluble immune factors in serum samples from subjects with transfusion-transmitted HCV. Dynamic expression kinetics of interferon gamma-induced protein 10 (IP-10), tumour necrosis factor-alpha and interleukin (IL)-10 were observed during acute HCV infection. Serum IP-10 was the only analyte that was significantly elevated in HCV resolvers compared with uninfected controls. In individuals who progressed to chronic HCV elevated levels of IP-10 and IL-10 coincided with first significant alanine aminotransferase elevation and remained elevated during the first year of acute HCV infection. In addition to monitoring lack of reduction in viral load, serum levels of IP-10 and IL-10 expression during acute HCV infection may be useful biomarkers to predict the progress to chronic HCV.
PMCID: PMC3541758  PMID: 22535775
24.  The role of transplacental micro-transfusions of maternal lymphocytes in in utero HIV transmission 
The mechanisms of HIV transmission from mothers to infants are poorly understood. A possible mechanism of in utero transmission is transplacental transfer of HIV-infected maternal leukocytes into the fetal circulation during pregnancy.
To determine if the frequency of in utero HIV infection correlates with presence or levels of maternal cells (MC) in placenta-derived cord blood.
DNA was extracted from dried cord blood spots (DBS) from newborns born to HIV+ mothers and corresponding maternal DBS specimens. Paired mother-infant samples were probed to identify unique maternal sequences targeted by 24 allele-specific real-time PCR assays. Infant DBS-derived DNA was then probed in replicate analyses for non-inherited maternal allelic-sequences. Rates of detection and levels of maternal cells in DBS samples of HIV(+) and HIV(−) newborns were compared.
Of 114 mother-infant pairs with informative alleles, 38 newborns were HIV(+) and 76 HIV(−), based on detection of HIV DNA/RNA at birth. MC were detected in 23 of 38 HIV(+) newborns (60.5%) and in 47 of 76 HIV(−) newborns (61.8%). The mean and median concentrations of nucleated maternal cells in DBS for the HIV(+)/MC(+) newborns (N=23) were 0.33% and 0.27%, respectively, compared with 0.09% and 0.10% for the HIV(−)/MC(+) newborns (N=47) (Two-Sample T-test for means: p=0.78).
There was no significant difference in rates of detection or concentrations of MC in DBS between HIV(+) and HIV(−) newborns. Therefore, we could not demonstrate a correlation between MC in DBS, assumed to reflect levels of in utero maternal-fetal cell trafficking, and the risk of in utero HIV transmission.
PMCID: PMC3509795  PMID: 20683195
HIV; maternal-fetal transmission; polymerase chain reaction; PCR; microchimerism; placenta
25.  HCV RNA Levels in a Multi-Ethnic Cohort of Injection Drug Users: Human Genetic, Viral and Demographic Associations 
Hepatology (Baltimore, Md.)  2012;56(1):86-94.
In patients with chronic hepatitis C, the hepatitis C virus (HCV) RNA level is an important predictor of treatment response. To explore the relationship of HCV RNA with viral and demographic factors, as well as IL28B genotype, we examined viral levels in an ethnically diverse group of injection drug users (IDUs). Between 1998 and 2000, the Urban Health Study (UHS) recruited IDUs from street settings in San Francisco Bay area neighborhoods. Participants who were positive by HCV EIA were tested for HCV viremia by a bDNA assay. HCV genotype was determined by sequencing the HCV NS5B region. For a subset of participants, IL28B rs12979860 genotype was determined by Taqman. Among 1701 participants with HCV viremia, median age was 46 years and median duration of injection drug use was 26 years; 56.0% were African American and 34.0% were of European ancestry (non-Hispanic). HIV-1 prevalence was 13.9%. The overall median HCV RNA level was 6.45 log10 copies/ml. In unadjusted analyses, higher levels were found with older age, male gender, African American ancestry, HBV infection, HIV-1 infection and IL28B rs12979860-CC genotype; compared to participants infected with HCV genotype 1, HCV RNA was lower in participants with genotype 3 or genotype 4. In an adjusted analysis, age, gender, racial ancestry, HIV-1 infection, HCV genotype and IL28B rs12979860 genotype were all independently associated with HCV RNA. Conclusion: The level of HCV viremia is influenced by a large number of demographic, viral and human genetic factors.
PMCID: PMC3369001  PMID: 22331649
epidemiology; genetics; HCV; IL28B; viremia

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