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1.  Hepatitis E Virus Mutations: Functional and Clinical Relevance 
EBioMedicine  2016;11:31-42.
Hepatitis E virus (HEV) infection is a major cause of acute hepatitis and affects more than 20 million individuals, with three million symptomatic cases and 56,000 recognized HEV-related deaths worldwide. HEV is endemic in developing countries and is gaining importance in developed countries, due to increased number of autochthone cases. Although HEV replication is controlled by the host immune system, viral factors (especially specific viral genotypes and mutants) can modulate HEV replication, infection and pathogenesis. Limited knowledge exists on the contribution of HEV genome variants towards pathogenesis, susceptibility and to therapeutic response. Nonsynonymous substitutions can modulate viral proteins structurally and thus dysregulate virus-host interactions. This review aims to compile knowledge and discuss recent advances on the casual role of HEV heterogeneity and its variants on viral morphogenesis, pathogenesis, clinical outcome and antiviral resistance.
•HEV causes acute hepatitis and recently comes into focus because of persistent infection in immunocompromised patients.•HEV variability can be associated with clinical pathogenesis and transmission dynamics.•Mutations in the HEV genome can influence HEV physiology and virus-host interaction.•HEV mutations and variability are likely associated with fulminant hepatic failure and chronic hepatitis E.•The Y1320H and G1634R/K mutations in the RdRp domain contribute to antiviral resistance through enhancing HEV replication.
We searched MEDLINE database and PubMed for articles from 1980 through June 30, 2016. Search terms used in various combinations were “hepatitis E”, “hepatitis E virus”, “hepatitis E virus infection”, “hepatitis E virus mutation”, “HEV variability”, “HEV genotype”, “HEV drug resistance”, “HEV replication” and “ribavirin”. Articles resulting from these searches and relevant references cited in those articles were selected based on their related topics and were reviewed. Abstracts and reports from meetings were also included. Articles published in English were included.
PMCID: PMC5049923  PMID: 27528267
HEV, hepatitis E virus; ORF, open reading frame; MeT, methyltransferase; Y, Y-domain; PCP, papain-like cysteine protease; HVR, hypervariable region; X-domain, macro-domain; Hel, RNA helicase; RdRp, RNA-dependent RNA polymerase; PPR, polyproline region; CP, capsid protein; aa, amino acid; vgRNA, viral genomic RNA; sgRNA, sub-genomic RNA; CRE, cis-reactive element; Hepatitis E virus; HEV infection; HEV mutation; HEV variability; HEV treatment failure; HEV replication
2.  Significance of nucleic acid testing in diagnosis and treatment of post-neurosurgical meningitis caused by multidrug-resistant Acinetobacter baumannii: a case report 
Neurosurgery may pose the risk of patients’ developing nosocomial meningitis caused by infection with hospital pathogens. Rapid detection of the causative pathogens is essential for selecting the appropriate antibiotic treatment. However, the classical culture-based detection of bacterial infection is time-consuming and often fails to establish the correct diagnosis. Molecular techniques offer improved diagnostic means to guide the proper antibiotic therapy.
Case presentation
A 32-year-old Vietnamese man underwent neurosurgery and subsequently developed meningitis. The classical bacterial culture method failed to detect any infectious agents, whereas polymerase chain reaction-based assays identified Acinetobacter baumannii as the causative pathogen. In addition, detection of the acquired extended-spectrum beta-lactamase gene VEB and carbapenem resistance genes NDM-1 and IMP suggested that the isolated A. baumannii strain was multidrug resistant. Upon the establishment of the correct diagnosis, an adequate treatment regimen was chosen and he recovered completely.
This case report demonstrates the usefulness of the molecular approach as an important addendum and alternative to culture-based diagnosis in order to detect the pathogen causative for meningitis, including the indicators for resistance.
PMCID: PMC5094039  PMID: 27809900
Neurosurgery; Meningitis; Acinetobacter baumannii; Nucleic acid testing; Bacterial culture; Hospital infection
3.  Enrichment of bacterial DNA for the diagnosis of blood stream infections 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2016;16:235.
Blood cultures are commonly employed to identify bacterial pathogens causing sepsis. PCR assays to diagnose septicemia require extraction of bacterial DNA from blood samples and thus, delay the initiation of appropriate antimicrobial treatment. The presence of abundant human DNA may hamper the sensitivity of PCR in the detection of bacteria.
We used serial dilutions of E. Coli spiked pseudo-blood-sepsis samples to develop a simple method that combines the use of a polar detergent solvent and adjustment of the basic pH to remove human DNA. A 16S rRNA gene-based screening algorithm was established to differentiate Gram-positive and Gram-negative groups of bacteria and the family of Enterobacteriaceae. A stringent validation with appropriate controls was implemented. The method of human DNA removal was then applied on 194 sepsis blood samples and 44 cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) samples by real-time PCR.
This uncomplicated and straightforward approach allows to remove up to 98 % of human DNA from peripheral blood of septic patients. The inhibitory effect of human DNA is efficiently prevented and the detection limit of real-time PCR is increased to 10 E. Coli CFUs/ml. This sensitivity is 10 times higher compared to conventional real-time PCR assays. The classical blood culture detected 58/194 (30 %) of sepsis and 9/44 (21 %) of CSF samples. Out of the 194 blood samples tested, the conventional real-time PCR targeting 13 common sepsis causing pathogens correctly detected the bacterial DNA in 16/194 (8 %) only and 14/44 (32 %) in cerebrospinal fluid samples. Our newly established approach was able to provide correct diagnoses in 78 (40 %) of the 194 blood samples and in 14 (32 %) of the CSF samples. The combination of both blood cultures and our technique raised the rate of sepsis diagnoses to 112/194 (58 %). Of the total group tested positive, 46 (24 %) cases showed overlap with the classical methodology.
We report a simple optimized in-house protocol for removal of human DNA from blood sepsis samples as a pre-analytical tool to prepare DNA for subsequent PCR assays. With the detection increase of our in-house DNA removal approach, subsequent PCR assays can reach detection limits of 10 E. coli CFUs/ml and significantly improve the diagnostic rate in blood sepsis cases.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12879-016-1568-1) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4888298  PMID: 27246723
Sepsis; Bloodstream infection; Human DNA removal; Molecular diagnosis; Blood culture
4.  Association of vitamin D deficiency with hepatitis B virus - related liver diseases 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2016;16:507.
As an immune modulator, vitamin D is involved in various pathophysiological mechanisms in a plethora of diseases. This study aims to correlate the vitamin D deficiency status and clinical progression of liver diseases associated with hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection in patients in Vietnam and to compare it to healthy controls.
We quantified the levels of total vitamin D [25-(OH) D2 and D3] in serum samples from 400 HBV patients (chronic hepatitis B infection [CHB], n = 165; HBV-associated liver cirrhosis [LC], n = 127; HBV-associated hepatocellular carcinoma [HCC], n = 108) and 122 unrelated healthy controls (HC). Univariate and multivariate analyses were performed in order to determine the association between vitamin D levels and distinct clinical parameters.
The prevalence of vitamin D inadequacy (<30 ng/mL) was high among healthy individuals (81.7 %) as well as in HBV patients (84.3 %). Vitamin D deficiency (<20 ng/ml) or severe deficiency (<10 ng/ml) was observed more frequently among HBV patients (52 %) and subgroups (CHB, 47.8 %; LC, 54.4 %; HCC, 55.3 %) compared to the control group (32.5 %) (P < 0.001). Vitamin D levels and HBV-DNA load were strongly and inversely correlated (rho = −0.57, P < 0.0001). Multivariate regression analysis also revealed an independent association of HBV-DNA loads with low vitamin D levels (P = 0.0004). In addition, reduced vitamin D levels were associated with significant clinical progression of LC (Child-Pugh C versus Child-Pugh A, P = 0.0018; Child-Pugh C versus Child-Pugh B, P = 0.016).
Vitamin D deficiency was observed in the majority of HBV-infected patients and associated with adverse clinical outcomes. Our findings suggest that substitution of vitamin D may be a supportive option in the treatment of chronic liver diseases, in particular of HBV-associated disorders.
PMCID: PMC5034475  PMID: 27659316
Vitamin D deficiency; HBV infection; Chronic liver disease; Liver cirrhosis; Hepatocellular carcinoma
5.  Reliable and rapid characterization of functional FCN2 gene variants reveals diverse geographical patterns 
BMC Medical Genetics  2012;13:37.
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.
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).
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).
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.
PMCID: PMC3458960  PMID: 22594803
FRET; Ficolin-2; Genotypes; Haplotypes; Distribution
6.  Mannose Binding Lectin and Susceptibility to Rheumatoid Arthritis in Brazilian Patients and Their Relatives 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e95519.
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.
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.
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.
Our results suggest MBL levels as a possible marker for RA susceptibility in a Brazilian population.
PMCID: PMC3994105  PMID: 24751721
7.  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.
PMCID: PMC3756038  PMID: 24015287
8.  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.
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.
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).
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%).
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.
PMCID: PMC3480467  PMID: 23110190

Results 1-8 (8)