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1.  A Simple Score to Predict the Outcome of Severe Malaria in Adults 
Background
World Health Organization treatment guidelines recommend that adults with severe malaria be admitted to an intensive care unit (ICU). However, ICU facilities are limited in the resource-poor settings where most malaria occurs. Identification of patients at greater risk of complications may facilitate their triage and resource allocation.
Methods
With use of data from a trial conducted in Southeast Asia (n = 868), a logistic regression model was built to identify independent predictors of mortality among adults with severe malaria. A scoring system based on this model was tested in the original dataset and then validated in 2 series from Bangladesh (n = 188) and Vietnam (n = 292).
Results
Acidosis (base deficit) and cerebral malaria (measured as Glasgow Coma Score) were the main independent predictors of outcome. The 5-point Coma Acidosis Malaria (CAM) score was simply derived from these 2 variables. Mortality increased steadily with increasing score. A CAM score <2 predicted survival with a positive predictive value (PPV) of 95.8% (95% confidence interval [CI], 93%–97.7%). Of the 14 of 331 patients who died with a CAM score <2, 11 (79%) had renal failure and death occurred late after hospital admission (median, 108 h; range, 40–360 h). Substitution of plasma bicarbonate as the measure of acidosis only slightly reduced the prognostic value of the model. Use of respiratory rate was inferior, but a score <2 still predicted survival with a PPV of 92.2% (95% CI, 89.1%–94.7%).
Conclusions
Patients with a CAM score <2 at hospital admission may be safely treated in a general ward, provided that renal function can be monitored.
doi:10.1086/649928
PMCID: PMC4313369  PMID: 20105074
2.  The practice and clinical implications of tablet splitting in international health 
Objective
Tablet splitting is frequently performed to facilitate correct dosing, but the practice and implications in low-income settings have rarely been discussed.
Methods
We selected eight drugs, with narrow therapeutic indices or critical dosages, frequently divided in the Lao PDR (Laos). These were split, by common techniques used in Laos, by four nurses and four laypersons. The mean percentage deviation from the theoretical expected weight and weight loss of divided tablets/capsules were recorded.
Results
Five of eight study drugs failed, on splitting, to meet European Pharmacopoeia recommendations for tablet weight deviation from the expected weight of tablet/capsule halves with 10% deviating by more than 25%. There was a significant difference in splitting accuracy between nurses and laypersons (P = 0.027). Coated and unscored tablets were less accurately split than uncoated (P = 0.03 and 0.0019 for each half) and scored (0.0001 for both halves) tablets.
Conclusion
These findings have potential clinical implications on treatment outcome and the development of antimicrobial resistance. Investment by drug companies in a wider range of dosage units, particularly for narrow therapeutic index and critical dosage medicines, is strongly recommended.
doi:10.1111/tmi.12309
PMCID: PMC4285309  PMID: 24702766
tablet splitting; therapeutic range; Laos; dose; essential medicines
3.  Open-Label Crossover Study of Primaquine and Dihydroartemisinin-Piperaquine Pharmacokinetics in Healthy Adult Thai Subjects 
Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy  2014;58(12):7340-7346.
Dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine is an artemisinin-based combination treatment (ACT) recommended by the WHO for uncomplicated Plasmodium falciparum malaria, and it is being used increasingly for resistant vivax malaria where combination with primaquine is required for radical cure. The WHO recently reinforced its recommendations to add a single dose of primaquine to ACTs to reduce P. falciparum transmission in low-transmission settings. The pharmacokinetics of primaquine and dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine were evaluated in 16 healthy Thai adult volunteers in a randomized crossover study. Volunteers were randomized to two groups of three sequential hospital admissions to receive 30 mg (base) primaquine, 3 tablets of dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine (120/960 mg), and the drugs together at the same doses. Blood sampling was performed over 3 days following primaquine and 36 days following dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine dosing. Pharmacokinetic assessment was done with a noncompartmental approach. The drugs were well tolerated. There were no statistically significant differences in dihydroartemisinin and piperaquine pharmacokinetics with or without primaquine. Dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine coadministration significantly increased plasma primaquine levels; geometric mean ratios (90% confidence interval [CI]) of primaquine combined versus primaquine alone for maximum concentration (Cmax), area under the concentration-time curve from 0 h to the end of the study (AUC0–last), and area under the concentration-time curve from 0 h to infinity (AUC0–∞) were 148% (117 to 187%), 129% (103 to 163%), and 128% (102 to 161%), respectively. This interaction is similar to that described recently with chloroquine and may result in an enhanced radical curative effect. (This study has been registered at ClinicalTrials.gov under registration no. NCT01525511.)
doi:10.1128/AAC.03704-14
PMCID: PMC4249579  PMID: 25267661
5.  Quantifying Low Birth Weight, Preterm Birth and Small-for-Gestational-Age Effects of Malaria in Pregnancy: A Population Cohort Study 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(7):e100247.
Background
The association between malaria during pregnancy and low birth weight (LBW) is well described. This manuscript aims to quantify the relative contribution of malaria to small-for-gestational-age (SGA) infants and preterm birth (PTB) in pregnancies accurately dated by ultrasound on the Thai-Myanmar border at the Shoklo Malaria Research Unit.
Methods and Findings
From 2001 to 2010 in a population cohort of prospectively followed pregnancies, we analyzed all singleton newborns who were live born, normal, weighed in the first hour of life and with a gestational age (GA) between 28+0 and 41+6 weeks. Fractional polynomial regression was used to determine the mean birthweight and standard deviation as functions of GA. Risk differences and factors of LBW and SGA were studied across the range of GA for malaria and non-malaria pregnancies. From 10,264 newborns records, population centiles were created.
Women were screened for malaria by microscopy a median of 22 [range 1–38] times and it was detected and treated in 12.6% (1,292) of pregnancies. Malaria was associated with LBW, PTB, and SGA compared to those without malaria. Nearly two-thirds of PTB were classified as LBW (68% (539/789)), most of which 83% (447/539) were not SGA. After GA 39 weeks, 5% (298/5,966) of non-LBW births were identified as SGA. Low body mass index, primigravida, hypertension, smoking and female sex of the newborn were also significantly and independently associated with LBW and SGA consistent with previous publications.
Conclusions
Treated malaria in pregnancy was associated with an increased risk for LBW, PTB, and SGA, of which the latter are most important for infant survival. Using LBW as an endpoint without adjusting for GA incorrectly estimated the effects of malaria in pregnancy. Ultrasound should be used for dating pregnancies and birth weights should be expressed as a function (or adjusted for GA) of GA in future malaria in pregnancy studies.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0100247
PMCID: PMC4077658  PMID: 24983755
6.  Pharmacokinetic Interactions between Primaquine and Chloroquine 
Chloroquine combined with primaquine has been the standard radical curative regimen for Plasmodium vivax and Plasmodium ovale malaria for over half a century. In an open-label crossover pharmacokinetic study, 16 healthy volunteers (4 males and 12 females) aged 20 to 47 years were randomized into two groups of three sequential hospital admissions to receive a single oral dose of 30 mg (base) primaquine, 600 mg (base) chloroquine, and the two drugs together. The coadministration of the two drugs did not affect chloroquine or desethylchloroquine pharmacokinetics but increased plasma primaquine concentrations significantly (P ≤ 0.005); the geometric mean (90% confidence interval [CI]) increases were 63% (47 to 81%) in maximum concentration and 24% (13 to 35%) in total exposure. There were also corresponding increases in plasma carboxyprimaquine concentrations (P ≤ 0.020). There were no significant electrocardiographic changes following primaquine administration, but there was slight corrected QT (QTc) (Fridericia) interval lengthening following chloroquine administration (median [range] = 6.32 [−1.45 to 12.3] ms; P < 0.001), which was not affected by the addition of primaquine (5.58 [1.74 to 11.4] ms; P = 0.642). This pharmacokinetic interaction may explain previous observations of synergy in preventing P. vivax relapse. This trial was registered at ClinicalTrials.gov under reference number NCT01218932.
doi:10.1128/AAC.02794-13
PMCID: PMC4068454  PMID: 24687509
7.  Correlation of biomarkers for parasite burden and immune activation with acute kidney injury in severe falciparum malaria 
Malaria Journal  2014;13:91.
Background
Acute kidney injury (AKI) complicating severe Plasmodium falciparum malaria occurs in up to 40% of adult patients. The case fatality rate reaches 75% in the absence of renal replacement therapy (RRT). The precise pathophysiology of AKI in falciparum malaria remains unclear. Histopathology shows acute tubular necrosis with localization of host monocytes and parasitized red blood cells in the microvasculature. This study explored the relationship of plasma soluble urokinase-type plasminogen activator receptor (suPAR), as a proxy-measure of mononuclear cell activation, and plasma P. falciparum histidine rich protein 2 (PfHRP2), as a measure of sequestered parasite burden, with AKI in severe malaria.
Methods
Admission plasma suPAR and PfHRP2 concentrations were assessed in Bangladeshi adults with severe falciparum malaria (n = 137). Patients were stratified according to AKI severity based on admission creatinine clearance.
Results
A total of 106 (77%) patients had AKI; 32 (23%), 42 (31%) and 32 (23%) were classified into ‘mild, ‘moderate’ and ‘severe’ AKI groups, respectively. Plasma suPAR and PfHRP2 concentrations increased with AKI severity (test-for-trend P <0.0001) and correlated with other markers of renal dysfunction. Admission plasma suPAR and PfHRP2 concentrations were higher in patients who later required RRT (P <0.0001 and P = 0.0004, respectively). In a multivariate analysis, both increasing suPAR and PfHRP2 were independently associated with increasing urine neutrophil gelatinase-associated lipocalin concentration, a marker of acute tubular necrosis (β = 16.54 (95% CI 6.36-26.71) and β = 0.07 (0.02-0.11), respectively).
Conclusions
Both sequestered parasite burden and immune activation contribute to the pathogenesis of AKI in severe falciparum malaria.
doi:10.1186/1475-2875-13-91
PMCID: PMC3995633  PMID: 24618154
Acute kidney injury; Pathophysiology; Falciparum malaria; Soluble urokinase-type plasminogen activator receptor; Histidine rich protein-2
8.  Rapid Clinical Assessment to Facilitate the Triage of Adults with Falciparum Malaria, a Retrospective Analysis 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e87020.
Background
Most adults dying from falciparum malaria will die within 48 hours of their hospitalisation. An essential component of early supportive care is the rapid identification of patients at greatest risk. In resource-poor settings, where most patients with falciparum malaria are managed, decisions regarding patient care must frequently be made using clinical evaluation alone.
Methods
We retrospectively analysed 4 studies of 1801 adults with severe falciparum malaria to determine whether the presence of simple clinical findings might assist patient triage.
Results
If present on admission, shock, oligo-anuria, hypo- or hyperglycaemia, an increased respiratory rate, a decreased Glasgow Coma Score and an absence of fever were independently predictive of death. The variables were used to construct a simple clinical algorithm. When applied to the 1801 patients, this algorithm’s positive predictive value for survival to 48 hours was 99.4 (95% confidence interval (CI) 97.8–99.9) and for survival to discharge 96.9% (95% CI 94.3–98.5). In the 712 patients receiving artesunate, the algorithm’s positive predictive value for survival to 48 hours was 100% (95% CI 97.3–100) and to discharge was 98.5% (95% CI 94.8–99.8).
Conclusions
Simple clinical findings are closely linked to the pathophysiology of severe falciparum malaria in adults. A basic algorithm employing these indices can facilitate the triage of patients in settings where intensive care services are limited. Patients classified as low-risk by this algorithm can be safely managed initially on a general ward whilst awaiting senior clinical review and laboratory data.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0087020
PMCID: PMC3906099  PMID: 24489828
9.  A morphometric and histological study of placental malaria shows significant changes to villous architecture in both Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax infection 
Malaria Journal  2014;13:4.
Background
Malaria in pregnancy remains a major health problem. Placental malaria infection may cause pathophysiological changes in pregnancy and result in morphological changes to placental villi. Quantitative histomorphological image analysis of placental biopsies was performed to compare placental villous architecture between active or treated placental malaria cases and controls.
Methods
A total of 67 placentas were studied from three clinical groups: control patients who did not have malaria (n = 27), active (n = 14) and treated (n=26) malaria cases, including both Plasmodium falciparum and Plasmodium vivax infections. Image analysis of histological placental sections was performed using ImageJ software to measure the number and size (area) of terminal villi, perimeter measurement per villus and total perimeter per unit area, and number of capillaries per villus (vascularity). Histological features of placental malaria were scored and these results were correlated with malaria status and clinical outcomes.
Results
Villous size correlated with vascularity (p <0.0001) but was inversely correlated with observed villi per unit area, (p = 0.0001). Significantly greater villous area and vascularity was observed in UK controls. Indices of histological malaria infection were significantly greater in active versus treated malaria cases. Active placental malaria cases showed significantly smaller villous area (p <0.0084), vascularity (p <0.0139) and perimeter (p <0.0006) than treated malaria cases or controls, but significantly more villi per unit area (p <0.0001). Villous size in treated malaria cases was significantly larger than active placental malaria cases (p <0.001) and similar to controls. There was a significant relationship between villous number and anaemia at the time of infection (p <0.0034), but not placental weight, birth weight or gestational age at delivery. No differences were found between histology or villous morphology comparing infections with P. falciparum or P. vivax.
Conclusions
These results imply that villous size, perimeter and vascularity are acutely decreased during active placental malaria, decreasing the surface area available for gas exchange per villus. However the increased number of villi per unit area offsets this change and persists after treatment. Histopathological and villous architectural changes may be reversed by early detection and appropriate anti-malarial treatment.
doi:10.1186/1475-2875-13-4
PMCID: PMC3900675  PMID: 24386908
Malaria; Placenta; Pregnancy; Pathophysiology; Morphometry; Image analysis; Villi
10.  Randomized Controlled Trial of Levamisole Hydrochloride as Adjunctive Therapy in Severe Falciparum Malaria With High Parasitemia 
The Journal of Infectious Diseases  2013;209(1):120-129.
Background. Cytoadherence and sequestration of erythrocytes containing mature stages of Plasmodium falciparum are central to the pathogenesis of severe malaria. The oral anthelminthic drug levamisole inhibits cytoadherence in vitro and reduces sequestration of late-stage parasites in uncomplicated falciparum malaria treated with quinine.
Methods. Fifty-six adult patients with severe malaria and high parasitemia admitted to a referral hospital in Bangladesh were randomized to receive a single dose of levamisole hydrochloride (150 mg) or no adjuvant to antimalarial treatment with intravenous artesunate.
Results. Circulating late-stage parasites measured as the median area under the parasite clearance curves were 2150 (interquartile range [IQR], 0–28 025) parasites/µL × hour in patients treated with levamisole and 5489 (IQR, 192–25 848) parasites/µL × hour in controls (P = .25). The “sequestration ratios” at 6 and 12 hours for all parasite stages and changes in microvascular blood flow did not differ between treatment groups (all P > .40). The median time to normalization of plasma lactate (<2 mmol/L) was 24 (IQR, 12–30) hours with levamisole vs 28 (IQR, 12–36) hours without levamisole (P = .15).
Conclusions. There was no benefit of a single-dose of levamisole hydrochloride as adjuvant to intravenous artesunate in the treatment of adults with severe falciparum malaria. Rapid parasite killing by intravenous artesunate might obscure the effects of levamisole.
doi:10.1093/infdis/jit410
PMCID: PMC3864382  PMID: 23943850
malaria; severe; falciparum; sequestration; artesunate; levamisole
11.  Inter- and Intra-Operator Variability in the Reading of Indirect Immunofluorescence Assays for the Serological Diagnosis of Scrub Typhus and Murine Typhus 
Inter- and intra-observer variation was examined among six microscopists who read 50 scrub typhus (ST) and murine typhus (MT) indirect immunofluorescence assay (IFA) immunoglobulin M (IgM) slides. Inter-observer agreement was moderate (κ = 0.45) for MT and fair (κ = 0.32) for ST, and was significantly correlated with experience (P = 0.03 and P = 0.004, respectively); κ-scores for intra-observer agreement between morning and afternoon readings (range = 0.35–0.86) were not correlated between years of experience for ST and MT IFAs (Spearman's ρ = 0.31, P = 0.54 and P = 0.14, respectively; P = 0.78). Storage at 4°C for 2 days showed a change from positive to negative in 20–32% of slides. Although the titers did not dramatically change after 14 days of storage, the final interpretation (positive to negative) did change in 36–50% of samples, and it, therefore, recommended that slides should be read as soon as possible after processing.
doi:10.4269/ajtmh.12-0325
PMCID: PMC3752761  PMID: 23478577
12.  Sequestration and Microvascular Congestion Are Associated With Coma in Human Cerebral Malaria 
The Journal of Infectious Diseases  2011;205(4):663-671.
The pathogenesis of coma in severe Plasmodium falciparum malaria remains poorly understood. Obstruction of the brain microvasculature because of sequestration of parasitized red blood cells (pRBCs) represents one mechanism that could contribute to coma in cerebral malaria. Quantitative postmortem microscopy of brain sections from Vietnamese adults dying of malaria confirmed that sequestration in the cerebral microvasculature was significantly higher in patients with cerebral malaria (CM; n = 21) than in patients with non-CM (n = 23). Sequestration of pRBCs and CM was also significantly associated with increased microvascular congestion by infected and uninfected erythrocytes. Clinicopathological correlation showed that sequestration and congestion were significantly associated with deeper levels of premortem coma and shorter time to death. Microvascular congestion and sequestration were highly correlated as microscopic findings but were independent predictors of a clinical diagnosis of CM. Increased microvascular congestion accompanies coma in CM, associated with parasite sequestration in the cerebral microvasculature.
doi:10.1093/infdis/jir812
PMCID: PMC3266137  PMID: 22207648
13.  Effect of High-Dose or Split-Dose Artesunate on Parasite Clearance in Artemisinin-Resistant Falciparum Malaria 
New treatment strategies are needed for artemisinin-resistant falciparum malaria. This randomized trial shows that neither increasing nor splitting the standard once-daily artesunate dose reverses the markedly reduced parasite clearance rate in patients with artemisinin-resistant falciparum malaria.
Background. The emergence of Plasmodium falciparum resistance to artemisinins on the Cambodian and Myanmar-Thai borders poses severe threats to malaria control. We investigated whether increasing or splitting the dose of the short-half-life drug artesunate improves parasite clearance in falciparum malaria in the 2 regions.
Methods. In Pailin, western Cambodia (from 2008 to 2010), and Wang Pha, northwestern Thailand (2009–2010), patients with uncomplicated falciparum malaria were randomized to oral artesunate 6 mg/kg/d as a once-daily or twice-daily dose for 7 days, or artesunate 8 mg/kg/d as a once-daily or twice-daily dose for 3 days, followed by mefloquine. Parasite clearance and recrudescence for up to 63 days of follow-up were assessed.
Results. A total of 159 patients were enrolled. Overall median (interquartile range [IQR]) parasitemia half-life (half-life) was 6.03 (4.89–7.28) hours in Pailin versus 3.42 (2.20–4.85) hours in Wang Pha (P = .0001). Splitting or increasing the artesunate dose did not shorten half-life in either site. Pharmacokinetic profiles of artesunate and dihydroartemisinin were similar between sites and did not correlate with half-life. Recrudescent infections occurred in 4 of 79 patients in Pailin and 5 of 80 in Wang Pha and was not different between treatment arms (P = .68).
Conclusions. Increasing the artesunate treatment dose up to 8 mg/kg/d or splitting the dose does not improve parasite clearance in either artemisinin resistant or more sensitive infections with P. falciparum.
Clinical Trials Registration. ISRCTN15351875.
doi:10.1093/cid/cis958
PMCID: PMC3563392  PMID: 23175556
artemisinins; drug resistance; Plasmodium falciparum; neutropenia; reticulocytopenia
14.  Artemisinin Resistance in Plasmodium falciparum Malaria 
The New England journal of medicine  2009;361(5):455-467.
BACKGROUND
Artemisinin-based combination therapies are the recommended first-line treatments of falciparum malaria in all countries with endemic disease. There are recent concerns that the efficacy of such therapies has declined on the Thai–Cambodian border, historically a site of emerging antimalarial-drug resistance.
METHODS
In two open-label, randomized trials, we compared the efficacies of two treatments for uncomplicated falciparum malaria in Pailin, western Cambodia, and Wang Pha, northwestern Thailand: oral artesunate given at a dose of 2 mg per kilogram of body weight per day, for 7 days, and artesunate given at a dose of 4 mg per kilogram per day, for 3 days, followed by mefloquine at two doses totaling 25 mg per kilogram. We assessed in vitro and in vivo Plasmodium falciparum susceptibility, artesunate pharmacokinetics, and molecular markers of resistance.
RESULTS
We studied 40 patients in each of the two locations. The overall median parasite clearance times were 84 hours (interquartile range, 60 to 96) in Pailin and 48 hours (interquartile range, 36 to 66) in Wang Pha (P<0.001). Recrudescence confirmed by means of polymerase-chain-reaction assay occurred in 6 of 20 patients (30%) receiving artesunate monotherapy and 1 of 20 (5%) receiving artesunate–mefloquine therapy in Pailin, as compared with 2 of 20 (10%) and 1 of 20 (5%), respectively, in Wang Pha (P = 0.31). These markedly different parasitologic responses were not explained by differences in age, artesunate or dihydroartemisinin pharmacokinetics, results of isotopic in vitro sensitivity tests, or putative molecular correlates of P. falciparum drug resistance (mutations or amplifications of the gene encoding a multidrug resistance protein [PfMDR1] or mutations in the gene encoding sarco–endoplasmic reticulum calcium ATPase6 [PfSERCA]). Adverse events were mild and did not differ significantly between the two treatment groups.
CONCLUSIONS
P. falciparum has reduced in vivo susceptibility to artesunate in western Cambodia as compared with northwestern Thailand. Resistance is characterized by slow parasite clearance in vivo without corresponding reductions on conventional in vitro susceptibility testing. Containment measures are urgently needed. (ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT00493363, and Current Controlled Trials number, ISRCTN64835265.)
doi:10.1056/NEJMoa0808859
PMCID: PMC3495232  PMID: 19641202
15.  Comparison of Performance of Serum and Plasma in Panbio Dengue and Japanese Encephalitis Virus Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assays 
We examined the comparative performance of serum and plasma (in dipotassium EDTA) in Panbio Dengue enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs) for detection of non-structural protein 1 (NS1), IgM, and IgG, and a dengue/Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV) combination IgM ELISA in a prospective series of 201 patients with suspected dengue in Laos. Paired comparisons of medians from serum and plasma samples were not significantly different for Dengue IgM, and NS1 which had the highest number of discordant pairs (both 2%; P = 0.13 and P = 0.25, respectively). Comparison of qualitative final diagnostic interpretations for serum and plasma samples were not significantly different: only 1.5% (3 of 201 for Dengue/JEV IgM and Dengue IgG) and 2.0% (4 of 201; IgM and NS1) showed discordant pairs. These results demonstrate that plasma containing EDTA is suitable for use in these ELISAs.
doi:10.4269/ajtmh.2012.12-0043
PMCID: PMC3435366  PMID: 22826488
16.  Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms in the Toll-Like Receptor 3 and CD44 Genes Are Associated with Persistence of Vaccine-Induced Immunity to the Serogroup C Meningococcal Conjugate Vaccine 
The rate of decay of antibody concentration following serogroup C meningococcal (MenC) polysaccharide-protein conjugate vaccination varies between individuals. This depends partly on vaccination age but may be influenced by human genetics. We studied 721 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) across 131 candidate genes in a first cohort of 905 Caucasians (11 to 21 years old; mean time after vaccination, 4.9 years) and 30 SNPs across 17 genes in a replication study using 155 children, aged 6 to 12 years (mean time after vaccination, 6.7 years), and 196 infants (1 year old; mean time after vaccination, 8 months). Individuals were classified as responders or nonresponders for total MenC IgG concentration and MenC serum bactericidal antibody (SBA) measurements. Associated genes were examined further for quantitative outcome measures. Fifty-nine SNPs in 37 genes were associated with IgG persistence (adjusted for age at measurement), and 56 SNPs in 36 genes were associated with SBA persistence (adjusted for age at measurement and vaccine used). Three SNPs each within the Toll-like receptor 3 (TLR3) (rs3775291, rs3775292, and rs5743312) and CD44 (rs11033013, rs353644, and rs996076) genes were associated with IgG (adjusted for age at measurement) or SBA (adjusted for age at measurement and vaccine used) persistence in the initial genetic study (P, 0.02 to 0.04). Single SNPs within the TLR3 (rs7657186) (P = 0.004 [unadjusted]) and CD44 (rs12419062) (P = 0.01 [unadjusted]) genes were associated with IgG persistence in the replication study. These results suggest that genetic polymorphisms in the TLR3 and CD44 genes are associated with the persistence of the immune response to MenC vaccines 1 to 6 years after vaccination.
doi:10.1128/CVI.05379-11
PMCID: PMC3294616  PMID: 22205660
17.  Is areca innocent? The effect of areca (betel) nut chewing in a population of pregnant women on the Thai–Myanmar border 
International Health  2012;4-172(3):204-209.
Eight manuscripts have specifically examined the effects of areca (betel) nut use in pregnant women, seven of which have documented adverse effects on birth weight, newborn neurological status, gender ratio and pregnancy outcomes such as anaemia and miscarriage following areca nut use during pregnancy. A retrospective cohort analysis of migrant and refugee pregnant women attending antenatal clinics along the Thai–Myanmar border (July 1997 to November 2006) was conducted to examine the adverse effects of areca nut use routinely recorded on enrolment. Of 7685 women, 2284 (29.7%) never used areca or smoked (cheroots), 2484 (32.3%) only used areca, 438 (5.7%) only smoked cheroots and 2479 (32.3%) used both areca and cheroots. Pieces of ripe areca nut in a leaf with lime, without tobacco, were used particularly among older multigravid women. Adverse pregnancy effects were not observed in areca nut users compared with non-users. Smoking, but not areca nut use, had a dose-related effect on miscarriage. Areca nut use in conjunction with smoking reduced the adverse effects of smoking on birth weight, further supporting a lack of effect of areca nut. Areca (betel) nut-related adverse pregnancy outcomes were not observed in this population, whereas smoking was clearly harmful. Differences from previous reports may result from the amount or types of areca nut, or quid content, consumed between countries. Smoking, but not areca nut, reduction is likely to improve pregnancy outcomes on the Thai–Myanmar border.
doi:10.1016/j.inhe.2012.05.001
PMCID: PMC3442179  PMID: 24029401
Areca nut; Smoking; Pregnancy; Maternal outcome; Neonatal outcome
18.  Diagnosing Severe Falciparum Malaria in Parasitaemic African Children: A Prospective Evaluation of Plasma PfHRP2 Measurement 
PLoS Medicine  2012;9(8):e1001297.
Arjen Dondorp and colleagues investigate whether the plasma level of Plasmodium falciparum histidine-rich protein 2 can be used to distinguish between severe malaria and other severe febrile illness in African children with malaria.
Background
In African children, distinguishing severe falciparum malaria from other severe febrile illnesses with coincidental Plasmodium falciparum parasitaemia is a major challenge. P. falciparum histidine-rich protein 2 (PfHRP2) is released by mature sequestered parasites and can be used to estimate the total parasite burden. We investigated the prognostic significance of plasma PfHRP2 and used it to estimate the malaria-attributable fraction in African children diagnosed with severe malaria.
Methods and Findings
Admission plasma PfHRP2 was measured prospectively in African children (from Mozambique, The Gambia, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo) aged 1 month to 15 years with severe febrile illness and a positive P. falciparum lactate dehydrogenase (pLDH)-based rapid test in a clinical trial comparing parenteral artesunate versus quinine (the AQUAMAT trial, ISRCTN 50258054). In 3,826 severely ill children, Plasmadium falciparum PfHRP2 was higher in patients with coma (p = 0.0209), acidosis (p<0.0001), and severe anaemia (p<0.0001). Admission geometric mean (95%CI) plasma PfHRP2 was 1,611 (1,350–1,922) ng/mL in fatal cases (n = 381) versus 1,046 (991–1,104) ng/mL in survivors (n = 3,445, p<0.0001), without differences in parasitaemia as assessed by microscopy. There was a U-shaped association between log10 plasma PfHRP2 and risk of death. Mortality increased 20% per log10 increase in PfHRP2 above 174 ng/mL (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] 1.21, 95%CI 1.05–1.39, p = 0.009). A mechanistic model assuming a PfHRP2-independent risk of death in non-malaria illness closely fitted the observed data and showed malaria-attributable mortality less than 50% with plasma PfHRP2≤174 ng/mL. The odds ratio (OR) for death in artesunate versus quinine-treated patients was 0.61 (95%CI 0.44–0.83, p = 0.0018) in the highest PfHRP2 tertile, whereas there was no difference in the lowest tertile (OR 1.05; 95%CI 0.69–1.61; p = 0.82). A limitation of the study is that some conclusions are drawn from a mechanistic model, which is inherently dependent on certain assumptions. However, a sensitivity analysis of the model indicated that the results were robust to a plausible range of parameter estimates. Further studies are needed to validate our findings.
Conclusions
Plasma PfHRP2 has prognostic significance in African children with severe falciparum malaria and provides a tool to stratify the risk of “true” severe malaria-attributable disease as opposed to other severe illnesses in parasitaemic African children.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary.
Editors' Summary
Background
Malaria is a life-threatening disease caused by parasites that are transmitted to people through the bites of infected mosquitoes. In 2010, malaria caused an estimated 655,000 deaths worldwide, mostly in Africa, where according to the World Health Organization, one African child dies every minute from the disease. There are four Plasmodium parasite species that cause malaria in humans, with one species, Plasmodium falciparum, causing the most severe disease. However, diagnosing severe falciparum malaria in children living in endemic areas is problematic, as many semi-immune children may have the malaria parasites in their blood (described as being parasitaemic) but do not have clinical disease. Therefore, a positive malaria blood smear may be coincidental and not be diagnostic of severe malaria, and unfortunately, neither are the clinical symptoms of severe malaria, such as shock, acidosis, or coma, which can also be caused by other childhood infections. For these reasons, the misdiagnosis of falciparum malaria in severely ill children is an important problem in sub-Saharan Africa, and may result in unnecessary child deaths.
Why Was This Study Done?
Previous studies have suggested that a parasite protein—P. falciparum histidine-rich protein-2 (PfHRP2)—is a measure of the total number of parasites in the patient. Unlike the circulating parasites detected on a blood film, which do not represent the parasites that get stuck in vital organs, PfHRP2 is distributed equally through the total blood plasma volume, and so can be considered a measure of the total parasite burden in the previous 48 hours. So in this study, the researchers assessed the prognostic value of plasma PfHRP2 in African children with severe malaria and whether this protein could distinguish children who really do have severe malaria from those who have severe febrile illness but coincidental parasitaemia, who may have another infection.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers assessed levels of plasma PfHRP2 in 3,826 out of a possible 5,425 African children who participated in a large multinational trial (in Mozambique, The Gambia, Rwanda, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, and the Democratic Republic of Congo) that compared the anti-malarial drugs quinine and artesunate for the treatment of severe malaria. All children had a clinical diagnosis of severe malaria confirmed by a rapid diagnostic test, and the researchers used clinical signs to define the severity of malaria. The researchers assessed the relationship between plasma PfHRP2 concentrations and risk of death taking other well established predictors of death, such as coma, convulsions, hypoglycaemia, respiratory distress, and shock, into account.
The researchers found that PfHRP2 was detectable in 3,800/3,826 (99%) children with severe malaria and that the average plasma PfHRP2 levels was significantly higher in the 381 children who died from malaria than in children who survived (1,611 ng/mL versus 1,046 ng/mL). Plasma PfHRP2 was also significantly higher in children with severe malaria signs and symptoms such as coma, acidosis, and severe anaemia. Importantly, the researchers found that high death rates were associated with either very low or very high values of plasma PfHRP2: the odds (chance) of death were 20% higher per unit increase in PfHRP2 above a specific threshold (174 ng/ml), but below this concentration, the risk of death increased with decreasing levels, probably because at lower levels disease was caused by a severe febrile disease other than malaria, like septicemia. Finally, the researchers found that in children within the highest PfHRP2 tertile, the chance of death when treated with the antimalarial drug artesunate versus quinine was 0.61 but that there was no difference in death rates in the lowest tertile, which supports that patients with very low plasma PfHRP2 have a different severe febrile illness than malaria. The researchers use mathematical modeling to provide cut-off values for plasma PfHRP2 denoting the proportion of patients with a diagnosis other than severe malaria.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings suggest that in areas of moderate or high malaria transmission where a high proportion of children are parasitaemic, plasma PfHRP2 levels taken on admission to hospital can differentiate children at highest risk of death from severe falciparum malaria from those likely to have alternative causes of severe febrile illness. Therefore, plasma PfHRP2 could be considered a valuable additional diagnostic tool and prognostic indicator in African children with severe falciparum malaria. This finding is important for clinicians treating children with severe febrile illnesses in malaria-endemic countries: while high levels of plasma PfHRP2 is indicative of severe malaria which needs urgent antimalarial treatment, low levels suggest that another severe infective disease should be considered, warranting additional investigations and urgent treatment with antibiotics.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001297.
A previous small study in PLOS ONE explores the relationship between plasma PfHRP2 and severe malaria in Tanzanian children
The WHO website and the website of Malaria No More have comprehensive information about malaria
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001297
PMCID: PMC3424256  PMID: 22927801
19.  Diagnosis, Clinical Presentation, and In-Hospital Mortality of Severe Malaria in HIV-Coinfected Children and Adults in Mozambique 
Background. Severe falciparum malaria with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) coinfection is common in settings with a high prevalence of both diseases, but there is little information on whether HIV affects the clinical presentation and outcome of severe malaria.
Methods. HIV status was assessed prospectively in hospitalized parasitemic adults and children with severe malaria in Beira, Mozambique, as part of a clinical trial comparing parenteral artesunate versus quinine (ISRCTN50258054). Clinical signs, comorbidity, complications, and disease outcome were compared according to HIV status.
Results. HIV-1 seroprevalence was 11% (74/655) in children under 15 years and 72% (49/68) in adults with severe malaria. Children with HIV coinfection presented with more severe acidosis, anemia, and respiratory distress, and higher peripheral blood parasitemia and plasma Plasmodium falciparum histidine-rich protein-2 (PfHRP2). During hospitalization, deterioration in coma score, convulsions, respiratory distress, and pneumonia were more common in HIV-coinfected children, and mortality was 26% (19/74) versus 9% (53/581) in uninfected children (P < .001). In an age- and antimalarial treatment–adjusted logistic regression model, significant, independent predictors for death were renal impairment, acidosis, parasitemia, and plasma PfHRP2 concentration.
Conclusions. Severe malaria in HIV-coinfected patients presents with higher parasite burden, more complications, and comorbidity, and carries a higher case fatality rate. Early identification of HIV coinfection is important for the clinical management of severe malaria.
doi:10.1093/cid/cis590
PMCID: PMC3447636  PMID: 22752514
20.  A Prospective Assessment of the Accuracy of Commercial IgM ELISAs in Diagnosis of Japanese Encephalitis Virus Infections in Patients with Suspected Central Nervous System Infections in Laos 
Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV) is a major cause of encephalitis in Asia. We estimated the diagnostic accuracy of two anti-JEV immunoglobulin M (IgM) enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs) (Panbio and XCyton JEVCheX) compared with a reference standard (AFRIMS JEV MAC ELISA) in a prospective study of the causes of central nervous system infections in Laos. Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF; 515 patients) and serum samples (182 patients) from those admitted to Mahosot Hospital, Vientiane, were tested. The CSF from 14.5% of acute encephalitis syndrome (AES) patients and 10.1% from those with AES and meningitis were positive for anti-JEV IgM in the reference ELISA. The sensitivities for CSF were 65.4% (95% confidence interval [CI] = 51–78) (Xcyton), 69.2% (95% CI = 55–81) (Panbio), however 96.2% (95% CI = 87–100) with Panbio Ravi criteria. Specificities were 89–100%. For admission sera from AES patients, sensitivities and specificities of the Panbio ELISA were 85.7% (95% CI = 42–100%) and 92.9% (95% CI = 83–98%), respectively.
doi:10.4269/ajtmh.2012.11-0729
PMCID: PMC3391045  PMID: 22764310
21.  Correction: A Randomized Controlled Trial of Chloroquine for the Treatment of Dengue in Vietnamese Adults 
PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases  2012;6(6):10.1371/annotation/c5c14905-8792-4d2e-8179-f8c70064e773.
doi:10.1371/annotation/c5c14905-8792-4d2e-8179-f8c70064e773
PMCID: PMC3386287
22.  Correction: A Randomized Controlled Trial of Chloroquine for the Treatment of Dengue in Vietnamese Adults 
PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases  2012;6(6):10.1371/annotation/e00ee8fb-4ab9-46db-be8e-3696bb362db4.
doi:10.1371/annotation/e00ee8fb-4ab9-46db-be8e-3696bb362db4
PMCID: PMC3386291
23.  Correction: A Randomized Controlled Trial of Chloroquine for the Treatment of Dengue in Vietnamese Adults 
PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases  2012;6(6):10.1371/annotation/8683caec-b309-46d7-bc47-dc9cc27108e4.
doi:10.1371/annotation/8683caec-b309-46d7-bc47-dc9cc27108e4
PMCID: PMC3386292
24.  Changing Patterns of Gastrointestinal Parasite Infections in Cambodian Children: 2006–2011 
Journal of Tropical Pediatrics  2012;58(6):509-512.
We studied gastrointestinal parasites in symptomatic Cambodian children attending a provincial hospital in Siem Reap, Cambodia between 2006 and 2011. A total of 16 372 faecal samples were examined by direct microscopy. Parasites were detected in 3121 (19.1%) samples and most common were Giardia lamblia (8.0% of samples; 47.6% disease episodes), hookworm (5.1%; 30.3%) and Strongyloides stercoralis (2.6%; 15.6%). The proportion of infected children increased, and the number of disease episodes effectively treated with a single dose of mebendazole decreased, over the 5-year period.
doi:10.1093/tropej/fms024
PMCID: PMC3739457  PMID: 22723077
Cambodia; parasite; faeces; paediatric; epidemiology
25.  A Longitudinal Study of Streptococcus pneumoniae Carriage in a Cohort of Infants and Their Mothers on the Thailand-Myanmar Border 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(5):e38271.
Background
Pneumococcal disease is a major cause of childhood death. Almost a third of the world's children live in Southeast Asia, but there are few data from the region on pneumococcal colonization or disease. Our aim was to document the dynamics of pneumococcal carriage in a rural SE Asian birth cohort.
Methods
We studied 234 Karen mother-infant pairs in Northwestern Thailand. Infants were followed from birth and nasopharyngeal swabs were taken from mother and infant at monthly intervals until 24 months old.
Results
8,386 swabs were cultured and 4,396 pneumococci characterized. Infants became colonized early (median 45.5 days; 95% confidence interval [CI] 44.5-46.0) and by 24 months had a median of seven (range 0–15) carriage episodes. Maternal smoking and young children in the house were associated with earlier colonization (hazard ratio [HR] 1.5 (95% CI 1.1–2.1) and 1.4 (95% CI 1.0–1.9)). For the four commonest serotypes and non-typeable pneumococci, previous exposure to homologous or heterologous serotypes resulted in an extended interval to reacquisition of the same serotype. Previous colonization by serotypes 14 and 19F was also associated with reduced carriage duration if subsequently reacquired (HR [first reacquisition] 4.1 (95% CI 1.4–12.6) and 2.6 (1.5–4.7)). Mothers acquired pneumococci less frequently, and carried them for shorter periods, than infants (acquisition rate 0.5 vs. 1.1 /100 person-days, p<0.001; median duration 31.0 vs. 60.5 days, p = 0.001). 55.8% of pneumococci from infants were vaccine serotypes (13-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, PCV13), compared with 27.5% from mothers (p<0.001). Non-typeable pneumococcal carriage was common, being carried at least once by 55.1% of infants and 32.0% of mothers.
Conclusions
Pneumococcal carriage frequency and duration are influenced by previous exposure to both homologous and heterologous serotypes. These data will inform vaccination strategies in this population.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0038271
PMCID: PMC3365031  PMID: 22693610

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