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1.  Higher blood volumes improve the sensitivity of direct PCR diagnosis of blood stream tuberculosis among HIV-positive patients: an observation study 
Blood stream tuberculosis (TB), caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB) is common among HIV-positive patients, turning rapidly fatal unless detected and treated promptly. Blood culture is currently the standard test for the detection of MTB in whole blood but results take weeks; patients deteriorate markedly and often die before a diagnosis of blood stream TB is made. Rapid molecular tests on whole blood, with potential for same day diagnosis of blood stream TB usually show low sensitivity due to the problem of insufficient MTB DNA template when extraction is performed directly on low blood volumes. This study assessed the influence of blood volume on the sensitivity of a HyBeacon PCR assay-the FluoroType® MTB (Hain Lifescience, Nehren, Germany) on direct detection of MTB in whole blood.
Prospective recruitment of HIV-positive patients with clinical suspicion of blood stream TB but not on anti-TB or HIV drug treatment was done. Venous blood samples were collected and DNA extracted using the MolYsis (Molzym, Bremen, Germany) methods; for study A, from duplicate 1 ml (42 patients) and for study B (31 patients) from 9 ml EDTA blood samples. The FluoroType® MTB PCR assay targeting an IS6110 sequence was performed and results compared with blood culture.
The diagnostic sensitivity and specificity of the FluoroType® MTB PCR in study A was 33% and 97%, respectively. Corresponding values in study B were 71% and 96%, respectively. In both studies, one case each of blood culture-negative blood stream TB was detected with the FluoroType® MTB PCR assay. The median time to positivity of blood culture was 20.1 (range 12–32) for study A and 19.9 days (range 15–30) for study B.
Larger blood volumes (9 ml) improved and gave acceptable sensitivity of direct PCR diagnosis of blood stream TB.
PMCID: PMC4326319  PMID: 25656799
Tuberculosis; Blood stream; Direct; Real time; PCR Diagnosis
2.  Antigen-Specific Interferon-Gamma Responses and Innate Cytokine Balance in TB-IRIS 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(11):e113101.
Tuberculosis-associated immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome (TB-IRIS) remains a poorly understood complication in HIV-TB patients receiving antiretroviral therapy (ART). TB-IRIS could be associated with an exaggerated immune response to TB-antigens. We compared the recovery of IFNγ responses to recall and TB-antigens and explored in vitro innate cytokine production in TB-IRIS patients.
In a prospective cohort study of HIV-TB co-infected patients treated for TB before ART initiation, we compared 18 patients who developed TB-IRIS with 18 non-IRIS controls matched for age, sex and CD4 count. We analyzed IFNγ ELISpot responses to CMV, influenza, TB and LPS before ART and during TB-IRIS. CMV and LPS stimulated ELISpot supernatants were subsequently evaluated for production of IL-12p70, IL-6, TNFα and IL-10 by Luminex.
Before ART, all responses were similar between TB-IRIS patients and non-IRIS controls. During TB-IRIS, IFNγ responses to TB and influenza antigens were comparable between TB-IRIS patients and non-IRIS controls, but responses to CMV and LPS remained significantly lower in TB-IRIS patients. Production of innate cytokines was similar between TB-IRIS patients and non-IRIS controls. However, upon LPS stimulation, IL-6/IL-10 and TNFα/IL-10 ratios were increased in TB-IRIS patients compared to non-IRIS controls.
TB-IRIS patients did not display excessive IFNγ responses to TB-antigens. In contrast, the reconstitution of CMV and LPS responses was delayed in the TB-IRIS group. For LPS, this was linked with a pro-inflammatory shift in the innate cytokine balance. These data are in support of a prominent role of the innate immune system in TB-IRIS.
PMCID: PMC4240578  PMID: 25415590
3.  Multilocus Microsatellite Genotyping Array for Investigation of Genetic Epidemiology of Pneumocystis jirovecii 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2014;52(5):1391-1399.
Pneumocystis jirovecii is a symbiotic respiratory fungus that causes pneumonia (PcP) in immunosuppressed patients. Because P. jirovecii cannot be reliably cultured in vitro, it has proven difficult to study and gaps in our understanding of the organism persist. The release of a draft genome for the organism opens the door for the development of new genotyping approaches for studying its molecular epidemiology and global population structure. We identified and validated 8 putatively neutral microsatellite markers and 1 microsatellite marker linked to the dihydropteroate synthase gene (dhps), the enzymatic target of sulfa drugs used for PcP prevention and treatment. Using these tools, we analyzed P. jirovecii isolates from HIV-infected patients from three geographically distant populations: Uganda, the United States, and Spain. Among the 8 neutral markers, we observed high levels of allelic heterozygosity (average He, 0.586 to 0.842). Consistent with past reports, we observed limited global population structuring, with only the Ugandan isolates showing minor differentiation from the other two populations. In Ugandan isolates that harbored mutations in dhps, the microsatellite locus linked to dhps demonstrated a depressed He, consistent with positive directional selection for sulfa resistance mutations. Using a subset of these microsatellites, analyses of individual and paired samples from infections in San Francisco, CA, showed reliable typeability within a single infection and high discriminatory power between infections. These features suggest that this novel microsatellite typing approach will be an effective tool for molecular-epidemiological investigations into P. jirovecii population structure, transmission, and drug resistance.
PMCID: PMC3993678  PMID: 24523468
4.  Detection of Mycobacterium tuberculosis Peptides in the Exosomes of Patients with Active and Latent M. tuberculosis Infection Using MRM-MS 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(7):e103811.
The identification of easily measured, accurate diagnostic biomarkers for active tuberculosis (TB) will have a significant impact on global TB control efforts. Because of the host and pathogen complexities involved in TB pathogenesis, identifying a single biomarker that is adequately sensitive and specific continues to be a major hurdle. Our previous studies in models of TB demonstrated that exosomes, such as those released from infected macrophages, contain mycobacterial products, including many Mtb proteins. In this report, we describe the development of targeted proteomics assays employing multiplexed multiple reaction monitoring mass spectrometry (MRM-MS) in order to allow us to follow those proteins previously identified by western blot or shotgun mass spectrometry, and enhance biomarker discovery to include detection of Mtb proteins in human serum exosomes. Targeted MRM-MS assays were applied to exosomes isolated from human serum samples obtained from culture-confirmed active TB patients to detect 76 peptides representing 33 unique Mtb proteins. Our studies revealed the first identification of bacteria-derived biomarker candidates of active TB in exosomes from human serum. Twenty of the 33 proteins targeted for detection were found in the exosomes of TB patients, and included multiple peptides from 8 proteins (Antigen 85B, Antigen 85C, Apa, BfrB, GlcB, HspX, KatG, and Mpt64). Interestingly, all of these proteins are known mycobacterial adhesins and/or proteins that contribute to the intracellular survival of Mtb. These proteins will be included as target analytes in future validation studies as they may serve as markers for persistent active and latent Mtb infection. In summary, this work is the first step in identifying a unique and specific panel of Mtb peptide biomarkers encapsulated in exosomes and reveals complex biomarker patterns across a spectrum of TB disease states.
PMCID: PMC4117584  PMID: 25080351
5.  Evaluation of Cepheid's Xpert MTB/RIF Test on Pleural Fluid in the Diagnosis of Pleural Tuberculosis in a High Prevalence HIV/TB Setting 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(7):e102702.
Diagnosis of pleural tuberculosis (TB) using routinely available diagnostic methods is challenging due to the paucibacillary nature of the disease. Histopathology and pleural tissue TB culture involves an invasive procedure which requires expertise and appropriate equipment, both often unavailable in many health units. Xpert MTB/Rif test has been widely evaluated in sputum specimens but data on its performance in pleural TB is scarce. We evaluated the accuracy of Cepheid's Xpert MTB/Rif test on pleural fluid in the diagnosis of pleural TB in Uganda.
Consenting adult patients with exudative pleural effusions underwent pleural biopsy and the tissue obtained subjected to Lowenstein-Jensen and mycobacterial growth indicator tube MTB cultures and histopathology. Pleural fluid for Xpert MTB/Rif testing was also collected. Data on socio-demographic characteristics, clinical symptoms, HIV status and CD4 count were also collected. Sensitivity, specificity, positive and negative predictive values of Xpert MTB/Rif test on pleural fluid in pleural TB diagnosis were calculated using pleural tissue MTB culture and/or histopathology as the reference standard.
Of the 116 participants [female 50%, mean age 34 (SD ±13], 87/116 (75%) had pleural TB confirmed on pleural tissue culture and/or histopathology. The Xpert MTB/Rif test identified 25 (28.7%) of the 87 confirmed pleural TB cases. The sensitivity and specificity of Xpert MTB/Rif test were 28.7% and 96.6% respectively while the positive and negative predictive values were 96.1% and 31.1% respectively.
Xpert MTB/Rif test on pleural fluid does not accurately diagnose pleural TB and therefore cannot be used as an initial evaluation test in patients with suspected pleural TB. New, rapid and accurate tests for the diagnosis of pleural TB are still warranted.
PMCID: PMC4106856  PMID: 25051491
6.  The Lung Microbiome of Ugandan HIV-Infected Pneumonia Patients Is Compositionally and Functionally Distinct from That of San Franciscan Patients 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e95726.
Sub-Saharan Africa represents 69% of the total number of individuals living with HIV infection worldwide and 72% of AIDS deaths globally. Pulmonary infection is a common and frequently fatal complication, though little is known regarding the lower airway microbiome composition of this population. Our objectives were to characterize the lower airway microbiome of Ugandan HIV-infected patients with pneumonia, to determine relationships with demographic, clinical, immunological, and microbiological variables and to compare the composition and predicted metagenome of these communities to a comparable cohort of patients in the US (San Francisco). Bronchoalveolar lavage samples from a cohort of 60 Ugandan HIV-infected patients with acute pneumonia were collected. Amplified 16S ribosomal RNA was profiled and aforementioned relationships examined. Ugandan airway microbiome composition and predicted metagenomic function were compared to US HIV-infected pneumonia patients. Among the most common bacterial pulmonary pathogens, Pseudomonas aeruginosa was most prevalent in the Ugandan cohort. Patients with a richer and more diverse airway microbiome exhibited lower bacterial burden, enrichment of members of the Lachnospiraceae and sulfur-reducing bacteria and reduced expression of TNF-alpha and matrix metalloproteinase-9. Compared to San Franciscan patients, Ugandan airway microbiome was significantly richer, and compositionally distinct with predicted metagenomes that encoded a multitude of distinct pathogenic pathways e.g secretion systems. Ugandan pneumonia-associated airway microbiome is compositionally and functionally distinct from those detected in comparable patients in developed countries, a feature which may contribute to adverse outcomes in this population.
PMCID: PMC3994144  PMID: 24752365
7.  Treatment Outcomes of New Tuberculosis Patients Hospitalized in Kampala, Uganda: A Prospective Cohort Study 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e90614.
In most resource limited settings, new tuberculosis (TB) patients are usually treated as outpatients. We sought to investigate the reasons for hospitalisation and the predictors of poor treatment outcomes and mortality in a cohort of hospitalized new TB patients in Kampala, Uganda
Methods and findings
Ninety-six new TB patients hospitalised between 2003 and 2006 were enrolled and followed for two years. Thirty two were HIV-uninfected and 64 were HIV-infected. Among the HIV-uninfected, the commonest reasons for hospitalization were low Karnofsky score (47%) and need for diagnostic evaluation (25%). HIV-infected patients were commonly hospitalized due to low Karnofsky score (72%), concurrent illness (16%) and diagnostic evaluation (14%). Eleven HIV uninfected patients died (mortality rate 19.7 per 100 person-years) while 41 deaths occurred among the HIV-infected patients (mortality rate 46.9 per 100 person years). In all patients an unsuccessful treatment outcome (treatment failure, death during the treatment period or an unknown outcome) was associated with duration of TB symptoms, with the odds of an unsuccessful outcome decreasing with increasing duration. Among HIV-infected patients, an unsuccessful treatment outcome was also associated with male sex (P = 0.004) and age (P = 0.034). Low Karnofsky score (aHR = 8.93, 95% CI 1.88 – 42.40, P = 0.001) was the only factor significantly associated with mortality among the HIV-uninfected. Mortality among the HIV-infected was associated with the composite variable of CD4 and ART use, with patients with baseline CD4 below 200 cells/µL who were not on ART at a greater risk of death than those who were on ART, and low Karnofsky score (aHR = 2.02, 95% CI 1.02 – 4.01, P = 0.045).
Poor health status is a common cause of hospitalisation for new TB patients. Mortality in this study was very high and associated with advanced HIV Disease and no use of ART.
PMCID: PMC3948371  PMID: 24608875
8.  Mobile Digital Fluorescence Microscopy for Diagnosis of Tuberculosis 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2013;51(6):1774-1778.
Access to sputum smear microscopy in high-tuberculosis (TB)-burden regions is limited by a scarcity of microscopes and experienced technicians. We evaluated the accuracy of CellScope, a novel digital fluorescence microscope that may expand access to microscopy. The study utilized smear microscopy slides prepared from sputum specimens submitted by consecutive adults with ≥2 weeks of cough who were admitted to Mulago Hospital (Kampala, Uganda). Conventional light-emitting diode (LED) fluorescence microscopy (FM) and mycobacterial culture were performed by experienced technicians. Two U.S.-based postgraduate researchers without prior microscopy experience restained, imaged, and interpreted the slides using CellScope. We assessed whether sensitivity and specificity of CellScope-based LED FM was noninferior to conventional LED FM by using a preselected margin of inferiority of 15%. Of 525 patients included, 72% were HIV seropositive and 39% had culture-confirmed TB. The proportions of positive results were similar with CellScope and conventional LED FM (34% versus 32%, respectively; P = 0.32), and agreement was substantial. CellScope accuracy was within the noninferiority margin for both sensitivity (63% versus 70%; difference, −7%; 95% confidence interval [CI], −13% to −1%) and specificity (85% versus 92%; difference, −7%; 95% CI, −12% to −3%). A subanalysis of 43 slides evaluated by each CellScope reader found substantial interreader reliability (custom-weighted kappa, 0.65) and variable intrareader reliability (custom-weighted kappa, 0.11 versus 0.48). CellScope offers promise for expanding microscopy services. Future studies should evaluate the device when operated by health workers in low-resource settings, the feasibility of image transmission and analysis by experienced microscopists, and the accuracy of automated image analysis algorithms.
PMCID: PMC3716054  PMID: 23554191
9.  LPS-Binding Protein and IL-6 Mark Paradoxical Tuberculosis Immune Reconstitution Inflammatory Syndrome in HIV Patients 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e81856.
Tuberculosis-associated immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome (TB-IRIS) remains a poorly understood complication in HIV-TB co-infected patients initiating antiretroviral therapy (ART). The role of the innate immune system in TB-IRIS is becoming increasingly apparent, however the potential involvement in TB-IRIS of a leaky gut and proteins that interfere with TLR stimulation by binding PAMPs has not been investigated before. Here we aimed to investigate the innate nature of the cytokine response in TB-IRIS and to identify novel potential biomarkers.
From a large prospective cohort of HIV-TB co-infected patients receiving TB treatment, we compared 40 patients who developed TB-IRIS during the first month of ART with 40 patients matched for age, sex and baseline CD4 count who did not. We analyzed plasma levels of lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-binding protein (LBP), LPS, sCD14, endotoxin-core antibody, intestinal fatty acid-binding protein (I-FABP) and 18 pro-and anti-inflammatory cytokines before and during ART.
We observed lower baseline levels of IL-6 (p = 0.041), GCSF (p = 0.036) and LBP (p = 0.016) in TB-IRIS patients. At IRIS event, we detected higher levels of LBP, IL-1RA, IL-4, IL-6, IL-7, IL-8, G-CSF (p ≤ 0.032) and lower I-FABP levels (p = 0.013) compared to HIV-TB co-infected controls. Only IL-6 showed an independent effect in multivariate models containing significant cytokines from pre-ART (p = 0.039) and during TB-IRIS (p = 0.034).
We report pre-ART IL-6 and LBP levels as well as IL-6, LBP and I-FABP levels during IRIS-event as potential biomarkers in TB-IRIS. Our results show no evidence of the possible contribution of a leaky gut to TB-IRIS and indicate that IL-6 holds a distinct role in the disturbed innate cytokine profile before and during TB-IRIS. Future clinical studies should investigate the importance and clinical relevance of these markers for the diagnosis and treatment of TB-IRIS.
PMCID: PMC3842977  PMID: 24312369
10.  Vitamin D deficiency among adult patients with tuberculosis: a cross sectional study from a national referral hospital in Uganda 
BMC Research Notes  2013;6:293.
Vitamin D deficiency has been reported among patients with tuberculosis in Africa despite abundant sunshine. Vitamin D plays a fundamental role in improving anti tuberculosis immunity, reducing progression and severity of TB in humans.
In this descriptive cross sectional study, 260 hospitalized adults with a confirmed diagnosis of TB were enrolled into the study from the pulmonology wards of Mulago national referral and teaching hospital, Uganda. The serum concentrations of 25-hydroxyvitamin D or 25 (OH) D were determined by an electrochemilumniscence immunoassay. Vitamin D deficiency, vitamin D insufficiency, severe and very severe vitamin D deficiency were defined as serum 25(OH) D concentrations of ≤ 20 ng/ml, 21–29 ng/ml, < 10 ng/ml and <5 ng/ml respectively.
Majority of the study participants were males (146, 56.2%) and < 35 years (154, 59.2%). The mean age ± SD was 34.7 ± 9.5 years. Two hundred eight (80%) patients were HIV co-infected with a median CD4 count of 68 cells/mm3 (IQR: 17–165). The prevalence of vitamin D deficiency, vitamin D insufficiency, severe and very severe vitamin D deficiency among the hospitalized adult tuberculosis patients was 44.2%, 23.5%, 13.5% and 4.2% respectively. The median (IQR) vitamin D concentration in ng/ml was 22.55 (14.59-33.31).
Vitamin D deficiency was more prevalent in patients with hypoalbuminemia (97.4%), anemia (86.1%), HIV co-infected patients with CD4 count <200cells/mm3 (83.2%) and hypocalcemia corrected for serum albumin levels (67%).
Vitamin D deficiency is very common among hospitalized adult tuberculosis patients in Uganda especially in patients with hypoalbuminemia, anemia, HIV co-infected patients with CD4 count <200cells/mm3 and hypocalcemia corrected for serum albumin levels.
PMCID: PMC3737052  PMID: 23886009
Vitamin D deficiency; Tuberculosis; Uganda
11.  Overt diabetes mellitus among newly diagnosed Ugandan tuberculosis patients: a cross sectional study 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2013;13:122.
There is a documented increase of diabetes mellitus in Sub Saharan Africa, a region where tuberculosis is highly endemic. Currently, diabetes mellitus is one of the recognised risk factors of tuberculosis. No study has reported the magnitude of diabetes mellitus among tuberculosis patients in Uganda, one of the countries with a high burden of tuberculosis.
This was a cross-sectional study conducted among 260 consenting adult patients with a confirmed diagnosis of tuberculosis admitted on the pulmonology wards of Mulago national referral and teaching hospital in Kampala, Uganda to determine the prevalence of diabetes mellitus and associated clinical factors. Laboratory findings as well as the socio-demographic and clinical data collected using a validated questionnaire was obtained. Point of care random blood sugar (RBS) testing was performed on all the patients prior to initiation of anti tuberculosis treatment. Diabetes mellitus was diagnosed if the RBS level was ≥ 200mg/dl in the presence of the classical symptoms of diabetes mellitus.
The prevalence of diabetes mellitus among the admitted patients with tuberculosis was 8.5%. Only 5 (1.9%) patients with TB had a known diagnosis of diabetes mellitus at enrolment. Majority of the study participants with TB-DM co-infection had type 2 diabetes mellitus (n=20, 90.9%).
At bivariate analysis, raised mean ALT concentrations of ≥80 U/L were associated with DM (OR-6.1, 95% CI 1.4-26.36, p=0.032) and paradoxically, HIV co-infection was protective of DM (OR-0.32, 95% CI 0.13-0.79, P=0.016). The relationship between DM and HIV as well as that with ALT remained statistically significant at multivariate analysis (HIV: OR- 0.17 95%CI 0.06-0.51, p=0.002 and ALT: OR-11.42 95%CI 2.15-60.59, p=0.004).
This study demonstrates that diabetes mellitus is common among hospitalized tuberculosis patients in Uganda. The significant clinical predictors associated with diabetes mellitus among tuberculosis patients were HIV co-infection and raised mean serum alanine transaminase concentrations.
PMCID: PMC3599954  PMID: 23497232
12.  Low prevalence of Pneumocystis jirovecii lung colonization in Ugandan HIV-infected patients hospitalized with non-Pneumocystis pneumonia 
Pneumocystis jirovecii is an important opportunistic infection in HIV-infected patients. In the developed world, P. jirovecii epidemiology is marked by frequent colonization in immunosuppressed patients, but data on the prevalence of colonization is very limited in sub-Saharan Africa, where the majority of persons living with HIV reside. Our objective was to describe the epidemiology of P. jirovecii colonization among HIV-positive patients in a cross-sectional, hospital-based study of patients admitted with suspected pneumonia in Kampala, Uganda. P. jirovecii was detectable in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid from 7 of 124 (6%) consecutive patients with non-Pneumocystis pneumonia. Colonization was not associated with patient demographic or clinical information. This prevalence is substantially lower than in published studies in the developed world, and suggests that there is a limited reservoir of organisms for clinical infections in this Ugandan population. These findings may partially explain the low incidence of Pneumocystis pneumonia in Uganda and other sub-Saharan African countries.
PMCID: PMC3308345  PMID: 22153850
Pneumocystis jirovecii; colonization; pneumonia; AIDS
13.  Serologic Responses to Recombinant Pneumocystis jirovecii Major Surface Glycoprotein among Ugandan Patients with Respiratory Symptoms 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(12):e51545.
Little is known about the serologic responses to Pneumocystis jirovecii major surface glycoprotein (Msg) antigen in African cohorts, or the IgM responses to Msg in HIV-positive and HIV-negative persons with respiratory symptoms.
We conducted a prospective study of 550 patients, both HIV-positive (n = 467) and HIV-negative (n = 83), hospitalized with cough ≥2 weeks in Kampala, Uganda, to evaluate the association between HIV status, CD4 cell count, and other clinical predictors and antibody responses to P. jirovecii. We utilized ELISA to measure the IgM and IgG serologic responses to three overlapping recombinant fragments that span the P. jirovecii major surface glycoprotein: MsgA (amino terminus), MsgB (middle portion) and MsgC1 (carboxyl terminus), and to three variations of MsgC1 (MsgC3, MsgC8 and MsgC9).
HIV-positive patients demonstrated significantly lower IgM antibody responses to MsgC1, MsgC3, MsgC8 and MsgC9 compared to HIV-negative patients. We found the same pattern of low IgM antibody responses to MsgC1, MsgC3, MsgC8 and MsgC9 among HIV-positive patients with a CD4 cell count <200 cells/µl compared to those with a CD4 cell count ≥200 cells/µl. HIV-positive patients on PCP prophylaxis had significantly lower IgM responses to MsgC3 and MsgC9, and lower IgG responses to MsgA, MsgC1, MsgC3, and MsgC8. In contrast, cigarette smoking was associated with increased IgM antibody responses to MsgC1 and MsgC3 but was not associated with IgG responses. We evaluated IgM and IgG as predictors of mortality. Lower IgM responses to MsgC3 and MsgC8 were both associated with increased in-hospital mortality.
HIV infection and degree of immunosuppression are associated with reduced IgM responses to Msg. In addition, low IgM responses to MsgC3 and MsgC8 are associated with increased mortality.
PMCID: PMC3528778  PMID: 23284710
14.  Low Prevalence of Pneumocystis pneumonia (PCP) but High Prevalence of Pneumocystis dihydropteroate synthase (dhps) Gene Mutations in HIV-Infected Persons in Uganda 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(11):e49991.
Pneumocystis jirovecii pneumonia (PCP) is an important opportunistic infection in patients infected with HIV, but its burden is incompletely characterized in those areas of sub-Saharan Africa where HIV is prevalent. We explored the prevalence of both PCP in HIV-infected adults admitted with pneumonia to a tertiary-care hospital in Uganda and of putative P. jirovecii drug resistance by mutations in fungal dihydropteroate synthase (dhps) and dihydrofolate reductase (dhfr). In 129 consecutive patients with sputum smears negative for mycobacteria, 5 (3.9%) were diagnosed with PCP by microscopic examination of Giemsa-stained bronchoalveolar lavage fluid. Concordance was 100% between Giemsa stain and PCR (dhps and dhfr). PCP was more prevalent in patients newly-diagnosed with HIV (11.4%) than in patients with known HIV (1.1%; p = 0.007). Mortality at 2 months after discharge was 29% overall: 28% among PCP-negative patients, and 60% (3 of 5) among PCP-positive patients. In these 5 fungal isolates and an additional 8 from consecutive cases of PCP, all strains harbored mutant dhps haplotypes; all 13 isolates harbored the P57S mutation in dhps, and 3 (23%) also harbored the T55A mutation. No non-synonymous dhfr mutations were detected. PCP is an important cause of pneumonia in patients newly-diagnosed with HIV in Uganda, is associated with high mortality, and putative molecular evidence of drug resistance is prevalent. Given the reliability of field diagnosis in our cohort, future studies in sub-Saharan Africa can investigate the clinical impact of these genotypes.
PMCID: PMC3500344  PMID: 23166805
15.  Impact of Xpert MTB/RIF Testing on Tuberculosis Management and Outcomes in Hospitalized Patients in Uganda 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(11):e48599.
The clinical impact of Xpert MTB/RIF for tuberculosis (TB) diagnosis in high HIV-prevalence settings is unknown.
To determine the diagnostic accuracy and impact of Xpert MTB/RIF among high-risk TB suspects.
We prospectively enrolled consecutive, hospitalized, Ugandan TB suspects in two phases: baseline phase in which Xpert MTB/RIF results were not reported to clinicians and an implementation phase in which results were reported. We determined the diagnostic accuracy of Xpert MTB/RIF in reference to culture (solid and liquid) and compared patient outcomes by study phase.
477 patients were included (baseline phase 287, implementation phase 190). Xpert MTB/RIF had high sensitivity (187/237, 79%, 95% CI: 73–84%) and specificity (190/199, 96%, 95% CI: 92–98%) for culture-positive TB overall, but sensitivity was lower (34/81, 42%, 95% CI: 31–54%) among smear-negative TB cases. Xpert MTB/RIF reduced median days-to-TB detection for all TB cases (1 [IQR 0–26] vs. 0 [IQR 0–1], p<0.001), and for smear-negative TB (35 [IQR 22–55] vs. 22 [IQR 0–33], p = 0.001). However, median days-to-TB treatment was similar for all TB cases (1 [IQR 0–5] vs. 0 [IQR 0–2], p = 0.06) and for smear-negative TB (7 [IQR 3–53] vs. 6 [IQR 1–61], p = 0.78). Two-month mortality was also similar between study phases among 252 TB cases (17% vs. 14%, difference +3%, 95% CI: −21% to +27%, p = 0.80), and among 87 smear-negative TB cases (28% vs. 22%, difference +6%, 95% CI: −34 to +46%, p = 0.77).
Xpert MTB/RIF facilitated more accurate and earlier TB diagnosis, leading to a higher proportion of TB suspects with a confirmed TB diagnosis prior to hospital discharge in a high HIV/low MDR TB prevalence setting. However, our study did not detect a decrease in two-month mortality following implementation of Xpert MTB/RIF possibly because of insufficient powering, differences in empiric TB treatment rates, and disease severity between study phases.
PMCID: PMC3490868  PMID: 23139799
16.  Performance of Frontloading for Smear Microscopy in the Diagnosis of Pulmonary Tuberculosis: A Cross-Sectional Study at a Referral Hospital in Uganda 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e48531.
To compare the performance of frontloading and the standard WHO method for diagnosis of pulmonary TB at Mulago Hospital in order to validate the technique in this setting.
This was a cross-sectional study in which 229 adult (≥18 years) TB suspects were consecutively enrolled. Suspects submitted three sputum samples as follows: at initial presentation, one hour after the first sample, and the next morning. The first and next morning samples formed the standard WHO method, while the first and the one hour later samples formed the frontloading method. Sample processing was by the standard N-acetyl L-cystein (NALC)-NaOH method, and fluorescent microscopy was done for both methods, while cultures of the first sample on Lowenstein-Jensen slants acted as a gold standard. The sensitivity, specificity and predictive values for the WHO standard and frontloading methods were compared.
The sensitivity of both the frontloading and standard schemes was 91.1% while their specificities were 86.2% and 91.7% respectively. There was excellent agreement between the diagnostic capacity of the two methods (kappa statistic = 0.87, P<0.0001). The positive predictive value for the frontloading scheme was 87.2% and that for the standard approach was 91.9%, while the negative predictive values were 90.4% and 90.9%, respectively. Among the HIV positive patients, frontloading identified 59/79 (74.7%) culture positive samples while the standard approach identified 55/79 (69.6%). In the HIV sero-negative category, on the other hand, front-loading identified 48/110 (43.6%) culture positive samples compared to 45/110 (40.9%) by the standard approach.
Frontloading based on smear examination of two same-day sputum samples has a similar performance to the current standard method and would not be associated with any significant missed diagnosis. It may therefore be advocated for use in our setting so as to reduce time to completion of diagnosis and patient loss to follow-up.
PMCID: PMC3483226  PMID: 23144768
17.  Evaluation of in-house PCR for diagnosis of smear-negative pulmonary tuberculosis in Kampala, Uganda 
BMC Research Notes  2012;5:487.
Nucleic acid amplification tests (NAATs) have offered hope for rapid diagnosis of tuberculosis (TB). However, their efficiency with smear-negative samples has not been widely studied in low income settings. Here, we evaluated in-house PCR assay for diagnosis of smear-negative TB using Lowenstein-Jensen (LJ) culture as the baseline test. Two hundred and five pulmonary TB (PTB) suspects with smear-negative sputum samples, admitted on a short stay emergency ward at Mulago Hospital in Kampala, Uganda, were enrolled. Two smear-negative sputum samples were obtained from each PTB suspect and processed simultaneously for identification of MTBC using in-house PCR and LJ culture.
Seventy two PTB suspects (35%, 72/205) were LJ culture positive while 128 (62.4%, 128/205) were PCR-positive. The sensitivity and specificity of in-house PCR for diagnosis of smear-negative PTB were 75% (95% CI 62.6-85.0) and 35.9% (95% CI 27.2-45.3), respectively. The positive and negative predictive values were 39% (95% CI 30.4-48.2) and 72.4% (95% CI 59.1-83.3), respectively, while the positive and negative likelihood ratios were 1.17 (95% CI 0.96-1.42) and 0.70 (95% CI 0.43-1.14), respectively. One hundred and seventeen LJ culture-negative suspects (75 PCR-positive and 42 PCR-negative) were enrolled for follow-up at 2 months. Of the PCR-positive suspects, 45 (60%, 45/75) were still alive, of whom 29 (64.4%, 29/45) returned for the follow-up visit; 15 (20%, 15/75) suspects died while another 15 (20%, 15/75) were lost to follow-up. Of the 42 PCR-negative suspects, 22 (52.4%, 22/42) were still alive, of whom 16 (72.7%, 16/22) returned for follow-up; 11 (26.2%, 11/42) died while nine (21.4%, 9/42) were lost to follow-up. Overall, more PCR-positive suspects were diagnosed with PTB during follow-up visits but the difference was not statistically significant (27.6%, 8/29 vs. 25%, 4/16, p = 0.9239). Furthermore, mortality was higher for the PCR-negative suspects but the difference was also not statistically significant (26.2% vs. 20% p = 0.7094).
In-house PCR correlates poorly with LJ culture for diagnosis of smear-negative PTB. Therefore, in-house PCR may not be adopted as an alternative to LJ culture.
PMCID: PMC3497582  PMID: 22947399
Pulmonary tuberculosis; Smear-negative TB; HIV-infected; HIV-TB co-infection; CD4 cell counts; Nucleic acid amplification tests; In-house PCR; Lowenstein-Jensen culture; Sensitivity; Specificity; Resource limited settings
18.  Oral Antimicrobial Rinse to Reduce Mycobacterial Culture Contamination among Tuberculosis Suspects in Uganda: A Prospective Study 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(7):e38888.
Contamination by bacterial or fungal organisms reduces the effectiveness of mycobacterial culture for diagnosis of pulmonary tuberculosis (TB). We evaluated the effect of an anti-microbial and an anti-fungal oral rinse prior to expectoration on culture-contamination rates.
We enrolled a consecutive random sample of adults with cough for ≥2 weeks and suspected TB admitted to Mulago Hospital (Kampala, Uganda) between October 2008 and June 2009. We randomly assigned patients to oral rinse (60 seconds with chlorhexidine followed by 60 seconds with nystatin) vs. no oral rinse prior to initial sputum collection. Uganda National Tuberculosis Reference Laboratory technicians blinded to the method of sputum collection (with or without oral rinse) processed all sputum specimens for smear microscopy (direct Ziehl-Neelsen) and mycobacterial culture (Lowenstein-Jensen media).
Of 220 patients enrolled, 177 (80%) were HIV-seropositive (median CD4-count 37 cells/uL, IQR 13–171 cells/uL). Baseline characteristics were similar between patients in the oral-rinse (N = 110) and no oral-rinse (N = 110) groups. The proportion of contaminated cultures was significantly lower in the oral-rinse group compared to the no oral-rinse group (4% vs. 15%, risk difference −11%, 95% CI −18 to −3%, p = 0.005). Oral rinse significantly reduced the proportion of contaminated cultures among HIV-infected patients (3% vs. 18%, risk difference −14%, 95% CI −23 to −6%, p = 0.002) but not HIV-uninfected (6% vs. 4%, risk difference 2%, 95% CI −12 to +15%, p = 0.81) patients. However, the proportion of smear-positive specimens (25% vs. 35%, p = 0.10) and culture-positive specimens (48% vs. 56%, p = 0.24) were lower in the oral-rinse compared to the no oral-rinse group, although the differences were not statistically significant.
Oral rinse prior to sputum expectoration is a promising strategy to reduce mycobacterial culture contamination in areas with high HIV prevalence, if strategies can be devised to reduce the adverse impact of oral rinse on smear- and culture-positivity.
PMCID: PMC3395623  PMID: 22808020
19.  Clinical significance of normal chest radiographs among HIV-seropositive patients with suspected tuberculosis in Uganda 
Respirology (Carlton, Vic.)  2011;16(5):836-841.
Background and objectives
The frequency, aetiologies, and outcomes of normal chest radiographs (CXRs) among HIV-seropositive patients with suspected pulmonary tuberculosis (TB) have been infrequently described.
Consecutive HIV-seropositive adults hospitalized for cough of ≥ 2 weeks duration at Mulago Hospital (Kampala, Uganda), between September 2007 and July 2008, were enrolled. Baseline CXRs were obtained on admission. Patients with sputum smears that were negative for acid-fast bacilli (AFB) were referred for bronchoscopy with bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL). BAL fluid was examined for mycobacteria, Pneumocystis jirovecii, and other fungi. Patients were followed for two months after enrolment.
Of the 334 patients, 54 (16%) had normal CXRs. These patients were younger (median age 30 vs. 34 years, P=0.002), had lower counts of CD4+ T lymphocytes (median 13 vs. 57 cells/μL, P<0.001), and were less likely to be smear positive for AFB (17% vs. 39%, P=0.002) than those with abnormal CXRs. Pulmonary TB was the most frequent diagnosis (44%) among those with normal CXRs, followed by unknown diagnoses, pulmonary aspergillosis, and pulmonary cryptococcosis. The frequency of normal CXRs was 12% among pulmonary TB patients. There was a trend towards increased two-month mortality among patients with normal CXRs compared to those with abnormal CXRs (40% vs. 29%, P=0.15).
Normal CXR findings were common among HIV-seropositive patients with suspected TB, especially those who were young, those with low CD4+ T cell counts, and those with sputum smears that were negative for AFB. Mortality was high among those with normal CXRs. Normal CXR findings should not preclude further diagnostic evaluation in this population.
PMCID: PMC3126910  PMID: 21518124
clinical epidemiology; critical care medicine; immunodeficiency; radiology and other imaging; tuberculosis
20.  Bronchoalveolar Lavage Enzyme-Linked Immunospot for Diagnosis of Smear-Negative Tuberculosis in HIV-Infected Patients 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(6):e39838.
Peripheral blood interferon-gamma release assays (IGRAs) have sub-optimal sensitivity and specificity for diagnosis of active pulmonary tuberculosis (TB). However, assessment of local immune responses has been reported to improve the accuracy of TB diagnosis.
We enrolled HIV-infected adults with cough ≥2 weeks’ duration admitted to Mulago Hospital in Kampala, Uganda and referred for bronchoscopy following two negative sputum acid-fast bacillus smears. We performed an ELISPOT-based IGRA (T-SPOT.TB®, Oxford Immunotec, Oxford, UK) using peripheral blood and bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid mononuclear cells, and determined the accuracy of IGRAs using mycobacterial culture results as a reference standard.
94 HIV-infected patients with paired peripheral blood and BAL IGRA results were included. The study population was young (median age 34 years [IQR 28–40 years]) and had advanced HIV/AIDS (median CD4+ T-lymphocyte count 60 cells/µl [IQR 22–200 cells/µl]). The proportion of indeterminate IGRA results was higher in BAL fluid than in peripheral blood specimens (34% vs. 14%, difference 20%, 95% CI 7–33%, p = 0.002). BAL IGRA had moderate sensitivity (73%, 95% CI 50–89%) but poor specificity (48%, 95% CI 32–64%) for TB diagnosis. Sensitivity was similar (75%, 95% CI 57–89%) and specificity was higher (78%, 95% CI 63–88%) when IGRA was performed on peripheral blood.
BAL IGRA performed poorly for the diagnosis of smear-negative TB in a high HIV/TB burden setting. Further studies are needed to examine reasons for the large proportion of indeterminate results and low specificity of BAL IGRA for active TB in high HIV/TB burden settings.
PMCID: PMC3383728  PMID: 22745833
21.  HIV-Associated Pneumocystis Pneumonia 
During the past 30 years, major advances have been made in our understanding of HIV/AIDS and Pneumocystis pneumonia (PCP), but significant gaps remain. Pneumocystis is classified as a fungus and is host-species specific, but an understanding of its reservoir, mode of transmission, and pathogenesis is incomplete. PCP remains a frequent AIDS-defining diagnosis and is a frequent opportunistic pneumonia in the United States and in Europe, but comparable epidemiologic data from other areas of the world that are burdened with HIV/AIDS are limited. Pneumocystis cannot be cultured, and bronchoscopy with bronchoalveolar lavage is the gold standard procedure to diagnose PCP, but noninvasive diagnostic tests and biomarkers show promise that must be validated. Trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole is the recommended first-line treatment and prophylaxis regimen, but putative trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole drug resistance is an emerging concern. The International HIV-associated Opportunistic Pneumonias (IHOP) study was established to address these knowledge gaps. This review describes recent advances in the pathogenesis, epidemiology, diagnosis, and management of HIV-associated PCP and ongoing areas of clinical and translational research that are part of the IHOP study and the Longitudinal Studies of HIV-associated Lung Infections and Complications (Lung HIV).
PMCID: PMC3132788  PMID: 21653531
acquired immune deficiency syndrome; HIV; Pneumocystis; Pneumocystis pneumonia; dihydropteroate synthase
22.  Integrated Strategies to Optimize Sputum Smear Microscopy 
Rationale: Smear-positive tuberculosis (TB) case detection rates are far below targets in most low-income countries. The standard approach to smear microscopy involves sputum collection over multiple days and examination of sputum smears by light microscopy (LM), an insensitive and time-consuming technique.
Objective: To determine whether two alternative approaches can increase smear-positive case detection by increasing the efficiency (single-specimen microscopy) or sensitivity (light-emitting diode [LED] fluorescence microscopy [FM]) of TB suspect evaluation.
Methods: We enrolled patients with cough of 2 weeks or more admitted to Mulago Hospital in Kampala, Uganda and collected spot and early morning sputum specimens. We compared the diagnostic accuracy of four prespecified strategies based on the number of sputum specimens collected (one specimen versus two specimens) and the type of microscopy (LM versus LED FM) using mycobacterial culture as a reference standard.
Measurements and Main Results: Two hundred thirty-three of 464 (50%) patients had culture-positive TB. There was no difference in sensitivity between single-specimen and two-specimen strategies when smears were examined with LM (55 vs. 56%; difference, −1%; 95% confidence interval [CI], −5 to +2%) or LED FM (61 vs. 64%; difference, −3%; 95% CI, −7 to +1%). LED FM was more sensitive than LM with both the single-specimen (61 vs. 55%; difference, 6%; 95% CI, 2–10%) and two-specimen strategies (64 vs. 56%; difference, 8%; 95% CI, 3–12%). Findings were similar among the HIV-infected patient subset (n = 321 patients).
Conclusions: In low-income, high TB burden settings, single-specimen microscopy and LED FM, either alone or in combination, could considerably increase identification of smear-positive TB cases.
PMCID: PMC3056227  PMID: 20851925
tuberculosis; diagnosis; smear-positive case detection
23.  Causes of Early Mortality in HIV-Infected TB Suspects in an East African Referral Hospital 
Respiratory infections are a leading cause of death in Africa, especially among HIV-infected patients. Data on the etiology of fatal respiratory diseases are largely based on autopsy studies. We evaluated causes of pneumonia associated with early mortality among hospitalized HIV-infected patients in Kampala, Uganda.
Prospective cohort study of HIV-infected patients admitted to Mulago Hospital, Kampala, with at least 2 weeks of cough. Consecutively enrolled patients with negative Ziehl Neelsen sputum smears for acid-fast bacilli underwent bronchoscopy with bronchoalveolar lavage and examination for mycobacteria (smear, solid culture), Pneumocystis jirovecii (Giemsa stain), and fungi (KOH mount, India ink stain, Sabouraud culture). Early mortality was defined as death before the 2-month follow-up visit.
Follow-up data were available for 353 (87%) of 407 patients enrolled. Of participants with follow-up data, 112 (32%) died within 2 months. Among patients with early mortality, a diagnosis was confirmed in 74 (66%), including tuberculosis (TB) (56%), cryptococcal pneumonia (1%), Pneumocystis pneumonia (3%), pulmonary Kaposi sarcoma (4%), and pneumonia caused by 2 or more disease processes (3%).
Mortality in HIV-infected TB suspects is high, with TB associated with the largest proportion of deaths. A significant proportion of patients die without a confirmed diagnosis.
PMCID: PMC3249444  PMID: 21105258
HIV; tuberculosis; mortality; hospital admission; Africa
24.  The Role of Speciation in Positive Lowenstein-Jensen Culture Isolates from a High Tuberculosis Burden Country 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(11):e27017.
To determine the need for routine speciation of positive Lowenstein-Jensen mycobacterial cultures in HIV-infected patients suspected of having pulmonary tuberculosis at Mulago Hospital in Kampala, Uganda.
Sputum and bronchoalveolar lavage Lowenstein-Jensen mycobacterial culture isolates from consecutive, HIV-infected patients admitted to Mulago Hospital with 2 weeks or more of cough were subjected to IS6110 PCR and rpoB genetic analysis to determine the presence of Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex (MTBC) and non-tuberculous mycobacteria (NTM).
Eighty (100%) mycobacterial cultures from 65 patients were confirmed to be members of MTBC. Subsequent analysis of the cultures from 54 patients by PCR and sequence analyses to identify co-infection with NTM confirmed the presence of MTBC as well as the presence of Micrococcus luteus (n = 4), Janibacter spp. (n = 1) and six cultures had organisms that could not be identified.
Presumptive diagnosis of tuberculosis on the basis of a positive Lowenstein-Jensen culture is sufficient in HIV-infected Ugandans suspected of having tuberculosis. Routine molecular confirmation of positive Lowenstein-Jensen cultures is unnecessary in this low resource setting.
PMCID: PMC3208568  PMID: 22073241

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