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1.  Surgical pathology and the diagnosis of invasive visceral yeast infection: two case reports and literature review 
Invasive mycoses are life-threatening opportunistic infections that have recently emerged as a cause of morbidity and mortality following general and gastrointestinal surgery.
Candida species are the main fungal strains of gut flora. Gastrointestinal tract surgery might lead to mucosal disruption and cause Candida spp. to disseminate in the bloodstream.
Here we report and discuss the peculiar clinical and morphological presentation of two cases of gastrointestinal Candida albicans lesions in patients who underwent abdominal surgery.
Although in the majority of cases reported in the literature, diagnosis was made on the basis of microbiological criteria, we suggest that morphological features of fungi in histological sections of appropriate surgical specimens could help to detect the degree of yeast colonization and identify patients at risk of developing severe abdominal Candida infection.
Better prevention and early antifungal treatments are highlighted, and relevant scientific literature is reviewed.
PMCID: PMC3849356  PMID: 24067049
Surgical pathology; Gastrointestinal candidiasis; Diagnosis
2.  Prevalence of Occult Hepatitis B Virus Infection in a Cohort of HIV-Positive Patients Resident in Sicily, Italy 
BioMed Research International  2013;2013:859583.
Occult hepatitis B virus (OBI) in HIV-infected groups is still debated, as well as the associated risk-factors and clinical significance. In this paper, we examined a total of 405 HBsAg-negative/HIV-infected patients enrolled from January 2007 to December 2009. Overall, the prevalence of OBI was 5.9% (95% confidence interval (CI95%): 3.8–8.7%); it was more frequently associated with “anti-HBc alone” serological marker (11.3%; adjusted odds ratio = 3.7, CI95%: 1.4–9.8), although it was also detected in the absence of any HBV serological marker (4.9%; CI95%: 2.3–9.1%). A low prevalence of anti-HCV-positive patients with OBI was found (3.1%; CI95%: 0.6–8.7%). HIV RNA plasma levels or other immunological/clinical characteristics were not significantly associated with OBI. All but one occult HBV infections were sustained by genotype D viral strains. OBI is relatively frequent in HIV-infected patients, although it does not seem to exert a relevant clinical impact. Viral genotypes in occult HBV infections reflect those circulating in the Mediterranean area.
PMCID: PMC3770005  PMID: 24063015
3.  KPC - 3 Klebsiella pneumoniae ST258 clone infection in postoperative abdominal surgery patients in an intensive care setting: analysis of a case series of 30 patients 
BMC Anesthesiology  2013;13:13.
Abdominal surgery carries significant morbidity and mortality, which is in turn associated with an enormous use of healthcare resources. We describe the clinical course of 30 Intensive Care Unit (ICU) patients who underwent abdominal surgery and showed severe infections caused by Klebsiella pneumoniae sequence type (ST) 258 producing K. pneumoniae carbapenemase (KPC-Kp). The aim was to evaluate risk factors for mortality and the impact of a combination therapy of colistin plus recommended regimen or higher dosage of tigecycline.
A prospective assessment of severe monomicrobial KPC-Kp infections occurring after open abdominal surgery carried out from August 2011 to August 2012 in the same hospital by different surgical teams is presented. Clinical and surgical characteristics, microbiological and surveillance data, factors associated with mortality and treatment regimens were analyzed. A combination regimen of colistin with tigecycline was used. A high dose of tigecycline was administered according to intra-abdominal abscess severity and MICs for tigecycline.
The mean age of the patients was 56.6 ± 15 and their APACHE score on admission averaged 22.72. Twenty out of 30 patients came from the surgical emergency unit. Fifteen patients showed intra-abdominal abscess, eight anastomotic leakage, four surgical site infection (SSI) and three peritonitis. The overall crude ICU mortality rate was 40% (12 out of 30 patients). Twelve of the 30 patients were started on a combination treatment of high-dose tigecycline and intravenous colistin. A significantly lower mortality rate was observed among those patients compared to patients treated with approved dose of tigecycline plus colistin. No adverse events were reported with high doses of tigecycline.
Critically-ill surgical patients are prone to severe post-surgical infectious complications caused by KPC-Kp. Timely microbiological diagnosis and optimizing antibiotic dosing regimens are essential to prevent worse outcomes. Further studies and well-controlled clinical trials are needed to define the optimal treatment of infections by KPC-Kp and, more generally, carbapenem-resistant bacteria.
PMCID: PMC3737059  PMID: 23822218
Klebsiella pneumoniae; Carbapenemase; Abdominal surgery
4.  Chancre of the eyelid as manifestation of primary syphilis, and precocious chorioretinitis and uveitis in an HIV-infected patient: a case report 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2012;12:226.
Ocular syphilis is often difficult to diagnose because of the wide variation in clinical features.
HIV co-infection may further complicate the picture.
Case presentation
Herein the authors report an unusual primary syphilitic ocular lesion in a 45-year-old Italian HIV-infected bisexual man who presented with a unilateral eyelid lesion. Associated precocious signs and symptoms in the posterior segment of both eyes, bilateral chorioretinitis and uveitis, are described. Intravenous penicillin and steroid treatment produced a rapid improvement in clinical status and complete resolution.
Careful questioning about sexual behavior is crucial for unmasking unusual features of ocular syphilis in HIV-infected subjects.
PMCID: PMC3517902  PMID: 23006858
Ocular syphilis; HIV-infected; Chancre of the eyelid; Bilateral chorioretinitis; Uveitis
5.  Probable disseminated Mycobacterium abscessus subspecies bolletii infection in a patient with idiopathic CD4+ T lymphocytopenia: a case report 
Rapidly growing mycobacteria are opportunistic pathogens in patients with underlying risk factors. Mycobacterium abscessus subsp. bolletii is a newly recognized member of rapidly growing mycobacteria, isolated from respiratory tract and cutaneous infections.
Case presentation
We describe a case of chronic disseminated infection caused by M. abscessus subsp. bolletii in a 38-year-old Sri Lankan man with idiopathic CD4+ T lymphocytopenia. Idiopathic CD4+ T lymphocytopenia is a rare cause of immunodysfunction that, similar to human immunodeficiency virus infection, causes a depletion of CD4+ T lymphocytes. M. abscessus subsp. bolletii infection was diagnosed by culture isolation from two sputum samples.
To the best of our knowledge this is the first report of M. abscessus subsp. bolletii disseminated infection in a patient affected by idiopathic CD4+ T lymphocytopenia. In contrast to previous reports, the isolate of M. abscessus subsp. bolletii presented intermediate resistance to clarithromycin and was susceptible to cefoxitin and imipenem.
PMCID: PMC3514384  PMID: 22947084
CD4+ T lymphocytopenia; Clarithromycin; Disseminated infection; Mycobacterium abscessus subsp. bolletii rapidly growing mycobacteria
6.  Dairy calcium intake and lifestyle risk factors for bone loss in hiv-infected and uninfected mediterranean subjects 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2012;12:192.
Despite the reported high prevalence of osteoporosis in the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-population, there have been no previous studies examining dairy calcium intake and bone mineral density (BMD) in HIV-subjects.
We assessed the prevalence of low BMD in HIV-infected and uninfected subjects and analyzed the effects of calcium intake, lifestyle and HIV-related risk factors on BMD.
One hundred and twelve HIV-infected subjects were consecutively enrolled. Seventy- six HIV-uninfected subjects matched for age and sex were enrolled as the control group. The HIV-subjects were interviewed about lifestyle habits and completed a weekly food-frequency questionnaire to estimate calcium intake. HIV-RNA, CD4+ T-cell count and data on antiretroviral therapy were also recorded. Both biochemical bone turnover markers and BMD, assessed by dual-energy radiographic absorptiometry (DXA) were recorded in the HIV-cases and controls. We also calculated the 10-year fracture risks using the WHO FRAX equation.
Osteoporosis prevalence was significantly higher in the HIV-cases than controls (p < 0.05). BMI values were positively correlated with BMD (p < 0.05). Vitamin D levels were lower in the HIV-subjects (p < 0.02). No correlation was found with daily calcium intake.
BMI values were significantly correlated with dairy intake quartiles (p < 0.003). In HIV-subjects, the mean of FRAX score was 1.2 % for hip and 4.7 % for major osteoporotic fractures. On multivariate analysis of the lumbar spine DXA T-score, age (p < 0.005) and HIV/hepatitis C virus co-infection (p < 0.0001) were negatively correlated with BMD, while yogurt intake was a protective predictor of BMD (p < 0.05). In the femur DXA T-score, age (p < 0.01), nadir CD4 + T-cell count < 200 cells/μL (p < 0.05) and drug addiction ( p < 0.0001) were negatively correlated with BMD.
Among the foods rich in calcium, yogurt was a protective predictor of BMD in HIV-subjects. HIV/HCV co-infection, nadir CD4 + T-cell count < 200 cells/μL and drug addiction were independent predictors of severe BMD. Promoting behavioral changes in food intake and lifestyle, aimed at the primary prevention of bone disease in the chronically-infected subjects seems to be essential for implementing medical intervention in these cases.
PMCID: PMC3447655  PMID: 22894751
HIV; Osteopenia; Osteoporosis; Dairy intake; Bone mineral density
7.  Polyclonal non multiresistant methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus isolates from clinical cases of infection occurring in Palermo, Italy, during a one-year surveillance period 
The evolving epidemiology of methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) is characterized by the emergence of infections caused by non multiresistant MRSA carrying staphylococcal chromosomal cassette (SCC)mec IV or V in the healthcare settings. A molecular epidemiological analysis of non multiresistant MRSA isolates from four acute general hospitals was performed in Palermo, Italy, during a one year period.
For the purpose of the study, MRSA isolates were defined as non multiresistant when they were susceptible to at least three classes of non β-lactam antibiotics. Seventy-five isolates were submitted to antimicrobial susceptibility testing, multilocus sequence typing (MLST) and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) for SCCmec, accessory gene regulator (agr) groups, arginine catabolic mobile element (ACME) and Panton Valentine leukocidin (PVL) toxin genes. For epidemiological typing, Multiple-Locus Variable-Number Tandem Repeat Fingerprinting (MLVF) was performed on all isolates and pulsed field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) on ST8 isolates.
Non multiresistant MRSA isolates were isolated from all hospitals. Resistances to ciprofloxacin, macrolides and tetracycline were the most prevalent. MLST attributed 46 isolates with ST22, 13 with ST8, eight with ST1, three with ST50 and three with ST398. SCCmec type IV was found in all isolates. PVL was detected in one ST22 isolate. All isolates tested negative for the ACME element. MLVF identified 31 different patterns, some subtype clusters ranging in size between two and 22 isolates. The closely related PFGE patterns of the ST8 isolates differed from USA300.
A polyclonal circulation of non multiresistant MRSA along with blurring of boundaries between healthcare associated (HA)-MRSA and community associated (CA)-MRSA appear to be occurring in our epidemiological setting. A better understanding of spread of MRSA with the support of molecular typing can provide invaluable information in the epidemiological, microbiological and clinical fields.
PMCID: PMC3473248  PMID: 22713430
8.  Unusual MRI findings in an immunocompetent patient with EBV encephalitis: a case report 
BMC Medical Imaging  2011;11:6.
It is well-known that Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) can affect the central nervous system (CNS).
Case presentation
Herein the authors report unusual timely Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) brain scan findings in an immunocompetent patient with EBV encephalitis.
Diffusion weighted MRI sequence performed during the acute phase of the disease was normal, whereas the Fast Relaxation Fast Spin Echo T2 image showed diffuse signal intensity changes in white matter. The enhancement pattern suggested an inflammatory response restricted to the brain microcirculation. Acyclovir and corticosteroid therapy was administered. After three weeks, all signal intensities returned to normal and the patient showed clinical recovery.
This report demonstrates that EBV in an immunocompetent adult can present with diffuse, reversible brain white matter involvement in the acute phase of mononucleosis. Moreover, our case suggests that a negative DWI sequence is associated with a favorable improvement in severe EBV CNS infection. More extensive studies are needed to assess what other instrumental data can help to distinguish viral lesions from other causes in the acute phase of disease.
PMCID: PMC3073885  PMID: 21435249
Epstein-Barr virus; encephalitis; MRI; Diffusion-weighted imaging
9.  Post-bronchoscopy fatal endobronchial hemorrhage in a woman with bronchopulmonary mucormycosis: a case report 
During infection, Mucorales fungi invade major blood vessels, leading to extensive necrosis, and in cases of extensive pulmonary disease, bleeding into the lungs may occur.
Case presentation
We report an unexpected event of post-bronchoscopy fatal endobronchial hemorrhage in a 62-year-old HIV-negative Italian woman with well controlled diabetes mellitus who presented with diffuse cavitated pulmonary lesions. Fiberoptic bronchoscopy revealed bilateral obstruction of the segmental bronchi. Fatal massive bleeding occurred after standard biopsy procedures. Histologic examination showed that the hyphae were more deeply colored by hematoxylin-eosin (H&E) than by other stains for fungi. Culture and autopsy confirmed bronchopulmonary mucormycosis.
Infection by Mucorales fungi should be considered in the diabetes population regardless of the degree of metabolic control. In these patients, particular caution should be taken during bronchoscopic procedures because of the greater friability of the fungal lesions.
PMCID: PMC3014962  PMID: 21143888
10.  Transient elastography: A non-invasive tool for assessing liver fibrosis in HIV/HCV patients 
AIM: To assess the prevalence of advanced liver fibrosis (ALF) in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hepatitis C virus (HCV) and HIV/HCV patients using transient elastography, and to identify factors associated with ALF.
METHODS: Between September 2008 and October 2009, 71 HIV mono-infected, 57 HIV/HCV co-infected and 53 HCV mono-infected patients on regular follow-up at our Center were enrolled in this study. Alcohol intake, the main parameters of liver function, presence of HCV-RNA, HIV-RNA, duration of highly active anti-retroviral therapy (HAART) and CD4 cell count were recorded. ALF was defined as liver stiffness (LS) ≥ 9.5 kPa. To estimate liver fibrosis (LF) a further 2 reliable biochemical scores, aspartate aminotransferase platelet ratio index (APRI) and FIB-4, were also used.
RESULTS: LS values of co-infected patients were higher than in either HIV or HCV mono-infected patients (χ2MH = 4, P < 0.04). In fact, LS ≥ 9.5 was significantly higher in co-infected than in HIV and HCV mono-infected patients (χ2 = 5, P < 0.03). Also APRI and the FIB-4 index showed more LF in co-infected than in HIV mono-infected patients (P < 0.0001), but not in HCV mono-infected patients. In HIV⁄HCV co-infected patients, the extent of LS was significantly associated with alcohol intake (P < 0.04) and lower CD4+ cell count (P < 0.02). In HCV patients, LS was correlated with alcohol intake (P < 0.001) and cholesterol levels (P < 0.03). Body mass index, diabetes, HCV- and HIV-viremia were not significantly correlated with LS. In addition, 20% of co-infected patients had virologically unsuccessful HAART; in 50% compliance was low, CD4+ levels were < 400 cells/mm3 and LS was > 9.5 kPa. There was no significant correlation between extent of LF and HAART exposure or duration of HAART exposure, in particular with specific dideoxynucleoside analogues.
CONCLUSION: ALF was more frequent in co-infected than mono-infected patients. This result correlated with lower CD4 levels. Protective immunological effects of HAART on LF progression outweigh its hepatotoxic effects.
PMCID: PMC2975093  PMID: 21049556
Liver fibrosis; Transient elastography; Aspartate aminotransferase platelet ratio index; FIB-4 test; Fibrosis evaluation; Human immunodeficiency virus infection; Hepatitis C virus infection
11.  Cryptic Leishmania infantum infection in Italian HIV infected patients 
Visceral leishmaniasis (VL) is a protozoan diseases caused in Europe by Leishmania (L.) infantum. Asymptomatic Leishmania infection is more frequent than clinically apparent disease. Among HIV infected patients the risk of clinical VL is increased due to immunosuppression, which can reactivate a latent infection. The aims of our study were to assess the prevalence of asymptomatic L. infantum infection in HIV infected patients and to study a possible correlation between Leishmania parasitemia and HIV infection markers.
One hundred and forty-five HIV infected patients were screened for the presence of anti-Leishmania antibodies and L. infantum DNA in peripheral blood. Statistical analysis was carried out by using a univariate regression analysis.
Antibodies to L. infantum were detected in 1.4% of patients. L. infantum DNA was detected in 16.5% of patients. Significant association for PCR-Leishmania levels with plasma viral load was documented (p = 0.0001).
In our area a considerable proportion of HIV infected patients are asymptomatic carriers of L. infantum infection. A relationship between high HIV viral load and high parasitemic burden, possibly related to a higher risk of developing symptomatic disease, is suggested. PCR could be used for periodic screening of HIV patients to individuate those with higher risk of reactivation of L. infantum infection.
PMCID: PMC2797011  PMID: 20003257
12.  Decreased serum granulysin levels in childhood tuberculosis which reverse after therapy 
Granulysin is a cytolytic protein of natural killer (NK) cells and cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs). Serum levels of granulysin are related to host cellular immunity. We used an ELISA to quantify granulysin serum levels in children with tuberculosis (TB), before and after chemotherapy. The study involved children affected by different clinical forms of TB (n = 72) and healthy control children (n = 150) from the same geographical area and of similar socio-economic background.
Serum granulysin levels before the initiation of TB therapy were significantly lower in children with TB compared to controls, with the lowest levels being found in TB patients who were PPD skin test negative. No statistically significant differences were found between serum granulysin levels and clinical severity (mild/moderate or advanced pulmonary TB) or the clinical form (pulmonary or extra-pulmonary) of TB. At four months after completion of therapy, serum granulysin levels in children treated for TB were not significantly different to those observed in control children. This finding was paralleled by the increased in vitro mycobactericidal activity of sera from TB patients after completion of therapy.
We propose that serum granulysin levels may provide a marker of disease activity in childhood TB and might be useful for monitoring improvement after chemotherapy.
PMCID: PMC2692947  PMID: 17379576
Serum granulysin; Tuberculosis; Disease activity; Therapy
13.  Analysis of Mycobacterium tuberculosis-Specific CD8 T-Cells in Patients with Active Tuberculosis and in Individuals with Latent Infection 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(5):e5528.
CD8 T-cells contribute to control of Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection, but little is known about the quality of the CD8 T-cell response in subjects with latent infection and in patients with active tuberculosis disease. CD8 T-cells recognizing epitopes from 6 different proteins of Mycobacterium tuberculosis were detected by tetramer staining. Intracellular cytokines staining for specific production of IFN-γ and IL-2 was performed, complemented by phenotyping of memory markers on antigen-specific CD8 T-cells. The ex-vivo frequencies of tetramer-specific CD8 T-cells in tuberculous patients before therapy were lower than in subjects with latent infection, but increased at four months after therapy to comparable percentages detected in subjects with latent infection. The majority of CD8 T-cells from subjects with latent infection expressed a terminally-differentiated phenotype (CD45RA+CCR7−). In contrast, tuberculous patients had only 35% of antigen-specific CD8 T-cells expressing this phenotype, while containing higher proportions of cells with an effector memory- and a central memory-like phenotype, and which did not change significantly after therapy. CD8 T-cells from subjects with latent infection showed a codominance of IL-2+/IFN-γ+ and IL-2−/IFN-γ+ T-cell populations; interestingly, only the IL-2+/IFN-γ+ population was reduced or absent in tuberculous patients, highly suggestive of a restricted functional profile of Mycobacterium tuberculosis-specific CD8 T-cells during active disease. These results suggest distinct Mycobacterium tuberculosis specific CD8 T-cell phenotypic and functional signatures between subjects which control infection (subjects with latent infection) and those who do not (patients with active disease).
PMCID: PMC2678250  PMID: 19436760
14.  Epidemiological assessment of Respiratory Syncytial Virus infection in hospitalized infants, during the season 2005–2006 in Palermo, Italy 
Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) is the leading cause of hospitalization for lower respiratory tract infections (LRTI) in young children worldwide.
We evaluate the epidemiological and clinical patterns of RSV infection in infants hospitalized for LRTI in in Palermo, South Italy, Sicily.
We collected the demographic details of infants hospitalized to G. Di Cristina Children's Hospital in Palermo for LRTI between November 2005 and May 2006. We also included all cases occurred in newborns hospitalized in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) Of Palermo.
During the studied period, 335/705 hospitalized infants for LRTI were enrolled in the study. The trend of hospitalization started in late winter and lasting until May 2006 with an epidemic peak in spring. 178/335 infants tested for viral infection showed RSV disease. Three cases occurred in preterm newborns hospitalized from birth in NICU. The likelihood to be RSV+, rather than RSV negative (RSV-) was higher for infants < 6 months and lower for infants with history of breast feeding (P < 0.05). RSV infection was associated with a higher likelihood to be admitted to intensive care unit and to a longer hospitalization and oxygen therapy.
The study shows that, in Sicily, RSV is an important cause of LRTI in infants. The seasonal distribution shows that both LRTI and RSV infections peak in late spring, in contrast to Northern Italy. Our data could help to define the regional appropriate start of prophylactic interventions.
PMCID: PMC2687541  PMID: 19490666
15.  Anti-16-Kilodalton Mycobacterial Protein Immunoglobulin M Levels in Healthy but Purified Protein Derivative-Reactive Children Decrease after Chemoprophylaxis▿  
Serum responses against Mycobacterium tuberculosis HSP16 were determined for children with tuberculosis (TB) and for healthy purified protein derivative (PPD)-positive and PPD-negative children. Immunoglobulin G (IgG) and IgM responses were higher for TB patients than for other groups. After chemotherapy, IgM and IgG responses decreased for TB patients and PPD-positive subjects. Monitoring of anti-M. tuberculosis HSP16 responses could assist in the management of pediatric TB.
PMCID: PMC2043321  PMID: 17626158

Results 1-15 (15)