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1.  Predicting the effects of climate change on Schistosoma mansoni transmission in eastern Africa 
Survival and fitness attributes of free-living and sporocyst schistosome life-stages and their intermediate host snails are sensitive to water temperature. Climate change may alter the geographical distribution of schistosomiasis by affecting the suitability of freshwater bodies for hosting parasite and snail populations.
We have developed an agent-based model of the temperature-sensitive stages of the Schistosoma mansoni and intermediate host snail lifecycles. The model was run using low, moderate and high warming climate projections over eastern Africa. For each climate projection, eight model scenarios were used to determine the sensitivity of predictions to different relationships between air and water temperature, and different snail mortality rates. Maps were produced showing predicted changes in risk as a result of increasing temperatures over the next 20 and 50 years.
Baseline model output compared to prevalence data indicates suitable temperatures are necessary but not sufficient for both S. mansoni transmission and high infection prevalences. All else being equal, infection risk may increase by up to 20% over most of eastern Africa over the next 20 and 50 years. Increases may be higher in Rwanda, Burundi, south-west Kenya and eastern Zambia, and S. mansoni may become newly endemic in some areas. Results for 20-year projections are robust to changes in simulated intermediate host snail habitat conditions. There is greater uncertainty about the effects of different habitats on changes in risk in 50 years’ time.
Temperatures are likely to become suitable for increased S. mansoni transmission over much of eastern Africa. This may reduce the impact of control and elimination programmes. S. mansoni may also spread to new areas outside existing control programmes. We call for increased surveillance in areas defined as potentially suitable for emergent transmission.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13071-014-0617-0) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4297451  PMID: 25558917
Schistosomiasis; Biomphalaria; Malacology; Climate change; Disease modelling; Africa
2.  A migrant study of pubertal timing and tempo in British-Bangladeshi girls at varying risk for breast cancer 
Earlier menarche is related to subsequent breast cancer risk, yet international differences in the age and tempo of other pubertal milestones and their relationships with body mass index (BMI) are not firmly established in populations at differing risk for breast cancer. We compared age and tempo of adrenarche, thelarche, pubarche, and menarche in a migrant study of Bangladeshi girls to the United Kingdom (UK) and assessed whether differences by migration were explained by differences in BMI.
Included were groups of Bangladeshi (n =168), British-Bangladeshi (n =174) and white British (n =54) girls, aged 5 to 16 years. Interviewer-administered questionnaires obtained pubertal staging; height and weight were measured. Salivary dehydroepiandrosterone-sulfate concentrations >400 pg/ml defined adrenarche. Median ages of pubertal milestones and hazard ratios (HR) with 95% confidence intervals (CI) were estimated from Weibull survival models.
In all three groups, adrenarche occurred earliest, followed by thelarche, pubarche, and finally menarche. Neither median age at adrenarche (Bangladeshi = 7.2, British-Bangladeshi = 7.4, white British = 7.1; P-trend = 0.70) nor at menarche (Bangladeshi = 12.5, British-Bangladeshi = 12.1, white British = 12.6; P-trend = 0.70) differed across groups. In contrast, median age at thelarche (Bangladeshi = 10.7, British-Bangladeshi = 9.6, white British = 8.7; P-trend <0.01) occurred earlier among girls living in the UK. Compared with Bangladeshi girls, HRs (95% CI) for earlier thelarche were 1.6 (1.1 to 2.4) for British-Bangladeshi girls and 2.6 (1.5 to 4.4) for white British girls (P-trend <0.01), but were attenuated after adjustment for BMI (British-Bangladeshi = 1.1 (0.7 to 1.8), white British = 1.7(1.0 to 3.1); P-trend =0.20).
Thelarche occurred earlier, but puberty progressed slower with increasing exposure to the UK environment; differences were partially explained by greater BMI. The growth environment might account for much of the ethnic differences in pubertal development observed across and within countries.
PMCID: PMC4303203  PMID: 25398700
3.  Effect of water temperature and population density on the population dynamics of Schistosoma mansoni intermediate host snails 
Parasites & Vectors  2014;7(1):503.
Mathematical models can be used to identify areas at risk of increased or new schistosomiasis transmission as a result of climate change. The results of these models can be very different when parameterised to different species of host snail, which have varying temperature preferences. Currently, the experimental data needed by these models are available for only a few species of snail. The choice of density-dependent functions can also affect model results, but the effects of increasing densities on Biomphalaria populations have only previously been investigated in artificial aquariums.
Laboratory experiments were conducted to estimate Biomphalaria sudanica mortality, fecundity and growth rates at ten different constant water temperatures, ranging from 13-32°C. Snail cages were used to determine the effects of snail densities on B. sudanica and B. stanleyi mortality and fecundity rates in semi-natural conditions in Lake Albert.
B. sudanica survival and fecundity were highest at 20°C and 22°C respectively. Growth in shell diameter was estimated to be highest at 23°C in small and medium sized snails, but the relationship between temperature and growth was not clear. The fecundity of both B. sudanica and B. stanleyi decreased by 72-75% with a four-fold increase in population density. Increasing densities four-fold also doubled B. stanleyi mortality rates, but had no effect on the survival of B. sudanica.
The optimum temperature for fecundity was lower for B. sudanica than for previously studied species of Biomphalaria. In contrast to other Biomphalaria species, B. sudanica have a distinct peak temperature for survival, as opposed to a plateau of highly suitable temperatures. For both B. stanleyi and B. sudanica, fecundity decreased with increasing population densities. This means that snail populations may experience large fluctuations in numbers, even in the absence of any external factors such as seasonal temperature changes. Survival also decreased with increasing density for B. stanleyi, in contrast to B. sudanica and other studied Biomphalaria species where only fecundity has been shown to decrease.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13071-014-0503-9) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4234839  PMID: 25388819
Schistosomiasis; Schistosoma mansoni; Biomphalaria; Malacology; Climate change; Ecology
4.  Childhood Environment Influences Adrenarcheal Timing among First-Generation Bangladeshi Migrant Girls to the UK 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(10):e109200.
Adrenarche is a key early life event that marks middle childhood at approximately 7 years of age. Earlier work with British-Bangladeshi migrant women suggested that environmental conditions experienced before adrenarche influence adult reproductive function. We therefore investigated whether Bangladeshi children who migrate to the United Kingdom (UK) reach adrenarche earlier than non-migrants in Bangladesh or the United Kingdom.
Methods and Findings
Healthy girls, aged 5–16 years, were recruited from schools in Sylhet, Bangladesh and London, England comprising four groups: Sylhetis (n = 165), first-generation migrants to the United Kingdom (n = 42), second-generation girls (n = 162), and British girls of European origin (n = 50). Anthropometric measurements were collected together with questionnaire data for migration and socioeconomic characteristics. Saliva samples were assayed for dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEAS) using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays. Multiple linear regressions tested for group differences in anthropometric and socioeconomic variables and DHEAS levels. Median ages at adrenarche (DHEAS>400 pg/ml) were estimated using Weibull regression models for parametric survival analysis. Hazard ratios for reaching adrenarche earlier and 95% confidence intervals (CI), both unadjusted and adjusted for anthropometric variables, were estimated from the survival analyses. First-generation migrants had a median age at adrenarche (5.3 years) that was significantly earlier than Sylheti (7.2), second-generation (7.4), and European (7.1) girls. In univariate analyses, first-generation girls reached adrenarche significantly earlier than Sylhetis [HR (CI): 2.8 (1.4–5.5]. In multivariate models, first generation girls still reached adrenarche earlier than Sylhetis after adjusting for height [HR(CI): 1.9 (0.9–4.1)] and weight [HR(CI):1.7 (0.8–3.8)], but these results were attenuated.
We suggest that rapid catch-up growth experienced by first generation girls during early childhood may explain their advanced adrenarche. The environmental conditions leading to an earlier adrenarche, as well as the health implications of this early transition, merit further exploration.
PMCID: PMC4195659  PMID: 25309977
5.  The Effect of Simulating Different Intermediate Host Snail Species on the Link between Water Temperature and Schistosomiasis Risk 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(7):e87892.
A number of studies have attempted to predict the effects of climate change on schistosomiasis risk. The importance of considering different species of intermediate host snails separately has never previously been explored.
An agent-based model of water temperature and Biomphalaria pfeifferi population dynamics and Schistosoma mansoni transmission was parameterised to two additional species of snail: B. glabrata and B. alexandrina.
Simulated B. alexandrina populations had lower minimum and maximum temperatures for survival than B. pfeifferi populations (12.5–29.5°C vs. 14.0–31.5°C). B. glabrata populations survived over a smaller range of temperatures than either B. pfeifferi or B. alexandrina (17.0°C–29.5°C). Infection risk peaked at 16.5°C, 25.0°C and 19.0°C respectively when B. pfeifferi, B. glabrata and B. alexandrina were simulated. For all species, infection risk increased sharply once a minimum temperature was reached.
The results from all three species suggest that infection risk may increase dramatically with small increases in temperature in areas at or near the currents limits of schistosome transmission. The effect of small increases in temperature in areas where schistosomiasis is currently found will depend both on current temperatures and on the species of snail acting as intermediate host(s) in the area. In most areas where B. pfeifferi is the host, infection risk is likely to decrease. In cooler areas where B. glabrata is the host, infection risk may increase slightly. In cooler areas where B. alexandrina is the host, infection risk may more than double with only 2°C increase in temperature. Our results show that it is crucial to consider the species of intermediate host when attempting to predict the effects of climate change on schistosomiasis.
PMCID: PMC4079337  PMID: 24988377
6.  The Effect of Increasing Water Temperatures on Schistosoma mansoni Transmission and Biomphalaria pfeifferi Population Dynamics: An Agent-Based Modelling Study 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(7):e101462.
There is increasing interest in the control and elimination of schistosomiasis. Little is known, however, about the likely effects of increasing water-body temperatures on transmission.
We have developed an agent-based model of the temperature-sensitive stages of the Schistosoma and intermediate host snail life-cycles, parameterised using data from S. mansoni and Biomphalaria pfeifferi laboratory and field-based observations. Infection risk is calculated as the number of cercariae in the model, adjusted for their probability of causing infection.
The number of snails in the model is approximately constant between 15–31°C. Outside this range, snail numbers drop sharply, and the snail population cannot survive outside the range 14–32°C. Mean snail generation time decreases with increasing temperature from 176 days at 14°C to 46 days at 26°C. Human infection risk is highest between 16–18°C and 1 pm and 6–10 pm in calm water, and 20–25°C and 12–4 pm in flowing water. Infection risk increases sharply when temperatures increase above the minimum necessary for sustained transmission.
The model suggests that, in areas where S. mansoni is already endemic, warming of the water at transmission sites will have differential effects on both snails and parasites depending on abiotic properties of the water-body. Snail generation times will decrease in most areas, meaning that snail populations will recover faster from natural population reductions and from snail-control efforts. We suggest a link between the ecological properties of transmission sites and infection risk which could significantly affect the outcomes of interventions designed to alter water contact behaviour – proposing that such interventions are more likely to reduce infection levels at river locations than lakes, where infection risk remains high for longer. In cooler areas where snails are currently found, increasing temperatures may significantly increase infection risk, potentially leading to new, high-intensity foci of infection.
PMCID: PMC4079709  PMID: 24987963
7.  Long term study on the effect of mollusciciding with niclosamide in stream habitats on the transmission of schistosomiasis mansoni after community-based chemotherapy in Makueni District, Kenya 
Parasites & Vectors  2013;6:107.
Schistosoma mansoni infection is a persistent public health problem in many Kenyan communities. Although praziquantel is available, re-infection after chemotherapy treatment is inevitable, especially among children. Chemotherapy followed by intermittent mollusciciding of habitats of Biomphalaria pfeifferi, the intermediate host snail, may have longer term benefits, especially if timed to coincide with natural fluctuations in snail populations.
In this cohort study, the Kambu River (Intervention area) was molluscicided intermittently for 4 years, after mass chemotherapy with praziquantel in the adjacent community of Darajani in January 1997. The nearby Thange River was selected as a control (Non-intervention area), and its adjacent community of Ulilinzi was treated with praziquantel in December 1996. Snail numbers were recorded monthly at 9–10 sites along each river, while rainfall data were collected monthly, and annual parasitological surveys were undertaken in each village. The mollusciciding protocol was adapted to local conditions, and simplified to improve prospects for widespread application.
After the initial reduction in prevalence attributable to chemotherapy, there was a gradual increase in the prevalence and intensity of infection in the non-intervention area, and significantly lower levels of re-infection amongst inhabitants of the intervention area. Incidence ratio between areas adjusted for age and gender at the first follow-up survey, 5 weeks after treatment in the non-intervention area and 4 months after treatment in the intervention area was not significant (few people turned positive), while during the following 4 annual surveys these ratios were 0.58 (0.39-0.85), 0.33 (0.18-0.60), 0.14 (0.09-0.21) and 0.45 (0.26-0.75), respectively. Snail numbers were consistently low in the intervention area as a result of the mollusciciding. Following termination of the mollusciciding at the end of 2000, snail populations and infections in snails increased again in the intervention area.
The results of this study demonstrate that in the Kenyan setting a combination of chemotherapy followed by intermittent mollusciciding can have longer term benefits than chemotherapy alone.
PMCID: PMC3652733  PMID: 23596985
Bayluscide; Schistosoma mansoni; Re-infection; Biomphalaria pfeifferi; Molluscicide
8.  Analysis of Complex Patterns of Human Exposure and Immunity to Schistosomiasis mansoni: The Influence of Age, Sex, Ethnicity and IgE 
Numerous factors may influence Schistosoma infection intensity and prevalence within endemic communities, including exposure-related factors such as local environment and behaviour, and factors relating to susceptibility to infection such as immunology and genetics. While animal studies performed in the laboratory can be tightly controlled, human populations are highly heterogeneous, varying according to demographic characteristics, genetic background and exposure to infection. The heterogeneous nature of human water contact behaviour in particular makes it difficult to distinguish between a lack of cercarial exposure and reduced susceptibility to infection as the cause for low levels of infection in the field.
Methods and Principal Findings
In this study we investigate risk factors for Schistosoma mansoni infection in a rural Ugandan fishing community receiving treatment as part of a multi-disciplinary longitudinal reinfection study. More specifically, we examine the influence that age, sex and ethnic background have on susceptibility to reinfection after anti-helminth drug treatment, but use individual estimates of cercarial exposure and multivariable methods in an attempt to remove noise created by environmental and behavioural heterogeneities. We then investigate whether schistosome-specific IgE immune responses could account for any remaining variations in susceptibility to reinfection. Our findings suggest that observed ethnic- and sex-related variations in S. mansoni reinfection were due to variations in cercarial exposure, as opposed to biological differences in susceptibility to infection. Age-related differences in reinfection were not explained by exposure, however, and appeared linked to the balance of IgE and IgG4 to the tegumental antigen SmTAL1 (formerly Sm22.6), which itself was significantly related to resistance to reinfection.
This study highlights the benefit of taking a multidisciplinary approach in complex field settings; it allows the ecology of a population to be understood and thus more robust conclusions to be made.
Author Summary
Human schistosomiasis is a chronic parasitic disease affecting around 200 million people worldwide. Infection occurs when cercariae penetrate the skin during water contact. Although there is effective treatment for schistosomiasis, individuals remain susceptible to reinfection after treatment; some individuals, however, appear more susceptible to reinfection than others. The highly heterogeneous nature of human water contact behaviour makes it difficult to identify whether low levels of reinfection are caused by immunity or a simple lack of cercarial exposure; this complicates the characterisation of risk factors for infection and immune correlates of protection. Here, we take a multidisciplinary approach using individual estimates of cercarial exposure and multivariable analysis to allow for environmental and behavioural heterogeneities. We examine the influence of demographic factors and antibody responses on susceptibility to reinfection. While observed ethnic- and sex-related variations in Schistosoma mansoni reinfection could be explained by differences in exposure, age-related differences appeared linked to the balance of specific IgE and IgG4 antibodies, themselves related to resistance to reinfection. Our study highlights the benefits of a multidisciplinary approach in complex field settings: it improves our understanding of a population's ecology and therefore the biology of disease.
PMCID: PMC2939029  PMID: 20856909
9.  Plasmodium falciparum and helminth co-infection in a semi-urban population of pregnant women in Uganda 
The Journal of infectious diseases  2008;198(6):920-927.
Helminth infections and malaria are widespread in the tropics. Recent studies suggest helminth infections may increase susceptibility to malaria. If confirmed, this could be particularly important during pregnancy-induced immunosuppression.
To evaluate the geographical distribution of Plasmodium falciparum-helminth co-infection, and associations between parasite species in pregnant women in Entebbe, Uganda.
A cross-sectional study was conducted at baseline in a trial of anti-helminthics during pregnancy. Helminth and P.falciparum infections were quantified in 2507 asymptomatic women; socio-demographic and geographical details were recorded.
Hookworm and Mansonella perstans were associated with P.falciparum but the effect of hookworm was seen only in the absence of M.perstans (OR for P.falciparum, adjusted for age, tribe, socioeconomic status, HIV and location: hookworm without M.perstans 1.53 (95% CI 1.09-2.14); M.perstans without hookworm 2.33 (1.47-3.69), both hookworm and M.perstans, 1.85 (1.24-2.76)). No association was observed between Schistosoma mansoni, Trichuris or Strongyloides and P.falciparum.
Hookworm-P.falciparum and M.perstans-P.falciparum co-infection amongst pregnant women in Entebbe is more common than expected by chance. Further studies are needed to elucidate the mechanism of this association. Helminth-induced increased susceptibility to P.falciparum could have important consequences for pregnancy outcome and responses to malaria in infancy.
PMCID: PMC2886962  PMID: 18721060
Malaria; Helminth; Hookworm; Mansonella perstans; Plasmodium falciparum; Co-Infection; Spatial; Geographic Factors; Pregnancy; Uganda
10.  Health implications of chronic hepatosplenomegaly in Kenyan school-aged children chronically exposed to malarial infections and Schistosoma mansoni 
Hepatosplenomegaly among school-aged children in sub-Saharan Africa is highly prevalent. Two of the more common aetiological agents of hepatosplenomegaly, namely chronic exposure to malaria and Schistosoma mansoni infection, can result in similar clinical presentation, with the liver and spleen being chronically enlarged and of a firm consistency. Where co-endemic, the two parasites are thought to synergistically exacerbate hepatosplenomegaly. Here, two potential health consequences, i.e. dilation of the portal vein (indicative of increased portal pressure) and stunting of growth, were investigated in a study area where children were chronically exposed to malaria throughout while S. mansoni transmission was geographically restricted. Hepatosplenomegaly was associated with increased portal vein diameters, with enlargement of the spleen rather than the liver being more closely associated with dilation. Dilation of the portal vein was exacerbated by S. mansoni infection in an intensity-dependent manner. The prevalence of growth stunting was not associated with either relative exposure rates to malarial infection or with S. mansoni infection status but was significantly associated with hepatosplenomegaly. Children who presented with hepatosplenomegaly had the lowest height-for-age Z-scores. This study shows that hepatosplenomegaly associated with chronic exposure to malaria and schistosomiasis is not a benign symptom amongst school-aged children but has potential long-term health consequences.
PMCID: PMC2824847  PMID: 19818465
Malaria; Schistosomiasis; Hepatosplenomegaly; Portal vein; Stunting; Nutritional status
11.  Risk Factors for Helminth, Malaria, and HIV Infection in Pregnancy in Entebbe, Uganda 
Infections during pregnancy may have serious consequences for both mother and baby. Assessment of risk factors for infections informs planning of interventions and analysis of the impact of infections on health outcomes.
To describe risk factors for helminths, malaria and HIV in pregnant Ugandan women before intervention in a trial of de-worming in pregnancy.
The trial recruited 2,507 pregnant women between April 2003 and November 2005. Participants were interviewed and blood and stool samples obtained; location of residence at enrolment was mapped. Demographic, socioeconomic, behavioral and other risk factors were modelled using logistic regression.
There was a high prevalence of helminth, malaria and HIV infection, as previously reported. All helminths and malaria parasitemia were more common in younger women, and education was protective against every infection. Place of birth and/or tribe affected all helminths in a pattern consistent with the geographical distribution of helminth infections in Uganda. Four different geohelminths (hookworm, Trichuris, Ascaris and Trichostrongylus) showed a downwards trend in prevalence during the enrolment period. There was a negative association between hookworm and HIV, and between hookworm and low CD4 count among HIV-positive women. Locally, high prevalence of schistosomiasis and HIV occurred in lakeshore communities.
Interventions for helminths, malaria and HIV need to target young women both in and out of school. Antenatal interventions for malaria and HIV infection must continue to be promoted. Women originating from a high risk area for a helminth infection remain at high risk after migration to a lower-risk area, and vice versa, but overall, geohelminths seem to be becoming less common in this population. High risk populations, such as fishing communities, require directed effort against schistosomiasis and HIV infection.
Author Summary
Infections in pregnancy can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, maternal mortality, and low birth weight and have other long-term complications for mother and baby, although the full impact of many infections, particularly worm infections, is not yet fully understood. There is a high burden of infectious disease in many developing countries. In this analysis, we identified which factors put pregnant women in Entebbe, Uganda, at particular risk for worm infections, malaria, HIV, and, where possible, rarer infections including syphilis. The women in this study, and their children, will be followed up to determine the long-term effects of exposure of the fetus to these maternal infections on health during childhood. The findings of this baseline analysis will help in the interpretation of the long-term outcomes. The findings also highlight which groups are most at risk of each infection, and this may help in targeting interventions to prevent, treat, or mitigate the impact of infections in pregnancy.
PMCID: PMC2696595  PMID: 19564904
12.  Hepatosplenomegaly Is Associated with Low Regulatory and Th2 Responses to Schistosome Antigens in Childhood Schistosomiasis and Malaria Coinfection▿  
Infection and Immunity  2008;76(5):2212-2218.
Hepatosplenomegaly among Kenyan schoolchildren has been shown to be exacerbated where there is transmission of both Schistosoma mansoni and Plasmodium falciparum. This highly prevalent and chronic morbidity often occurs in the absence of ultrasound-detectable periportal fibrosis and may be due to immunological inflammation. For a cohort of school-age children, whole-blood cultures were stimulated with S. mansoni soluble egg antigen (SEA) or soluble worm antigen (SWA). Responses to SWA were found to be predominantly Th2 cytokines; however, they were not significantly associated with either hepatosplenomegaly or infection with S. mansoni or P. falciparum. In comparison, SEA-specific Th2 cytokine responses were low, and the levels were negatively correlated with S. mansoni infection intensities and were lower among children who were coinfected with P. falciparum. Tumor necrosis factor alpha levels in response to stimulation with SEA were high, and a negative association between presentation with hepatomegaly and the levels of the regulatory cytokines interleukin-6 and transforming growth factor β1 suggests that a possible mechanism for childhood hepatomegaly in areas where both malaria and schistosomiasis are endemic is poor regulation of an inflammatory response to schistosome eggs.
PMCID: PMC2346678  PMID: 18285496
13.  Meeting the demographic challenges ahead: Toward culture change in an ageing New Zealand 
There are several innovative service delivery models in the United States (US) relevant to long-term care policy development and implementation in New Zealand. An especially fruitful source of innovation has been the culture change movement, which originated in the US but has begun to spread to New Zealand and other OECD countries. The culture change philosophy requires that providers respond to the values, preferences, and needs of care recipients. It also requires devolving authority to direct care workers who know their clients best, in addition to transitioning from sterile 'clinical' settings to more homelike environments. New Zealand has a more favourable policy context for improving long-term care than the US. Thus, it is critical that it build upon these short term advantages to promote further dissemination of the culture change ethos, thereby placing caregivers in a better position to meet current care challenges, not to mention those posed by growth in the elderly population ahead.
PMCID: PMC2409356  PMID: 18498640
14.  Age-adjusted Plasmodium falciparum antibody levels in school-aged children are a stable marker of microgeographical variations in exposure to Plasmodium infection 
Amongst school-aged children living in malaria endemic areas, chronic morbidity and exacerbation of morbidity associated with other infections are often not coincident with the presence or levels of Plasmodium parasitaemia, but may result from long-term exposure to the parasite. Studies of hepatosplenomegaly associated with Schistosoma mansoni infection and exposure to Plasmodium infection indicate that differences that occur over 1–2 km in levels of Plasmodium transmission are related to the degree of exacerbation of hepatosplenomegaly and that Plasmodium falciparum schizont antigen (Pfs)-IgG3 levels may be a marker for the differing levels of exposure.
To investigate the validity of Pfs-IgG3 measurements as a tool to assess these comparative exposure levels on a microgeographical scale, cross-sectional community surveys were conducted over a 10 × 6 km study site in Makueni District, Kenya, during low and high malaria transmission seasons. During both high and low malaria transmission seasons, thick blood smears were examined microscopically and circulating Pfs-IgG3 levels measured from dried blood spot elute. GIS techniques were used to map prevalence of parasitaemia and Pfs-IgG3 levels.
Microgeographical variations in prevalence of parasitaemia were observed during the high but not the low transmission season. Pfs-IgG3 levels were stable between high and low transmission seasons, but increased with age throughout childhood before reaching a plateau in adults. Adjusting Pfs-IgG3 levels of school-aged children for age prior to mapping resulted in spatial patterns that reflected the microgeographical variations observed for high season prevalence of parasitaemia, however, Pfs-IgG3 levels of adults did not. The distances over which age-adjusted Pfs-IgG3 of school-aged children fluctuated were comparable with those distances over which chronic morbidity has previous been shown to vary.
Age-adjusted Pfs-IgG3 levels of school-aged children are stable and when mapped can provide a tool sensitive enough to detect microgeographical variations in malaria exposure, that would be useful for studying the aetiology of morbidities associated with long-term exposure and co-infections.
PMCID: PMC1947991  PMID: 17603885
15.  Eosinophil Activity in Schistosoma mansoni Infections In Vivo and In Vitro in Relation to Plasma Cytokine Profile Pre- and Posttreatment with Praziquantel 
Clinical and Vaccine Immunology  2006;13(5):584-593.
Eosinophil activity in vivo and in vitro was studied in relation to infection intensities and plasma cytokine profiles of 51 Schistosoma mansoni-infected Ugandan fishermen before treatment and 24 h and 3 weeks posttreatment. Blood eosinophil numbers significantly declined 24 h posttreatment, but significant eosinophilia had developed by 3 weeks posttreatment. Cellular eosinophil cationic protein (ECP) content increased significantly during the transient eosinopenia but was significantly reduced 3 weeks later. No similar reduction in cellular eosinophil protein X (EPX) content was seen. Before treatment, S. mansoni infection intensity was positively correlated with 24-h boosts in plasma interleukin-5 (IL-5) and IL-6 levels, which were in turn negatively correlated with the posttreatment fall in eosinophil numbers. Significant correlations were observed between pretreatment infection intensities and plasma IL-10 and eotaxin levels. Treatment induced significant fluctuations in plasma IL-5, IL-6, IL-10, tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α), and eotaxin levels. Optimal relative release of ECP and EPX in vitro was detected in S. mansoni soluble egg antigen-stimulated cultures during transient eosinopenia. Our data suggest that blood eosinophils are activated during S. mansoni infection and that treatment induces a burst in released antigens, causing increased production of IL-5, IL-6, IL-10, and eotaxin; a drop in TNF-α levels; and a transient sequestration of eosinophils, which leaves fewer degranulated eosinophils in the circulation 24 h posttreatment, followed by the development of eosinophilia 3 weeks later. During these events, it appears that preferential release of ECP occurs in vivo. Moreover, it is possible that infection intensity-dependent levels of plasma IL-10 may be involved in the prevention of treatment-induced anaphylactic reactions.
PMCID: PMC1459652  PMID: 16682480
16.  Exposure to malaria affects the regression of hepatosplenomegaly after treatment for Schistosoma mansoni infection in Kenyan children 
BMC Medicine  2004;2:36.
Schistosoma mansoni and malaria infections are often endemic in the same communities in sub-Saharan Africa, and both have pathological effects on the liver and the spleen. Hepatosplenomegaly associated with S. mansoni is exacerbated in children with relatively high exposure to malaria. Treatment with praziquantel reduces the degree of hepatosplenomegaly, but the condition does not completely resolve in some cases. The present analysis focused on the possibility that exposure to malaria infection may have limited the resolution of hepatosplenomegaly in a cohort of Kenyan schoolchildren.
Ninety-six children aged 6–16, from one community in Makueni district, Kenya, were treated with praziquantel. At baseline, all children had hepatomegaly and most had splenomegaly. The source of S. mansoni infection, a river, was molluscicided regularly over the following three years to limit S. mansoni re-infection, whereas malaria exposure was uninterrupted. Hepatic and splenic enlargement was assessed annually outside the malaria transmission season.
Children living in an area of relatively high exposure to both infections presented with the largest spleens before treatment and at each follow-up. Spleens of firm consistency were associated with proximity to the river. The regression of hepatomegaly was also affected by location, being minimal in an area with relatively low S. mansoni exposure but high exposure to malaria, and maximal in an area with relatively low exposure to both infections.
The outcome of treating cases of hepatosplenomegaly with praziquantel in this cohort of Kenyan children depended strongly on their level of exposure to malaria infection. Furthermore, a residual burden of hepatosplenic morbidity was observed, which was possibly attributable to the level of exposure to malaria. The results suggest that exposure to malaria infection may be a significant factor affecting the outcome of praziquantel treatment to reduce the level of hepatosplenic morbidity.
PMCID: PMC522803  PMID: 15450118
17.  Micro-geographical variation in exposure to Schistosoma mansoni and malaria, and exacerbation of splenomegaly in Kenyan school-aged children 
Schistosoma mansoni and Plasmodium falciparum are common infections of school aged children in Kenya. They both cause enlargement of the spleen, but their relative contribution to the condition of splenomegaly remains unknown in areas where both infections are endemic. Here, we have investigated whether relatively high exposure to both infections has a clinically measurable effect on this condition.
96 children aged 6–16 years living along a ten kilometre stretch and within 4 km south of a river that is a source of both S. mansoni and malaria infections were examined clinically for splenomegaly along the mid clavicular line (MCL) and mid axillary line (MAL). The survey was conducted outside the malaria transmission season. The consistency of the organ was recorded as soft, firm or hard. Mapping of the locations of houses and the course of the river was undertaken. Egg counts were mapped at the household level, as were IgG3 responses to Plasmodium falciparum schizont antigen (anti-Pfs IgG3), in order to identify areas with relatively high exposure to both infections, either infection or neither infection. ANOVA was used to test for differences in egg counts, IgG3 levels and the magnitude of spleen enlargement between these areas.
4 contiguous sectors were identified, one where anti-Pfs IgG3 responses and S. mansoni egg counts were both high, one where only anti-Pfs IgG3 responses were high, one where only egg counts were high, and one where both anti-Pfs IgG3 responses and egg counts were low. Spleen MAL and MCL values were significantly higher amongst children from the sector with highest IgG3 levels and highest egg counts but similar amongst children from elsewhere. Both egg counts and anti-Pfs IgG3 responses were significantly higher in children with MAL values >=4 cm. Hardening of spleens was associated with proximity of domicile to the river.
Micro-geographical variation in exposure to S. mansoni and malaria infections can be exploited to investigate the chronic impact of these two infections. These results provide firm evidence that relatively high exposure to both infections exacerbates splenomegaly even outside the malaria transmission season. Major implications include assessing the burden of infection in school age-children.
PMCID: PMC421731  PMID: 15147584
S. mansoni; malaria; splenomegaly; Kenya; children; GIS
18.  Cytokine Production in Whole Blood Cultures from a Fishing Community in an Area of High Endemicity for Schistosoma mansoni in Uganda: the Differential Effect of Parasite Worm and Egg Antigens†  
Infection and Immunity  2004;72(2):728-734.
The human host is continuously exposed to the egg and the adult worm developmental stages of Schistosoma mansoni during chronic infections with the parasite. To assess the cytokine responses induced by these different costimulating stages and how they are influenced by host age and infection intensity, whole blood samples from a cross-sectional cohort of 226 members of a Ugandan fishing community who had been resident in an area with high transmission of S. mansoni for the previous 10 years or from birth were stimulated with S. mansoni egg antigen (SEA) or worm antigen (SWA). SWA-specific gamma interferon (IFN-γ) production increased with age, and the levels of SWA- and SEA-specific interleukin 3 (IL-3) were weakly correlated with schistosome infection intensity. The production of most cytokines was little affected by age or infection intensity but was either SEA or SWA specific. One hundred thirty-two members of the cohort coproduced IL-5 and IL-13 specifically in response to SWA, whereas only 15 produced these cytokines, and at much lower levels, in response to SEA. IL-10, IL-4, and IFN-γ were also produced in response to SWA, whereas the response to SEA consisted almost exclusively of IL-10. Our results suggest that, in contrast to what has been described for the murine model of S. mansoni and during acute human infections, chronic intense exposure to and infection with S. mansoni in this cohort resulted in very low levels of response to SEA in vitro in the presence of a vigorous and mixed Th1-Th2 response to SWA.
PMCID: PMC321598  PMID: 14742514

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