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1.  Cancer Incidence in HIV-Infected Versus Uninfected Veterans: Comparison of Cancer Registry and ICD-9 Code Diagnoses 
Given the growing interest in the cancer burden in persons living with HIV/AIDS, we examined the validity of data sources for cancer diagnoses (cancer registry versus International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision [ICD-9 codes]) and compared the association between HIV status and cancer risk using each data source in the Veterans Aging Cohort Study (VACS), a prospective cohort of HIV-infected and uninfected veterans from 1996 to 2008.
We reviewed charts to confirm potential incident cancers at four VACS sites. In the entire cohort, we calculated cancer-type-specific age-, sex-, race/ethnicity-, and calendar-period-standardized incidence rates and incidence rate ratios (IRR) (HIV-infected versus uninfected). We calculated standardized incidence ratios (SIR) to compare VACS and Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results rates.
Compared to chart review, both Veterans Affairs Central Cancer Registry (VACCR) and ICD-9 diagnoses had approximately 90% sensitivity; however, VACCR had higher positive predictive value (96% versus 63%). There were 6,010 VACCR and 13,386 ICD-9 incident cancers among 116,072 veterans. Although ICD-9 rates tended to be double VACCR rates, most IRRs were in the same direction and of similar magnitude, regardless of data source. Using either source, all cancers combined, most viral-infection-related cancers, lung cancer, melanoma, and leukemia had significantly elevated IRRs. Using ICD-9, eight additional IRRs were significantly elevated, most likely due to false positive diagnoses. Most ICD-9 SIRs were significantly elevated and all were higher than the corresponding VACCR SIR.
ICD-9 may be used with caution for estimating IRRs, but should be avoided when estimating incidence or SIRs. Elevated cancer risk based on VACCR diagnoses among HIV-infected veterans was consistent with other studies.
PMCID: PMC4285627  PMID: 25580366
Neoplasms; Registries; International Classification of Diseases; HIV Infections
2.  Hepatic Decompensation in Antiretroviral-Treated HIV/Hepatitis C-Coinfected Compared to Hepatitis C-Monoinfected Patients: A Cohort Study 
Annals of internal medicine  2014;160(6):369-379.
The incidence and determinants of hepatic decompensation have been incompletely examined among HIV/hepatitis C virus (HCV)-coinfected patients in the antiretroviral therapy (ART) era, and few studies have compared rates of outcomes to those of patients with chronic HCV alone.
To compare the incidence of hepatic decompensation between antiretroviral-treated HIV/HCV-coinfected and HCV-monoinfected patients, and evaluate factors associated with decompensation among coinfected patients on ART.
Retrospective cohort study.
Veterans Health Administration.
4,280 HIV/HCV-coinfected patients who initiated ART and 6,079 HCV-monoinfected patients receiving care between 1997 and 2010. All patients had detectable HCV RNA and were HCV treatment-naïve.
Incident hepatic decompensation, determined by diagnoses of ascites, spontaneous bacterial peritonitis, or esophageal variceal hemorrhage.
The incidence of hepatic decompensation was greater among coinfected than monoinfected patients (at 10 years: 7.4% versus 4.8%; p<0.001). Compared to HCV-monoinfected patients, antiretroviral-treated HIV/HCV-coinfected patients had a higher rate of hepatic decompensation (hazard ratio [HR] accounting for competing risks, 1.56 [95% confidence interval (CI), 1.31–1.86]). Coinfected patients who maintained HIV RNA levels <1,000 copies/mL still had higher rates of decompensation than HCV-monoinfected patients (HR, 1.44 [95% CI, 1.05–1.99]). Baseline advanced hepatic fibrosis (FIB-4 >3.25; HR, 5.45 [95% CI, 3.79–7.84]), baseline hemoglobin <10 g/dL (HR, 2.24 [CI, 1.20–4.20]), diabetes mellitus (HR, 1.88[95% CI, 1.38–2.56]), and non-black race (HR, 2.12 [95% CI, 1.65–2.72]) were each associated with higher rates of decompensation among coinfected patients on ART.
Observational study of predominantly male patients.
Despite ART, HIV/HCV-coinfected patients had higher rates of hepatic decompensation than HCV-monoinfected individuals. Rates of decompensation were higher for coinfected patients with advanced liver fibrosis, severe anemia, diabetes, and non-black race.
PMCID: PMC4254786  PMID: 24723077
hepatic decompensation; end-stage liver disease; HIV/HCV coinfection; HIV; hepatitis C
3.  Cost-effectiveness of Newer Antiretroviral Drugs in Treatment-Experienced Patients with Multi-drug Resistant HIV Disease 
Newer antiretroviral drugs provide substantial benefits but are expensive. We determined the cost-effectiveness of using antiretroviral drugs in combination for patients with multi-drug resistant HIV disease.
We built a cohort state-transition model representing treatment-experienced patients with low CD4 counts, high viral load levels, and multi-drug resistant virus. We estimated the effectiveness of newer drugs (those approved in 2005 or later) from published randomized trials. We estimated other parameters from a randomized trial and from the literature. The model had a lifetime time horizon and used the perspective of an ideal insurer in the United States. The interventions were combination antiretroviral therapy, consisting of two newer drugs and one conventional drug, compared to three conventional drugs. Outcome measures were life-years, quality-adjusted life-years (QALYs), costs, and incremental cost-effectiveness.
Substituting newer antiretroviral drugs increased expected survival by 3.9 years in advanced HIV disease. The incremental cost-effectiveness ratio of newer, compared to conventional, antiretroviral drugs was $75,556/QALY gained. Sensitivity analyses showed that substituting only one newer antiretroviral drug cost $54,559 to $68,732/QALY, depending on assumptions about efficacy. Substituting three newer drugs cost $105,956 to $117,477/QALY. Cost-effectiveness ratios were higher if conventional drugs were not discontinued.
In treatment-experienced patients with advanced HIV disease, use of newer antiretroviral agents can be cost effective, given a cost-effectiveness threshold in the range of $50,000 to $75,000 per QALY gained. Newer antiretroviral agents should be used in carefully selected patients for whom less expensive options are clearly inferior.
PMCID: PMC3932156  PMID: 24129369
Novel antiretroviral drugs; multi-drug resistant HIV infection; cost-effectiveness analysis; quality of life; health economics
4.  Escherichia coli Sequence Type 131 (ST131) Subclone H30 as an Emergent Multidrug-Resistant Pathogen Among US Veterans 
Among US veterans in 2011, Escherichia coli ST131, primarily its H30 subclone, accounted for most antimicrobial-resistant E. coli clinical isolates and was the dominant E. coli strain overall. Possible contributors included multidrug resistance, extensive virulence gene content, and ongoing transmission.
Background. Escherichia coli sequence type 131 (ST131), typically fluoroquinolone-resistant (FQ-R) and/or extended-spectrum β-lactamase (ESBL)–producing, has emerged globally. We assessed its prevalence and characteristics among US veterans.
Methods. In 2011, 595 de-identified E. coli clinical isolates were collected systematically within 3 resistance groups (FQ-susceptible [FQ-S], FQ-R, and ESBL-producing) from 24 nationally distributed Veterans Affairs Medical Centers (VAMCs). ST131 and its H30 subclone were detected by polymerase chain reaction and compared with other E. coli for molecular traits, source, and resistance profiles.
Results. ST131 accounted for 78% (184/236) of FQ-R and 64.2% (79/123) of ESBL-producing isolates, but only 7.2% (17/236) of FQ-S isolates (P < .001). The H30 subclone accounted for ≥95% of FQ-R and ESBL-producing, but only 12.5% of FQ-S, ST131 isolates (P < .001). By back-calculation, 28% of VAMC E. coli isolates nationally represented ST131. Overall, ST131 varied minimally in prevalence by specimen type, inpatient/outpatient source, or locale; was the most prevalent ST, followed distantly by ST95 and ST12 (13% each); and accounted for ≥40% (β-lactams), >50% (trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole , multidrug), or >70% (ciprofloxacin, gentamicin) of total antimicrobial resistance. FQ-R and ESBL-producing ST131 isolates had higher virulence scores than corresponding non-ST131 isolates. ST131 pulsotypes overlapped extensively among VAMCs.
Conclusions. Among US veterans, ST131, primarily its H30 subclone, accounts for most antimicrobial-resistant E. coli and is the dominant E. coli strain overall. Possible contributors include multidrug resistance, extensive virulence gene content, and ongoing transmission. Focused attention to ST131, especially its H30 subclone, could reduce infection-related morbidity, mortality, and costs among veterans.
PMCID: PMC3792724  PMID: 23926176
Escherichia coli infections; ST131; antimicrobial resistance; veterans; extended-spectrum beta-lactamases
5.  Validation of an Algorithm to Identify Antiretroviral-Naïve Status at Time of Entry into a Large, Observational Cohort of HIV-infected Patients 
Pharmacoepidemiology and drug safety  2013;22(9):10.1002/pds.3476.
Large, observational HIV cohorts play an important role in answering questions which are difficult to study in randomized trials; however, they often lack detailed information regarding previous antiretroviral treatment (ART). Knowledge of ART treatment history is important when ascertaining the long-term impact of medications, co-morbidities, or adverse reactions on HIV outcomes.
We performed a retrospective study to validate a prediction algorithm for identifying ART-naïve patients using the Veterans Aging Cohort Study’s Virtual Cohort—an observational cohort of 40,594 HIV-infected veterans nationwide. Medical records for 3070 HIV-infected patients were reviewed to determine history of combination ART treatment. An algorithm using Virtual Cohort laboratory data was used to predict ART treatment status and compared to medical record review.
Among 3070 patients’ medical records reviewed, 1223 were eligible for analysis. Of these, 990 (81%) were ART naïve at cohort entry based on medical record review. The prediction algorithm’s sensitivity was 86%, specificity 47%, positive predictive value (PPV) 87% and negative predictive value 45%, using a viral load threshold of <400 copies/ml. Sensitivity analysis revealed that PPV would be maximized by increasing the viral load threshold, whereas sensitivity would be maximized by lowering the viral load threshold.
A prediction algorithm using available laboratory data can be used to accurately identify ART-naïve patients in large, observational HIV cohorts. Use of this algorithm will allow investigators to accurately limit analyses to ART-naïve patients when studying the contribution of ART to outcomes and adverse events.
PMCID: PMC3831617  PMID: 23836591
HIV-1; Antiretroviral Therapy, Highly Active; Cohort Studies; HIV infections/epidemiology; HIV infections/drug therapy
6.  The VACS Index Accurately Predicts Mortality and Treatment Response among Multi-Drug Resistant HIV Infected Patients Participating in the Options in Management with Antiretrovirals (OPTIMA) Study 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e92606.
The VACS Index is highly predictive of all-cause mortality among HIV infected individuals within the first few years of combination antiretroviral therapy (cART). However, its accuracy among highly treatment experienced individuals and its responsiveness to treatment interventions have yet to be evaluated. We compared the accuracy and responsiveness of the VACS Index with a Restricted Index of age and traditional HIV biomarkers among patients enrolled in the OPTIMA study.
Using data from 324/339 (96%) patients in OPTIMA, we evaluated associations between indices and mortality using Kaplan-Meier estimates, proportional hazards models, Harrel’s C-statistic and net reclassification improvement (NRI). We also determined the association between study interventions and risk scores over time, and change in score and mortality.
Both the Restricted Index (c = 0.70) and VACS Index (c = 0.74) predicted mortality from baseline, but discrimination was improved with the VACS Index (NRI = 23%). Change in score from baseline to 48 weeks was more strongly associated with survival for the VACS Index than the Restricted Index with respective hazard ratios of 0.26 (95% CI 0.14–0.49) and 0.39(95% CI 0.22–0.70) among the 25% most improved scores, and 2.08 (95% CI 1.27–3.38) and 1.51 (95%CI 0.90–2.53) for the 25% least improved scores.
The VACS Index predicts all-cause mortality more accurately among multi-drug resistant, treatment experienced individuals and is more responsive to changes in risk associated with treatment intervention than an index restricted to age and HIV biomarkers. The VACS Index holds promise as an intermediate outcome for intervention research.
PMCID: PMC3965438  PMID: 24667813
7.  Comorbid diabetes and the risk of progressive chronic kidney disease in HIV-infected adults: Data from the Veterans Aging Cohort Study 
Approximately 15% of HIV-infected individuals have comorbid diabetes. Studies suggest that HIV and diabetes have an additive effect on chronic kidney (CKD) progression; however, this observation may be confounded by differences in traditional CKD risk factors.
We studied a national cohort of HIV-infected and matched HIV-uninfected individuals who received care through the Veterans Healthcare Administration. Subjects were divided into four groups based on baseline HIV and diabetes status, and the rate of progression to an estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) < 45ml/min/1.73m2 was compared using Cox-proportional hazards modeling to adjust for CKD risk factors.
31,072 veterans with baseline eGFR ≥ 45ml/min/1.73m2 (10,626 with HIV only, 5,088 with diabetes only, and 1,796 with both) were followed for a median of 5 years. Mean baseline eGFR was 94ml/min/1.73m2, and 7% progressed to an eGFR < 45ml/min/1.73m2. Compared to those without HIV or diabetes, the relative rate of progression was increased in individuals with diabetes only [adjusted hazard ratio (HR) 2.48; 95% confidence interval (CI) 2.19–2.80], HIV only [HR 2.80, 95% CI 2.50–3.15], and both HIV and diabetes [HR 4.47, 95% CI 3.87–5.17].
Compared to patients with only HIV or diabetes, patients with both diagnoses are at significantly increased risk of progressive CKD even after adjusting for traditional CKD risk factors. Future studies should evaluate the relative contribution of complex comorbidities and accompanying polypharmacy to the risk of CKD in HIV-infected individuals, and prospectively investigate the use of cART, glycemic control, and adjunctive therapy to delay CKD progression.
PMCID: PMC3392432  PMID: 22592587
non-AIDS complications; HIV; chronic kidney disease; diabetes; risk factors
8.  HIV Status, Burden of Comorbid Disease, and Biomarkers of Inflammation, Altered Coagulation, and Monocyte Activation 
We investigated the association between human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and prevalence of elevated biomarkers of inflammation, altered coagulation, and monocyte activation in a cohort of HIV-infected and uninfected veterans who had a comparable burden of comorbid conditions.
Background. Biomarkers of inflammation, altered coagulation, and monocyte activation are associated with mortality and cardiovascular disease (CVD) in the general population and among human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)–infected people. We compared biomarkers for inflammation, altered coagulation, and monocyte activation between HIV-infected and uninfected people in the Veterans Aging Cohort Study (VACS).
Methods. Biomarkers of inflammation (interleukin-6 [IL-6]), altered coagulation (d-dimer), and monocyte activation (soluble CD14 [sCD14]) were measured in blood samples from 1525 HIV-infected and 843 uninfected VACS participants. Logistic regression was used to determine the association between HIV infection and prevalence of elevated (>75th percentile) biomarkers, adjusting for confounding comorbidities.
Results. HIV-infected veterans had less prevalent CVD, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, hazardous drinking, and renal disease, but more dyslipidemia, hepatitis C, and current smoking than uninfected veterans. Compared to uninfected veterans, HIV-infected veterans with HIV-1 RNA ≥500 copies/mL or CD4 count <200 cells/µL had a significantly higher prevalence of elevated IL-6 (odds ratio [OR], 1.54; 95% confidence interval [CI],1.14–2.09; OR, 2.25; 95% CI, 1.60–3.16, respectively) and d-dimer (OR, 1.97; 95% CI, 1.44–2.71, OR, 1.68; 95% CI, 1.22–2.32, respectively) after adjusting for comorbidities. HIV-infected veterans with a CD4 cell count <200 cells/µL had significantly higher prevalence of elevated sCD14 compared to uninfected veterans (OR, 2.60; 95% CI, 1.64–4.14). These associations still persisted after restricting the analysis to veterans without known confounding comorbid conditions.
Conclusions. These data suggest that ongoing HIV replication and immune depletion significantly contribute to increased prevalence of elevated biomarkers of inflammation, altered coagulation, and monocyte activation. This contribution is independent of and in addition to the substantial contribution from comorbid conditions.
PMCID: PMC3493182  PMID: 22534147
9.  HIV as an Independent Risk Factor for Incident Lung Cancer 
AIDS (London, England)  2012;26(8):1017-1025.
PMCID: PMC3580210  PMID: 22382152
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV); lung cancer; incidence; smoking; immunosuppression; non-AIDS defining malignancy
10.  Validating Smoking Data From the Veteran’s Affairs Health Factors Dataset, an Electronic Data Source 
Nicotine & Tobacco Research  2011;13(12):1233-1239.
We assessed smoking data from the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) electronic medical record (EMR) Health Factors dataset.
To assess the validity of the EMR Health Factors smoking data, we first created an algorithm to convert text entries into a 3-category smoking variable (never, former, and current). We compared this EMR smoking variable to 2 different sources of patient self-reported smoking survey data: (a) 6,816 HIV-infected and -uninfected participants in the 8-site Veterans Aging Cohort Study (VACS-8) and (b) a subset of 13,689 participants from the national VACS Virtual Cohort (VACS-VC), who also completed the 1999 Large Health Study (LHS) survey. Sensitivity, specificity, and kappa statistics were used to evaluate agreement of EMR Health Factors smoking data with self-report smoking data.
For the EMR Health Factors and VACS-8 comparison of current, former, and never smoking categories, the kappa statistic was .66. For EMR Health Factors and VACS-VC/LHS comparison of smoking, the kappa statistic was .61.
Based on kappa statistics, agreement between the EMR Health Factors and survey sources is substantial. Identification of current smokers nationally within the VHA can be used in future studies to track smoking status over time, to evaluate smoking interventions, and to adjust for smoking status in research. Our methodology may provide insights for other organizations seeking to use EMR data for accurate determination of smoking status.
PMCID: PMC3223583  PMID: 21911825
11.  FIB-4 index is associated with hepatocellular carcinoma risk in HIV-infected patients 
Chronic inflammation caused by hepatitis B virus infection, hepatitis C virus infection, and/or heavy alcohol use can lead to fibrosis, cirrhosis, and eventually hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). FIB-4 is an index score calculated from platelet count, alanine transaminase, aspartate transaminase, and age that predicts fibrosis and cirrhosis. We hypothesized that high FIB-4 would be associated with development of HCC in HIV-infected persons, who are at high risk due to high prevalence of viral hepatitis and alcohol consumption, and possibly due to HIV infection itself.
Using proportional hazards models, we tested this hypothesis among 22,980 HIV-infected men from the Veterans Aging Cohort Study. We identified incident HCC cases from the VA Central Cancer Registry.
During follow-up, there were 112 incident HCC diagnoses. The age-and race/ethnic group-adjusted HR was 4.2 (95% CI: 2.4, 7.4)for intermediate FIB-4 and 13.0 (95% CI: 7.2, 23.4) for high FIB-4, compared to low FIB-4. After further adjustment for enrollment year, CD4 count, HIV-1 RNA level, antiretroviral therapy use, hepatitis B and C virus infection, alcohol abuse/dependency, and diabetes, FIB-4 remained a strong, significant, independent risk factor for HCC. The multivariate-adjusted HR was 3.6 (95% CI: 2.1, 6.4) for intermediate FIB-4 and 9.6 (95% CI: 5.2, 17.4) for high FIB-4.
Calculated from routine, non-invasive laboratory tests, FIB-4 is a strong, independent HCC risk factor in HIV-infected patients.
FIB-4 might prove valuable as an easily measured index to identify those at highest risk for HCC, even prior to development of clinical cirrhosis.
PMCID: PMC3237927  PMID: 22028407
hepatocellular carcinoma; FIB-4; HIV; liver neoplasms; hepatic fibrosis
12.  Validity of Diagnostic Codes and Liver-Related Laboratory Abnormalities to Identify Hepatic Decompensation Events in the Veterans Aging Cohort Study 
The absence of validated methods to identify hepatic decompensation in cohort studies has prevented a full understanding of the natural history of chronic liver diseases and impact of medications on this outcome. We determined the ability of diagnostic codes and liver-related laboratory abnormalities to identify hepatic decompensation events within the Veterans Aging Cohort Study (VACS).
Medical records of patients with hepatic decompensation codes and/or laboratory abnormalities of liver dysfunction (total bilirubin ≥5.0 gm/dL, albumin ≤2.0 gm/dL, international normalized ratio ≥1.7) recorded one year before through six months after VACS entry were reviewed to identify decompensation events (i.e., ascites, spontaneous bacterial peritonitis, variceal hemorrhage, hepatic encephalopathy, hepatocellular carcinoma) at VACS enrollment. Positive predictive values (PPVs) of diagnostic codes, laboratory abnormalities, and their combinations for confirmed outcomes were determined.
Among 137 patients with a hepatic decompensation code and 197 with a laboratory abnormality, the diagnosis was confirmed in 57 (PPV, 42%; 95% CI, 33% – 50%) and 56 (PPV, 28%; 95% CI, 22% – 35%), respectively. The combination of any code plus laboratory abnormality increased PPV (64%; 95% CI, 47% - 79%). One inpatient or ≥2 outpatient diagnostic codes for ascites, spontaneous bacterial peritonitis, or variceal hemorrhage had high PPV (91%; 95% CI, 77% – 98%) for confirmed hepatic decompensation events.
An algorithm of 1 inpatient or ≥2 outpatient codes for ascites, peritonitis, or variceal hemorrhage has sufficiently high PPV for hepatic decompensation to enable its use for epidemiologic research in VACS. This algorithm may be applicable to other cohorts.
PMCID: PMC3131229  PMID: 21626605
hepatic decompensation; end-stage liver disease; epidemiologic methods; outcomes; validation studies
13.  The Risk of Incident Coronary Heart Disease Among Veterans with and without HIV and Hepatitis C 
Whether hepatitis C (HCV) confers additional coronary heart disease (CHD) risk among Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infected individuals is unclear. Without appropriate adjustment for antiretroviral therapy, CD4 count, and HIV-1 RNA, and substantially different mortality rates among those with and without HIV and HCV infection, the association between HIV, HCV, and CHD may be obscured.
Methods and Results
We analyzed data on 8579 participants (28% HIV+, 9% HIV+HCV+) from the Veterans Aging Cohort Study Virtual Cohort who participated in the 1999 Large Health Study of Veteran Enrollees. We analyzed data collected on HIV and HCV status, risk factors for and the incidence of CHD, and mortality from 1/2000–7/2007. We compared models to assess CHD risk when death was treated as a censoring event and as a competing risk. During the median 7.3 years of follow-up, there were 194 CHD events and 1186 deaths. Compared with HIV−HCV− Veterans, HIV+ HCV+ Veterans had a significantly higher risk of CHD regardless of whether death was adjusted for as a censoring event (adjusted hazard ratio (HR)=2.03, 95% CI=1.28–3.21) or a competing risk (adjusted HR=2.45, 95% CI=1.83–3.27 respectively). Compared with HIV+HCV− Veterans, HIV+ HCV+ Veterans also had a significantly higher adjusted risk of CHD regardless of whether death was treated as a censored event (adjusted HR=1.93, 95% CI=1.02–3.62) or a competing risk (adjusted HR =1.46, 95% CI=1.03–2.07).
HIV+HCV+ Veterans have an increased risk of CHD compared to HIV+HCV−, and HIV−HCV− Veterans.
PMCID: PMC3159506  PMID: 21712519
viruses; coronary disease; mortality; multi morbidity
14.  HIV Infection and Risk for Incident Pulmonary Diseases in the Combination Antiretroviral Therapy Era 
Rationale: In aging HIV-infected populations comorbid diseases are important determinants of morbidity and mortality. Pulmonary diseases have not been systematically assessed in the combination antiretroviral therapy (ART) era.
Objectives: To determine the incidence of pulmonary diseases in HIV-infected persons compared with HIV-uninfected persons.
Methods: We analyzed data from the Veterans Aging Cohort Study Virtual Cohort, consisting of 33,420 HIV-infected veterans and 66,840 age, sex, race and ethnicity, and site-matched HIV-uninfected veterans. Using Poisson regression, incidence rates and adjusted incidence rate ratios were calculated to determine the association of HIV with pulmonary disease. The Virtual Cohort was merged with the 1999 Veterans Large Health Survey to adjust for self-reported smoking in a nested sample (14%).
Measurements and Main Results: Incident chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, lung cancer, pulmonary hypertension, and pulmonary fibrosis, as well as pulmonary infections, were significantly more likely among HIV-infected patients compared with uninfected patients in adjusted analyses, although rates of asthma did not differ by HIV status. Bacterial pneumonia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease were the two most common incident pulmonary diseases, whereas opportunistic pneumonias were less common. Absolute rates of most pulmonary diseases increased with age, although the relative differences between those with and without HIV infection were greatest in younger persons. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and asthma, as well as pulmonary infections, were less likely in those with lower HIV RNA levels and use of ART at baseline.
Conclusions: Pulmonary diseases among HIV-infected patients receiving care within the Veterans Affairs Healthcare System in the combination ART era reflect a substantial burden of non–AIDS-defining and chronic conditions, many of which are associated with aging.
PMCID: PMC3266024  PMID: 20851926
HIV; respiratory tract diseases; lung diseases, obstructive; pneumonia; pneumonia, bacterial
15.  Vitamins A & D Inhibit the Growth of Mycobacteria in Radiometric Culture 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(1):e29631.
The role of vitamins in the combat of disease is usually conceptualized as acting by modulating the immune response of an infected, eukaryotic host. We hypothesized that some vitamins may directly influence the growth of prokaryotes, particularly mycobacteria.
The effect of four fat-soluble vitamins was studied in radiometric Bactec® culture. The vitamins were A (including a precursor and three metabolites,) D, E and K. We evaluated eight strains of three mycobacterial species (four of M. avium subspecies paratuberculosis (MAP), two of M. avium and two of M. tb. complex).
Principal Findings
Vitamins A and D cause dose-dependent inhibition of all three mycobacterial species studied. Vitamin A is consistently more inhibitory than vitamin D. The vitamin A precursor, β-carotene, is not inhibitory, whereas three vitamin A metabolites cause inhibition. Vitamin K has no effect. Vitamin E causes negligible inhibition in a single strain.
We show that vitamin A, its metabolites Retinyl acetate, Retinoic acid and 13-cis Retinoic acid and vitamin D directly inhibit mycobacterial growth in culture. These data are compatible with the hypothesis that complementing the immune response of multicellular organisms, vitamins A and D may have heretofore unproven, unrecognized, independent and probable synergistic, direct antimycobacterial inhibitory activity.
PMCID: PMC3250462  PMID: 22235314
16.  The Major Genetic Determinants of HIV-1 Control Affect HLA Class I Peptide Presentation 
Pereyra, Florencia | Jia, Xiaoming | McLaren, Paul J. | Telenti, Amalio | de Bakker, Paul I.W. | Walker, Bruce D. | Jia, Xiaoming | McLaren, Paul J. | Ripke, Stephan | Brumme, Chanson J. | Pulit, Sara L. | Telenti, Amalio | Carrington, Mary | Kadie, Carl M. | Carlson, Jonathan M. | Heckerman, David | de Bakker, Paul I.W. | Pereyra, Florencia | de Bakker, Paul I.W. | Graham, Robert R. | Plenge, Robert M. | Deeks, Steven G. | Walker, Bruce D. | Gianniny, Lauren | Crawford, Gabriel | Sullivan, Jordan | Gonzalez, Elena | Davies, Leela | Camargo, Amy | Moore, Jamie M. | Beattie, Nicole | Gupta, Supriya | Crenshaw, Andrew | Burtt, Noël P. | Guiducci, Candace | Gupta, Namrata | Carrington, Mary | Gao, Xiaojiang | Qi, Ying | Yuki, Yuko | Pereyra, Florencia | Piechocka-Trocha, Alicja | Cutrell, Emily | Rosenberg, Rachel | Moss, Kristin L. | Lemay, Paul | O’Leary, Jessica | Schaefer, Todd | Verma, Pranshu | Toth, Ildiko | Block, Brian | Baker, Brett | Rothchild, Alissa | Lian, Jeffrey | Proudfoot, Jacqueline | Alvino, Donna Marie L. | Vine, Seanna | Addo, Marylyn M. | Allen, Todd M. | Altfeld, Marcus | Henn, Matthew R. | Le Gall, Sylvie | Streeck, Hendrik | Walker, Bruce D. | Haas, David W. | Kuritzkes, Daniel R. | Robbins, Gregory K. | Shafer, Robert W. | Gulick, Roy M. | Shikuma, Cecilia M. | Haubrich, Richard | Riddler, Sharon | Sax, Paul E. | Daar, Eric S. | Ribaudo, Heather J. | Agan, Brian | Agarwal, Shanu | Ahern, Richard L. | Allen, Brady L. | Altidor, Sherly | Altschuler, Eric L. | Ambardar, Sujata | Anastos, Kathryn | Anderson, Ben | Anderson, Val | Andrady, Ushan | Antoniskis, Diana | Bangsberg, David | Barbaro, Daniel | Barrie, William | Bartczak, J. | Barton, Simon | Basden, Patricia | Basgoz, Nesli | Bazner, Suzane | Bellos, Nicholaos C. | Benson, Anne M. | Berger, Judith | Bernard, Nicole F. | Bernard, Annette M. | Birch, Christopher | Bodner, Stanley J. | Bolan, Robert K. | Boudreaux, Emilie T. | Bradley, Meg | Braun, James F. | Brndjar, Jon E. | Brown, Stephen J. | Brown, Katherine | Brown, Sheldon T. | Burack, Jedidiah | Bush, Larry M. | Cafaro, Virginia | Campbell, Omobolaji | Campbell, John | Carlson, Robert H. | Carmichael, J. Kevin | Casey, Kathleen K. | Cavacuiti, Chris | Celestin, Gregory | Chambers, Steven T. | Chez, Nancy | Chirch, Lisa M. | Cimoch, Paul J. | Cohen, Daniel | Cohn, Lillian E. | Conway, Brian | Cooper, David A. | Cornelson, Brian | Cox, David T. | Cristofano, Michael V. | Cuchural, George | Czartoski, Julie L. | Dahman, Joseph M. | Daly, Jennifer S. | Davis, Benjamin T. | Davis, Kristine | Davod, Sheila M. | Deeks, Steven G. | DeJesus, Edwin | Dietz, Craig A. | Dunham, Eleanor | Dunn, Michael E. | Ellerin, Todd B. | Eron, Joseph J. | Fangman, John J.W. | Farel, Claire E. | Ferlazzo, Helen | Fidler, Sarah | Fleenor-Ford, Anita | Frankel, Renee | Freedberg, Kenneth A. | French, Neel K. | Fuchs, Jonathan D. | Fuller, Jon D. | Gaberman, Jonna | Gallant, Joel E. | Gandhi, Rajesh T. | Garcia, Efrain | Garmon, Donald | Gathe, Joseph C. | Gaultier, Cyril R. | Gebre, Wondwoosen | Gilman, Frank D. | Gilson, Ian | Goepfert, Paul A. | Gottlieb, Michael S. | Goulston, Claudia | Groger, Richard K. | Gurley, T. Douglas | Haber, Stuart | Hardwicke, Robin | Hardy, W. David | Harrigan, P. Richard | Hawkins, Trevor N. | Heath, Sonya | Hecht, Frederick M. | Henry, W. Keith | Hladek, Melissa | Hoffman, Robert P. | Horton, James M. | Hsu, Ricky K. | Huhn, Gregory D. | Hunt, Peter | Hupert, Mark J. | Illeman, Mark L. | Jaeger, Hans | Jellinger, Robert M. | John, Mina | Johnson, Jennifer A. | Johnson, Kristin L. | Johnson, Heather | Johnson, Kay | Joly, Jennifer | Jordan, Wilbert C. | Kauffman, Carol A. | Khanlou, Homayoon | Killian, Robert K. | Kim, Arthur Y. | Kim, David D. | Kinder, Clifford A. | Kirchner, Jeffrey T. | Kogelman, Laura | Kojic, Erna Milunka | Korthuis, P. Todd | Kurisu, Wayne | Kwon, Douglas S. | LaMar, Melissa | Lampiris, Harry | Lanzafame, Massimiliano | Lederman, Michael M. | Lee, David M. | Lee, Jean M.L. | Lee, Marah J. | Lee, Edward T.Y. | Lemoine, Janice | Levy, Jay A. | Llibre, Josep M. | Liguori, Michael A. | Little, Susan J. | Liu, Anne Y. | Lopez, Alvaro J. | Loutfy, Mono R. | Loy, Dawn | Mohammed, Debbie Y. | Man, Alan | Mansour, Michael K. | Marconi, Vincent C. | Markowitz, Martin | Marques, Rui | Martin, Jeffrey N. | Martin, Harold L. | Mayer, Kenneth Hugh | McElrath, M. Juliana | McGhee, Theresa A. | McGovern, Barbara H. | McGowan, Katherine | McIntyre, Dawn | Mcleod, Gavin X. | Menezes, Prema | Mesa, Greg | Metroka, Craig E. | Meyer-Olson, Dirk | Miller, Andy O. | Montgomery, Kate | Mounzer, Karam C. | Nagami, Ellen H. | Nagin, Iris | Nahass, Ronald G. | Nelson, Margret O. | Nielsen, Craig | Norene, David L. | O’Connor, David H. | Ojikutu, Bisola O. | Okulicz, Jason | Oladehin, Olakunle O. | Oldfield, Edward C. | Olender, Susan A. | Ostrowski, Mario | Owen, William F. | Pae, Eunice | Parsonnet, Jeffrey | Pavlatos, Andrew M. | Perlmutter, Aaron M. | Pierce, Michael N. | Pincus, Jonathan M. | Pisani, Leandro | Price, Lawrence Jay | Proia, Laurie | Prokesch, Richard C. | Pujet, Heather Calderon | Ramgopal, Moti | Rathod, Almas | Rausch, Michael | Ravishankar, J. | Rhame, Frank S. | Richards, Constance Shamuyarira | Richman, Douglas D. | Robbins, Gregory K. | Rodes, Berta | Rodriguez, Milagros | Rose, Richard C. | Rosenberg, Eric S. | Rosenthal, Daniel | Ross, Polly E. | Rubin, David S. | Rumbaugh, Elease | Saenz, Luis | Salvaggio, Michelle R. | Sanchez, William C. | Sanjana, Veeraf M. | Santiago, Steven | Schmidt, Wolfgang | Schuitemaker, Hanneke | Sestak, Philip M. | Shalit, Peter | Shay, William | Shirvani, Vivian N. | Silebi, Vanessa I. | Sizemore, James M. | Skolnik, Paul R. | Sokol-Anderson, Marcia | Sosman, James M. | Stabile, Paul | Stapleton, Jack T. | Starrett, Sheree | Stein, Francine | Stellbrink, Hans-Jurgen | Sterman, F. Lisa | Stone, Valerie E. | Stone, David R. | Tambussi, Giuseppe | Taplitz, Randy A. | Tedaldi, Ellen M. | Telenti, Amalio | Theisen, William | Torres, Richard | Tosiello, Lorraine | Tremblay, Cecile | Tribble, Marc A. | Trinh, Phuong D. | Tsao, Alice | Ueda, Peggy | Vaccaro, Anthony | Valadas, Emilia | Vanig, Thanes J. | Vecino, Isabel | Vega, Vilma M. | Veikley, Wenoah | Wade, Barbara H. | Walworth, Charles | Wanidworanun, Chingchai | Ward, Douglas J. | Warner, Daniel A. | Weber, Robert D. | Webster, Duncan | Weis, Steve | Wheeler, David A. | White, David J. | Wilkins, Ed | Winston, Alan | Wlodaver, Clifford G. | Wout, Angelique van’t | Wright, David P. | Yang, Otto O. | Yurdin, David L. | Zabukovic, Brandon W. | Zachary, Kimon C. | Zeeman, Beth | Zhao, Meng
Science (New York, N.Y.)  2010;330(6010):1551-1557.
Infectious and inflammatory diseases have repeatedly shown strong genetic associations within the major histocompatibility complex (MHC); however, the basis for these associations remains elusive. To define host genetic effects on the outcome of a chronic viral infection, we performed genome-wide association analysis in a multiethnic cohort of HIV-1 controllers and progressors, and we analyzed the effects of individual amino acids within the classical human leukocyte antigen (HLA) proteins. We identified >300 genome-wide significant single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) within the MHC and none elsewhere. Specific amino acids in the HLA-B peptide binding groove, as well as an independent HLA-C effect, explain the SNP associations and reconcile both protective and risk HLA alleles. These results implicate the nature of the HLA–viral peptide interaction as the major factor modulating durable control of HIV infection.
PMCID: PMC3235490  PMID: 21051598
17.  Ultrasensitive detection of rare mutations using next-generation targeted resequencing 
Nucleic Acids Research  2011;40(1):e2.
With next-generation DNA sequencing technologies, one can interrogate a specific genomic region of interest at very high depth of coverage and identify less prevalent, rare mutations in heterogeneous clinical samples. However, the mutation detection levels are limited by the error rate of the sequencing technology as well as by the availability of variant-calling algorithms with high statistical power and low false positive rates. We demonstrate that we can robustly detect mutations at 0.1% fractional representation. This represents accurate detection of one mutant per every 1000 wild-type alleles. To achieve this sensitive level of mutation detection, we integrate a high accuracy indexing strategy and reference replication for estimating sequencing error variance. We employ a statistical model to estimate the error rate at each position of the reference and to quantify the fraction of variant base in the sample. Our method is highly specific (99%) and sensitive (100%) when applied to a known 0.1% sample fraction admixture of two synthetic DNA samples to validate our method. As a clinical application of this method, we analyzed nine clinical samples of H1N1 influenza A and detected an oseltamivir (antiviral therapy) resistance mutation in the H1N1 neuraminidase gene at a sample fraction of 0.18%.
PMCID: PMC3245950  PMID: 22013163
18.  Impact of Pneumococcal Vaccination on the Incidence of Pneumonia by HIV Infection Status among Patients Enrolled in the Veterans Aging Cohort 5-Site Study 
Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)–infected persons have a high incidence of pneumonia and pneumococcal disease. Benefits of vaccination with the 23-valent pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPV) among these patients continue to be debated.
The impact of PPV vaccination on the incidence of pneumonia events (i.e., the composite of pneumococcal pneumonia and pneumonia due to nonspecified organisms) was examined among participants in the Veterans Aging Cohort 5-Site Study, an ongoing prospective study of HIV-infected patients matched to an HIV-uninfected control group. Dates of PPV vaccination and pneumonia were determined by retrospective review of electronic medical records. Time to events was measured for up to 2 years from PPV vaccination or from enrollment for vaccinated and unvaccinated patients, respectively. Kaplan-Meier and Cox proportional hazards regression methods were used to examine the incidence of pneumonia by HIV infection and PPV vaccination status.
Among 692 HIV-uninfected and 934 HIV-infected study participants, 59% were vaccinated with PPV. The 2-year incidence of pneumonia was 6% (97 participants developed pneumonia). HIV-infected patients had a higher rate of pneumonia (hazard ratio, 5.81; 95% confidence interval, 3.15–10.71); overall, vaccinated patients showed a trend toward lower risk of pneumonia (hazard ratio, 0.75; 95% confidence interval, 0.50–1.13). Among HIV-infected patients, after controlling for HIV-specific and other variables, vaccination significantly reduced the risk of pneumonia (hazard ratio, 0.65; 95% confidence interval, 0.42–1.00); current smoking, low hemoglobin level, and low CD4 cell count significantly increased such risk. The effect of PPV vaccination among HIV-uninfected patients was not significant.
Among HIV-infected patients, PPV vaccination offered protection against pneumonia. Smoking cessation needs to be pursued as an additional strategy for preventing pneumonia.
PMCID: PMC3115628  PMID: 18444830
19.  Results of Antiretroviral Treatment Interruption and Intensification in Advanced Multi-Drug Resistant HIV Infection from the OPTIMA Trial 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(3):e14764.
Guidance is needed on best medical management for advanced HIV disease with multidrug resistance (MDR) and limited retreatment options. We assessed two novel antiretroviral (ARV) treatment approaches in this setting.
Methods and Findings
We conducted a 2×2 factorial randomized open label controlled trial in patients with a CD4 count ≤300 cells/µl who had ARV treatment (ART) failure requiring retreatment, to two options (a) re-treatment with either standard (≤4 ARVs) or intensive (≥5 ARVs) ART and b) either treatment starting immediately or after a 12-week monitored ART interruption. Primary outcome was time to developing a first AIDS-defining event (ADE) or death from any cause. Analysis was by intention to treat. From 2001 to 2006, 368 patients were randomized. At baseline, mean age was 48 years, 2% were women, median CD4 count was 106/µl, mean viral load was 4.74 log10 copies/ml, and 59% had a prior AIDS diagnosis. Median follow-up was 4.0 years in 1249 person-years of observation. There were no statistically significant differences in the primary composite outcome of ADE or death between re-treatment options of standard versus intensive ART (hazard ratio 1.17; CI 0.86–1.59), or between immediate retreatment initiation versus interruption before re-treatment (hazard ratio 0.93; CI 0.68–1.30), or in the rate of non-HIV associated serious adverse events between re-treatment options.
We did not observe clinical benefit or harm assessed by the primary outcome in this largest and longest trial exploring both ART interruption and intensification in advanced MDR HIV infection with poor retreatment options.
Trial Registration NCT00050089
PMCID: PMC3069000  PMID: 21483491
20.  Veterans Aging Cohort Study (VACS) 
Medical care  2006;44(8 Suppl 2):S13-S24.
The Veterans Aging Cohort Study (VACS) is a study of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infected and uninfected patients seen in infectious disease and general medical clinics. VACS includes the earlier 3 and 5 site studies (VACS 3 and VACS 5) as well as the ongoing 8 site study.
We sought to provide background and context for analyses based upon VACS data, including study design and rationale as well as its basic protocol and the baseline characteristics of the enrolled sample.
Research Design
We undertook a prospectively consented multisite observational study of veterans in care with and without HIV infection.
Data were derived from patient and provider self report, telephone interviews, blood and DNA samples, focus groups, and full access to the national VA “paperless” electronic medical record system.
More than 7200 veterans have been enrolled in at least one of the studies. The 8 site study (VACS) has enrolled 2979 HIV-infected and 3019 HIV-uninfected age–race–site matched comparators and has achieved stratified enrollment targets for race/ethnicity and age and 99% of its total target enrollment as of October 30, 2005. Participants in VACS are similar to other veterans receiving care within the VA. VACS participants are older and more predominantly black than those reported by the Centers for Disease Control.
VACS has assembled a rich, in-depth, and representative sample of veterans in care with and without HIV infection to conduct longitudinal analyses of questions concerning the association between alcohol use and related comorbid and AIDS-defining conditions.
PMCID: PMC3049942  PMID: 16849964
HIV/AIDS; alcohol; aging veterans; data management/research design
21.  Hepatitis C and the Risk of Kidney Disease and Mortality in Veterans With HIV 
To examine the effect of hepatitis C virus (HCV) on the prevalence of chronic kidney disease (CKD) among veterans with HIV and to evaluate independent associations of HCV and CKD with mortality.
We studied a national cohort of HIV-infected patients receiving care through the Veterans Healthcare Administration from 1998 to 2004. CKD was defined as an estimated glomerular filtration rate [eGFR (mL/min/1.73 m2)] < 60. Poisson regression was used to assess relationships between CKD, HCV, and mortality.
Among 23,155 HIV-infected veterans, 12% had CKD. Forty percent of the cohort was coinfected with HCV, and a higher proportion of coinfected subjects had CKD compared with monoinfected subjects (14% vs 11%, P < 0.001). During the median follow-up of 7.6 years, 37% of subjects died and a graduated increase in adjusted mortality rates occurred with lower levels of eGFR (P < 0.001). Adjusted mortality rates were consistently higher in HCV-coinfected subjects across all levels of eGFR (P < 0.001). HCV was independently associated with increased mortality (incidence rate ratio 1.23, 95% confidence interval 1.17–1.29).
CKD is prevalent in HIV-infected veterans and associated with substantially higher mortality. Compared with their monoinfected counterparts, veterans coinfected with HCV have significantly higher rates of CKD and mortality.
PMCID: PMC3032564  PMID: 20104121
death; HIV; hepatitis C; kidney failure; veterans
22.  The Thioamides Methimazole and Thiourea Inhibit Growth of M. avium Subspecies paratuberculosis in Culture 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(6):e11099.
Thyrotoxicosis is conceptualized as an “autoimmune” disease with no accepted infectious etiology. There are increasingly compelling data that another “autoimmune” affliction, Crohn disease, may be caused by Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis (MAP). Like M. tb, MAP is systemic. We hypothesized that some cases of thyrotoxicosis may be initiated by a MAP infection. Because other thioamides treat tuberculosis, leprosy and M. avium complex, we hypothesized that a mode of action of some thioamide anti-thyrotoxicosis medications may include MAP growth inhibition.
The effect of the thioamides, thiourea, methimazole and 6-propo-2-thiouracil (6-PTU) were studied in radiometric Bactec® culture, on ten strains of three mycobacterial species (six of MAP, two of M. avium and two of M. tb. complex). Data are presented as “cumulative growth index,” (cGI) or “percent decrease in cumulative GI” (%-ΔcGI).
Principal Findings
Methimazole was the most effective thioamide at inhibiting MAP growth. At 128µg/ml: MAP UCF-4; 65%-ΔcGI & MAP ATCC 19698; 90%-ΔcGI. Thiourea inhibited MAP “Ben” maximally; 70%-ΔcGI. Neither methimazole nor thiourea inhibited M. avium or M. tb. at the doses tested. 6-PTU has no inhibition on any strain studied, although a structurally analogous control, 5-PTU, was the most inhibitory thioamide tested.
We show inhibition of MAP growth by the thioamides, thiourea and methimazole in culture. These data are compatible with the hypothesis that these thioamides may have anti-prokaryotic in addition to their well-established eukaryotic actions in thyrotoxic individuals.
PMCID: PMC2885409  PMID: 20559419
23.  Monensin causes dose dependent inhibition of Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis in radiometric culture 
Gut Pathogens  2009;1:4.
Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis (MAP) causes a chronic wasting diarrheal disease in ruminants called Johne's disease, that is evocative of human inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Agents used to treat IBD, called "anti-inflammatories", immuno-modulators" and "immuno-suppressants" inhibit MAP growth in culture. We concluded that, unknowingly, the medical profession has been treating MAP since sulfasalazine's introduction in 1942. Monensin, called a "Growth Enhancer" in cattle, ameliorates Johne's disease without a documented mechanism of action. We hypothesized that Monensin would inhibit MAP in culture.
Using the radiometric 14CO2 Bactec® system, that expresses mycobacterial growth in arbitrary growth index (GI) units, we studied the effect of Monensin on the growth kinetic of MAP isolated from humans with IBD ("Dominic", "Ben" & UCF-4) and cattle with Johne's disease (303 & ATCC 19698.) Results are expressed as percent inhibition of cumulative GI (%–ΔcGI).
The positive control Clofazimine inhibits every strain tested. The negative controls Cycloheximide & Phthalimide, have no inhibition on any MAP strain. Monensin has dose dependent inhibition on every MAP strain tested. The most susceptible human isolate was UCF-4 (73% – ΔcGI at 1 μg/ml) and bovine isolate was 303 (73% – ΔcGI at 4 μg/ml.) Monensin additionally inhibits M. avium ATCC 25291 (87% – ΔcGI at 64 μg/ml) & BCG (92% – ΔcGI at 16 μg/ml).
We show that in radiometric culture the "Growth Enhancer" Monensin causes dose dependent inhibition of mycobacteria including MAP. We posit that the "Growth Enhancer" effect of Monensin may, at least in part, be due to inhibition of MAP in clinical or sub-clinical Johne's disease.
PMCID: PMC2664324  PMID: 19338684
24.  On the Action of Cyclosporine A, Rapamycin and Tacrolimus on M. avium Including Subspecies paratuberculosis 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(6):e2496.
Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis (MAP) may be zoonotic. Recently the “immuno-modulators” methotrexate, azathioprine and 6-MP and the “anti-inflammatory” 5-ASA have been shown to inhibit MAP growth in vitro. We concluded that their most plausible mechanism of action is as antiMAP antibiotics. The “immunosuppressants” Cyclosporine A, Rapamycin and Tacrolimus (FK 506) treat a variety of “autoimmune” and “inflammatory” diseases. Rapamycin and Tacrolimus are macrolides. We hypothesized that their mode of action may simply be to inhibit MAP growth.
The effect on radiometric MAP 14CO2 growth kinetics of Cyclosporine A, Rapamycin and Tacrolimus on MAP cultured from humans (Dominic & UCF 4) or ruminants (ATCC 19698 & 303) and M. avium subspecies avium (ATCC 25291 & 101) are presented as “percent decrease in cumulative GI” (%-ΔcGI.)
Principal Findings
The positive control clofazimine has 99%-ΔcGI at 0.5 µg/ml (Dominic). Phthalimide, a negative control has no dose dependent inhibition on any strain. Against MAP there is dose dependent inhibition by the immunosuppressants. Cyclosporine has 97%-ΔcGI by 32 µg/ml (Dominic), Rapamycin has 74%-ΔcGI by 64 µg/ml (UCF 4) and Tacrolimus 43%-ΔcGI by 64 µg/ml (UCF 4)
We show heretofore-undescribed inhibition of MAP growth in vitro by “immunosuppressants;” the cyclic undecapeptide Cyclosporine A, and the macrolides Rapamycin and Tacrolimus. These data are compatible with our thesis that, unknowingly, the medical profession has been treating MAP infections since 1942 when 5-ASA and subsequently azathioprine, 6-MP and methotrexate were introduced in the therapy of some “autoimmune” and “inflammatory” diseases.
PMCID: PMC2427180  PMID: 18575598
25.  On the Action of 5-Amino-Salicylic Acid and Sulfapyridine on M. avium including Subspecies paratuberculosis 
PLoS ONE  2007;2(6):e516.
Introduced in 1942, sulfasalazine (a conjugate of 5-aminosalicylic acid (5-ASA) and sulfapyridine) is the most prescribed medication used to treat “inflammatory” bowel disease (IBD.) Although controversial, there are increasingly compelling data that Mycobacterium avium subspecies paratuberculosis (MAP) may be an etiological agent in some or all of IBD. We have shown that two other agents used in the therapy of IBD (methotrexate and 6-MP) profoundly inhibit MAP growth. We concluded that their most plausible mechanism of action is as antiMAP antibiotics. We herein hypothesize that the mechanism of action of 5-ASA and/or sulfapyridine may also simply be to inhibit MAP growth.
The effect on MAP growth kinetics by sulfasalazine and its components were evaluated in bacterial culture of two strains each of MAP and M. avium, using a radiometric (14CO2 BACTEC®) detection system that quantifies mycobacterial growth as arbitrary “growth index units” (GI). Efficacy data are presented as “percent decrease in cumulative GI” (%−ΔcGI).
Principal Findings
There are disparate responses to 5-ASA and sulfapyridine in the two subspecies. Against MAP, 5-ASA is inhibitory in a dose-dependent manner (MAP ATCC 19698 46%−ΔcGI at 64 µg/ml), whereas sulfapyridine has virtually no effect. In contrast, against M. avium ATCC 25291, 5-ASA has no effect, whereas sulfapyridine (88%−ΔcGI at 4 µg/ml) is as effective as methotrexate, our positive control (88%−ΔcGI at 4 µg/ml).
5-ASA inhibits MAP growth in culture. We posit that, unknowingly, the medical profession has been treating MAP infections since sulfasalazine's introduction in 1942. These observations may explain, in part, why MAP has not previously been identified as a human pathogen. We conclude that henceforth in clinical trials evaluating antiMAP agents in IBD, if considered ethical, the use of 5-ASA (as well as methotrexate and 6-MP) should be excluded from control groups.
PMCID: PMC1885215  PMID: 17565369

Results 1-25 (26)