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1.  Acetic Acid, the Active Component of Vinegar, Is an Effective Tuberculocidal Disinfectant 
mBio  2014;5(2):e00013-14.
ABSTRACT
Effective and economical mycobactericidal disinfectants are needed to kill both Mycobacterium tuberculosis and non-M. tuberculosis mycobacteria. We found that acetic acid (vinegar) efficiently kills M. tuberculosis after 30 min of exposure to a 6% acetic acid solution. The activity is not due to pH alone, and propionic acid also appears to be bactericidal. M. bolletii and M. massiliense nontuberculous mycobacteria were more resistant, although a 30-min exposure to 10% acetic acid resulted in at least a 6-log10 reduction of viable bacteria. Acetic acid (vinegar) is an effective mycobactericidal disinfectant that should also be active against most other bacteria. These findings are consistent with and extend the results of studies performed in the early and mid-20th century on the disinfectant capacity of organic acids.
IMPORTANCE  Mycobacteria are best known for causing tuberculosis and leprosy, but infections with nontuberculous mycobacteria are an increasing problem after surgical or cosmetic procedures or in the lungs of cystic fibrosis and immunosuppressed patients. Killing mycobacteria is important because Mycobacterium tuberculosis strains can be multidrug resistant and therefore potentially fatal biohazards, and environmental mycobacteria must be thoroughly eliminated from surgical implements and respiratory equipment. Currently used mycobactericidal disinfectants can be toxic, unstable, and expensive. We fortuitously found that acetic acid kills mycobacteria and then showed that it is an effective mycobactericidal agent, even against the very resistant, clinically important Mycobacterium abscessus complex. Vinegar has been used for thousands of years as a common disinfectant, and if it can kill mycobacteria, the most disinfectant-resistant bacteria, it may prove to be a broadly effective, economical biocide with potential usefulness in health care settings and laboratories, especially in resource-poor countries.
IMPORTANCE 
Mycobacteria are best known for causing tuberculosis and leprosy, but infections with nontuberculous mycobacteria are an increasing problem after surgical or cosmetic procedures or in the lungs of cystic fibrosis and immunosuppressed patients. Killing mycobacteria is important because Mycobacterium tuberculosis strains can be multidrug resistant and therefore potentially fatal biohazards, and environmental mycobacteria must be thoroughly eliminated from surgical implements and respiratory equipment. Currently used mycobactericidal disinfectants can be toxic, unstable, and expensive. We fortuitously found that acetic acid kills mycobacteria and then showed that it is an effective mycobactericidal agent, even against the very resistant, clinically important Mycobacterium abscessus complex. Vinegar has been used for thousands of years as a common disinfectant, and if it can kill mycobacteria, the most disinfectant-resistant bacteria, it may prove to be a broadly effective, economical biocide with potential usefulness in health care settings and laboratories, especially in resource-poor countries.
doi:10.1128/mBio.00013-14
PMCID: PMC3940030  PMID: 24570366
2.  Low Child Survival Index in a Multi-Dimensionally Poor Amerindian Population in Venezuela 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e85638.
Background
Warao Amerindians, who inhabit the Orinoco Delta, are the second largest indigenous group in Venezuela.  High Warao general mortality rates were mentioned in a limited study 21 years ago. However, there have been no comprehensive studies addressing child survival across the entire population.
Objectives
To determine the Child Survival-Index (CSI) (ratio: still-living children/total-live births) in the Warao population, the principal causes of childhood death and the socio-demographic factors associated with childhood deaths.
Methods
We conducted a cross-sectional epidemiological survey of 688 women from 97 communities in 7 different subregions of the Orinoco Delta. Data collected included socio-demographic characteristics and the reproductive history of each woman surveyed. The multidimensional poverty index (MPI) was used to classify the households as deprived across the three dimensions of the Human Development Index. Multivariable linear regression and Generalized Linear Model Procedures were used to identify socioeconomic and environmental characteristics statistically associated with the CSI.
Findings
The average CSI was 73.8% ±26. The two most common causes of death were gastroenteritis/diarrhea (63%) and acute respiratory tract Infection/pneumonia (18%).  Deaths in children under five years accounted for 97.3% of childhood deaths, with 54% occurring in the neonatal period or first year of life.  Most of the women (95.5%) were classified as multidimensionally poor.  The general MPI in the sample was 0.56.   CSI was negatively correlated with MPI, maternal age, residence in a traditional dwelling and profession of the head of household other than nurse or teacher.
Conclusions
The Warao have a low CSI which is correlated with MPI and maternal age.  Infectious diseases are responsible for 85% of childhood deaths.  The low socioeconomic development, lack of infrastructure and geographic and cultural isolation suggest that an integrated approach is urgently needed to improve the child survival and overall health of the Warao Amerindians. 
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0085638
PMCID: PMC3877389  PMID: 24392022
3.  Current Prospects for the Fluoroquinolones as First-Line Tuberculosis Therapy ▿ 
Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy  2011;55(12):5421-5429.
While fluoroquinolones (FQs) have been successful in helping cure multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR TB), studies in mice have suggested that if used as first-line agents they might reduce the duration of therapy required to cure drug-sensitive TB. The results of phase II trials with FQs as first-line agents have been mixed, but in at least three studies where moxifloxacin substituted for ethambutol, there was an increase in the early percentage of sputa that converted to negative for bacilli. Phase III trials are in progress to test the effectiveness of 4-month FQ-containing regimens, but there is concern that the widespread use of FQs for other infections could engender a high prevalence of FQ-resistant TB. However, several studies suggest that despite wide FQ use, the prevalence of FQ-resistant TB is low, and the majority of the resistance is low-level. The principal risk for resistance may be when FQs are used to treat nonspecific respiratory symptoms that are in fact TB, so curtailing this use of FQs could reduce the development of resistance and also the delays in TB diagnosis and treatment that have been documented when an FQ is given in this setting. While the future of FQs as first-line therapy will likely depend upon the results of the ongoing phase III trials, if they are to be effectively employed in high-TB-burden regions their use for community-acquired pneumonias should be restricted, the prevalence of FQ-resistant TB should be monitored, and the cost of the treatment should be comparable to that of current standard drug regimens.
doi:10.1128/AAC.00695-11
PMCID: PMC3232788  PMID: 21876059
4.  Evaluation of Fluoromycobacteriophages for Detecting Drug Resistance in Mycobacterium tuberculosis▿ 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2011;49(5):1838-1842.
We tested a new method for detecting drug-resistant strains of Mycobacterium tuberculosis that uses a TM4 mycobacteriophage phAE87::hsp60-EGFP (EGFP-phage) engineered to contain the gene encoding enhanced green fluorescent protein (EGFP). After promising results in preliminary studies, the EGFP-phage was used to detect isoniazid (INH), rifampin (RIF), and streptomycin (STR) resistance in 155 strains of M. tuberculosis, and the results were compared to the resazurin microplate technique, with the proportion method serving as the reference standard. The resazurin technique yielded sensitivities of 94% for INH and RIF and 98% for STR and specificities of 97% for INH, 95% for RIF, and 98% for STR. The sensitivity of EGFP-phage was 94% for all three antibiotics, with specificities of 90% for INH, 93% for RIF, and 95% for STR. The EGFP-phage results were available in 2 days for RIF and STR and in 3 days for INH, with an estimated cost of ∼2$ to test the three antibiotics. Using a more stringent criterion for resistance improved the specificity of the EGFP-phage for INH and RIF without affecting the sensitivity. In preliminary studies, the EGFP-phage could also effectively detect resistance to the fluoroquinolones. The EGFP-phage method has the potential to be a valuable rapid and economic screen for detecting drug-resistant tuberculosis if the procedure can be simplified, if it can be adapted to clinical material, and if its sensitivity can be improved.
doi:10.1128/JCM.02476-10
PMCID: PMC3122682  PMID: 21346042
5.  Evaluation of Colorimetric Methods Using Nicotinamide for Rapid Detection of Pyrazinamide Resistance in Mycobacterium tuberculosis▿  
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2010;48(8):2729-2733.
The direct detection of pyrazinamide resistance in Mycobacterium tuberculosis is sufficiently difficult that many laboratories do not attempt it. Most pyrazinamide resistance is caused by mutations that inactivate the pyrazinamidase enzyme needed to convert the prodrug pyrazinamide to its active form. We evaluated two newer and simpler methods to assess pyrazinamidase activity, the nitrate reductase and malachite green microtube assays, using nicotinamide in place of pyrazinamide. A total of 102 strains were tested by these methods and the results compared with those obtained by the classic Wayne assay. Mutations in the pncA gene were identified by sequencing the pncA genes from all isolates in which pyrazinamide resistance was detected by any of the three methods. Both the nitrate reductase and malachite green microtube assays showed sensitivities of 93.75% and specificities of 97.67%. Mutations in the pncA gene were found in 14 of 16 strains that were pyrazinamide resistant and in 1 of 4 strains that were sensitive by the Wayne assay. Both of these simple methods, used with nicotinamide, are promising and inexpensive alternatives for the rapid detection of pyrazinamide resistance in limited-resource countries.
doi:10.1128/JCM.00311-10
PMCID: PMC2916567  PMID: 20554826
7.  The use of quaternary ammonium disinfectants selects for persisters at high frequency from some species of non-tuberculous mycobacteria and may be associated with outbreaks of soft tissue infections 
Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy  2010;65(12):2574-2581.
Background
Non-tuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) are increasingly important as opportunistic infections after major and minor surgical procedures, likely because they are ubiquitous and not effectively killed by many commonly used disinfectants. Outbreaks of soft tissue infections with NTM appeared related to the use of commercial disinfectants based on quaternary ammonium compounds (QACs).
Methods
We studied the survival of clinical and environmental isolates of Mycobacterium abscessus, Mycobacterium massiliense, Mycobacterium chelonae and Mycobacterium fortuitum after 20 min, 60 min or 24 h exposures to different QACs, and the surviving bacteria were then re-exposed to QACs to see if the percentage of surviving bacteria had increased. The bacteria were labelled with a dnaA–gfp fusion and their level of QAC resistance monitored as increasing fluorescence. The QAC-resistant bacteria were then serially restreaked onto non-selective medium and retested for QAC survival.
Results
The frequency of survivors was <1 in 105 bacteria with Mycobacterium smegmatis, but >1 in 100 with the other mycobacteria studied. Different environmental and clinical isolates had similar QAC MICs, but QAC survivors of each strain were resistant. The QAC-surviving strains reverted to the original, non-resistant phenotype after several passages on non-selective medium.
Conclusions
QACs should not be used in settings where even minimally invasive procedures are performed, as they select for a non-genetically determined reversible resistant phenotype that appears at high frequency with several rapidly growing mycobacterial species associated with healthcare-related infections. M. smegmatis behaves differently and is not an adequate model for testing the activity of disinfectants against NTM.
doi:10.1093/jac/dkq366
PMCID: PMC2976628  PMID: 20926395
quaternary ammonium compounds; disinfectants; NTM; resistance; tolerance; persistence
8.  Mycobacterium tuberculosis ecology in Venezuela: epidemiologic correlates of common spoligotypes and a large clonal cluster defined by MIRU-VNTR-24 
Background
Tuberculosis remains an endemic public health problem, but the ecology of the TB strains prevalent, and their transmission, can vary by country and by region. We sought to investigate the prevalence of Mycobacterium tuberculosis strains in different regions of Venezuela. A previous study identified the most prevalent strains in Venezuela but did not show geographical distribution nor identify clonal genotypes. To better understand local strain ecology, we used spoligotyping to analyze 1298 M. tuberculosis strains isolated in Venezuela from 1997 to 2006, predominantly from two large urban centers and two geographically distinct indigenous areas, and then studied a subgroup with MIRU-VNTR 24 loci.
Results
The distribution of spoligotype families is similar to that previously reported for Venezuela and other South American countries: LAM 53%, T 10%, Haarlem 5%, S 1.9%, X 1.2%, Beijing 0.4%, and EAI 0.2%. The six most common shared types (SIT's 17, 93, 605, 42, 53, 20) accounted for 49% of the isolates and were the most common in almost all regions, but only a minority were clustered by MIRU-VNTR 24. One exception was the third most frequent overall, SIT 605, which is the most common spoligotype in the state of Carabobo but infrequent in other regions. MIRU-VNTR homogeneity suggests it is a clonal group of strains and was named the "Carabobo" genotype. Epidemiologic comparisons showed that patients with SIT 17 were younger and more likely to have had specimens positive for Acid Fast Bacilli on microscopy, and patients with SIT 53 were older and more commonly smear negative. Female TB patients tended to be younger than male patients. Patients from the high incidence, indigenous population in Delta Amacuro state were younger and had a nearly equal male:female distribution.
Conclusion
Six SIT's cause nearly half of the cases of tuberculosis in Venezuela and dominate in nearly all regions. Strains with SIT 17, the most common pattern overall may be more actively transmitted and SIT 53 strains may be less virulent and associated with reactivation of past infections in older patients. In contrast to other common spoligotypes, strains with SIT 605 form a clonal group centered in the state of Carabobo.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-9-122
PMCID: PMC2739208  PMID: 19660112
9.  The Pentapeptide Repeat Proteins 
Biochemistry  2006;45(1):1-10.
The Pentapeptide Repeat Protein (PRP) family has over 500 members in the prokaryotic and eukaryotic kingdoms. These proteins are composed of, or contain domains composed of, tandemly repeated amino acid sequences with a consensus sequence of [S,T,A,V][D,N][L,F]-[S,T,R][G]. The biochemical function of the vast majority of PRP family members is unknown. The three-dimensional structure of the first member of the PRP family was determined for the fluoroquinolone resistance protein (MfpA) from Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The structure revealed that the pentapeptide repeats encode the folding of a novel right-handed quadrilateral β-helix. MfpA binds to DNA gyrase and inhibits its activity. The rod-shaped, dimeric protein exhibits remarkable size, shape and electrostatic similarity to DNA.
doi:10.1021/bi052130w
PMCID: PMC2566302  PMID: 16388575
10.  In-House Phage Amplification Assay Is a Sound Alternative for Detecting Rifampin-Resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis in Low-Resource Settings 
An in-house mycobacteriophage amplification assay for detecting rifampin-resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis showed 100% sensitivity, 97.7% specificity, and 95.2% predictive value for resistance in a test of 129 isolates from a hot spot area of multidrug-resistant M. tuberculosis. The applicability of the test was demonstrated in the routine work flow of a low-resource reference laboratory.
doi:10.1128/AAC.49.1.425-427.2005
PMCID: PMC538913  PMID: 15616326
11.  Intrinsic Resistance of Mycobacterium smegmatis to Fluoroquinolones May Be Influenced by New Pentapeptide Protein MfpA 
Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy  2001;45(12):3387-3392.
The fluoroquinolones (FQ) are used in the treatment of Mycobacterium tuberculosis, but the development of resistance could limit their effectiveness. FQ resistance (FQR) is a multistep process involving alterations in the type II topoisomerases and perhaps in the regulation of efflux pumps, but several of the steps remain unidentified. Recombinant plasmid pGADIV was selected from a genomic library of wild-type (WT), FQ-sensitive M. smegmatis by its ability to confer low-level resistance to sparfloxacin (SPX). In WT M. smegmatis, pGADIV increased the MICs of ciprofloxacin (CIP) by fourfold and of SPX by eightfold, and in M. bovis BCG it increased the MICs of both CIP and SPX by fourfold. It had no effect on the accumulation of 14C-labeled CIP or SPX. The open reading frame responsible for the increase in FQR, mfpA, encodes a putative protein belonging to the family of pentapeptides, in which almost every fifth amino acid is either leucine or phenylalanine. Very similar proteins are also present in M. tuberculosis and M. avium. The MICs of CIP and SPX were lower for an M. smegmatis mutant strain lacking an intact mfpA gene than for the WT strain, suggesting that, by some unknown mechanism, the gene product plays a role in determining the innate level of FQR in M. smegmatis.
doi:10.1128/AAC.45.12.3387-3392.2001
PMCID: PMC90842  PMID: 11709313

Results 1-11 (11)