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1.  MBL2 Variations and Malaria Susceptibility in Indian Populations 
Infection and Immunity  2014;82(1):52-61.
Human mannose-binding lectin (MBL) encoded by the MBL2 gene is a pattern recognition protein and has been associated with many infectious diseases, including malaria. We sought to investigate the contribution of functional MBL2 gene variations to Plasmodium falciparum malaria in well-defined cases and in matched controls. We resequenced the 8.7 kb of the entire MBL2 gene in 434 individuals clinically classified with malaria from regions of India where malaria is endemic. The study cohort included 176 patients with severe malaria, 101 patients with mild malaria, and 157 ethnically matched asymptomatic individuals. In addition, 830 individuals from 32 socially, linguistically, and geographically diverse endogamous populations of India were investigated for the distribution of functional MBL2 variants. The MBL2 −221C (X) allelic variant is associated with increased risk of malaria (mild malaria odds ratio [OR] = 1.9, corrected P value [PCorr] = 0.0036; severe malaria OR = 1.6, PCorr = 0.02). The exon1 variants MBL2*B (severe malaria OR = 2.1, PCorr = 0.036; mild versus severe malaria OR = 2.5, PCorr = 0.039) and MBL2*C (mild versus severe malaria OR = 5.4, PCorr = 0.045) increased the odds of having malaria. The exon1 MBL2*D/*B/*C variant increased the risk for severe malaria (OR = 3.4, PCorr = 0.000045). The frequencies of low MBL haplotypes were significantly higher in severe malaria (14.2%) compared to mild malaria (7.9%) and asymptomatic (3.8%). The MBL2*LYPA haplotypes confer protection, whereas MBL2*LXPA increases the malaria risk. Our findings in Indian populations demonstrate that MBL2 functional variants are strongly associated with malaria and infection severity.
doi:10.1128/IAI.01041-13
PMCID: PMC3911836  PMID: 24126531
2.  Mannose Binding Lectin and Susceptibility to Rheumatoid Arthritis in Brazilian Patients and Their Relatives 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e95519.
Introduction
Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a commonly occurring systemic inflammatory auto immune disease and is believed to be associated with genetic factors. The innate immune complement protein Mannose binding lectin (MBL) and their MBL2 genetic variants are associated with different infectious and autoimmune diseases.
Methods
In a Brazilian cohort, we aim to associate the functional role of circulating MBL serum levels and MBL2 variants in clinically classified patients (n = 196) with rheumatoid arthritis including their relatives (n = 200) and ethnicity matched healthy controls (n = 200). MBL serum levels were measured by ELISA and functional MBL2 variants were genotyped by direct sequencing.
Results
The exon1+54 MBL2*B variant was significantly associated with an increased risk and the reconstructed haplotype MBL2*LYPB was associated with RA susceptibility. Circulating serum MBL levels were observed significantly lower in RA patients compared to their relatives and controls. No significant contribution of MBL levels were observed with respect to functional class, age at disease onset, disease duration and/or other clinical parameters such as nodules, secondary Sjögren syndrome, anti-CCP and rheumatoid factor. Differential distribution of serum MBL levels with functional MBL2 variants was observed in respective RA patients and their relatives.
Conclusions
Our results suggest MBL levels as a possible marker for RA susceptibility in a Brazilian population.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0095519
PMCID: PMC3994105  PMID: 24751721
3.  Re-evaluation of microscopy confirmed Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax malaria by nested PCR detection in southern Ethiopia 
Malaria Journal  2014;13:48.
Background
With 75% of the Ethiopian population at risk of malaria, accurate diagnosis is crucial for malaria treatment in endemic areas where Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax co-exist. The present study evaluated the performance of regular microscopy in accurate identification of Plasmodium spp. in febrile patients visiting health facilities in southern Ethiopia.
Methods
A cross-sectional study design was employed to recruit study subjects who were microscopically positive for malaria parasites and attending health facilities in southern Ethiopia between August and December 2011. Of the 1,416 febrile patients attending primary health facilities, 314 febrile patients, whose slides were positive for P. falciparum, P. vivax or mixed infections using microscopy, were re-evaluated for their infection status by PCR. Finger-prick blood samples were used for parasite genomic DNA extraction. Phylogenetic analyses were performed to reconstruct the distribution of different Plasmodium spp. across the three geographical areas.
Results
Of the 314 patients with a positive thick blood smear, seven patients (2%) were negative for any of the Plasmodium spp. by nested PCR. Among 180 microscopically diagnosed P. falciparum cases, 111 (61.7%) were confirmed by PCR, 44 (24.4%) were confirmed as P. vivax, 18 (10%) had mixed infections with P. falciparum and P. vivax and two (1.1%) were mixed infections with P. falciparum and P. malariae and five (2.8%) were negative for any of the Plasmodium spp. Of 131 microscopically diagnosed P. vivax cases, 110 (84%) were confirmed as P. vivax, 14 (10.7%) were confirmed as P. falciparum, two (1.5%) were P. malariae, three (2.3%) with mixed infections with P. falciparum and P. vivax and two (1.5%) were negative for any of the Plasmodium spp. Plasmodium falciparum and P. vivax mixed infections were observed. Plasmodium malariae was detected as mono and mixed infections in four individuals.
Conclusion
False positivity, under-reporting of mixed infections and a significant number of species mismatch needs attention and should be improved for appropriate diagnosis. The detection of substantial number of false positive results by molecular methodologies may provide the accurate incidence of circulating Plasmodium species in the geographical region and has important repercussions in understanding malaria epidemiology and subsequent control.
doi:10.1186/1475-2875-13-48
PMCID: PMC4011513  PMID: 24502664
Malaria; Plasmodium; Nested PCR; Microscopy; Ethiopia
4.  High Prevalence and Significance of Hepatitis D Virus Infection among Treatment-Naïve HBsAg-Positive Patients in Northern Vietnam  
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e78094.
Background
Hepatitis D virus (HDV) infection is considered to cause more severe hepatitis than hepatitis B virus (HBV) monoinfection. With more than 9.5 million HBV-infected people, Vietnam will face an enormous health burden. The prevalence of HDV in Vietnamese HBsAg-positive patients is speculative. Therefore, we assessed the prevalence of HDV in Vietnamese patients, determined the HDV-genotype distribution and compared the findings with the clinical outcome.
Methods
266 sera of well-characterized HBsAg-positive patients in Northern Vietnam were analysed for the presence of HDV using newly developed HDV-specific RT-PCRs. Sequencing and phylogenetic analysis were performed for HDV-genotyping.
Results
The HDV-genome prevalence observed in the Vietnamese HBsAg-positive patients was high with 15.4% while patients with acute hepatitis showed 43.3%. Phylogenetic analysis demonstrated a predominance of HDV-genotype 1 clustering in an Asian clade while HDV-genotype 2 could be also detected. The serum aminotransferase levels (AST, ALT) as well as total and direct bilirubin were significantly elevated in HDV-positive individuals (p<0.05). HDV loads were mainly low (<300 to 4.108 HDV-copies/ml). Of note, higher HDV loads were mainly found in HBV-genotype mix samples in contrast to single HBV-infections. In HBV/HDV-coinfections, HBV loads were significantly higher in HBV-genotype C in comparison to HBV-genotype A samples (p<0.05).
Conclusion
HDV prevalence is high in Vietnamese individuals, especially in patients with acute hepatitis B. HDV replication activity showed a HBV-genotype dependency and could be associated with elevated liver parameters. Besides serological assays molecular tests are recommended for diagnosis of HDV. Finally, the high prevalence of HBV and HDV prompts the urgent need for HBV-vaccination coverage.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0078094
PMCID: PMC3799775  PMID: 24205106
5.  LRRK2 and RIPK2 Variants in the NOD 2-Mediated Signaling Pathway Are Associated with Susceptibility to Mycobacterium leprae in Indian Populations 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e73103.
In recent years, genome wide association studies have discovered a large number of gene loci that play a functional role in innate and adaptive immune pathways associated with leprosy susceptibility. The immunological control of intracellular bacteria M. leprae is modulated by NOD2-mediated signaling of Th1 responses. In this study, we investigated 211 clinically classified leprosy patients and 230 ethnically matched controls in Indian population by genotyping four variants in NOD2 (rs9302752A/G), LRRK2 (rs1873613A/G), RIPK2 (rs40457A/G and rs42490G/A). The LRRK2 locus is associated with leprosy outcome. The LRRK2 rs1873613A minor allele and respective rs1873613AA genotypes were significantly associated with an increased risk whereas the LRRK2 rs1873613G major allele and rs1873613GG genotypes confer protection in paucibacillary and leprosy patients. The reconstructed GA haplotypes from RIPK2 rs40457A/G and rs42490G/A variants was observed to contribute towards increased risk whereas haplotypes AA was observed to confer protective role. Our results indicate that a possible shared mechanisms underlying the development of these two clinical forms of the disease as hypothesized. Our findings confirm and validates the role of gene variants involved in NOD2-mediated signalling pathways that play a role in immunological control of intracellular bacteria M. leprae.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0073103
PMCID: PMC3756038  PMID: 24015287
6.  Co-infection of human parvovirus B19 with Plasmodium falciparum contributes to malaria disease severity in Gabonese patients 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2013;13:375.
Background
High seroprevalence of parvovirus B19 (B19V) coinfection with Plasmodium falciparum has been previously reported. However, the impact of B19V-infection on the clinical course of malaria is still elusive. In this study, we investigated the prevalence and clinical significance of B19V co-infection in Gabonese children with malaria.
Methods
B19V prevalence was analyzed in serum samples of 197 Gabonese children with P. falciparum malaria and 85 healthy controls using polymerase chain reaction (PCR), enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), and direct DNA-sequencing.
Results
B19V was detected in 29/282 (10.28%) of Gabonese children. B19V was observed more frequently in P. falciparum malaria patients (14.21%) in comparison to healthy individuals (1.17%) (P<0.001). Notably, the mild-malaria group revealed significantly lower hematocrit levels in B19V/P. falciparum co-infection than in P. falciparum mono-infection (P<0.05). Genetic analysis revealed a predominance of B19V genotype-1 (71.43%) in the studied population. However, B19V-genotype 2 was observed significantly more often in children with severe-malaria than in mild-malaria (P=0.04).
Conclusion
Our findings reveal that B19V-infection is frequent in Gabonese children with P. falciparum malaria and signifies a possible contribution of B19V on the clinical course of malaria in a genotype-dependent manner. B19V co-infection should be considered as a additional diagnostic measure in malaria patients with life threatening anemia.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-13-375
PMCID: PMC3765098  PMID: 23945350
Erythrovirus; Human parvovirus B19; P. falciparum; Malaria; Co-infection; Gabonese children
7.  Association of L-Ficolin Levels and FCN2 Genotypes with Chronic Chagas Disease 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(4):e60237.
Background
L-ficolin (encoded by FCN2) binds to acetylated sugar moieties of many pathogens, including Trypanosoma cruzi, promoting their phagocytosis and lysis by the complement system.
Methods
We investigated L-ficolin levels in 160 T. cruzi infected patients with chronic Chagas disease and 71 healthy individuals, and FCN2 polymorphisms (−986 G>A, −602 G>A, and −4 A>G in the promoter and A258S in exon 8) in 243 patients, being 88 indeterminate (asymptomatic), 96 with cardiac, 23 with digestive and 33 with cardiodigestive manifestations (two were unspecified) and 305 controls (135 for A258S).
Results
Patients presented lower L-ficolin plasma levels than controls (p<0.0001). Among the different groups of cardiac commitment, individuals with moderate forms had higher L-ficolin levels than the severe forms (P = 0.039). Lower L-ficolin levels were found associated with the 258S variant in the patients (P = 0.034). We found less −4A/G heterozygotes in the cardiac patients, than in the controls (OR = 0.56 [95% CI = 0.33–0.94], P = 0.034). Heterozygote −4A/G genotypes with the 258S variant and 258SS homozygotes were nevertheless more frequent among cardiodigestive patients than in controls (OR = 14.1 [95% CI = 3.5–56.8], P = 0.0001) and in indeterminate patients (OR = 3.2 [95% CI = 1.1–9.4], P = 0.037). We also found an association of the allelic frequency of the 258S variant with cardiodigestive Chagas disease compared to controls (OR = 2.24 [95% CI = 1.1–4.5], P = 0.037). Thus, decreased patient levels of L-ficolin reflect not only protein consumption due to the disease process, but also the higher frequency of the 258S variant in patients with cardiodigestive symptoms.
Conclusion
The very first study on Brazilian cohort associates both L-ficolin plasma levels and FCN2 variants to Chagas disease and subsequent disease progression. The prognostic value of L-ficolin levels and the FCN2*A258S polymorphism should be further evaluated in other settings.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0060237
PMCID: PMC3617223  PMID: 23593180
8.  Genetic evidence of regulatory gene variants of the STAT6, IL10R and FOXP3 locus as a susceptibility factor in uncomplicated malaria and parasitaemia in Congolese children 
Malaria Journal  2013;12:9.
Background
Regulatory T cells (Tregs) are a subset of T cells that play an important role in modulating T effector responses during infectious challenges. The aim of this study was to evaluate possible associations between regulatory gene polymorphisms and the risk of uncomplicated malaria and the control of Plasmodium falciparum parasite density levels.
Methods
Twelve regulatory single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the promoter regions of FOXP3 (ss270137548, rs11091253), IL10RA (rs56356146, rs7925112), IL10RB (rs8178433, rs8178435, rs999788), STAT6 (rs3024941, rs3024943, rs3024944) and TNFRSF18 (ss2080581728, rs3753344) were genotyped in a cohort of Congolese children. Studied subjects were followed up (passively) during one year. The children who experienced one or several clinical episodes were genotyped as “uncomplicated malaria” group (n=179) and those children who did not experience any episode were genotyped as “asymptomatic children” group (n=138).
Results
The prevalence of rs3024944CC genotype of STAT6 was significantly higher in the group of asymptomatic children compared to that of uncomplicated malaria (P=0.003). Similarly, the minor allele rs3024944C was more prevalent in the group of asymptomatic children (P=0.019). Two novel SNPs were observed including -163T/G (ss491228441) in IL10RA gene and -163C/T (ss491228440) in TNFRSF18 gene. The genotype ss491228441TT and the minor allele ss491228441G of the IL10RA were more frequent in the group of asymptomatic children (P=0.006 and P=0.007, respectively). The genotype rs11091253CT of the FOXP3 was associated with high parasite density levels. In addition, a new promoter IL10RA variant (ss491228441) contributes to shield against mild malaria.
Conclusion
The study indicated that the STAT6 promoter polymorphism rs3024944 was associated with uncomplicated malaria, whereas the FOXP3 promoter variant rs11091253 was associated with significant P. falciparum parasitaemia levels. These genetic data may contribute to the understanding of molecular mechanisms that regulate immune response to P. falciparum infections.
doi:10.1186/1475-2875-12-9
PMCID: PMC3547756  PMID: 23297791
Plasmodium falciparum; Tregs; FOXP3; IL10RA; STAT6
9.  IL-4 Haplotype -590T, -34T and Intron-3 VNTR R2 Is Associated with Reduced Malaria Risk among Ancestral Indian Tribal Populations 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e48136.
Background
Interleukin 4 (IL-4) is an anti-inflammatory cytokine, which regulates balance between TH1 and TH2 immune response, immunoglobulin class switching and humoral immunity. Polymorphisms in this gene have been reported to affect the risk of infectious and autoimmune diseases.
Methods
We have analyzed three regulatory IL-4 polymorphisms; -590C>T, -34C>T and 70 bp intron-3 VNTR, in 4216 individuals; including: (1) 430 ethnically matched case-control groups (173 severe malaria, 101 mild malaria and 156 asymptomatic); (2) 3452 individuals from 76 linguistically and geographically distinct endogamous populations of India, and (3) 334 individuals with different ancestry from outside India (84 Brazilian, 104 Syrian, and 146 Vietnamese).
Results
The -590T, -34T and intron-3 VNTR R2 alleles were found to be associated with reduced malaria risk (P<0.001 for -590C>T and -34C>T, and P = 0.003 for VNTR). These three alleles were in strong LD (r2>0.75) and the TTR2 (-590T, -34T and intron-3 VNTR R2) haplotype appeared to be a susceptibility factor for malaria (P = 0.009, OR = 0.552, 95% CI = 0.356 –0.854). Allele and genotype frequencies differ significantly between caste, nomadic, tribe and ancestral tribal populations (ATP). The distribution of protective haplotype TTR2 was found to be significant (χ23 = 182.95, p-value <0.001), which is highest in ATP (40.5%); intermediate in tribes (33%); and lowest in caste (17.8%) and nomadic (21.6%).
Conclusions
Our study suggests that the IL-4 polymorphisms regulate host susceptibility to malaria and disease progression. TTR2 haplotype, which gives protection against malaria, is high among ATPs. Since they inhabited in isolation and mainly practice hunter-gatherer lifestyles and exposed to various parasites, IL-4 TTR2 haplotype might be under positive selection.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0048136
PMCID: PMC3480467  PMID: 23110190
10.  Reliable and rapid characterization of functional FCN2 gene variants reveals diverse geographical patterns 
BMC Medical Genetics  2012;13:37.
Background
Ficolin-2 coded by FCN2 gene is a soluble serum protein and an innate immune recognition element of the complement system. FCN2 gene polymorphisms reveal distinct geographical patterns and are documented to alter serum ficolin levels and modulate disease susceptibility.
Methods
We employed a real-time PCR based on Fluorescence Resonance Energy Transfer (FRET) method to genotype four functional SNPs including -986 G > A (#rs3124952), -602 G > A (#rs3124953), -4A > G (#rs17514136) and +6424 G > T (#rs7851696) in the ficolin-2 (FCN2) gene. We characterized the FCN2 variants in individuals representing Brazilian (n = 176), Nigerian (n = 180), Vietnamese (n = 172) and European Caucasian ethnicity (n = 165).
Results
We observed that the genotype distribution of three functional SNP variants (−986 G > A, -602 G > A and -4A > G) differ significantly between the populations investigated (p < 0.0001). The SNP variants were highly linked to each other and revealed significant population patterns. Also the distribution of haplotypes revealed distinct geographical patterns (p < 0.0001).
Conclusions
The observed distribution of the FCN2 functional SNP variants may likely contribute to altered serum ficolin levels and this may depend on the different disease settings in world populations. To conclude, the use of FRET based real-time PCR especially for FCN2 gene will benefit a larger scientific community who extensively depend on rapid, reliable method for FCN2 genotyping.
doi:10.1186/1471-2350-13-37
PMCID: PMC3458960  PMID: 22594803
FRET; Ficolin-2; Genotypes; Haplotypes; Distribution

Results 1-10 (10)