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1.  Molecular Epidemiology of HIV Type 1 CRF02_AG in Cameroon and African Patients Living in Italy 
AIDS Research and Human Retroviruses  2011;27(11):1173-1182.
Abstract
HIV-1 CRF02_AG accounts for >50% of infected individuals in Cameroon. CRF02_AG prevalence has been increasing both in Africa and Europe, particularly in Italy because of migrations from the sub-Saharan region. This study investigated the molecular epidemiology of CRF02_AG in Cameroon by employing Bayesian phylodynamics and analyzed the relationship between HIV-1 CRF02_AG isolates circulating in Italy and those prevalent in Africa to understand the link between the two epidemics. Among 291 Cameroonian reverse transcriptase sequences analyzed, about 70% clustered within three distinct clades, two of which shared a most recent common ancestor, all related to sequences from Western Africa. The major Cameroonian clades emerged during the mid-1970s and slowly spread during the next 30 years. Little or no geographic structure was detected within these clades. One of the major driving forces of the epidemic was likely the high accessibility between locations in Southern Cameroon contributing to the mobility of the population. The remaining Cameroonian sequences and the new strains isolated from Italian patients were interspersed mainly within West and Central African sequences in the tree, indicating a continuous exchange of CRF02_AG viral strains between Cameroon and other African countries, as well as multiple independent introductions in the Italian population. The evaluation of the spread of CRF02_AG may provide significant insight about the future dynamics of the Italian and European epidemic.
doi:10.1089/aid.2010.0333
PMCID: PMC3206741  PMID: 21453131
2.  Computer-based design of an HLA-haplotype and HIV-clade independent cytotoxic T-lymphocyte assay for monitoring HIV-specific immunity. 
Molecular Medicine  2002;8(12):798-807.
BACKGROUND: Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)- specific CD8-positive cytotoxic T-lymphocytes (CTL) play a key role in controlling HIV infection. Monitoring CTL response could be clinically relevant during structured therapy interruption (STI), HIV exposure, and vaccine trials. However, HLA patients' restriction and HIV variability limited the development of a CTL assay with broad specificity. MATERIALS AND METHODS: We designed an HLA-class I/HIV-1 clade independent assay for assessing HIV- specific CTL by using a computer-assisted selection ofthe CTL epitopes. Twenty-eight 15-mers were selected by peptide-binding motifs analysis using different databases (HIV-Immunology Database, SYFPEITHI, BIMAS). Altogether they putatively bind to more than 90% of HLA haplotypes in different populations, with an overall HIV-1 variability below 9%. The peptide pool was used as an antigen in an intracellular cytokine staining (ICS) assay for quantifying HIV-specific CTL response. RESULTS: The test can be performed using both fresh and cryopreserved peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC), whereas GAG protein as antigen works only on fresh PBMC. A significantly higher CTL response with respect to HIV-negative controls was detected in all HIV-1 infected subjects of two groups of patients with different ethnicities (Caucasians and Africans) and coming from areas with different HIV-1 clade prevalences (clade B and A/G, respectively). In Caucasian patients, after month of STI, the number of HIV-1 specific CTL (2,896 +/- 2,780 IFN-gamma specific CD8 cells/ml) was significantly higher than that found at enrolment (2,125 +/- 4,426 IFN-gamma specific CD8 cells/ml, p< 0.05). CONCLUSIONS: These data indicate that this CTL assay is broadly specific and could represent a useful clinical tool for HIV immunodiagnostic independent of HLA-haplotype and HIV-clade variabilities.
PMCID: PMC2039964  PMID: 12606814
3.  Human Macrophage Gamma Interferon Decreases Gene Expression but Not Replication of Mycobacterium tuberculosis: Analysis of the Host-Pathogen Reciprocal Influence on Transcription in a Comparison of Strains H37Rv and CMT97 
Infection and Immunity  2001;69(12):7262-7270.
Mycobacterium tuberculosis is an intracellular pathogen that readily survives and replicates in human macrophages (MΦ). Host cells have developed different mycobactericidal mechanisms, including the production of inflammatory cytokines. The aim of this study was to compare the MΦ response, in terms of cytokine gene expression, to infection with the M. tuberculosis laboratory strain H37Rv and the clinical M. tuberculosis isolate CMT97. Both strains induce the production of interleukin-12 (IL-12) and IL-16 at comparable levels. However, the clinical isolate induces a significantly higher and more prolonged MΦ activation, as shown by reverse transcription-PCR analysis of IL-1β, IL-6, IL-10, transforming growth factor beta, tumor necrosis factor alpha, and gamma interferon (IFN-γ) transcripts. Interestingly, when IFN-γ transcription is high, the number of M. tuberculosis genes expressed decreases and vice versa, whereas no mycobactericidal effect was observed in terms of bacterial growth. Expression of 11 genes was also studied in the two M. tuberculosis strains by infecting resting or activated MΦ and compared to bacterial intracellular survival. In both cases, a peculiar inverse correlation between expression of these genes and multiplication was observed. The number and type of genes expressed by the two strains differed significantly.
doi:10.1128/IAI.69.12.7262-7270.2001
PMCID: PMC98810  PMID: 11705896

Results 1-3 (3)