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1.  In vitro Antileishmanial Drug Susceptibility of Clinical Isolates from Patients with Indian Visceral Leishmaniasis—Status of Newly Introduced Drugs 
Regional variations in susceptibility of Leishmania donovani clinical isolates have been reported to antimonials but not other antileishmanial drugs. Therefore, we evaluated the susceptibility of four antileishmanial drugs in clinical use in 28 clinical isolates from endemic and non-endemic regions in the J774A.1 macrophage cell line, and we found increased tolerance of miltefosine and paromomycin in isolates from a patient from a high endemic region. Effective dose for 90% killing (ED90) values were significantly higher for miltefosine (P = 0.005) and paromomycin (P = 0.02) in isolates from the high endemic region, although there were no significant differences between ED50 values for paromomycin, miltefosine, and amphotericin B in the non- versus endemic region isolates. This report is the first of higher ED90 values for miltefosine and paromomycin indicating susceptibility difference between regions for these newly introduced drugs by the parasite, and their use should be carefully monitored through directly observed therapy or multidrug treatment to preserve their efficacy for longer periods.
PMCID: PMC3516314  PMID: 22927497
2.  Genetic and functional evaluation of the role of DLL1 in susceptibility to visceral leishmaniasis in India 
Chromosome 6q26–27 is linked to susceptibility to visceral leishmaniasis (VL) in Brazil and Sudan. DLL1 encoding the Delta-like 1 ligand for Notch 3 was implicated as the etiological gene. DLL1 belongs to the family of Notch ligands known to selectively drive antigen-specific CD4 T helper 1 cell responses, which are important in protective immune response in leishmaniasis. Here we provide further genetic and functional evidence that supports a role for DLL1 in a well-powered population-based study centred in the largest global focus of VL in India. Twenty-one single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) at PHF10/C6orf70/DLL1/FAM120B/PSMB1/TBP were genotyped in 941 cases and 992 controls. Logistic regression analysis under an additive model showed association between VL and variants at DLL1 and FAM120B, with top associations (rs9460106, OR=1.17, 95%CI 1.01–1.35, P=0.033; rs2103816, OR=1.16, 95%CI 1.01–1.34, P=0.039) robust to analysis using caste as a covariate to take account of population substructure. Haplotype analysis taking population substructure into account identified a common 2-SNP risk haplotype (frequency 0.43; P=0.028) at FAM120B, while the most significant protective haplotype (frequency 0.18; P=0.007) was a 5-SNP haplotype across the interval 5’ of both DLL1 (negative strand) and FAM120B (positive strand) and extending to intron 4 of DLL1. Quantitative RT/PCR was used to compare expression of 6q27 genes in paired pre- and post-treatment splenic aspirates from VL patients (N=19). DLL1 was the only gene to show differential expression that was higher (P<0.0001) in pre- compared to post-treatment samples, suggesting that regulation of gene expression was important in disease pathogenesis. This well-powered genetic and functional study in an Indian population provides evidence supporting DLL1 as the etiological gene contributing to susceptibility to VL at Chromosome 6q27, confirming the potential for polymorphism at DLL1 to act as a genetic risk factor across the epidemiological divides of geography and parasite species.
PMCID: PMC3651914  PMID: 22561395
visceral leishmaniasis; DLL1; genetic association; Notch signalling
3.  Common variants in the HLA-DRB1-HLA-DQA1 Class II region are associated with susceptibility to visceral leishmaniasis 
Nature genetics  2013;45(2):208-213.
To identify susceptibility loci for visceral leishmaniasis we undertook genome-wide association studies in two populations; 989 cases and 1089 controls from India, and 357 cases in 308 Brazilian families (1970 individuals). The HLA-DRB1-HLA-DQA1 locus was the only region to show strong evidence of association in both populations. Replication at this region was undertaken in a second Indian population comprising 941 cases and 990 controls, resulting in Pcombined=2.76×10−17 and OR(95%CI)=1.41(1.30-1.52) across the three cohorts at rs9271858. A conditional analysis provided evidence for multiple associations within the HLA-DRB1-HLA-DQA1 region, and a model in which risk differed between three groups of haplotypes better explained the signal and was significant in the Indian discovery and replication cohorts. In conclusion the HLA-DRB1-HLA-DQA1 HLA class II region contributes to visceral leishmaniasis susceptibility in India and Brazil, suggesting shared genetic risk factors for visceral leishmaniasis that cross the epidemiological divides of geography and parasite species.
PMCID: PMC3664012  PMID: 23291585
4.  Diagnosis of visceral leishmaniasis 
Leishmaniasis is a vector-borne disease with up to 350 million people at risk of infection worldwide. Among its different clinical manifestations, visceral is the most severe form. Since clinical features of visceral leishmaniasis (VL) mimic several other common diseases, accurate diagnosis of VL is crucial as the treatment is associated with significant toxicity. Invasive and risky techniques involving demonstration of the parasites in stained preparations from splenic and bone marrow aspirate is still the gold standard for VL diagnosis. Serological tests using rk39 in ELISA or rapid immunochromatographic format, Direct Agglutination Test (DAT), immunoblotting have issues related to a significant proportion of asymptomatic individuals being positive with these tests and their inability to diagnose relapses as these remain positive for several months to years after cure. PCR is the most common molecular technique successfully used for diagnosis and differentiation of species. Through this review we focus extensively on the comparative utilities of the various diagnostic tools currently available for VL, describing in depth their advantages and disadvantages, addressing the recent advances attained in the field. A simple, rapid, non invasive, accurate and cost effective marker of active VL, which can be used in field conditions, is necessary to improve diagnosis of VL.
PMCID: PMC2999003  PMID: 21074233
Visceral leishmaniasis; Diagnosis; rK39; Polymerase chain reaction; Sensitivity; Specificity
5.  Genetic and functional evaluation of the role of CXCR1 and CXCR2 in susceptibility to visceral leishmaniasis in north-east India 
BMC Medical Genetics  2011;12:162.
IL8RA and IL8RB, encoded by CXCR1 and CXCR2, are receptors for interleukin (IL)-8 and other CXC chemokines involved in chemotaxis and activation of polymorphonuclear neutrophils (PMN). Variants at CXCR1 and CXCR2 have been associated with susceptibility to cutaneous and mucocutaneous leishmaniasis in Brazil. Here we investigate the role of CXCR1/CXCR2 in visceral leishmaniasis (VL) in India.
Three single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) (rs4674259, rs2234671, rs3138060) that tag linkage disequilibrium blocks across CXCR1/CXCR2 were genotyped in primary family-based (313 cases; 176 nuclear families; 836 individuals) and replication (941 cases; 992 controls) samples. Family- and population-based analyses were performed to look for association between CXCR1/CXCR2 variants and VL. Quantitative RT/PCR was used to compare CXCR1/CXCR2 expression in mRNA from paired splenic aspirates taken before and after treatment from 19 VL patients.
Family-based analysis using FBAT showed association between VL and SNPs CXCR1_rs2234671 (Z-score = 2.935, P = 0.003) and CXCR1_rs3138060 (Z-score = 2.22, P = 0.026), but not with CXCR2_rs4674259. Logistic regression analysis of the case-control data under an additive model of inheritance showed association between VL and SNPs CXCR2_rs4674259 (OR = 1.15, 95%CI = 1.01-1.31, P = 0.027) and CXCR1_rs3138060 (OR = 1.25, 95%CI = 1.02-1.53, P = 0.028), but not with CXCR1_rs2234671. The 3-locus haplotype T_G_C across these SNPs was shown to be the risk haplotype in both family- (TRANSMIT; P = 0.014) and population- (OR = 1.16, P = 0.028) samples (combined P = 0.002). CXCR2, but not CXCR1, expression was down regulated in pre-treatment compared to post-treatment splenic aspirates (P = 0.021).
This well-powered primary and replication genetic study, together with functional analysis of gene expression, implicate CXCR2 in determining outcome of VL in India.
PMCID: PMC3260103  PMID: 22171941
6.  Noninvasive Molecular Diagnosis of Human Visceral Leishmaniasis▿ 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2011;49(5):2003-2005.
Previously developed methods for noninvasive PCR diagnosis of visceral leishmaniasis (VL) have significant limitations. Diagnosis of VL using PCR and buccal swabs was evaluated in 307 subjects, including 148 patients confirmed to have VL. This method is simple and well tolerated and has good potential for development, showing 83% sensitivity with 90.56% specificity in control groups.
PMCID: PMC3122692  PMID: 21389158
7.  No evidence for association between SLC11A1 and visceral leishmaniasis in India 
BMC Medical Genetics  2011;12:71.
SLC11A1 has pleiotropic effects on macrophage function and remains a strong candidate for infectious disease susceptibility. 5' and/or 3' polymorphisms have been associated with tuberculosis, leprosy, and visceral leishmaniasis (VL). Most studies undertaken to date were under-powered, and none has been replicated within a population. Association with tuberculosis has replicated variably across populations. Here we investigate SLC11A1 and VL in India.
Nine polymorphisms (rs34448891, rs7573065, rs2276631, rs3731865, rs17221959, rs2279015, rs17235409, rs17235416, rs17229009) that tag linkage disequilibrium blocks across SLC11A1 were genotyped in primary family-based (313 cases; 176 families) and replication (941 cases; 992 controls) samples. Family- and population-based analyses were performed to look for association between SLC11A1 variants and VL. Quantitative RT/PCR was used to compare SLC11A1 expression in mRNA from paired splenic aspirates taken before and after treatment from 24 VL patients carrying different genotypes at the functional promoter GTn polymorphism (rs34448891).
No associations were observed between VL and polymorphisms at SLC11A1 that were either robust to correction for multiple testing or replicated across primary and replication samples. No differences in expression of SLC11A1 were observed when comparing pre- and post-treatment samples, or between individuals carrying different genotypes at the GTn repeat.
This is the first well-powered study of SLC11A1 as a candidate for VL, which we conclude does not have a major role in regulating VL susceptibility in India.
PMCID: PMC3128845  PMID: 21599885
SLC11A1; visceral leishmaniasis; genetic susceptibility
8.  Diagnosis of Indian Visceral Leishmaniasis by Nucleic Acid Detection Using PCR 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(4):e19304.
PCR based diagnosis for Visceral Leishmaniasis (VL), despite numerous published primers, remains far from being applied in the field. The present study was planned to design a Leishmania specific diagnostic assay and to evaluate its sensitivity and specificity on a sample size, which to the best of our knowledge is the largest ever screened in one study.
Leishmania specific primers were developed using 18S rRNA gene and their sensitivity was evaluated on 500 parasitologically confirmed patients with VL and 25 Post Kala-azar Dermal Leishmaniasis (PKDL) patients. Specificity was calculated on 250 healthy endemic controls, 250 healthy non endemic controls and 250 non leishmanial diseases like malaria.
Our PCR assay had a sensitivity of 87.8% (95%CI: 84.1–89.8) using 200 µL of patient's peripheral-blood. Specificity was absolute in non-endemic healthy controls and in subjects with different diseases while in endemic controls it was 84% (95%CI: 78.9–88.0). Its overall specificity was 94.6% (95%CI-92.8–96.1).
The PCR assay developed is sensitive enough to detect the 18S rRNA gene in an amount equivalent to a single parasite or less in a one million human cell environment. The high sensitivity of this PCR diagnostic test with relatively non-invasive peripheral blood sampling method opens up the possibility of its deployment in field for the routine diagnosis of VL.
PMCID: PMC3084819  PMID: 21559398
9.  Evaluation of Blood Agar Microtiter Plates for Culturing Leishmania Parasites To Titrate Parasite Burden in Spleen and Peripheral Blood of Patients with Visceral Leishmaniasis▿  
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2010;48(5):1932-1934.
Serial dilution of blood and spleen biopsy specimens, plated on Novy-MacNeal-Nicolle (NNN) blood agar using microtiter culture plates, is a sensitive and reproducible method for detection and growth of Leishmania parasites. Plates could be easily monitored, and growth could be rapidly detected. Moreover, parasite number may be estimated using this technique.
PMCID: PMC2863905  PMID: 20335419
10.  CD44+/CD24- breast cancer cells exhibit enhanced invasive properties: an early step necessary for metastasis 
Breast Cancer Research  2006;8(5):R59.
A subpopulation (CD44+/CD24-) of breast cancer cells has been reported to have stem/progenitor cell properties. The aim of this study was to investigate whether this subpopulation of cancer cells has the unique ability to invade, home, and proliferate at sites of metastasis.
CD44 and CD24 expression was determined by flow cytometry. Northern blotting was used to determine the expression of proinvasive and 'bone and lung metastasis signature' genes. A matrigel invasion assay and intracardiac inoculation into nude mice were used to evaluate invasion, and homing and proliferation at sites of metastasis, respectively.
Five among 13 breast cancer cell lines examined (MDA-MB-231, MDA-MB-436, Hs578T, SUM1315, and HBL-100) contained a higher percentage (>30%) of CD44+/CD24- cells. Cell lines with high CD44+/CD24- cell numbers express basal/mesenchymal or myoepithelial but not luminal markers. Expression levels of proinvasive genes (IL-1α, IL-6, IL-8, and urokinase plasminogen activator [UPA]) were higher in cell lines with a significant CD44+/CD24- population than in other cell lines. Among the CD44+/CD24--positive cell lines, MDA-MB-231 has the unique property of expressing a broad range of genes that favor bone and lung metastasis. Consistent with previous studies in nude mice, cell lines with CD44+/CD24- subpopulation were more invasive than other cell lines. However, only a subset of CD44+/CD24--positive cell lines was able to home and proliferate in lungs.
Breast cancer cells with CD44+/CD24- subpopulation express higher levels of proinvasive genes and have highly invasive properties. However, this phenotype is not sufficient to predict capacity for pulmonary metastasis.
PMCID: PMC1779499  PMID: 17062128

Results 1-10 (10)