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1.  Point-of-Care Lateral Flow Assays for Tuberculosis and Cryptococcal Antigenuria Predict Death in HIV Infected Adults in Uganda 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(7):e101459.
Background
Mortality in hospitalized, febrile patients in Sub-Saharan Africa is high due to HIV-infected, severely immunosuppressed patients with opportunistic co-infection, particularly disseminated tuberculosis (TB) and cryptococcal disease. We sought to determine if a positive lateral flow assay (LFA) result for urine lipoarabinomannan (LAM) and cryptococcal antigenuria was associated with mortality.
Methods
351 hospitalized, HIV-positive adults with symptoms consistent with TB and who were able to provide both urine and sputum specimens were prospectively enrolled at Mulago National Referral Hospital in Uganda as part of a prospective accuracy evaluation of the lateral flow Determine TB LAM test. Stored frozen urine was retrospectively tested for cryptococcal antigen (CRAG) using the LFA. We fitted a multinomial logistic regression model to analyze factors associated with death within 2 months after initial presentation.
Results
The median CD4 of the participants was 57 (IQR: 14–179) cells/µl and 41% (145) were microbiologically confirmed TB cases. LAM LFA was positive in 38% (134), 7% (25) were CRAG positive, and 43% (151) were positive for either test in urine. Overall, 21% (75) died within the first 2 months, and a total of 32% (114) were confirmed dead by 6 months. At 2 months, 30% of LAM or CRAG positive patients were confirmed dead compared to 15.0% of those who were negative. In an adjusted model, LAM or CRAG positive results were associated with an increased risk of death (RRR 2.29, 95% CI: 1.29, 4.05; P = 0.005).
Conclusions
In hospitalized HIV-infected patients, LAM or CRAG LFA positivity was associated with subsequent death within 2 months. Further studies are warranted to examine the impact of POC diagnostic ‘test and treat’ approach on patient-centered outcomes.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0101459
PMCID: PMC4084886  PMID: 25000489
2.  Contribution of community-based newborn health promotion to reducing inequities in healthy newborn care practices and knowledge: evidence of improvement from a three-district pilot program in Malawi 
BMC Public Health  2013;13:1052.
Background
Inequities in both health status and coverage of health services are considered important barriers to achieving Millennium Development Goal 4. Community-based health promotion is a strategy that is believed to reduce inequities in rural low-income settings. This paper examines the contributions of community-based programming to improving the equity of newborn health in three districts in Malawi.
Methods
This study is a before-and-after evaluation of Malawi’s Community-Based Maternal and Newborn Care (CBMNC) program, a package of facility and community-based interventions to improve newborn health. Health Surveillance Assistants (HSAs) within the catchment area of 14 health facilities were trained to make pregnancy and postnatal home visits to promote healthy behaviors and assess women and newborns for danger signs requiring referral to a facility. “Core groups” of community volunteers were also trained to raise awareness about recommended newborn care practices. Baseline and endline household surveys measured the coverage of the intervention and targeted health behaviors for this before-and-after evaluation. Wealth indices were constructed using household asset data and concentration indices were compared between baseline and endline for each indicator.
Results
The HSAs trained in the intervention reached 36.7% of women with a pregnancy home visit and 10.9% of women with a postnatal home visit within three days of delivery. Coverage of the intervention was slightly inequitable, with richer households more likely to receive one or two pregnancy home visits (concentration indices (CI) of 0.0786 and 0.0960), but not significantly more likely to receive a postnatal visit or know of a core group. Despite modest coverage levels for the intervention, health equity improved significantly over the study period for several indicators. Greater improvements in inequities were observed for knowledge indicators than for coverage of routine health services. At endline, a greater proportion of women from the poorest quintile knew three or more danger signs for pregnancy, delivery, and postpartum mothers than did women from the least poor quintile (change in CI: -0.1704, -0.2464, and -0.4166, respectively; p < 0.05). Equity also significantly improved for coverage of some health behaviors, including delivery at a health facility (change in CI: -0.0591), breastfeeding within the first hour (-0.0379), and delayed bathing (-0.0405).
Conclusions
Although these results indicate promising improvements for newborn health in Malawi, the extent to which the CBMNC program contributed to these improvements in coverage and equity are not known. The strategies through which community-based programs are implemented likely play an important role in their ability to improve equity, and further research and program monitoring are needed to ensure that the poorest households are reached by community-based health programs.
doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-1052
PMCID: PMC3833651  PMID: 24199832
Newborn health; Community health workers; Equity; Malawi; Health surveillance assistants; Maternal health
3.  Polymorphisms in ARMS2/HTRA1 and Complement Genes and Age-Related Macular Degeneration in India: Findings from the INDEYE Study 
Purpose.
Association between genetic variants in complement factor H (CFH), factor B (CFB), component 2 (C2), and in the ARMS2/HTRA1 region with age-related macular degeneration (AMD) comes mainly from studies of European ancestry and case-control studies of late-stage disease. We investigated associations of both early and late AMD with these variants in a population-based study of people aged 60 years and older in India.
Methods.
Fundus images were graded using the Wisconsin Age-Related Maculopathy Grading System and participants assigned to one of four mutually exclusive stages based on the worse affected eye (0 = no AMD, 1–3 = early AMD, 4 = late AMD). Multinomial logistic regression was used to derive risk ratios (RR) accounting for sampling method and adjusting for age, sex, and study center.
Results.
Of 3569 participants, 53.2% had no signs of AMD, 45.6% had features of early AMD, and 1.2% had late AMD. CFH (rs1061170), C2 (rs547154), or CFB (rs438999) was not associated with early or late AMD. In the ARMS2 locus, rs10490924 was associated with both early (adjusted RR 1.22, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.13–1.33, P < 0.0001) and late AMD (adjusted RR 1.81, 95% CI: 1.15–2.86; P = 0.01); rs2672598 was associated only with early AMD (adjusted RR 1.12, 95% CI: 1.02–1.23; P = 0.02); rs10490923 was not associated with early or late AMD.
Conclusions.
Two variants in ARMS2/HTRA1 were associated with increased risk of early AMD, and for one of these, the increased risk was also evident for late AMD. The study provides new insights into the role of these variants in early stages of AMD in India.
We report results from a genetic association study of early AMD in an Indian population. Two variants in the ARMS/HTRA1 region were associated with early AMD but variants in C2, CFH, and CFB were not.
doi:10.1167/iovs.12-10073
PMCID: PMC3490538  PMID: 23060141
4.  Estimating the Burden of Pneumococcal Pneumonia among Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Diagnostic Techniques 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(4):e60273.
Background
Pneumococcal pneumonia causes significant morbidity and mortality among adults. Given limitations of diagnostic tests for non-bacteremic pneumococcal pneumonia, most studies report the incidence of bacteremic or invasive pneumococcal disease (IPD), and thus, grossly underestimate the pneumococcal pneumonia burden. We aimed to develop a conceptual and quantitative strategy to estimate the non-bacteremic disease burden among adults with community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) using systematic study methods and the availability of a urine antigen assay.
Methods and Findings
We performed a systematic literature review of studies providing information on the relative yield of various diagnostic assays (BinaxNOW® S. pneumoniae urine antigen test (UAT) with blood and/or sputum culture) in diagnosing pneumococcal pneumonia. We estimated the proportion of pneumococcal pneumonia that is bacteremic, the proportion of CAP attributable to pneumococcus, and the additional contribution of the Binax UAT beyond conventional diagnostic techniques, using random effects meta-analytic methods and bootstrapping. We included 35 studies in the analysis, predominantly from developed countries. The estimated proportion of pneumococcal pneumonia that is bacteremic was 24.8% (95% CI: 21.3%, 28.9%). The estimated proportion of CAP attributable to pneumococcus was 27.3% (95% CI: 23.9%, 31.1%). The Binax UAT diagnosed an additional 11.4% (95% CI: 9.6, 13.6%) of CAP beyond conventional techniques. We were limited by the fact that not all patients underwent all diagnostic tests and by the sensitivity and specificity of the diagnostic tests themselves. We address these resulting biases and provide a range of plausible values in order to estimate the burden of pneumococcal pneumonia among adults.
Conclusions
Estimating the adult burden of pneumococcal disease from bacteremic pneumococcal pneumonia data alone significantly underestimates the true burden of disease in adults. For every case of bacteremic pneumococcal pneumonia, we estimate that there are at least 3 additional cases of non-bacteremic pneumococcal pneumonia.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0060273
PMCID: PMC3615022  PMID: 23565216
5.  EPHA2 Polymorphisms and Age-Related Cataract in India 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(3):e33001.
Objective
We investigated whether previously reported single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) of EPHA2 in European studies are associated with cataract in India.
Methods
We carried out a population-based genetic association study. We enumerated randomly sampled villages in two areas of north and south India to identify people aged 40 and over. Participants attended a clinical examination including lens photography and provided a blood sample for genotyping. Lens images were graded by the Lens Opacification Classification System (LOCS III). Cataract was defined as a LOCS III grade of nuclear ≥4, cortical ≥3, posterior sub-capsular (PSC) ≥2, or dense opacities or aphakia/pseudophakia in either eye. We genotyped SNPs rs3754334, rs7543472 and rs11260867 on genomic DNA extracted from peripheral blood leukocytes using TaqMan assays in an ABI 7900 real-time PCR. We used logistic regression with robust standard errors to examine the association between cataract and the EPHA2 SNPs, adjusting for age, sex and location.
Results
7418 participants had data on at least one of the SNPs investigated. Genotype frequencies of controls were in Hardy-Weinberg Equilibrium (p>0.05). There was no association of rs3754334 with cataract or type of cataract. Minor allele homozygous genotypes of rs7543472 and rs11260867 compared to the major homozygote genotype were associated with cortical cataract, Odds ratio (OR) = 1.8, 95% Confidence Interval (CI) (1.1, 3.1) p = 0.03 and 2.9 (1.2, 7.1) p = 0.01 respectively, and with PSC cataract, OR = 1.5 (1.1, 2.2) p = 0.02 and 1.8 (0.9, 3.6) p = 0.07 respectively. There was no consistent association of SNPs with nuclear cataract or a combined variable of any type of cataract including operated cataract.
Conclusions
Our results in the Indian population agree with previous studies of the association of EPHA2 variants with cortical cataracts. We report new findings for the association with PSC which is particularly prevalent in Indians.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0033001
PMCID: PMC3297613  PMID: 22412971
6.  CKD and Hospitalization in the Elderly: A Community-Based Cohort Study in the United Kingdom 
Background
We previously have shown that chronic kidney disease (CKD) is associated with cardiovascular and all-cause mortality in community-dwelling people 75 years and older. The present study addresses the hypothesis that CKD is associated with a higher rate of hospital admission at an older age.
Study Design
Cohort study.
Setting & Participants
15,336 participants from 53 UK general practices underwent comprehensive health assessment between 1994 and 1999.
Predictor
Data for estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR, derived from creatinine levels using the CKD Epidemiology Collaboration [CKD-EPI] study equation) and dipstick proteinuria were available for 12,371 participants.
Outcomes
Hospital admissions collected from hospital discharge letters for 2 years after assessment.
Measurements
Age, sex, cardiovascular risk factors, possible biochemical and health consequences of kidney disease (hemoglobin, phosphate, and albumin levels; physical and mental health problems).
Results
2,310 (17%) participants had 1 hospital admission, and 981 (7%) had 2 or more. After adjusting for age, sex, and cardiovascular risk factors, HRs were 1.66 (95% CI, 1.21-2.27), 1.17 (95% CI, 0.95-1.43), 1.08 (95% CI, 0.90-1.30), and 1.11 (95% CI, 0.91-1.35) for eGFRs <30, 30-44, 45-59, and ≥75 mL/min/1.73 m2, respectively, compared with eGFRs of 60-74 mL/min/1.73 m2 for hospitalizations during <6 months of follow-up. HRs were weaker for follow-up of 6-18 months. Dipstick-positive proteinuria was associated with an increased HR throughout follow-up (HR, 1.29 [95% CI, 1.11-1.49], adjusting for cardiovascular risk factors). Dipstick-positive proteinuria and eGFR <30 mL/min/1.73 m2 were independently associated with 2 or more hospital admissions during the 2-year follow-up. Adjustment for other health factors and laboratory measurements attenuated the effect of eGFR, but not the effect of proteinuria.
Limitations
Follow-up limited to 2 years, selection bias due to nonparticipation in study, missing data for potential covariates, and single noncalibrated measurements from multiple laboratories.
Conclusions
The study indicates that community-dwelling older people who have dipstick-positive proteinuria and/or eGFR <30 mL/min/1.73 m2 are at increased risk of hospitalization.
doi:10.1053/j.ajkd.2010.09.026
PMCID: PMC3392651  PMID: 21146270
Chronic kidney disease; cohort study; dipstick proteinuria testing; general population; hospitalization; older people
7.  An Ecological Correlation Study of Late Age-Related Macular Degeneration and the Complement Factor H Y402H Polymorphism 
Based on published data, this ecological correlation study showed evidence to support the hypothesis that variation in the risk allele frequency of the Y402H polymorphism across ethnicities explains variation in prevalence of late AMD when data on people of African ancestry are excluded.
Purpose.
To investigate whether variation in the distribution of the risk allele frequency of the Y402H single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) across various ethnicities and geographic regions reflects differences in the prevalence of late age-related macular degeneration (AMD) in those ethnicities.
Methods.
Published data were obtained via a systematic search. Study samples were grouped into clusters by ethnicity and geographic location and the Spearman correlation coefficient of the prevalence of late AMD and risk allele frequencies was calculated across clusters.
Results.
Across all ethnicities, AMD prevalence was seen to increase with age. Populations of European descent had both higher risk allele frequencies and prevalence of late AMD than did Japanese, Chinese, and Hispanic descendants. Results for African descendants were anomalous: although allele frequency was similar to that in European populations, the age-specific prevalence of late AMD was considerably lower. The correlation coefficient for the association between allele frequency and AMD prevalence was 0.40 (95% confidence interval [CI] = −0.36 to 0.84, P = 0.28) in all populations combined and 0.71 (95% CI = 0.02–0.94, P = 0.04) when people of African descent were excluded.
Conclusions.
Evidence was found at the population level to support a positive association between the Y204H risk allele and the prevalence of AMD after exclusion of studies undertaken on persons of African ancestry. Data in African, Middle Eastern, and South American populations are needed to provide a better understanding of the association of late AMD genetic risk across ethnicities.
doi:10.1167/iovs.09-4228
PMCID: PMC2868481  PMID: 20042653
8.  Low-Cost HIV-1 Diagnosis and Quantification in Dried Blood Spots by Real Time PCR 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(6):e5819.
Background
Rapid and cost-effective methods for HIV-1 diagnosis and viral load monitoring would greatly enhance the clinical management of HIV-1 infected adults and children in limited-resource settings. Recent recommendations to treat perinatally infected infants within the first year of life are feasible only if early diagnosis is routinely available. Dried blood spots (DBS) on filter paper are an easy and convenient way to collect and transport blood samples. A rapid and cost effective method to diagnose and quantify HIV-1 from DBS is urgently needed to facilitate early diagnosis of HIV-1 infection and monitoring of antiretroviral therapy.
Methods and Findings
We have developed a real-time LightCycler (rtLC) PCR assay to detect and quantify HIV-1 from DBS. HIV-1 RNA extracted from DBS was amplified in a one-step, single-tube system using primers specific for long-terminal repeat sequences that are conserved across all HIV-1 clades. SYBR Green dye was used to quantify PCR amplicons and HIV-1 RNA copy numbers were determined from a standard curve generated using serially diluted known copies of HIV-1 RNA. This assay detected samples across clades, has a dynamic range of 5 log10, and %CV <8% up to 4 log10 dilution. Plasma HIV-1 RNA copy numbers obtained using this method correlated well with the Roche Ultrasensitive (r = 0.91) and branched DNA (r = 0.89) assays. The lower limit of detection (95%) was estimated to be 136 copies. The rtLC DBS assay was 2.5 fold rapid as well as 40-fold cheaper when compared to commercial assays. Adaptation of the assay into other real-time systems demonstrated similar performance.
Conclusions
The accuracy, reliability, genotype inclusivity and affordability, along with the small volumes of blood required for the assay suggest that the rtLC DBS assay will be useful for early diagnosis and monitoring of pediatric HIV-1 infection in resource-limited settings.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0005819
PMCID: PMC2688035  PMID: 19503790
9.  Application of two machine learning algorithms to genetic association studies in the presence of covariates 
BMC Genetics  2008;9:71.
Background
Population-based investigations aimed at uncovering genotype-trait associations often involve high-dimensional genetic polymorphism data as well as information on multiple environmental and clinical parameters. Machine learning (ML) algorithms offer a straightforward analytic approach for selecting subsets of these inputs that are most predictive of a pre-defined trait. The performance of these algorithms, however, in the presence of covariates is not well characterized.
Methods and Results
In this manuscript, we investigate two approaches: Random Forests (RFs) and Multivariate Adaptive Regression Splines (MARS). Through multiple simulation studies, the performance under several underlying models is evaluated. An application to a cohort of HIV-1 infected individuals receiving anti-retroviral therapies is also provided.
Conclusion
Consistent with more traditional regression modeling theory, our findings highlight the importance of considering the nature of underlying gene-covariate-trait relationships before applying ML algorithms, particularly when there is potential confounding or effect mediation.
doi:10.1186/1471-2156-9-71
PMCID: PMC2620353  PMID: 19014573
10.  Systematic Review of the Effect of Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine Dosing Schedules on Immunogenicity 
The Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal  2013;33(Suppl 2 Optimum Dosing of Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine For Infants 0 A Landscape Analysis of Evidence Supportin g Different Schedules):S119-S129.
Background:
Despite the breadth of studies demonstrating benefits of pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV), uncertainty remains regarding the optimal PCV dosing schedule in infants.
Methods:
We conducted a systematic literature review of PCV immunogenicity published from 1994 to 2010 (supplemented post hoc with studies from 2011). Studies included for analysis evaluated ≥2 doses of 7-valent or higher product (excluding Aventis-Pasteur PCV11) administered to nonhigh-risk infants ≤6 months of age. Impact of PCV schedule on geometric mean antibody concentration (GMC) and proportion of subjects over 0.35 mcg/mL were assessed at various time points; the GMC 1 month postdose 3 (for various dosing regimens) for serotypes 1, 5, 6B, 14, 19F and 23F was assessed in detail using random effects linear regression, adjusted for product, acellular diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis/whole-cell diphtheria- tetanus-pertussis coadministration, laboratory method, age at first dose and geographic region.
Results:
From 61 studies, we evaluated 13 two-dose (2+0) and 65 three-dose primary schedules (3+0) without a booster dose, 11 “2+1” (2 primary plus booster) and 42 “3+1” schedules. The GMC after the primary series was higher following 3-dose schedules compared with 2-dose schedules for all serotypes except for serotype 1. Pre- and postbooster GMCs were generally similar regardless of whether 2 or 3 primary doses were given. GMCs were significantly higher for all serotypes when dose 3 was administered in the second year (2+1) compared with ≤6 months of age (3+0).
Conclusions:
While giving the third dose in the second year of life produces a higher antibody response than when given as part of the primary series in the first 6 months, the lower GMC between the 2-dose primary series and booster may result in less disease protection for infants in that interval than those who completed the 3-dose primary series. Theoretical advantages of higher antibodies induced by giving the third dose in the second year of life, such as increased protection against serotype 1 disease, longer duration of protection or more rapid induction of herd effects, need to be evaluated in practice.
doi:10.1097/INF.0000000000000079
PMCID: PMC3940378  PMID: 24336054
pneumococcal conjugate vaccine; immunogenicity; immunization schedule
11.  The Differential Impact of Coadministered Vaccines, Geographic Region, Vaccine Product and Other Covariates on Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine Immunogenicity 
The Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal  2013;33(Suppl 2 Optimum Dosing of Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine For Infants 0 A Landscape Analysis of Evidence Supportin g Different Schedules):S130-S139.
Background:
Antipneumococcal capsular polysaccharide antibody concentrations are used as predictors of vaccine efficacy against vaccine serotype (ST) pneumococcal disease among infants. While pneumococcal conjugate vaccines (PCV) are recommended globally, factors associated with optimal PCV immune response are not well described. We aimed to systematically assess local setting factors, beyond dosing schedule, which may affect PCV antibody levels.
Methods:
We conducted a literature review of PCV immunogenicity, abstracting data from published reports, unpublished sources, and conference abstracts from 1994 to 2010 (and ad hoc 2011 reports). Studies included in this analysis evaluated ≥ 2 primary doses of PCV before 6 months of age in non–high-risk populations, used 7-valent or higher PCV products (excluding Aventis-Pasteur and Merck products) and provided information on geometric mean concentration (GMC) for STs 1, 5, 6B, 14, 19F or 23F. Using random effects meta-regression, we assessed the impact of geographic region, coadministered vaccines and PCV product on postprimary GMC, adjusting for dosing schedule and ELISA laboratory method.
Results:
Of 12,980 citations reviewed, we identified 103 vaccine study arms for this analysis. Children in studies from Asia, Africa and Latin America had significantly higher GMC responses compared with those in studies from Europe and North America. Coadministration with acellular pertussis DTP compared with whole-cell DTP had no effect on PCV immunogenicity except for ST14, where GMCs were higher when coadministered with acellular pertussis DTP. Vaccine product, number of PCV doses, dosing interval, age at first dose and ELISA laboratory method also affected the GMC.
Conclusions:
PCV immunogenicity is associated with geographic region and vaccine product; however, the associations and magnitude varied by ST. Consideration of these factors is essential when comparing PCV immunogenicity results between groups and should be included in the evidence base when selecting optimal PCV vaccine schedules in specific settings.
doi:10.1097/INF.0000000000000081
PMCID: PMC3944480  PMID: 24336055
pneumococcal conjugate vaccine; immunogenicity; immunization

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