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1.  AIDS defining opportunistic infections in patients with high CD4 counts in the combination antiretroviral therapy (cART) era: things ain't what they used to be 
Journal of the International AIDS Society  2014;17(4Suppl 3):19621.
According to reports from observational databases, classic AIDS-defining opportunistic infections (ADOIs) occur in patients with CD4 counts above 500/µL on and off cART. Adjudication of these events is usually not performed. However, ADOIs are often used as endpoints, for example, in analyses on when to start cART.
Materials and Methods
In the database, Swiss HIV Cohort Study (SHCS) database, we identified 91 cases of ADOIs that occurred from 1996 onwards in patients with the nearest CD4 count >500/µL. Cases of tuberculosis and recurrent bacterial pneumonia were excluded as they also occur in non-immunocompromised patients. Chart review was performed in 82 cases, and in 50 cases we identified CD4 counts within six months before until one month after ADOI and had chart review material to allow an in-depth review. In these 50 cases, we assessed whether (1) the ADOI fulfilled the SHCS diagnostic criteria (, and (2) HIV infection with CD4 >500/µL was the main immune-compromising condition to cause the ADOI. Adjudication of cases was done by two experienced clinicians who had to agree on the interpretation.
More than 13,000 participants were followed in SHCS in the period of interest. Twenty-four (48%) of the chart-reviewed 50 patients with ADOI and CD4 >500/µL had an HIV RNA <400 copies/mL at the time of ADOI. In the 50 cases, candida oesophagitis was the most frequent ADOI in 30 patients (60%) followed by pneumocystis pneumonia and chronic ulcerative HSV disease (Table 1). Overall chronic HIV infection with a CD4 count >500/µL was the likely explanation for the ADOI in only seven cases (14%). Other reasons (Table 1) were ADOIs occurring during primary HIV infection in 5 (10%) cases, unmasking IRIS in 1 (2%) case, chronic HIV infection with CD4 counts <500/µL near the ADOI in 13 (26%) cases, diagnosis not according to SHCS diagnostic criteria in 7 (14%) cases and most importantly other additional immune-compromising conditions such as immunosuppressive drugs in 14 (34%).
In patients with CD4 counts >500/ µL, chronic HIV infection is the cause of ADOIs in only a minority of cases. Other immuno-compromising conditions are more likely explanations in one-third of the patients, especially in cases of candida oesophagitis. ADOIs in HIV patients with high CD4 counts should be used as endpoints only with much caution in studies based on observational databases.
PMCID: PMC4224787  PMID: 25394125
2.  Lack of association between use of efavirenz and death from suicide: evidence from the D:A:D study 
Journal of the International AIDS Society  2014;17(4Suppl 3):19512.
A recent meta-analysis of 4 RCTs showed an increased rate of suicidality events (suicidal ideation or attempted/completed suicide) associated with efavirenz (EFV) compared to other regimens, but only a trend towards a higher rate of completed/attempted suicides, as only 17 events occurred. We investigated the association between EFV use and completed suicide.
Materials and Methods
All D:A:D participants were followed from study entry to the first of death, last study visit or 1 February 2013. Deaths are centrally validated using cause of death methodology, which assigns underlying, immediate and up to four contributing causes of death. Two endpoints were considered: 1) suicide or psychiatric disease as the underlying cause, and 2) suicide or psychiatric disease mentioned as an underlying, immediate or contributing cause of death (anywhere). Adjusted rate ratios were calculated using Poisson regression.
A total of 4420 deaths occurred in 49,717 people over 371,333 person-years (PY) (rate 11.9 per 1000 PY; 95% CI 11.6–12.3). A total of 193 deaths (rate 0.52; 0.45–0.59) had an underlying cause of suicide or psychiatric disease, and 482 deaths (1.30; 1.18–1.41) had suicide or psychiatric disease mentioned anywhere. A strong association with current CD4 count was seen: for suicide or psychiatric disease mentioned anywhere, rates were: 3.18 (2.55–3.80) for <200 cells/uL, 1.60 (1.29–1.90) for 201–350 cells/uL, 1.07 (0.86–1.29) for 351–500 cells/uL, 0.95 (0.80–1.09) for >500 cells/uL and 1.30 (1.18–1.41) for unknown. Highest rate of suicide or psychiatric deaths were seen in ART-experienced people currently off ART, but no differences were seen according to current ART regimen, which remained after adjustment (Table 1). Consistent results were obtained when considering additional endpoints of suicide alone as the underlying cause and death from suicide or any possibly related cause (psychiatric disease, drug overdose, alcohol related, accidental or violent), as well as considering recent EFV use in the previous 3 and 6 months.
The finding of no higher death rates from suicide amongst those receiving EFV is reassuring. However, there is likely confounding by indication in our observational study. In light of conflicting results from RCTs, this potentially could suggest that in clinical practice EFV may be less frequently prescribed in those with underlying psychiatric conditions.
PMCID: PMC4224932  PMID: 25394021
3.  Co-Trimoxazole Prophylaxis Is Associated with Reduced Risk of Incident Tuberculosis in Participants in the Swiss HIV Cohort Study 
Co-trimoxazole reduces mortality in HIV-infected adults with tuberculosis (TB), and in vitro data suggest potential antimycobacterial activity of co-trimoxazole. We aimed to evaluate whether prophylaxis with co-trimoxazole is associated with a decreased risk of incident TB in Swiss HIV Cohort Study (SHCS) participants. We determined the incidence of TB per 1,000 person-years from January 1992 to December 2012. Rates were analyzed separately in participants with current or no previous antiretroviral treatment (ART) using Poisson regression adjusted for CD4 cell count, sex, region of origin, injection drug use, and age. A total of 13,431 cohort participants contributed 107,549 person-years of follow-up: 182 patients had incident TB—132 (73%) before and 50 (27%) after ART initiation. The multivariable incidence rate ratios for cumulative co-trimoxazole exposure per year for persons with no previous ART and current ART were 0.70 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.55 to 0.89) and 0.87 (95% CI, 0.74 to 1.0), respectively. Co-trimoxazole may prevent the development of TB among HIV-positive persons, especially among those with no previous ART.
PMCID: PMC4023723  PMID: 24514096
4.  Contribution of Genetic Background, Traditional Risk Factors, and HIV-Related Factors to Coronary Artery Disease Events in HIV-Positive Persons 
Rotger, Margalida | Glass, Tracy R. | Junier, Thomas | Lundgren, Jens | Neaton, James D. | Poloni, Estella S. | van 't Wout, Angélique B. | Lubomirov, Rubin | Colombo, Sara | Martinez, Raquel | Rauch, Andri | Günthard, Huldrych F. | Neuhaus, Jacqueline | Wentworth, Deborah | van Manen, Danielle | Gras, Luuk A. | Schuitemaker, Hanneke | Albini, Laura | Torti, Carlo | Jacobson, Lisa P. | Li, Xiuhong | Kingsley, Lawrence A. | Carli, Federica | Guaraldi, Giovanni | Ford, Emily S. | Sereti, Irini | Hadigan, Colleen | Martinez, Esteban | Arnedo, Mireia | Egaña-Gorroño, Lander | Gatell, Jose M. | Law, Matthew | Bendall, Courtney | Petoumenos, Kathy | Rockstroh, Jürgen | Wasmuth, Jan-Christian | Kabamba, Kabeya | Delforge, Marc | De Wit, Stephane | Berger, Florian | Mauss, Stefan | de Paz Sierra, Mariana | Losso, Marcelo | Belloso, Waldo H. | Leyes, Maria | Campins, Antoni | Mondi, Annalisa | De Luca, Andrea | Bernardino, Ignacio | Barriuso-Iglesias, Mónica | Torrecilla-Rodriguez, Ana | Gonzalez-Garcia, Juan | Arribas, José R. | Fanti, Iuri | Gel, Silvia | Puig, Jordi | Negredo, Eugenia | Gutierrez, Mar | Domingo, Pere | Fischer, Julia | Fätkenheuer, Gerd | Alonso-Villaverde, Carlos | Macken, Alan | Woo, James | McGinty, Tara | Mallon, Patrick | Mangili, Alexandra | Skinner, Sally | Wanke, Christine A. | Reiss, Peter | Weber, Rainer | Bucher, Heiner C. | Fellay, Jacques | Telenti, Amalio | Tarr, Philip E.
We show in human immunodeficiency virus–positive persons that the coronary artery disease effect of an unfavorable genetic background is comparable to previous studies in the general population, and comparable in size to traditional risk factors and antiretroviral regimens known to increase cardiovascular risk.
Background Persons infected with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) have increased rates of coronary artery disease (CAD). The relative contribution of genetic background, HIV-related factors, antiretroviral medications, and traditional risk factors to CAD has not been fully evaluated in the setting of HIV infection.
Methods In the general population, 23 common single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were shown to be associated with CAD through genome-wide association analysis. Using the Metabochip, we genotyped 1875 HIV-positive, white individuals enrolled in 24 HIV observational studies, including 571 participants with a first CAD event during the 9-year study period and 1304 controls matched on sex and cohort.
Results A genetic risk score built from 23 CAD-associated SNPs contributed significantly to CAD (P = 2.9×10−4). In the final multivariable model, participants with an unfavorable genetic background (top genetic score quartile) had a CAD odds ratio (OR) of 1.47 (95% confidence interval [CI], 1.05–2.04). This effect was similar to hypertension (OR = 1.36; 95% CI, 1.06–1.73), hypercholesterolemia (OR = 1.51; 95% CI, 1.16–1.96), diabetes (OR = 1.66; 95% CI, 1.10–2.49), ≥1 year lopinavir exposure (OR = 1.36; 95% CI, 1.06–1.73), and current abacavir treatment (OR = 1.56; 95% CI, 1.17–2.07). The effect of the genetic risk score was additive to the effect of nongenetic CAD risk factors, and did not change after adjustment for family history of CAD.
Conclusions In the setting of HIV infection, the effect of an unfavorable genetic background was similar to traditional CAD risk factors and certain adverse antiretroviral exposures. Genetic testing may provide prognostic information complementary to family history of CAD.
PMCID: PMC3669528  PMID: 23532479
HIV infection; coronary artery disease; genetics; traditional risk factors; antiretroviral therapy
5.  Antiretroviral Drug-Related Liver Mortality Among HIV-Positive Persons in the Absence of Hepatitis B or C Virus Coinfection: The Data Collection on Adverse Events of Anti-HIV Drugs Study 
In a large prospective multicohort study 22 910 human immunodeficiency virus–positive participants without hepatitis B or C virus coinfection were followed for 114 478 patient-years. The incidence of liver-related death was low at 0.10 per 1000 patient-years. Liverrelated mortality due to antiretroviral drug-related toxicity was rare.
Background. Liver diseases are the leading causes of death in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)–positive persons since the widespread use of combination antiretroviral treatment (cART). Most of these deaths are due to hepatitis C (HCV) or B (HBV) virus coinfections. Little is known about other causes. Prolonged exposure to some antiretroviral drugs might increase hepatic mortality.
Methods. All patients in the Data Collection on Adverse Events of Anti-HIV Drugs study without HCV or HBV coinfection were prospectively followed from date of entry until death or last follow-up. In patients with liver-related death, clinical charts were reviewed using a structured questionnaire.
Results. We followed 22 910 participants without hepatitis virus coinfection for 114 478 person-years. There were 12 liver-related deaths (incidence, 0.10/1000 person-years); 7 due to severe alcohol use and 5 due to established ART-related toxicity. The rate of ART-related deaths in treatment-experienced persons was 0.04/1000 person-years (95% confidence interval, .01, .10).
Conclusions. We found a low incidence of liver-related deaths in HIV-infected persons without HCV or HBV coinfection. Liver-related mortality because of ART-related toxicity was rare.
PMCID: PMC3582358  PMID: 23090925
liver-related mortality; drug toxicity; antiretroviral therapy; HIV infection; cohort study
6.  Association between Specific HIV-1 Env Traits and Virologic Control in vivo 
HIV RNA levels are influenced by genetic characteristics of both the host and the virus. Here we applied machine learning techniques to determine if plasma-derived HIV-1 amino acid sequences can be used to predict spontaneous virologic control. We studied the relationship between HIV-1 env genotype and viral load in 20 chronically-infected patients undergoing treatment interruptions (SSITT, Swiss-Spanish Intermittent Treatment Trial) and in 104 primary HIV infected (PHI) patients before antiretroviral therapy (cART) and where applicable also after treatment stop. Extensive longitudinal sampling during the interruptions was performed in nine SSITT patients. Sequences obtained from these nine patients during the first virus rebound were used as a training data set and revealed a strong genetic signature (accuracy 98.6% in cross-validation) associated with control of viremia at levels below 5000 copies/mL of viral RNA maintained for at least two months after the final cART stop. The simple sequence pattern at gp120 positions 268E/358T was confirmed to be predictive of control in the clonal sequences originating from these patients during all subsequent rebounds. Sequences from the remaining 11 SSITT patients with less frequent sampling and from the PHI patients were used for external validation. High sensitivities (71-100%) and negative predictive values (80-100%) but low positive predictive values (12-40%) were achieved in the patient-wise analysis which was based on presence of the genetic pattern in all clones. These results suggest that presence of virus lacking the amino acid pattern 268E/358T is associated with VL >5000 at baseline of PHI and with low probability of spontaneous virologic control after treatment stop. Conversely, however, presence of 268E/358T does not predict control of viremia. These residues in HIV gp120 might affect in vivo HIV-1 fitness either at the level of Env function or influence susceptibility to adaptive or innate immune response.
PMCID: PMC3918463  PMID: 19524069
HIV-1; envelope gp120; evolution; machine learning
7.  Decreased susceptibility of Neisseria gonorrhoeae isolates from Switzerland to Cefixime and Ceftriaxone: antimicrobial susceptibility data from 1990 and 2000 to 2012 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2013;13:603.
Neisseria gonorrhoeae can rapidly develop resistance to antimicrobial agents. Over the last years, decreased gonococcal susceptibility to third-generation cephalosporins, especially cefixime, emerged worldwide. Therefore, current international guidelines recommend dual therapy for gonorrhoea with ceftriaxone plus either azithromycin or doxycycline. Gonococcal susceptibility data in Switzerland are sparse.
We investigated the prevalence of antibiotic susceptibility of N. gonorrhoeae in specimens collected between 1990 and 2012 at the University of Zurich, Switzerland. Minimum inhibitory concentrations (MICs) for cefixime, ceftriaxone, ciprofloxacin, and penicillin were determined by Etests. The European Committee on Antimicrobial Susceptibility Testing (EUCAST) breakpoints were used to define reduced susceptibility.
A total of 320 isolates were tested. Between 1990 and 2006 all tested samples were susceptible to both cephalosporins. Subsequently, the prevalence of elevated MICs for cefixime increased to 10.4% (2007/2008), 11.5% (2009/2010), and 11.4% (2011/2012); and for ceftriaxone to 2.4% (2007/2008), 4.7% (2009/2010), and 0% (2011/2012), respectively. The prevalence of resistance to ciprofloxacin (72.7%) and penicillin (22.7%) was high in 2011/2012.
Decreasing susceptibility of N. gonorrhoeae to third-generation cephalosporins in Switzerland supports treatment recommendations with ceftriaxone plus azithromycin or doxycycline. Health-care providers need to be aware of possible treatment failures with cephalosporins. Continued surveillance of gonococcal antimicrobial resistance is essential.
PMCID: PMC3881505  PMID: 24369054
Neisseria gonorrhoeae; Gonorrhoea; Antimicrobial resistance; Cephalosporins
8.  Change of Antibiotic Susceptibility Testing Guidelines from CLSI to EUCAST: Influence on Cumulative Hospital Antibiograms  
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e79130.
We studied whether the change in antibiotic susceptibility testing (AST) guidelines from CLSI to EUCAST influenced cumulative antibiograms in a tertiary care hospital in Switzerland.
Antibiotic susceptibilities of non-duplicate isolates collected within a one-year period before (period A) and after (period B) changing AST interpretation from CLSI 2009 to EUCAST 1.3 (2011) guidelines were analysed. In addition, period B isolates were reinterpreted according to the CLSI 2009, CLSI 2013 and EUCAST 3.1 (2013) guidelines.
The majority of species/drug combinations showed no differences in susceptibility rates comparing periods A and B. However, in some gram-negative bacilli, decreased susceptibility rates were observed when comparing CLSI 2009 with EUCAST 1.3 within period B: Escherichia coli / cefepime, 95.8% (CLSI 2009) vs. 93.1% (EUCAST 1.3), P=0.005; Enterobacter cloacae / cefepime, 97.0 (CLSI 2009) vs. 90.5% (EUCAST 1.3), P=0.012; Pseudomonas aeruginosa / meropenem, 88.1% (CLSI 2009) vs. 78.3% (EUCAST 1.3), P=0.002. These differences were still evident when comparing susceptibility rates according to the CLSI 2013 guideline with EUCAST 3.1 guideline. For P. aeruginosa and imipenem, a trend towards a lower antibiotic susceptibility rate in ICUs compared to general wards turned into a significant difference after the change to EUCAST: 87.9% vs. 79.8%, P=0.08 (CLSI 2009) and 86.3% vs. 76.8%, P=0.048 (EUCAST 1.3).
The change of AST guidelines from CLSI to EUCAST led to a clinically relevant decrease of susceptibility rates in cumulative antibiograms for defined species/drug combinations, particularly in those with considerable differences in clinical susceptibility breakpoints between the two guidelines.
PMCID: PMC3815097  PMID: 24223893
9.  Predicting the short-term risk of diabetes in HIV-positive patients: the Data Collection on Adverse Events of Anti-HIV Drugs (D:A:D) study 
HIV-positive patients receiving combination antiretroviral therapy (cART) frequently experience metabolic complications such as dyslipidemia and insulin resistance, as well as lipodystrophy, increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and diabetes mellitus (DM). Rates of DM and other glucose-associated disorders among HIV-positive patients have been reported to range between 2 and 14%, and in an ageing HIV-positive population, the prevalence of DM is expected to continue to increase. This study aims to develop a model to predict the short-term (six-month) risk of DM in HIV-positive populations and to compare the existing models developed in the general population.
All patients recruited to the Data Collection on Adverse events of Anti-HIV Drugs (D:A:D) study with follow-up data, without prior DM, myocardial infarction or other CVD events and with a complete DM risk factor profile were included. Conventional risk factors identified in the general population as well as key HIV-related factors were assessed using Poisson-regression methods. Expected probabilities of DM events were also determined based on the Framingham Offspring Study DM equation. The D:A:D and Framingham equations were then assessed using an internal-external validation process; area under the receiver operating characteristic (AUROC) curve and predicted DM events were determined.
Of 33,308 patients, 16,632 (50%) patients were included, with 376 cases of new onset DM during 89,469 person-years (PY). Factors predictive of DM included higher glucose, body mass index (BMI) and triglyceride levels, and older age. Among HIV-related factors, recent CD4 counts of<200 cells/µL and lipodystrophy were predictive of new onset DM. The mean performance of the D:A:D and Framingham equations yielded AUROC of 0.894 (95% CI: 0.849, 0.940) and 0.877 (95% CI: 0.823, 0.932), respectively. The Framingham equation over-predicted DM events compared to D:A:D for lower glucose and lower triglycerides, and for BMI levels below 25 kg/m2.
The D:A:D equation performed well in predicting the short-term onset of DM in the validation dataset and for specific subgroups provided better estimates of DM risk than the Framingham.
PMCID: PMC3494158  PMID: 23078769
HIV; combination antiretroviral treatment; diabetes mellitus; risk equation
10.  Serological Response to Treatment of Syphilis According to Disease Stage and HIV Status 
The serological response to treatment was studied in 264 syphilis patients; it was influenced by syphilis stage but not by human immunodeficiency virus infection and reinfection. Some of the recommendations of current guidelines are critically discussed, and amendments are proposed.
Background. Serology is the mainstay for syphilis diagnosis and treatment monitoring. We investigated serological response to treatment of syphilis according to disease stage and HIV status.
Methods. A retrospective cohort study of 264 patients with syphilis was conducted, including 90 primary, 133 secondary, 33 latent, and 8 tertiary syphilis cases. Response to treatment as measured by the Venereal Disease Research Laboratory (VDRL) test and a specific IgM (immunoglobulin M) capture enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA; Pathozyme-IgM) was assessed by Cox regression analysis.
Results. Forty-two percent of primary syphilis patients had a negative VDRL test at their diagnosis. Three months after treatment, 85%–100% of primary syphilis patients had reached the VDRL endpoint, compared with 76%–89% of patients with secondary syphilis and 44%–79% with latent syphilis. In the overall multivariate Cox regression analysis, serological response to treatment was not influenced by human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection and reinfection. However, within primary syphilis, HIV patients with a CD4 count of <500 cells/μL had a slower treatment response (P = .012). Compared with primary syphilis, secondary and latent syphilis showed a slower serological response of VDRL (P = .092 and P < .001) and Pathozyme-IgM tests (P < .001 and P = .012).
Conclusions. The VDRL should not be recommended as a screening test owing to lack of sensitivity. The syphilis disease stage significantly influences treatment response whereas HIV coinfection only within primary syphilis has an impact. VDRL test titers should decline at least 4-fold within 3–6 months after therapy for primary or secondary syphilis, and within 12–24 months for latent syphilis. IgM ELISA might be a supplement for diagnosis and treatment monitoring.
PMCID: PMC3501331  PMID: 22955437
11.  Nasal irrigation as an adjunctive treatment in allergic rhinitis: A systematic review and meta-analysis 
Saline nasal irrigation (SNI) is often recommended as additional nonpharmacologic treatment, having proven its efficacy in acute and chronic rhinosinusitis and for therapy after sinonasal surgery. To date, however, no systematic review or meta-analysis exists showing the influence of SNI on allergic rhinitis (AR). This study aimed to establish the impact of SNI on symptoms of AR in different patient groups.
We conducted a systematic search of Medline, Embase, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, and ISI Web of Science databases for literature published from 1994 to 2010 on SNI in AR. Prospective, randomized, controlled trials that assessed the effects of SNI on four different outcome parameters were included. The evaluation focused on primary (symptom score) and secondary parameters (medicine consumption, mucociliary clearance, and quality of life).
Three independent reviewers chose 10 originals that satisfied the inclusion criteria (>400 participants total) from 50 relevant trials. SNI performed regularly over a limited period of up to 7 weeks was observed to have a positive effect on all investigated outcome parameters in adults and children with AR. SNI produced a 27.66% improvement in nasal symptoms, a 62.1% reduction in medicine consumption, a 31.19% acceleration of mucociliary clearance time, and a 27.88% improvement in quality of life.
SNI using isotonic solution can be recommended as complementary therapy in AR. It is well tolerated, inexpensive, easy to use, and there is no evidence showing that regular, daily SNI adversely affects the patient's health or causes unexpected side effects.
PMCID: PMC3904042  PMID: 23168142
Adjunctive treatment; allergic rhinitis; hypertonic saline solution; isotonic saline solution; nasal douche; nasal lavage; nasal obstruction; pollinosis; saline nasal irrigation; sneezing
12.  Lepromatous leprosy with erythema nodosum leprosum as immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome in an HIV-1 infected patient after initiation of antiretroviral therapy 
BMJ Case Reports  2009;2009:bcr05.2009.1904.
We present the case of an HIV infected male patient with erythema nodosum leprosum and function loss of the peroneus nerve as manifestations of lepromatous leprosy. Since symptoms occurred after initiation of antiretroviral therapy and recovery of the immune system, the clinical picture is suggestive of a rare form of an immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome.
PMCID: PMC3028454  PMID: 22132023
13.  Early Antiretroviral Therapy During Primary HIV-1 Infection Results in a Transient Reduction of the Viral Setpoint upon Treatment Interruption 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(11):e27463.
Long-term benefits of combination antiretroviral therapy (cART) initiation during primary HIV-1 infection are debated.
The evolution of plasma HIV-RNA (432 measurements) and cell-associated HIV-DNA (325 measurements) after cessation of cART (median exposure 18 months) was described for 33 participants from the Zurich Primary HIV Infection Study using linear regression and compared with 545 measurements from 79 untreated controls with clinically diagnosed primary HIV infection, respectively a known date for seroconversion.
On average, early treated individuals were followed for 37 months (median) after cART cessation; controls had 34 months of pre-cART follow-up. HIV-RNA levels one year after cART interruption were −0.8 log10 copies/mL [95% confidence interval −1.2;−0.4] lower in early treated patients compared with controls, but this difference was no longer statistically significant by year three of follow-up (−0.3 [−0.9; 0.3]). Mean HIV-DNA levels rebounded from 2 log10 copies [1.8; 2.3] on cART to a stable plateau of 2.7 log10 copies [2.5; 3.0] attained 1 year after therapy stop, which was not significantly different from cross-sectional measurements of 9 untreated members of the control group (2.8 log10 copies [2.5; 3.1]).
The rebound dynamics of viral markers after therapy cessation suggest that early cART may indeed limit reservoir size of latently infected cells, but that much of the initial benefits are only transient. Owing to the non-randomized study design the observed treatment effects must be interpreted with caution.
PMCID: PMC3216952  PMID: 22102898
14.  Reappearance of Minority K103N HIV-1 Variants after Interruption of ART Initiated during Primary HIV-1 Infection 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(7):e21734.
In the Zurich Primary HIV infection study (ZPHI), minority drug-resistant HIV-1 variants were detected in some acutely HIV-1-infected patients prior to initiation of early antiretroviral therapy (ART). Here, we investigated the reappearance of minority K103N and M184V HIV-1 variants in these patients who interrupted efficient early ART after 8–27 months according to the study protocol. These mutations are key mutations conferring drug resistance to reverse transcriptase inhibitors and they belong to the most commonly transmitted drug resistance mutations.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Early ART was offered to acutely HIV-1-infected patients enrolled in the longitudinal prospective ZPHI study. Six patients harboring and eleven patients not harboring drug-resistant viruses at low frequencies prior to ART were included in this substudy. Minority K103N and M184V HIV-1 variants were quantified in longitudinal plasma samples after treatment interruption by allele-specific real-time PCR. All 17 patients were infected with HIV-1 subtype B between 04/2003 and 09/2005 and received LPV/r+AZT+3TC during primary HIV-1 infection (PHI). Minority K103N HIV-1 variants reappeared after cessation of ART in two of four patients harboring this variant during PHI and even persisted in one of those patients at frequencies similar to the frequency observed prior to ART (<1%). The K103N mutation did not appear during treatment interruption in any other patient. Minority M184V HIV-1 variants were detected in two patients after ART interruption, one harboring and one not harboring these variants prior to ART.
Minority K103N HIV-1 variants, present in acutely HIV-1 infected patients prior to early ART, can reappear and persist after interruption of suppressive ART containing two nucleoside/nucleotide analogue reverse transcriptase inhibitors and a ritonavir-boosted protease inhibitor.
Trial Registration NCT00537966
PMCID: PMC3130779  PMID: 21754996
15.  Nasal packing and stenting 
Nasal packs are indispensable in ENT practice. This study reviews current indications, effectiveness and risks of nasal packs and stents. In endoscopic surgery, nasal packs should always have smooth surfaces to minimize mucosal damage, improve wound healing and increase patient comfort. Functional endoscopic endonasal sinus surgery allows the use of modern nasal packs, since pressure is no longer required. So called hemostatic/resorbable materials are a first step in this direction. However, they may lead to adhesions and foreign body reactions in mucosal membranes. Simple occlusion is an effective method for creating a moist milieu for improved wound healing and avoiding dryness. Stenting of the frontal sinus is recommended if surgery fails to produce a wide, physiologically shaped drainage path that is sufficiently covered by intact tissue.
PMCID: PMC3199821  PMID: 22073095
nasal packing; stenting; wound healing; FESS; occlusive wound care; septoplasty; turbinate surgery; nasal tamponade
16.  Ambiguous Nucleotide Calls From Population-based Sequencing of HIV-1 are a Marker for Viral Diversity and the Age of Infection 
The fraction of ambiguous nucleotide calls in bulk sequencing of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) carries important information on viral diversity and the age of infection. In particular, a fraction of ambiguous nucleotides of >.5% provides evidence against a recent infection event <1 year ago.
Background. The time passed since the infection of a human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)–infected individual (the age of infection) is an important but often only poorly known quantity. We assessed whether the fraction of ambiguous nucleotides obtained from bulk sequencing as done for genotypic resistance testing can serve as a proxy of this parameter.
Methods. We correlated the age of infection and the fraction of ambiguous nucleotides in partial pol sequences of HIV-1 sampled before initiation of antiretroviral therapy (ART). Three groups of Swiss HIV Cohort Study participants were analyzed, for whom the age of infection was estimated on the basis of Bayesian back calculation (n = 3,307), seroconversion (n = 366), or diagnoses of primary HIV infection (n = 130). In addition, we studied 124 patients for whom longitudinal genotypic resistance testing was performed while they were still ART-naïve.
Results. We found that the fraction of ambiguous nucleotides increased with the age of infection with a rate of .2% per year within the first 8 years but thereafter with a decreasing rate. We show that this pattern is consistent with population-genetic models for realistic parameters. Finally, we show that, in this highly representative population, a fraction of ambiguous nucleotides of >.5% provides strong evidence against a recent infection event <1 year prior to sampling (negative predictive value, 98.7%).
Conclusions. These findings show that the fraction of ambiguous nucleotides is a useful marker for the age of infection.
PMCID: PMC3060900  PMID: 21220770
17.  Different Patterns of Inappropriate Antimicrobial Use in Surgical and Medical Units at a Tertiary Care Hospital in Switzerland: A Prevalence Survey 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(11):e14011.
Unnecessary or inappropriate use of antimicrobials is associated with the emergence of antimicrobial resistance, drug toxicity, increased morbidity and health care costs. Antimicrobial use has been reported to be incorrect or not indicated in 9–64% of inpatients. We studied the quality of antimicrobial therapy and prophylaxis in hospitalized patients at a tertiary care hospital to plan interventions to improve the quality of antimicrobial prescription.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Experienced infectious diseases (ID) fellows performed audits of antimicrobial use at regular intervals among all patients—with or without antimicrobials—hospitalized in predefined surgical, medical, haemato-oncological, or intensive care units. Data were collected from medical and nursing patient charts with a standardized questionnaire. Appropriateness of antimicrobial use was evaluated using a modified algorithm developed by Gyssens et al.; the assessment was double-checked by a senior ID specialist.
We evaluated 1577 patients of whom 700 (44.4%) had antimicrobials, receiving a total of 1270 prescriptions. 958 (75.4%) prescriptions were for therapy and 312 (24.6%) for prophylaxis. 37.0% of therapeutic and 16.6% of prophylactic prescriptions were found to be inappropriate. Most frequent characteristics of inappropriate treatments included: No indication (17.5%); incorrect choice of antimicrobials (7.6%); incorrect application of drugs (9.3%); and divergence from institutional guidelines (8%). Characteristics of inappropriate prophylaxes were: No indication (9%); incorrect choice of antimicrobials (1%); duration too long or other inappropriate use (6.7%). Patterns of inappropriate antimicrobial varied widely in the different hospital units; empirical prescriptions were more frequently incorrect than prescriptions based on available microbiological results.
Audits of individual patient care provide important data to identify local problems in antimicrobial prescription practice. In our study, antimicrobial prescriptions without indication, and divergence from institutional guidelines were frequent errors. Based on these results, we will tailor education, amend institutional guidelines and further develop the infectious diseases consultation service.
PMCID: PMC2982822  PMID: 21103362
18.  Profound Depletion of HIV-1 Transcription in Patients Initiating Antiretroviral Therapy during Acute Infection 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(10):e13310.
Although combination antiretroviral therapy (cART) initiated in the acute phase of HIV-1 infection may prevent expansion of the latent reservoir, its benefits remain controversial. In the current study, HIV-1 RNA transcription patterns in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) were monitored during acute cART to assess the effect of early treatment on cellular viral reservoirs.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Acutely HIV-1 infected patients (n = 24) were treated within 3–15 weeks after infection. Patients elected to cease treatment after ≥1 year of therapy. HIV-1 DNA (vDNA), HIV-1 RNA species expressed both in latently and productively infected cells, unspliced (UsRNA), multiply spliced (MsRNA-tatrev; MsRNA-nef), and PBMC-associated extracellular virion RNA (vRex), expressed specifically by productively infected cells, were quantified in PBMC by patient matched real-time PCR prior, during and post cART. In a matched control-group of patients on successful cART started during chronic infection (n = 15), UsRNA in PBMC and vDNA were measured cross-sectionally. In contrast to previous reports, PBMC-associated HIV-1 RNAs declined to predominantly undetectable levels on cART. After cART cessation, UsRNA, vRex, and MsRNA-tatrev rebounded to levels not significantly different to those at baseline (p>0.1). In contrast, MsRNA-nef remained significantly lower as compared to pretreatment (p = 0.015). UsRNA expressed at the highest levels of all viral RNAs, was detectable on cART in 42% of patients with cART initiated during acute infection as opposed to 87% of patients on cART initiated during chronic infection (Fisher's exact test; p = 0.008). Accordingly, UsRNA levels were 105–fold lower in the acute as compared to the chronic group.
Early intervention resulted in profound depletion of PBMC expressing HIV-1 RNA. This is contrary to chronically infected patients who predominantly showed continuous UsRNA expression on cART. Thus, antiretroviral treatment initiated during the acute phase of infection prevented establishment or expansion of long-lived transcriptionally active viral cellular reservoirs in peripheral blood.
PMCID: PMC2953504  PMID: 20967271
19.  Septicemia Caused by Tick-borne Bacterial Pathogen Candidatus Neoehrlichia mikurensis 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2010;16(7):1127-1129.
We have repeatedly detected Candidatus Neoehrlichia mikurensis, a bacterium first described in Rattus norvegicus rats and Ixodes ovatus ticks in Japan in 2004 in the blood of a 61-year-old man with signs of septicemia by 16S rRNA and groEL gene PCR. After 6 weeks of therapy with doxycycline and rifampin, the patient recovered.
PMCID: PMC3358111  PMID: 20587186
Candidatus Neoehrlichia mikurensis; septicemia; human infection; 16S rRNA gene PCR; therapy; tick-borne pathogen; bacteria; dispatch
20.  Impact of Previous Virological Treatment Failures and Adherence on the Outcome of Antiretroviral Therapy in 2007 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(12):e8275.
Combination antiretroviral treatment (cART) has been very successful, especially among selected patients in clinical trials. The aim of this study was to describe outcomes of cART on the population level in a large national cohort.
Characteristics of participants of the Swiss HIV Cohort Study on stable cART at two semiannual visits in 2007 were analyzed with respect to era of treatment initiation, number of previous virologically failed regimens and self reported adherence. Starting ART in the mono/dual era before HIV-1 RNA assays became available was counted as one failed regimen. Logistic regression was used to identify risk factors for virological failure between the two consecutive visits.
Of 4541 patients 31.2% and 68.8% had initiated therapy in the mono/dual and cART era, respectively, and been on treatment for a median of 11.7 vs. 5.7 years. At visit 1 in 2007, the mean number of previous failed regimens was 3.2 vs. 0.5 and the viral load was undetectable (<50 copies/ml) in 84.6% vs. 89.1% of the participants, respectively. Adjusted odds ratios of a detectable viral load at visit 2 for participants from the mono/dual era with a history of 2 and 3, 4, >4 previous failures compared to 1 were 0.9 (95% CI 0.4–1.7), 0.8 (0.4–1.6), 1.6 (0.8–3.2), 3.3 (1.7–6.6) respectively, and 2.3 (1.1–4.8) for >2 missed cART doses during the last month, compared to perfect adherence. From the cART era, odds ratios with a history of 1, 2 and >2 previous failures compared to none were 1.8 (95% CI 1.3–2.5), 2.8 (1.7–4.5) and 7.8 (4.5–13.5), respectively, and 2.8 (1.6–4.8) for >2 missed cART doses during the last month, compared to perfect adherence.
A higher number of previous virologically failed regimens, and imperfect adherence to therapy were independent predictors of imminent virological failure.
PMCID: PMC2789943  PMID: 20011544
21.  Incidence and Risk Factors for New-Onset Diabetes in HIV-Infected Patients 
Diabetes care  2008;31(6):1224-1229.
The aims of this study were to determine the incidence of diabetes among HIV-infected patients in the Data Collection on Adverse Events of Anti-HIV Drugs (D:A:D) cohort, to identify demographic, HIV-related, and combination antiretroviral therapy (cART)-related factors associated with the onset of diabetes, and to identify possible mechanisms for any relationships found.
D:A:D is a prospective observational study of 33,389 HIV-infected patients; diabetes is a study end point. Poisson regression models were used to assess the relation between diabetes and exposure to cART after adjusting for known risk factors for diabetes, CD4 count, lipids, and lipodystrophy.
Over 130,151 person-years of follow-up (PYFU), diabetes was diagnosed in 744 patients (incidence rate of 5.72 per 1,000 PYFU [95% CI 5.31–6.13]). The incidence of diabetes increased with cumulative exposure to cART, an association that remained significant after adjustment for potential risk factors for diabetes. The strongest relationship with diabetes was exposure to stavudine; exposures to zidovudine and didanosine were also associated with an increased risk of diabetes. Time-updated measurements of total cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and triglycerides were all associated with diabetes. Adjusting for each of these variables separately reduced the relationship between cART and diabetes slightly. Although lipodystrophy was significantly associated with diabetes, adjustment for this did not modify the relationship between cART and diabetes.
Stavudine and zidovudine are significantly associated with diabetes after adjustment for risk factors for diabetes and lipids. Adjustment for lipodystrophy did not modify the relationship, suggesting that the two thymidine analogs probably directly contribute to insulin resistance, potentially through mitochondrial toxicity.
PMCID: PMC2746200  PMID: 18268071
22.  Diabetes Mellitus, Preexisting Coronary Heart Disease, and the Risk of Subsequent Coronary Heart Disease Events in Patients Infected With Human Immunodeficiency Virus 
Circulation  2009;119(6):805-811.
Although guidelines in individuals not infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) consider diabetes mellitus (DM) to be a coronary heart disease (CHD) equivalent, there is little information on its association with CHD in those infected with HIV. We investigated the impact of DM and preexisting CHD on the development of a new CHD episode among 33 347 HIV-infected individuals in the Data Collection on Adverse Events of Anti-HIV Drugs (D:A:D Study).
Methods and Results
Over 159 971 person-years, 698 CHD events occurred. After adjustment for gender, age, cohort, HIV transmission, ethnicity, family history of CHD, smoking, and calendar year, the rate of a CHD episode was 7.52 times higher (Poisson regression, 95% CI 6.02 to 9.39, P=0.0001) in those with preexisting CHD than in those without preexisting CHD, but it was only 2.41 times higher (95% CI 1.91 to 3.05, P=0.0001) in those with preexisting DM compared with those without DM. No statistical interactions were apparent between either diagnosis and sex; although older people with DM had an increased CHD rate compared with younger people, older people with preexisting CHD had a lower event rate. A statistically significant interaction between preexisting DM and CHD (P=0.003) suggested that the CHD rate in those with preexisting CHD and DM is lower than expected on the basis of the main effects alone.
DM and preexisting CHD are both important risk factors for CHD events in HIV-infected individuals. There is a need for targeted interventions to reduce the risk of CHD in both high-risk groups of HIV-infected individuals.
PMCID: PMC2715841  PMID: 19188509
coronary disease; diabetes mellitus; risk factors; human immunodeficiency virus; epidemiology
23.  Biphasic decay kinetics suggest progressive slowing in turnover of latently HIV-1 infected cells during antiretroviral therapy 
Retrovirology  2008;5:107.
Mathematical models based on kinetics of HIV-1 plasma viremia after initiation of combination antiretroviral therapy (cART) inferred HIV-infected cells to decay exponentially with constant rates correlated to their strength of virus production. To further define in vivo decay kinetics of HIV-1 infected cells experimentally, we assessed infected cell-classes of distinct viral transcriptional activity in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) of five patients during 1 year after initiation of cART
In a novel analytical approach patient-matched PCR for unspliced and multiply spliced viral RNAs was combined with limiting dilution analysis at the single cell level. This revealed that HIV-RNA+ PBMC can be stratified into four distinct viral transcriptional classes. Two overlapping cell-classes of high viral transcriptional activity, suggestive of a virion producing phenotype, rapidly declined to undetectable levels. Two cell classes expressing HIV-RNA at low and intermediate levels, presumably insufficient for virus production and occurring at frequencies exceeding those of productively infected cells matched definitions of HIV-latency. These cells persisted during cART. Nevertheless, during the first four weeks of therapy their kinetics resembled that of productively infected cells.
We have observed biphasic decays of latently HIV-infected cells of low and intermediate viral transcriptional activity with marked decreases in cell numbers shortly after initiation of therapy and complete persistence in later phases. A similar decay pattern was shared by cells with greatly enhanced viral transcriptional activity which showed a certain grade of levelling off before their disappearance. Thus it is conceivable that turnover/decay rates of HIV-infected PBMC may be intrinsically variable. In particular they might be accelerated by HIV-induced activation and reactivation of the viral life cycle and slowed down by the disappearance of such feedback-loops after initiation of cART.
PMCID: PMC2630982  PMID: 19036147
24.  Potent Human Immunodeficiency Virus-Neutralizing and Complement Lysis Activities of Antibodies Are Not Obligatorily Linked▿ † 
Journal of Virology  2008;82(8):3834-3842.
To evaluate the contribution of complement-mediated lysis to the in vivo activities of neutralizing antibodies, we analyzed the influence of complement activation on treatment success in a recent passive immunization trial with the neutralizing monoclonal antibodies 2G12, 2F5, and 4E10. Administration of monoclonal antibodies led to an immediate, high activation of the complement system even in the absence of viremia in the 14 participating human immunodeficiency virus-infected individuals. Lysis activity measured in patient plasma increased during passive immunization; however, the increases were modest and only partially attributable to the administration of antibodies. We found that unlike neutralization activity, lysis activity was not associated with treatment success in this trial. Compared to complement lysis mounted by the polyclonal antibody response in vivo, monoclonal antibodies were weak inducers of this activity, suggesting that polyclonal responses are more effective in reaching the required threshold of complement activation. Importantly, strong neutralization activity of the monoclonal antibodies did not predict complement lysis activity against patient and reference viruses, suggesting that these activities are not linked. In summary, our data support the notion that the in vivo activities of 2G12, 2F5, and 4E10 are likely due to direct neutralization or Fc receptor-mediated mechanisms such as phagocytosis and antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity.
PMCID: PMC2293011  PMID: 18234794
25.  In Vivo Efficacy of Human Immunodeficiency Virus Neutralizing Antibodies: Estimates for Protective Titers▿  
Journal of Virology  2007;82(3):1591-1599.
The definition of plasma neutralizing antibody titers capable of controlling human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection in vivo is considered a critical step in vaccine development. Here we provide estimates for effective neutralization titers by assessing samples from a recent passive immunization trial with the neutralizing monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) 2G12, 2F5, and 4E10 using an analytic strategy that dissects the contributions of these MAbs to the total neutralization activity in patient plasma. Assessment of neutralization activities for six responding patients with partial or complete control of viremia during the MAb treatment and for the eight nonresponding patients revealed a significant difference between these groups: Among responders, MAb-mediated activity exceeded the autologous neutralization response by 1 to 2 log units (median difference, 43.3-fold), while in the nonresponder group, the autologous activity prevailed (median difference, 0.63-fold). In order to reach a 50% proportion of the responders in our study cohort, MAb neutralizing titers higher than 1:200 were required based on this analysis. The disease stage appears to have a significant impact on the quantities needed, since titers above 1:1,000 were needed to reach the same effect in chronic infection. Although our analysis is based on very small sample numbers and thus cannot be conclusive, our data provide a first estimate on how in vitro-measured neutralizing antibody activity can relate to in vivo efficacy in controlling HIV infection and may therefore provide valuable information for vaccine development. Interestingly, lower neutralizing antibody levels showed an effect in acute compared to chronic infection, suggesting that in early disease stages, therapeutic vaccination may show promise. Equally, this raises hopes that a preventive vaccine could become effective at comparatively lower neutralizing antibody titers.
PMCID: PMC2224433  PMID: 18032508

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