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1.  Use of Amplification Refractory Mutation System PCR Assay as a Simple and Effective Tool To Detect HIV-1 Drug Resistance Mutations 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2015;53(5):1662-1671.
Access to genotyping assays to determine successful antiretroviral treatment (ART) is limited in resource-constrained settings by high cost, suggesting the need for a cost-effective and simplified method to identify HIV-1 drug resistance (HIVDR) mutations. In this study, an amplification refractory mutation system (ARMS)-PCR assay was developed and used to investigate the most frequent HIVDR mutations affecting first-line ART in settings where WHO ART guidelines are applied. Seventy-five HIV-positive (HIV+) samples from Cameroon were used to assess the performance of this assay. Sequencing of HIV-1 reverse transcriptase was simultaneously performed for comparison, and discordant samples were tested with a Trugene HIV-1 genotyping kit. The ARMS-PCR assay was able to detect M184V, T215Y/F, K103N, and Y181C mutations with sensitivities of 96.8%, 85.7%, 91.3%, and 70%, respectively, and specificities of 90.6%, 95%, 100%, 96.9%, respectively, compared with data on sequencing. The results indicated the highest positive predictive value for K103N (100%) and the highest negative predictive value for M184V (97.5%). ARMS-PCR's limits of detection for mutations M184V, T215Y/F, K103N, and Y181C were <75 copies/ml, 143 copies/ml, 143 copies/ml, and 836 copies/ml, respectively. ARMS-PCR efficiently identified mutations in individuals harboring different HIV-1 clades (CRF02_AG and non-CRF02_AG). In addition, this approach was more cost-effective than other genotyping assays. The high throughput, the cost-effectiveness, and the simplicity of the ARMS-PCR assay make it a suitable tool to monitor HIVDR patterns in resource-constrained settings with broad HIV-1 genetic diversity.
PMCID: PMC4400764  PMID: 25788547
2.  Field Application of the Micro Biological Survey Method for a Simple and Effective Assessment of the Microbiological Quality of Water Sources in Developing Countries 
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines, “safe drinking-water must not represent any significant risk to health over a lifetime of consumption, including different sensitivities that may occur between life stages”. Traditional methods of water analysis are usually complex, time consuming and require an appropriately equipped laboratory, specialized personnel and expensive instrumentation. The aim of this work was to apply an alternative method, the Micro Biological Survey (MBS), to analyse for contaminants in drinking water. Preliminary experiments were carried out to demonstrate the linearity and accuracy of the MBS method and to verify the possibility of using the evaluation of total coliforms in 1 mL of water as a sufficient parameter to roughly though accurately determine water microbiological quality. The MBS method was then tested “on field” to assess the microbiological quality of water sources in the city of Douala (Cameroon, Central Africa). Analyses were performed on both dug and drilled wells in different periods of the year. Results confirm that the MBS method appears to be a valid and accurate method to evaluate the microbiological quality of many water sources and it can be of valuable aid in developing countries.
PMCID: PMC4586613  PMID: 26308038
microbiological quality of water; water-borne diseases; MBS method
3.  Current practice of epidemiology in Africa: highlights of the 3rd conference of the African epidemiological association and 1st conference of the Cameroon society of epidemiology, Yaoundé, Cameroon, 2014 
As the study of disease occurrence and health indicators in human populations, Epidemiology is a dynamic field that evolves with time and geographical context. In order to update African health workers on current epidemiological practices and to draw awareness of early career epidemiologists on concepts and opportunities in the field, the 3rd African Epidemiology Association and the 1st Cameroon Society of Epidemiology Conference was organized in June 2-6, 2014 at the Yaoundé Mont Febe Hotel, in Cameroon. Under the theme«Practice of Epidemiology in Africa: Stakes, Challenges and Perspectives», the conference attracted close to five hundred guest and participants from all continents. The two main programs were the pre-conference course for capacity building of African Early Career epidemiologists, and the conference itself, providing a forum for scientific exchanges on recent epidemiological concepts, encouraging the use of epidemiological methods in studying large disease burden and neglected tropical diseases; and highlighting existing opportunities.
PMCID: PMC4607789  PMID: 26523191
Highlights; 3rd epidemiology Conference; Africa; Yaoundé; Cameroon
4.  Cord Blood Vγ2Vδ2 T Cells Provide a Molecular Marker for the Influence of Pregnancy-Associated Malaria on Neonatal Immunity 
The Journal of Infectious Diseases  2013;209(10):1653-1662.
Background. Plasmodium falciparum placental infection primes the fetal immune system and alters infant immunity. Mechanisms leading to these outcomes are not completely understood. We focused on Vγ2Vδ2 cells, which are part of the immune response against many pathogens, including P. falciparum. These unconventional lymphocytes respond directly to small, nonpeptidic antigens, independent of major histocompatibility complex presentation. We wondered whether placental malaria, which may increase fetal exposure to P. falciparum metabolites, triggers a response by neonatal Vγ2Vδ2 lymphocytes that can be a marker for the extent of fetal exposure to malarial antigens.
Methods. Cord blood mononuclear cells were collected from 15 neonates born to mothers with P. falciparum infection during pregnancy (8 with placental malaria) and 25 unexposed neonates. Vγ2Vδ2 cell phenotype, repertoire, and proliferative responses were compared between newborns exposed and those unexposed to P. falciparum.
Results. Placental malaria–exposed neonates had increased proportions of central memory Vγ2Vδ2 cells in cord blood, with an altered Vγ2 chain repertoire ex vivo and after stimulation.
Conclusion. Our results suggest that placental malaria affects the phenotype and repertoire of neonatal Vγ2Vδ2 lymphocytes. Placental malaria may lower the capacity for subsequent Vγ2Vδ2 cell responses and impair the natural resistance to infectious diseases or the response to pediatric vaccination.
PMCID: PMC4007110  PMID: 24325967
gammadelta; neonatal; cord blood; Plasmodium; placental malaria; repertoire; innate; phosphoantigen; aminobisphosphonate
5.  Key role of human leukocyte antigen in modulating human immunodeficiency virus progression: An overview of the possible applications 
World Journal of Virology  2015;4(2):124-133.
Host and viral factors deeply influence the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) disease progression. Among them human leukocyte antigen (HLA) locus plays a key role at different levels. In fact, genes of the HLA locus have shown the peculiar capability to modulate both innate and adaptive immune responses. In particular, HLA class I molecules are recognized by CD8+ T-cells and natural killers (NK) cells towards the interaction with T cell receptor (TCR) and Killer Immunoglobulin Receptor (KIR) 3DL1 respectively. Polymorphisms within the different HLA alleles generate structural changes in HLA class I peptide-binding pockets. Amino acid changes in the peptide-binding pocket lead to the presentation of a different set of peptides to T and NK cells. This review summarizes the role of HLA in HIV progression toward acquired immunodeficiency disease syndrome and its receptors. Recently, many studies have been focused on determining the HLA binding-peptides. The novel use of immune-informatics tools, from the prediction of the HLA-bound peptides to the modification of the HLA-receptor complexes, is considered. A better knowledge of HLA peptide presentation and recognition are allowing new strategies for immune response manipulation to be applied against HIV virus.
PMCID: PMC4419116  PMID: 25964877
Human immunodeficiency virus progression; Human leukocyte antigen; Epitope; Immunoinformatics; CD8+ T lymphocytes
6.  Granulocytic Myeloid Derived Suppressor Cells Expansion during Active Pulmonary Tuberculosis Is Associated with High Nitric Oxide Plasma Level 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(4):e0123772.
Tuberculosis (TB) is still the principal cause of death caused by a single infectious agent, and the balance between the bacillus and host defense mechanisms reflects the different manifestations of the pathology. The aim of this work was to study the role of myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs) during active pulmonary tuberculosis at the site of infection. We observed an expansion of MDSCs in the lung and blood of patients with active TB, which are correlated with an enhanced amount of nitric oxide in the plasma. We also found that these cells have the remarkable ability to suppress T-cell response, suggesting an important role in the modulation of the immune response against TB. Interestingly, a trend in the diminution of MDSCs was found after an efficacious anti-TB therapy, suggesting that these cells may be used as a potential biomarker for monitoring anti-TB therapy efficacy.
PMCID: PMC4400140  PMID: 25879532
7.  Etude des connaissances, attitudes et pratiques en matière de réintégration sociale des femmes victimes de fistule obstétricale: région de l'Extrême-nord, Cameroun 
La fistule obstétricale est un orifice entre le vagin et la vessie ou le rectum, voire les deux. Ses impacts sont des conséquences anatomo-fonctionnelles et sociales. On estime à plus de 19 000 le nombre de femmes qui souffrent de fistule obstétricale au Cameroun.
Il s'agissait d'une étude transversale descriptive conduite dans trois districts de santé de la région de l'Extrême-nord. Vingt-huit femmes victimes de fistules obstétricales, quarante-deux membres de leur entourage et vingt-quatre agents de santé ont été interviewés entre Novembre et Décembre 2013. Trois types de questionnaires ont été utilisés. Les données ont été analysées dans Epi Info version Les moyennes et les fréquences ont été calculées avec un intervalle de confiance à 95%.
46,4% des femmes victimes de fistule obstétricales interviewées avaient subi une intervention chirurgicale réparatrice parmi lesquelles, 61,5% bénéficiaient de la réintégration. Le fonds de commerce (62,5%) était l'aide la plus reçue. Vingt-deux membres de l'entourage savaient pourquoi on fait la réintégration. Selon eux, les considérations socioculturelles (68,2%), sont la principale barrière de la réintégration. D'après les agents de santé, le suivi psychosocial (58,3%) est la principale activité de la réintégration dans les centres de prise en charge de la fistule.
La prise en charge des fistules obstétricales au Cameroun souffre de manque de réintégration sociale. Ceci expliquerait en partie la persistance de cette pathologie. Un accent devrait être mis sur l'appui matériel, financier et sur le suivi psychosocial des femmes victimes de fistule obstétricale.
PMCID: PMC4469447  PMID: 26113915
Fistule obstétricale; réintégration sociale; Extrême-nord; Cameroun; obstetric fistula; Social integration; far-north; Cameroon
8.  Distribution épidémiologique de l'infection à VIH chez les femmes enceintes dans les dix régions du Cameroun et implications stratégiques pour les programmes de prévention 
Le Cameroun se situe dans un contexte d’épidémie généralisée du VIH. La sous-population des femmes enceintes, facilement accessible au sein de la population générale, représente une cible probante pour mener la surveillance du VIH et estimer l’évolution épidémiologique. L'objectif de notre étude était d’évaluer la distribution épidémiologique du VIH chez les femmes enceintes.
Étude transversale menée en 2012 chez 6521 femmes enceintes (49,3% âgées de 15-24 ans) en première consultation prénatale (CPN1) dans 60 sites des 10 régions Camerounaises. L'algorithme en série a été utilisé pour le sérodiagnostic du VIH.
La prévalence du VIH était de 7,8% (508/6521), avec une différence non significative (p = 0,297) entre milieu rural (7,4%) et milieu urbain (8,1%). En zone rurale, cette prévalence variait de 0,7% à l'Extrême-Nord à 11,8% au Sud. Cependant, en zone urbaine elle variait de 4% à l'Ouest à 11,1% au Sud-Ouest. Suivant l’âge, la prévalence était plus élevée (11,3%) chez les femmes de 35-39 ans. Suivant le niveau de scolarisation, la prévalence du VIH était plus faible (4,4%) chez celles non-scolarisées, et plus élevée (9,3%) chez celles ayant un niveau primaire. Selon la profession, l'infection était plus élevée chez les coiffeuses (15,5%), secrétaires (14,8%), commerçantes (12,9%) et institutrices/enseignantes (10,8%).
La prévalence du VIH reste élevée chez les femmes enceintes au Cameroun, sans distinction entre milieux rural et urbain. Les stratégies de prévention devraient s'orienter préférentiellement chez les femmes enceintes âgées, celles du niveau d'instruction primaire, et celles du secteur des petites et moyennes entreprises.
PMCID: PMC4450023  PMID: 26090037
VIH; femmes enceintes; Cameroun; HIV; pregnant women; Cameroon
9.  Mother-to-Children Plasmodium falciparum Asymptomatic Malaria Transmission at Saint Camille Medical Centre in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso 
Malaria Research and Treatment  2014;2014:390513.
Background. Malaria's prevalence during pregnancy varies widely in parts of sub-Saharan Africa, including Burkina Faso. The objective of this study was to evaluate the incidence of mother-to-child malaria transmission during childbirth at St. Camille Medical Centre in the city of Ouagadougou. Methods. Two hundred and thirty-eight (238) women and their newborns were included in the study. Women consenting to participate in this study responded to a questionnaire that identified their demographic characteristics. Asymptomatic malaria infection was assessed by rapid detection test Acon (Acon Malaria Pf, San Diego, USA) and by microscopic examination of Giemsa-stained thick and thin smears from peripheral, placental, and umbilical cord blood. Birth weights were recorded and the biological analyses of mothers and newborns' blood were also performed. Results. The utilization of long-lasting insecticidal nets (LLINs) and intermittent preventive treatment with sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine (SP) were 86.6% and 84.4%, respectively. The parasitic infection rates of 9.5%, 8.9%, and 2.8% were recorded, respectively, for the peripheral, placental, and umbilical cord blood. Placental infection was strongly associated with the presence of parasites in the maternal peripheral blood and a parasite density of >1000 parasites/µL. Conclusion. The prevalence of congenital malaria was reduced but was associated with a high rate of mother-to-child malaria transmission.
PMCID: PMC4259075  PMID: 25506464
10.  Antioxidant and Anti-Inflammatory Activities of Extracts from Cassia alata, Eleusine indica, Eremomastax speciosa, Carica papaya and Polyscias fulva Medicinal Plants Collected in Cameroon 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(8):e103999.
The vast majority of the population around the world has always used medicinal plants as first source of health care to fight infectious and non infectious diseases. Most of these medicinal plants may have scientific evidence to be considered in general practice.
The aim of this work was to investigate the antioxidant capacities and anti-inflammatory activities of ethanol extracts of leaves of Cassia alata, Eleusine indica, Carica papaya, Eremomastax speciosa and the stem bark of Polyscias fulva, collected in Cameroon.
Chemiluminescence was used to analyze the antioxidant activities of plant extracts against hydrogen peroxide or superoxide anion. Comet assays were used to analyze the protection against antioxidant-induced DNA damage induced in white blood cells after treating with hydrogen peroxide. Flow cytometry was used to measure γδ T cells proliferation and anti-inflammatory activity of γδ T cells and of immature dendritic cells (imDC) in the presence of different concentrations of plant extracts.
Ethanol extracts showed strong antioxidant properties against both hydrogen peroxide and superoxide anion. Cassia alata showed the highest antioxidant activity. The effect of plant extracts on γδ T cells and imDC was evidenced by the dose dependent reduction in TNF-α production in the presence of Cassia alata, Carica papaya, Eremomastax speciosa Eleusine indica, and Polyscias fulva. γδ T cells proliferation was affected to the greatest extent by Polyscias fulva.
These results clearly show the antioxidant capacity and anti-inflammatory activities of plant extracts collected in Cameroon. These properties of leaves and stem bark extracts may contribute to the value for these plants in traditional medicine and in general medical practice.
PMCID: PMC4121200  PMID: 25090613
11.  Evaluation of the nutritional status of infants from mothers tested positive to HIV/AIDS in the health district of Dschang, Cameroon 
Poor infant feeding practices are common in Africa, resulting in physical and intellectual developmental impairments. Good feeding practices are crucial, especially in the first year of growth. HIV/AIDS has worsened the clinical and nutritional status of both mothers and their children, exacerbating high rates of malnutrition. The aim of this study was to assess by participative approach, the nutritional status of infants from mothers tested positive to HIV in the health district of Dschang.
This is a cross sectional study with a period of recruitment of 2 years (2010-2012). Data Collection was done by the aim of a personal slip followed by training to strengthen the nutritional and hygienic capacity of targeted parents. Height and weight of infants were measured and body mass index (BMI) calculated.
Significant difference (p ≤ 0.05) was noticed in height-for-age z-score (HAZ) of girls aged between 1 to 2 years compared to 1-year old girls as well as to boys of all ages, defining them as stunted. Furthermore, the weight-for-age z-score (WAZ) results indicate that both girls and boys of all age are in moderate state of malnutrition. The results of BMI thinness classified according to gender and age groups, indicates that most infants (68/130, 52.3%) showed grade 2 thinness predominantly in 2-years old both boys and girls. However, no participants fall within the normal category for age and sex, as well as overweight and obesity categories.
Undernutrition exists among infants from mothers tested positive to HIV residing in Dschang, as most of the infants are underweight, and malnourished.
PMCID: PMC4231317  PMID: 25400858
Nutritional status; HIV/AIDS; infants; Body Mass Index
13.  HS1,2 Ig Enhancer Alleles Association to AIDS Progression in a Pediatric Cohort Infected with a Monophyletic HIV-Strain 
BioMed Research International  2014;2014:637523.
Alteration in the humoral immune response has been observed during HIV infection. The polymorphisms of enhancer HS1,2, member of the 3′ regulatory region of the Ig heavy chain cluster, may play a role in the variation of the humoral response leading to pathological conditions. To assess the role of the HS1,2 polymorphic variants in the progression of AIDS, the HS1,2-A allelic frequencies were investigated in a cohort of HIV infected pediatric subjects from a nosocomial outbreak with a monophyletic strain of HIV. From a total group of 418 HIV infected children in the outbreak cohort, 42 nonprogressors and 31 progressors without bias due to antiretroviral therapy were evaluated. HS1,2 allele ∗1 has been associated with nonprogressors (allelic frequency: 51.19% versus 33.87% in progressors, OR 0.5, and P = 0.0437), while allele ∗2 has been associated with progression (allelic frequency: 48.39% versus 30.95% in nonprogressors, OR 2.1, and P = 0.0393). Further, only subjects carrying allele ∗2 in absence of allele ∗1, either in homozygous condition for allele ∗2 [nonprogressors 2/42 (4.76%), Progressors 7/31 (22.58%), OR 5.8, and P = 0.0315] or in combination with other allelic variants [nonprogressors 7/42 (16.67%), Progressors 13/31 (41.93%), OR 3.61, and P = 0.0321], have been associated with HIV progression to AIDS. In conclusion, while the HS1,2 allele ∗1 has a protective effect on HIV progression when present, allele ∗2 is associated with progression toward AIDS when allele ∗1 is absent.
PMCID: PMC4055013  PMID: 25009819
14.  Population-Based Monitoring of Emerging HIV-1 Drug Resistance on Antiretroviral Therapy and Associated Factors in a Sentinel Site in Cameroon: Low Levels of Resistance but Poor Programmatic Performance 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e72680.
Scale-up of antiretroviral therapy (ART) in resource-limited settings has drastically reduced HIV-related morbidity and mortality. However, challenges in long-term ART, adherence and HIV drug resistance (HIVDR) itself, require monitoring to limit HIVDR emergence among ART-experienced populations, in order to ensure regimen efficacy.
A longitudinal study was conducted from 2009–2011 in a cohort of 141 HIV-infected adult patients (aged >21) at the national social insurance centre hospital in Yaounde, Cameroon. As per-WHO HIVDR protocol, HIV-1 protease-reverse transcriptase genotyping was performed at baseline and at endpoint (12 months) on first-line ART using ViroSeq™ Genotyping kit.
At baseline, a prevalence of 3.6% (5/139) HIVDR was observed [protease inhibitors M46I (1/5), G73A (1/5), L90LM (1/5); nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors: M184V (1/5), T215F (1/5); non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors: K103N (1/5), Y181Y/C (2/5), M230ML (1/5)]. At endpoint, 54.0% (76) patients were followed-up, 9.2% (13) died, and 3.5% (5) transferred, 38.5% (47) lost to follow-up (LTFU). 69.7% (53/76) of those followed-up had viremia <40 copies/ml and 90.8% (69/76) <1000 copies/ml. 4/7 patients with viremia ≥1000 copies/ml harbored HIVDR (prevalence: 5.3%; 4/76), with M184V/I (4/4) and K103K/N (3/4) being the most prevalent mutations. LTFU was favored by costs for consultation/laboratory tests, drug shortages, workload (physician/patient ratio: 1/180) and community disengagement.
Low levels of HIVDR at baseline and at endpoint suggest a probable effectiveness of ART regimens used in Cameroon. However the possible high rate of HIVDR among LTFUs limited the strengths of our findings. Evaluating HIVDR among LTFU, improving adherence, task shifting, subsidizing/harmonizing costs for routine follow-up, are urgent measures to ensure an improved success of the country ART performance.
PMCID: PMC3753336  PMID: 23991142
15.  Immunoinformatic Docking Approach for the Analysis of KIR3DL1/HLA-B Interaction 
BioMed Research International  2013;2013:283805.
KIR3DL1 is among the most interesting receptors studied, within the killer immunoglobulin receptor (KIR) family. Human leukocyte antigen (HLA) class I Bw4 epitope inhibits strongly Natural Killer (NK) cell's activity through interaction with KIR3DL1 receptor, while Bw6 generally does not. This interaction has been indicated to play an important role in the immune control of different viral infectious diseases. However, the structural interaction between the KIR3DL1 receptor and different HLA-B alleles has been scarcely studied. To understand the complexity of KIR3DL1-HLA-B interaction, HLA-B alleles carrying Bw4/Bw6 epitope and KIR3DL1∗001 allele in presence of different peptides has been evaluated by using a structural immunoinformatic approach. Different energy minimization force fields (ff) have been tested and NOVA ff enables the successful prediction of ligand-receptor interaction. HLA-B alleles carrying Bw4 epitope present the highest capability of interaction with KIR3DL1∗001 compared to the HLA-B alleles presenting Bw6. The presence of the epitope Bw4 determines a conformational change which leads to a stronger interaction between nonpolymorphic arginine at position 79 of HLA-B and KIR3DL1∗001 136–142 loop. The data shed new light on the modalities of KIR3DL1 interaction with HLA-B alleles essential for the modulation of NK immune-mediated response.
PMCID: PMC3747338  PMID: 23984333
16.  Declining trends in early warning indicators for HIV drug resistance in Cameroon from 2008–2010: lessons and challenges for low-resource settings 
BMC Public Health  2013;13:308.
Rapid scale-up of antiretroviral therapy (ART) and limited access to genotyping assays in low-resource settings (LRS) are inevitably accompanied by an increasing risk of HIV drug resistance (HIVDR). The current study aims to evaluate early warning indicators (EWI) as an efficient strategy to limit the development and spread of preventable HIVDR in these settings, in order to sustain the performance of national antiretroviral therapy (ART) rollout programmes.
Surveys were conducted in 2008, 2009 and 2010 within 10 Cameroonian ART clinics, based on five HIVDR EWIs: (1) Good prescribing practices; (2) Patient lost to follow-up; (3) Patient retention on first line ART; (4) On-time drug pick-up; (5) Continuous drug supply. Analysis was performed as per the World Health Organisation (WHO) protocol.
An overall decreasing performance of the national ART programme was observed from 2008 to 2010: EWI1 (100% to 70%); EWI2 (40% to 20%); EWI3 (70% to 0%); EWI4 (0% throughout); EWI5 (90% to 40%). Thus, prescribing practices (EWI1) were in conformity with national guidelines, while patient adherence (EWI2, EWI3, and EWI4) and drug supply (EWI5) were lower overtime; with a heavy workload (median ratio ≈1/64 staff/patients) and community disengagement observed all over the study sites.
In order to limit risks of HIVDR emergence in poor settings like Cameroon, continuous drug supply, community empowerment to support adherence, and probably a reduction in workload by task shifting, are the potential urgent measures to be undertaken. Such evidence-based interventions, rapidly generated and less costly, would be relevant in limiting the spread of preventable HIVDR and in sustaining the performance of ART programmes in LRS.
PMCID: PMC3627634  PMID: 23565992
Early warning indicator; HIV drug resistance; Surveillance and prevention; Cameroon
17.  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.
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.
PMCID: PMC3206741  PMID: 21453131
18.  B-Pred, a structure based B-cell epitopes prediction server 
The ability to predict immunogenic regions in selected proteins by in-silico methods has broad implications, such as allowing a quick selection of potential reagents to be used as diagnostics, vaccines, immunotherapeutics, or research tools in several branches of biological and biotechnological research. However, the prediction of antibody target sites in proteins using computational methodologies has proven to be a highly challenging task, which is likely due to the somewhat elusive nature of B-cell epitopes. This paper proposes a web-based platform for scoring potential immunological reagents based on the structures or 3D models of the proteins of interest. The method scores a protein’s peptides set, which is derived from a sliding window, based on the average solvent exposure, with a filter on the average local model quality for each peptide. The platform was validated on a custom-assembled database of 1336 experimentally determined epitopes from 106 proteins for which a reliable 3D model could be obtained through standard modeling techniques. Despite showing poor sensitivity, this method can achieve a specificity of 0.70 and a positive predictive value of 0.29 by combining these two simple parameters. These values are slightly higher than those obtained with other established sequence-based or structure-based methods that have been evaluated using the same epitopes dataset. This method is implemented in a web server called B-Pred, which is accessible at The server contains a number of original features that allow users to perform personalized reagent searches by manipulating the sliding window’s width and sliding step, changing the exposure and model quality thresholds, and running sequential queries with different parameters. The B-Pred server should assist experimentalists in the rational selection of epitope antigens for a wide range of applications.
PMCID: PMC3413014  PMID: 22888263
B-cell epitopes; immunoinformatics; bioinformatics; web server; epitope prediction
19.  Early Warning Indicators for HIV Drug Resistance in Cameroon during the Year 2010 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(5):e36777.
Rapid scale-up of antiretroviral therapy (ART) in resource-limited settings is accompanied with an increasing risk of HIV drug resistance (HIVDR), which in turn could compromise the performance of national ART rollout programme. In order to sustain the effectiveness of ART in a resource-limited country like Cameroon, HIVDR early warning indicators (EWI) may provide relevant corrective measures to support the control and therapeutic management of AIDS.
A retrospective study was conducted in 2010 among 40 ART sites (12 Approved Treatment Centers and 28 Management Units) distributed over the 10 regions of Cameroon. Five standardized EWIs were selected for the evaluation using data from January through December, among which: (1) Good ARV prescribing practices: target = 100%; (2) Patient lost to follow-up: target ≤20%; (3) Patient retention on first line ART: target ≥70%; (4) On-time drug pick-up: target ≥90%; (5) ARV drug supply continuity: target = 100%. Analysis was performed using a Data Quality Assessment tool, following WHO protocol.
The number of sites attaining the required performance are: 90% (36/40) for EWI1, 20% (8/40) for EWI2; 20% (8/40) for EWI3; 0% (0/37) for EWI4; and 45% (17/38) for EWI 5. ARV prescribing practices were in conformity with the national guidelines in almost all the sites, whereas patient adherence to ART (EWI2, EWI3, and EWI4) was very low. A high rate of patients was lost-to-follow-up and others failing first line ART before 12 months of initiation. Discontinuity in drug supply observed in about half of the sites may negatively impact ARV prescription and patient adherence. These poor ART performances may also be due to low number of trained staff and community disengagement.
The poor performance of the national ART programme, due to patient non-adherence and drug stock outs, requires corrective measures to limit risks of HIVDR emergence in Cameroon.
PMCID: PMC3355154  PMID: 22615810
20.  Validation of a single-platform, volumetric, flow cytometry for CD4 T cell count monitoring in therapeutic mobile unit 
A mobile health unit may be useful to follow up adult and pediatric patients on antiretroviral treatment and living in remote areas devoid of laboratory facilities. The study evaluated the use of the simplified, robust, single-plateform, volumetric, pan-leucogating Auto40 flow cytometer (Apogee Flow Systems Ltd, Hemel Hempstead, UK) for CD4 T cell numeration in a mobile unit, compared against a reference flow cytometry method.
The therapeutic mobile unit of the Laboratoire National de Santé Hygiène Mobile, Yaoundé, Cameroon, was equipped with the Auto40. A FACSCalibur flow cytometer (Becton Dickinson Immuno-cytometry System, San Jose, CA, USA) was used as reference method. EDTA-blood samples from volunteers were first subjected to CD4 T cell count in the mobile unit, and an aliquot was sent within 4 hours to Centre International de Référence Chantal Biya, Yaoundé, for FACSCalibur assay.
Two HIV screening campaigns with the mobile unit were organised in December 2009 and January 2010. The campaign in the suburb of Yaoundé which was 20 km from the reference laboratory included 188 volunteers comprising 93 children less than 5 years old. The campaign in Ambang Bikok (53 km far from Yaoundé) included 69 adult volunteers. In Yaoundé suburb, mean ± standard deviation (SD) CD4 T cell count was 996 ± 874 cells/μl by Auto40, and 989 ± 883 cells/μl by FACSCalibur; in Ambang Bikok, mean ± SD CD4 T cell count was 1041 ± 317 cells/μl by Auto40, and 1032 ± 294 cells/μl by FACSCalibur. Results by Auto40 and FACSCalibur were highly correlated in Yaoundé (r2 = 0.982) as in Ambang Bikok (r2 = 0.921). Bland-Altman analysis showed a close agreement between Auto40 and FACSCalibur results expressed in absolute count as in percentage in Yaoundé and Ambang Bikok. When pooling the 257 CD4 T cell count measurements, the Auto40 yielded a mean difference of +7.6 CD4 T cells/μl higher than by reference flow cytometry; and the sensitivity and specificity of Auto40 in enumerating absolute CD4 T cell counts of less than 200 cells/μl were 87% and 99%, respectively, and in enumerating absolute CD4 T cell counts of less than 350 cells/μl were 87% and 98%, respectively. The intrarun and interun precisions of the Auto40 assay assessed in the mobile unit were 5.5% and 7.9%, respectively.
The Auto40 flow cytometer installed in a therapeutic mobile unit and operated far from its reference laboratory gave a perfect correlation with the reference method, and could be useful in carrying out immunological monitoring of HIV-infected patients living in areas without access to laboratory facilities.
PMCID: PMC3293735  PMID: 22309994
Flow cytometry; CD4 T cell count; HIV; Resource-limited settings; Therapeutic mobile unit
21.  Reference Values of Lymphocyte Subsets in Healthy, HIV-Negative Children in Cameroon▿ 
Lymphocyte subset reference values used to monitor infectious diseases, including HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria, or other immunological disorders in healthy children in Cameroon, are lacking. Values for Caucasian cohorts are already being utilized for clinical decisions but could be inappropriate for African populations. We report here the immunological profile for children aged from birth through 6 years in Cameroon and also compare our values to data from other African and Caucasian populations. In a cohort of 352 healthy children, aged 0 to 6 years, the relative and absolute numbers of T-cell subsets, B cells, and NK lymphocytes were determined from peripheral blood collected in EDTA tubes. Samples were stained with BD Multitest reagents in Trucount tubes and analyzed by using CellQuest-Pro and FlowJo software. We evaluated about 23 different lymphocyte subsets in which the absolute number and percentage values differed significantly (P < 0.05) with age and peaked between 6 and 12 months. B-cell values were higher compared to reported values from developed countries. Differences in activated and differentiated T cells were observed in subjects between 1 and 6 years of age. The absolute CD8+ T-cell count and the CD4+/CD8+ ratio seem to depend on gender. Normal lymphocyte subsets values among children from Cameroon differ from reported values in Caucasian and some African populations. The differences observed could be due to genetic and environmental factors coupled with the methodology used. These values could be used as initial national reference guidelines as more data are assembled.
PMCID: PMC3122514  PMID: 21411603
22.  HMGB1 and Cord Blood: Its Role as Immuno-Adjuvant Factor in Innate Immunity 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(8):e23766.
In newborn the innate immune system provides essential protection during primary infections before the generation of an appropriate adaptive immune response that is initially not fully operative. Innate immune response is evoked and perpetuated by molecules derived from microorganisms or by the damage/death of host cells. These are collectively known as damage-associated molecular-pattern (DAMP) molecules. High-mobility group box 1 protein (HMGB1) or amphoterin, which previously was considered to be only a nuclear factor, has been recently identified as a DAMP molecule. When it is actively secreted by inflammatory cells or passively released from necrotic cells, HMGB1 mediates the response to infection, injury and inflammation, inducing dendritic cells maturation and T helper-1-cell responses. To characterize the role of HMGB1 in the innate and immature defense mechanisms in newborns, human cord blood (CB) mononuclear cells, in comparison to adult peripheral blood (PB) mononuclear cells, have been analyzed for its expression. By flow cytometry and western blot analysis, we observed that in CB and PB cells: i) HMGB1 is expressed on cell surface membranes of myeloid dendritic cell precursors, mostly, and lymphocytes (gamma/delta and CD4+ T cells) to a lesser extent; ii) different pro-inflammatory stimuli or molecules that mimic infection increased cell surface expression of HMGB1 as well as its secretion into extracellular environment; iii) the treatment with synthetic molecules such as aminobisphosphonates (ABs), identified to be γδ T cell antigens, triggered up-regulation of HMGB1 expression on mononuclear cells, as well γδ T lymphocytes, inducing its secretion. The modulation of its secretion and the HMGB1-mediated migration of monocytes indicated HMGB1 as regulator of immune response in an immature system, like CB, through engagement of γδ T lymphocytes and myeloid dendritic cell precursors, essential components of innate immunity. In addition, the increased HMGB1 expression/secretion triggered by ABs, previously characterized for their immuno-modulating and immune-adjuvant capabilities, indicated that immunomodulation might represent a new therapeutical approach for neonatal and adult pathologies.
PMCID: PMC3161821  PMID: 21915243
23.  Different Transcriptional Profiles of Human Monocyte-Derived Dendritic Cells Infected with Distinct Strains of Mycobacterium tuberculosis and Mycobacterium bovis Bacillus Calmette-Guérin 
In order to analyze dendritic cells (DCs) activation following infection with different mycobacterial strains, we studied the expression profiles of 165 genes of human monocyte-derived DCs infected with H37Rv, a virulent Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB) laboratory strain, CMT97, a clinical MTB isolate, Mycobacterium bovis bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG), Aventis Pasteur, and BCG Japan, both employed as vaccine against tuberculosis. The analysis of the gene expression reveals that, despite a set of genes similarly modulated, DCs response resulted strain dependent. In particular, H37Rv significantly upregulated EBI3 expression compared with BCG Japan, while it was the only strain that failed to release a significant IL-10 amount. Of note, BCG Japan showed a marked increase in CCR7 and TNF-α expression regarding both MTB strains and it resulted the only strain failing in exponential intracellular growth. Our results suggest that DCs display the ability to elicit a tailored strain-specific immune response.
PMCID: PMC3062957  PMID: 21436989
24.  Innate-like γδ T cell responses to mycobacterium Bacille Calmette-Guerin using the public Vγ2 repertoire in Macaca fascicularis 
The Vγ2Vδ2 T cell subset responds to Bacille Calmette-Guerin (BCG) immunization in macaques and may be a component of protective immunity against tuberculosis. We characterized the effects of BCG on the Vγ2Vδ2 T cell receptor repertoire by comparing the starting population of Vγ2 chains in cynomolgus macaques with the repertoire found after priming or booster immunization with BCG. The starting repertoire was dominated by public Vγ2 chain sequences that were found repeatedly among unrelated animals. Primary exposure to BCG triggered expansion of cells expressing public Vγ2 chains and booster immunization was often associated with contraction of these same subsets. Thus, BCG-reactive Vγ2 chains were present at high frequency in the repertoire of mycobacteria-naïve macaques and they comprised the major response to primary or booster immunization. Normal selection processes that created the naïve Vγ2 repertoire in macaques, also encoded the capacity for rapid responses to mycobacteria. The unusual composition of a normal Vγ2 repertoire helps to explain the powerful γδ T cell responses to BCG immunization.
PMCID: PMC2958528  PMID: 17292671
Vγ2Vδ2; repertoire; BCG; M. fascicularis
25.  Altered cord blood γδ T cell repertoire in Nigeria: possible impacts of environmental factors on neonatal immunity 
Molecular immunology  2008;45(11):3190-3197.
Infectious diseases during pregnancy can impact the development of fetal immunity, leading to reduced neonatal resistance to infection and decreased responses to pediatric vaccines. P. falciparum causes placental infection in low parity pregnant women and is among the pathogens that affect fetal immunity. Recognizing the relationship between malaria and γδ T lymphocytes in adults, we asked whether neonatal γδ T cells would be altered in malaria-endemic regions as a marker for changes in fetal immunity. Our initial studies compared cord blood γδ T cells from deliveries to HIV- mothers in Jos (Nigeria) where malaria is endemic, or in Rome (Italy). We noted substantial differences in the Vγ2 repertoire for cord blood collected in Jos or Rome; differences were consistent with a negative selection mechanism operating on the fetal Vγ2 chain repertoire in neonates from Jos. A specific disruption affected the fraction of γδ T cells that we expect will respond to Bacille Calmette-Guerin (BCG). Fetal γδ T cell depletion might be a mechanism for impaired neonatal immunity and lowered responses to pediatric vaccines.
PMCID: PMC2601555  PMID: 18440637
cord blood; gammadelta T lymphocytes; Vγ2 repertoire; Jγ1.2; Nigeria

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