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1.  Proliferative capacity and cytokine production by cells of HIV-infected and uninfected adults with different helminth infection phenotypes in South Africa 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2014;14(1):499.
It has been suggested that the proliferative capacity of cells from individuals with HIV or both HIV and helminth infections is attenuated and cytokine production is dysregulated. This study describes peripheral blood mononuclear cell proliferation capacity and cytokine profile from individuals with HIV or both HIV and helminth infections in South Africa.
Forty HIV-infected and 22 HIV-uninfected participants were randomly selected and stratified into different helminth infection phenotypes by egg excretion and Ascaris lumbricoides specific –immunoglobulin-E (IgE) levels. Five day cell cultures of participants, unstimulated or stimulated with Phytohaemaglutinnin, Streptokinase, HIV-1 p24 and Ascaris lumbricoides worm antigens were stained with monoclonal antibody-fluorochrome conjugates (Ki67-FITC and CTLA-APC-4). Percentage expression of Ki67 and CTLA-4 was measured to determine cell proliferation and regulation, respectively. Culture supernatants were analysed for the expression of 13 cytokines using the Bioplex (BioRad) system. Kruskal Wallis was used to test for differences in variables between helminth infected subgroups who were either having eggs in stool and high IgE (egg+IgEhi); or eggs in stool and low IgE (egg+IgElo); or no eggs in stool and high IgE (egg-IgEhi) and those without helminth infection (egg-IgElo).
Individuals excreting eggs in stool with high serum IgE (egg+IgEhi phenotype) had potent mitogen responses but consistently produced low, but statistically non-significant antigen–specific (HIV-1 p24 (p = 0.41) and Ascaris (p = 0.19) and recall antigen (Streptokinase; p = 0.31) Ki67 responses. The group also had reduced type 1 cytokines. Individuals excreting eggs in stool with low serum IgE( egg+IgElo phenotype) had a more favourable antiviral profile, characterized by higher IFNγ, IL-2, lower IL-4 and higher IL-10 production.
The findings suggest that dual HIV/helminth infection with egg excretion and/or high Ascaris IgE phenotye may be linked with poor proliferative capacity and deleterious cytokine profile with regards to HIV control.
PMCID: PMC4262143  PMID: 25209883
HIV; Helminths; Co-infection; Proliferation; Ki67; CTLA-4; Cytokines
2.  Host Cytokine Responses Induced after Overnight Stimulation with Novel M. tuberculosis Infection Phase-Dependent Antigens Show Promise as Diagnostic Candidates for TB Disease 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(7):e102584.
We previously identified Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M.tb) antigen-induced host markers that showed promise as TB diagnostic candidates in 7-day whole blood culture supernatants. The aim of the present study was to evaluate the utility of these markers further, and cross-compare results with short-term antigen stimulated and unstimulated culture supernatants.
We recruited 15 culture confirmed TB cases and 15 non-TB cases from a high-TB endemic community in Cape Town, South Africa into a pilot case-control study from an on-going larger study. Blood samples collected from study participants were stimulated with 4 M.tb antigens that were previously identified as promising (ESAT6/CFP10 (early secreted), Rv2029c (latency), Rv2032 (latency) and Rv2389c (rpf)) in a 7-day or overnight culture assay. Supernatants were also collected form the standard QuantiFERON In Tube (QFT-IT) test. The levels of 26 host markers were evaluated in the three culture supernatants using the Luminex platform.
The unstimulated levels of CRP, Serum amyloid P (SAP) and serum amyloid A (SAA) and ESAT-6/CFP-10 specific IP-10 and SAA were amongst the best discriminatory markers in all 3 assays, ascertaining TB with AUC of 72–84%. Four-marker models accurately classified up to 92%, 100% and 100% of study participants in the overnight, 7-day and Quantiferon culture supernatants, respectively, after leave-one-out cross validation.
Unstimulated and antigen-specific levels of CRP, SAA, IP-10, MMP-2 and sCD40L hold promise as diagnostic candidates for TB disease in short-term stimulation assays. Larger studies are required to validate these findings but the data suggest that antigen-specific cytokine production and in particular mutimarker biosignatures might contribute to future diagnostic strategies.
PMCID: PMC4099213  PMID: 25025278
3.  Exploring Alternative Biomaterials for Diagnosis of Pulmonary Tuberculosis in HIV-Negative Patients by Use of the GeneXpert MTB/RIF Assay 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2013;51(12):4161-4166.
The utility of the GeneXpert MTB/RIF (Xpert) assay for detection of Mycobacterium tuberculosis in sputum samples has been extensively studied. However, the performance of the Xpert assay as applied to other readily accessible body fluids such as exhaled breath condensate (EBC), saliva, urine, and blood has not been established. We used the Xpert assay to test EBC, saliva, urine, and blood samples from HIV-negative, smear- and culture-positive pulmonary tuberculosis (TB) patients for the presence of M. tuberculosis. To compare the ability of the assay to perform bacterial load measurements on sputum samples with versus without sample processing, the assay was also performed on paired direct and processed sputum samples from each patient. The Xpert assay detected M. tuberculosis in none of the 26 EBC samples (sensitivity, 0.0%; 95% confidence interval [95% CI], 0.0%, 12.9%), 10 of the 26 saliva samples (sensitivity, 38.5%; 95% CI, 22.4%, 57.5%), 1 of 26 urine samples (sensitivity, 3.8%; 95% CI, 0.7%, 18.9%), and 2 of 24 blood samples (sensitivity, 8.3%; 95% CI, 2.3%, 25.8%). For bacterial load measurements in the different types of sputum samples, the cycle thresholds of the two M. tuberculosis-positive sputum types were well correlated (Spearman correlation of 0.834). This study demonstrates that the Xpert assay should not be routinely used to detect M. tuberculosis in EBC, saliva, urine, or blood samples from HIV-negative patients suspected of having pulmonary tuberculosis. As a test of bacterial load, the assay produced similar results when used to test direct versus processed sputum samples. Sputum remains the optimal sample type for diagnosing pulmonary tuberculosis in HIV-negative patients with the Xpert assay.
PMCID: PMC3838083  PMID: 24108610
4.  Combination of gene expression patterns in whole blood discriminate between tuberculosis infection states 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2014;14:257.
Genetic factors are involved in susceptibility or protection to tuberculosis (TB). Apart from gene polymorphisms and mutations, changes in levels of gene expression, induced by non-genetic factors, may also determine whether individuals progress to active TB.
We analysed the expression level of 45 genes in a total of 47 individuals (23 healthy household contacts and 24 new smear-positive pulmonary TB patients) in Addis Ababa using a dual colour multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification (dcRT-MLPA) technique to assess gene expression profiles that may be used to distinguish TB cases and their contacts and also latently infected (LTBI) and uninfected household contacts.
The gene expression level of BLR1, Bcl2, IL4d2, IL7R, FCGR1A, MARCO, MMP9, CCL19, and LTF had significant discriminatory power between sputum smear-positive TB cases and household contacts, with AUCs of 0.84, 0.81, 0.79, 0.79, 0.78, 0.76, 0.75, 0.75 and 0.68 respectively. The combination of Bcl2, BLR1, FCGR1A, IL4d2 and MARCO identified 91.66% of active TB cases and 95.65% of household contacts without active TB. The expression of CCL19, TGFB1, and Foxp3 showed significant difference between LTBI and uninfected contacts, with AUCs of 0.85, 0.82, and 0.75, respectively, whereas the combination of BPI, CCL19, FoxP3, FPR1 and TGFB1 identified 90.9% of QFT- and 91.6% of QFT+ household contacts.
Expression of single and especially combinations of host genes can accurately differentiate between active TB cases and healthy individuals as well as between LTBI and uninfected contacts.
PMCID: PMC4041060  PMID: 24885723
5.  Impact of HIV co-infection on plasma level of cytokines and chemokines of pulmonary tuberculosis patients 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2014;14:125.
The immunologic environment during HIV/M. tuberculosis co-infection is characterized by cytokine and chemokine irregularities that have been shown to increase immune activation, viral replication, and T cell dysfunction.
We analysed ex vivo plasma samples from 17 HIV negative and 16 HIV pulmonary tuberculosis co infected cases using Luminex assay to see impact of HIV co-infection on plasma level of cytokines and chemokines of pulmonary tuberculosis patients before and after anti Tuberculosis treatment.
The median plasma level of IFN-γ, IL-4, MCP-3, MIP-1β and IP-10 was significantly different (P < 0.05) before and after treatment in HIV negative TB patients but not in HIV positive TB patients. There was no significant difference between HIV positive and HIV negative TB patients (P > 0.05) in the plasma level of any of the cytokines or chemokines before treatment and anti TB treatment did not change the level of any of the measured cytokines in HIV positive tuberculosis patients. The ratio of IFN-γ/IL-10 and IFN-γ/IL-4 showed a significant increase after treatment in HIV negative TB cases but not in HIV positive TB cases which might indicate prolonged impairment of immune response to TB in HIV positive TB patients as compared to HIV negative tuberculosis patients.
HIV positive and HIV negative Tuberculosis patients display similar plasma cytokine and chemokine pattern. However, anti TB treatment significantly improves the Th1 cytokines and level of chemokines but does not restore the immune response in HIV positive individuals.
PMCID: PMC3974017  PMID: 24592945
Pulmonary tuberculosis; HIV; Cytokines and chemokines
6.  A metabolic biosignature of early response to anti-tuberculosis treatment 
The successful treatment of tuberculosis (TB) requires long-term multidrug chemotherapy. Clinical trials to evaluate new drugs and regimens for TB treatment are protracted due to the slow clearance of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) infection and the lack of early biomarkers to predict treatment outcome. Advancements in the field of metabolomics make it possible to identify metabolic profiles that correlate with disease states or successful chemotherapy. However, proof-of-concept of this approach has not been provided for a TB-early treatment response biosignature (TB-ETRB).
Urine samples collected at baseline and during treatment from 48 Ugandan and 39 South African HIV-seronegative adults with pulmonary TB were divided into discovery and qualification sets, normalized to creatinine concentration, and analyzed by liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry to identify small molecule molecular features (MFs) in individual patient samples. A biosignature that distinguished baseline and 1 month treatment samples was selected by pairwise t-test using data from two discovery sample sets. Hierarchical clustering and repeated measures analysis were applied to additional sample data to down select molecular features that behaved consistently between the two clinical sites and these were evaluated by logistic regression analysis.
Analysis of discovery samples identified 45 MFs that significantly changed in abundance at one month of treatment. Down selection using an extended set of discovery samples and qualification samples confirmed 23 MFs that consistently changed in abundance between baseline and 1, 2 and 6 months of therapy, with 12 MFs achieving statistical significance (p < 0.05). Six MFs classified the baseline and 1 month samples with an error rate of 11.8%.
These results define a urine based TB-early treatment response biosignature (TB-ETRB) applicable to different parts of Africa, and provide proof-of-concept for further evaluation of this technology in monitoring clinical responses to TB therapy.
PMCID: PMC3918231  PMID: 24484441
Tuberculosis; Metabolomics; Biomarker; Mass spectrometry; Small molecule biosignature; Anti-tuberculosis therapy; Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Urine
7.  Mycobacterium bovis BCG infection severely delays Trichuris muris expulsion and co-infection suppresses immune responsiveness to both pathogens 
BMC Microbiology  2014;14:9.
The global epidemiology of parasitic helminths and mycobacterial infections display extensive geographical overlap, especially in the rural and urban communities of developing countries. We investigated whether co-infection with the gastrointestinal tract-restricted helminth, Trichuris muris, and the intracellular bacterium, Mycobacterium bovis (M. bovis) BCG, would alter host immune responses to, or the pathological effect of, either infection.
We demonstrate that both pathogens are capable of negatively affecting local and systemic immune responses towards each other by modifying cytokine phenotypes and by inducing general immune suppression. T. muris infection influenced non-specific and pathogen-specific immunity to M. bovis BCG by down-regulating pulmonary TH1 and Treg responses and inducing systemic TH2 responses. However, co-infection did not alter mycobacterial multiplication or dissemination and host pulmonary histopathology remained unaffected compared to BCG-only infected mice. Interestingly, prior M. bovis BCG infection significantly delayed helminth clearance and increased intestinal crypt cell proliferation in BALB/c mice. This was accompanied by a significant reduction in systemic helminth-specific TH1 and TH2 cytokine responses and significantly reduced local TH1 and TH2 responses in comparison to T. muris-only infected mice.
Our data demonstrate that co-infection with pathogens inducing opposing immune phenotypes, can have differential effects on compartmentalized host immune protection to either pathogen. In spite of local and systemic decreases in TH1 and increases in TH2 responses co-infected mice clear M. bovis BCG at the same rate as BCG only infected animals, whereas prior mycobacterial infection initiates prolonged worm infestation in parallel to decreased pathogen-specific TH2 cytokine production.
PMCID: PMC3898725  PMID: 24433309
Helminth; Co-infection; Mycobacteria; Tuberculosis
8.  Differential Expression of Host Biomarkers in Saliva and Serum Samples from Individuals with Suspected Pulmonary Tuberculosis 
Mediators of Inflammation  2013;2013:981984.
The diagnosis of tuberculosis remains challenging in individuals with difficulty in providing good quality sputum samples such as children. Host biosignatures of inflammatory markers may be valuable in such cases, especially if they are based on more easily obtainable samples such as saliva. To explore the potential of saliva as an alternative sample in tuberculosis diagnostic/biomarker investigations, we evaluated the levels of 33 host markers in saliva samples from individuals presenting with pulmonary tuberculosis symptoms and compared them to those obtained in serum. Of the 38 individuals included in the study, tuberculosis disease was confirmed in 11 (28.9%) by sputum culture. In both the tuberculosis cases and noncases, the levels of most markers were above the minimum detectable limit in both sample types, but there was no consistent pattern regarding the ratio of markers in serum/saliva. Fractalkine, IL-17, IL-6, IL-9, MIP-1β, CRP, VEGF, and IL-5 levels in saliva and IL-6, IL-2, SAP, and SAA levels in serum were significantly higher in tuberculosis patients (P < 0.05). These preliminary data indicate that there are significant differences in the levels of host markers expressed in saliva in comparison to those expressed in serum and that inflammatory markers in both sample types are potential diagnostic candidates for tuberculosis disease.
PMCID: PMC3845251  PMID: 24327799
9.  The Contraceptive Depot Medroxyprogesterone Acetate Impairs Mycobacterial Control and Inhibits Cytokine Secretion in Mice Infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis 
Infection and Immunity  2013;81(4):1234-1244.
The contraceptive depot medroxyprogesterone acetate (DMPA), with progestin as the single active compound, possesses selective glucocorticoid activity and can alter the expression of glucocorticoid receptor-regulated genes. We therefore propose that pharmacological doses of DMPA used for endocrine therapy could have significant immune modulatory effects and impact on susceptibility to, as well as clinical manifestation and outcome of, infectious diseases. We investigated the effect of contraceptive doses of DMPA in two different murine Mycobacterium tuberculosis models. Multiplex bead array analysis revealed that DMPA altered serum cytokine levels of tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α), granulocyte colony-stimulating factor (G-CSF), and interleukin 10 (IL-10) in C57BL/6 mice and gamma interferon (IFN-γ) in BALB/c mice. DMPA also suppressed antigen-specific production of TNF-α, G-CSF, IL-10, and IL-6 and induced the production of IP-10 in C57BL/6 mice. In BALB/c mice, DMPA altered the antigen-specific secretion of IFN-γ, IL-17, granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF), IL-6, and monocyte chemotactic protein 1 (MCP-1). Furthermore, we show that C57BL/6 mice treated with doses of DMPA, which result in serum concentrations similar to those observed in contraceptive users, have a significantly higher bacterial load in their lungs. Our data show for the first time that DMPA impacts tuberculosis (TB) disease severity in a mouse model and that the effects of this contraceptive are not confined to infections of the genital tract. This could have major implications for the contraceptive policies not only in developing countries like South Africa but also worldwide.
PMCID: PMC3639598  PMID: 23381991
10.  Analysis of Host Responses to Mycobacterium tuberculosis Antigens in a Multi-Site Study of Subjects with Different TB and HIV Infection States in Sub-Saharan Africa 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e74080.
Tuberculosis (TB) remains a global health threat with 9 million new cases and 1.4 million deaths per year. In order to develop a protective vaccine, we need to define the antigens expressed by Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb), which are relevant to protective immunity in high-endemic areas.
We analysed responses to 23 Mtb antigens in a total of 1247 subjects with different HIV and TB status across 5 geographically diverse sites in Africa (South Africa, The Gambia, Ethiopia, Malawi and Uganda). We used a 7-day whole blood assay followed by IFN-γ ELISA on the supernatants. Antigens included PPD, ESAT-6 and Ag85B (dominant antigens) together with novel resuscitation-promoting factors (rpf), reactivation proteins, latency (Mtb DosR regulon-encoded) antigens, starvation-induced antigens and secreted antigens.
There was variation between sites in responses to the antigens, presumably due to underlying genetic and environmental differences. When results from all sites were combined, HIV- subjects with active TB showed significantly lower responses compared to both TST- and TST+ contacts to latency antigens (Rv0569, Rv1733, Rv1735, Rv1737) and the rpf Rv0867; whilst responses to ESAT-6/CFP-10 fusion protein (EC), PPD, Rv2029, TB10.3, and TB10.4 were significantly higher in TST+ contacts (LTBI) compared to TB and TST- contacts fewer differences were seen in subjects with HIV co-infection, with responses to the mitogen PHA significantly lower in subjects with active TB compared to those with LTBI and no difference with any antigen.
Our multi-site study design for testing novel Mtb antigens revealed promising antigens for future vaccine development. The IFN-γ ELISA is a cheap and useful tool for screening potential antigenicity in subjects with different ethnic backgrounds and across a spectrum of TB and HIV infection states. Analysis of cytokines other than IFN-γ is currently on-going to determine correlates of protection, which may be useful for vaccine efficacy trials.
PMCID: PMC3769366  PMID: 24040170
11.  Symptomatic Vaginal Discharge Is a Poor Predictor of Sexually Transmitted Infections and Genital Tract Inflammation in High-Risk Women in South Africa 
Background. Diagnosis and treatment of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) is a public health priority, particularly in regions where the incidence of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection is high. In most developing countries, STIs are managed syndromically. We assessed the adequacy of syndromic diagnosis of STIs, compared with laboratory diagnosis of STIs, and evaluated the association between STI diagnosis and the risk of HIV acquisition in a cohort of high-risk women.
Methods. HIV-uninfected high-risk women (n = 242) were followed for 24 months. Symptoms of STIs were recorded, and laboratory diagnosis of common STI pathogens was conducted every 6 months. Forty-two cytokines were measured by Luminex in cervicovaginal lavage specimens at enrollment. Human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) infection was evaluated monthly.
Results. Only 12.3% of women (25 of 204) who had a laboratory-diagnosed, discharge-causing STI had clinically evident discharge. Vaginal discharge was thus a poor predictor of laboratory-diagnosed STIs (sensitivity, 12.3%; specificity, 93.8%). Cervicovaginal cytokine concentrations did not differ between women with asymptomatic STIs and those with symptomatic STIs and were elevated in women with asymptomatic STIs, compared with women with no STIs or bacterial vaginosis. Although laboratory-diagnosed STIs were associated with increased risk of HIV infection (hazard ratio, 3.3 [95% confidence interval, 1.5–7.2)], clinical symptoms were not.
Conclusions. Syndromic STI diagnosis dependent on vaginal discharge was poorly predictive of laboratory-diagnosed STI. Laboratory-diagnosed STIs were associated with increased susceptibility to HIV acquisition, while vaginal discharge was not.
PMCID: PMC3490689  PMID: 22517910
12.  Utility of Host Markers Detected in Quantiferon Supernatants for the Diagnosis of Tuberculosis in Children in a High-Burden Setting 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(5):e64226.
The diagnosis of childhood tuberculosis (TB) disease remains a challenge especially in young and HIV-infected children. Recent studies have identified potential host markers which, when measured in Quantiferon (QFT-IT) supernatants, show promise in discriminating between Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M.tb) infection states. In this study, the utility of such markers was investigated in children screened for TB in a setting with high TB incidence.
Methodology and Principal Findings
76 children (29% HIV-infected) with or without active TB provided blood specimens collected directly into QFT-IT tubes. After overnight incubation, culture supernatants were harvested, aliquoted and frozen for future immunological research purposes. Subsequently, the levels of 12 host markers previously identified as potential TB diagnostic markers were evaluated in these supernatants for their ability to discriminate between M.tb infection and disease states using the Luminex platform. Of the 76 children included, 19 (25%) had culture confirmed TB disease; 26 (46%) of the 57 without TB had positive markers of M.tb infection defined by a positive QFT-IT test. The potentially most useful analytes for diagnosing TB disease included IFN-α2, IL-1Ra, sCD40L and VEGF and the most useful markers for discriminating between QFT-IT positive children as TB or latent infection included IL-1Ra, IP-10 and VEGF. When markers were used in combinations of four, 84% of all children were accurately classified into their respective groups (TB disease or no TB), after leave-one-out cross validation.
Measurement of the levels of IFN-α2, IL-1Ra, sCD40L, IP-10 and VEGF in QFT-IT supernatants may be a useful method for diagnosing TB disease and differentiating between active TB disease and M.tb infection in children. Our observations warrant further investigation in larger well-characterized clinical cohorts.
PMCID: PMC3655018  PMID: 23691173
13.  Decreased Expression of miR-21, miR-26a, miR-29a, and miR-142-3p in CD4+ T Cells and Peripheral Blood from Tuberculosis Patients 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(4):e61609.
The vast majority of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M. tuberculosis) infected individuals are protected from developing tuberculosis and T cells are centrally involved in this process. MicroRNAs (miRNA) regulate T-cell functions and are biomarker candidates of disease susceptibility and treatment efficacy in M. tuberculosis infection. We determined the expression profile of 29 selected miRNAs in CD4+ T cells from tuberculosis patients and contacts with latent M. tuberculosis infection (LTBI). These analyses showed lower expression of miR-21, miR-26a, miR-29a, and miR-142-3p in CD4+ T cells from tuberculosis patients. Whole blood miRNA candidate analyses verified decreased expression of miR-26a, miR-29a, and miR-142-3p in children with tuberculosis as compared to healthy children with LTBI. Despite marked variances between individual donor samples, trends of increased miRNA candidate expression during treatment and recovery were observed. Functional in vitro analysis identified increased miR-21 and decreased miR-26a expression after re-stimulation of T cells. In vitro polarized Interleukin-17 positive T-cell clones showed activation-dependent miR-29a up-regulation. In order to characterize the role of miR-29a (a described suppressor of Interferon-γ in tuberculosis), we analyzed M. tuberculosis specific Interferon-γ expressing T cells in children with tuberculosis and healthy contacts but detected no correlation between miR-29a and Interferon-γ expression. Suppression of miR-29a in primary human T cells by antagomirs indicated no effect on Interferon-γ expression after in vitro activation. Finally, classification of miRNA targets revealed only a moderate overlap between the candidates. This may reflect differential roles of miR-21, miR-26a, miR-29a, and miR-142-3p in T-cell immunity against M. tuberculosis infection and disease.
PMCID: PMC3628900  PMID: 23613882
14.  A Broad Profile of Co-Dominant Epitopes Shapes the Peripheral Mycobacterium tuberculosis Specific CD8+ T-Cell Immune Response in South African Patients with Active Tuberculosis 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e58309.
We studied major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I peptide-presentation and nature of the antigen-specific CD8+ T-cell response from South African tuberculosis (TB) patients with active TB. 361 MHC class I binding epitopes were identified from three immunogenic TB proteins (ESAT-6 [Rv3875], Ag85B [Rv1886c], and TB10.4 [Rv0288], including amino acid variations for Rv0288, i.e., A10T, G13D, S27N, and A71S for MHC allotypes common in a South African population (e.g., human leukocyte antigen [HLA]-A*30, B*58, and C*07). Inter-allelic differences were identified regarding the broadness of the peptide-binding capacity. Mapping of frequencies of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M. tb) antigen-specific CD8+ T-cells using 48 different multimers, including the newly constructed recombinant MHC class I alleles HLA-B*58:01 and C*0701, revealed a low frequency of CD8+ T-cell responses directed against a broad panel of co-dominant M. tb epitopes in the peripheral circulation of most patients. The antigen-specific responses were dominated by CD8+ T-cells with a precursor-like phenotype (CD45RA+CCR7+). The data show that the CD8+ T-cell response from patients with pulmonary TB (prior to treatment) is directed against subdominant epitopes derived from secreted and non-secreted M. tb antigens and that variant, natural occurring M. tb Rv0288 ligands, have a profound impact on T-cell recognition.
PMCID: PMC3608651  PMID: 23555576
15.  Genital Tract Inflammation During Early HIV-1 Infection Predicts Higher Plasma Viral Load Set Point in Women 
The Journal of Infectious Diseases  2012;205(2):194-203.
Background. The biggest challenge in human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) prevention in Africa is the high HIV-1 burden in young women. In macaques, proinflammatory cytokine production in the genital tract is necessary for target cell recruitment and establishment of simian immunodeficiency virus (SIV) infection following vaginal inoculation. The purpose of this study was to assess if genital inflammation during early HIV-1 infection predisposes women to rapid disease progression.
Methods. Inflammatory cytokine concentrations were measured in cervicovaginal lavage (CVL) from 49 women 6, 17, 30, and 55 weeks after HIV-1 infection and from 22 of these women before infection. Associations between genital inflammation and viral load set point and blood CD4 cell counts 12 months after infection were investigated.
Results. Elevated genital cytokine concentrations 6 and 17 weeks after HIV-1 infection were associated with higher viral load set points and, to a lesser extent, with CD4 depletion. CVL cytokine concentrations during early infection did not differ relative to preinfection but were elevated in women who had vaginal discharge, detectable HIV-1 RNA in their genital tracts, and lower blood CD4 counts.
Conclusion. Genital inflammation during early HIV-1 infection was associated with higher viral load set point and CD4 depletion, which are markers of rapid disease progression. Strategies aimed at reducing genital inflammation during early HIV-1 infection may slow disease progression.
PMCID: PMC3244362  PMID: 22190580
17.  Diversity of Mycobacterium tuberculosis Isolates from New Pulmonary Tuberculosis Cases in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia 
Understanding the genetic diversity of Mycobacterium tuberculosis is needed for a better understanding of the epidemiology of TB and could have implications for the development of new diagnostics, drugs, and vaccines. M. tuberculosis isolates were characterized using spoligotyping and were compared with the SpoIDB4 database of the Pasteur Institute of Guadeloupe. A total of 53 different patterns were identified among 192 isolates examined. 169 of the isolates were classified into one of the 33 shared SITs, whereas the remaining 23 corresponded to 20 orphan patterns. 54% of the isolates were ascribed to the T family, a family which has not been well defined to date. Other prominent families were CAS, Haarlem, LAM, Beijing, and Unknown comprising 26%, 13%, 2.6%, 0.5%, and 2.1%, respectively. Among HIV-positive patients, 10 patterns were observed among 25 isolates. The T (38.5%), H (26.9%), and CAS (23.1%) families were the most common among HIV-positive individuals. The diversity of the M. tuberculosis strains found in this study is very high, and there was no difference in the distribution of families in HIV-positive and HIV-negative TB patients except the H family. Tuberculosis transmission in Addis Ababa is due to only the modern M. tuberculosis families (CAS, LAM, T, Beijing, Haarlem, and U).
PMCID: PMC3513727  PMID: 23227330
18.  Heparin-Binding Hemagglutinin Induces IFN-γ+ IL-2+ IL-17+ Multifunctional CD4+ T Cells during Latent but Not Active Tuberculosis Disease 
The mycobacterial heparin-binding hemagglutinin (HBHA) protein induces a potent gamma interferon (IFN-γ) response in latent tuberculosis (TB) infection and is a candidate vaccine and diagnostic antigen. We have assessed HBHA-specific intracellular IFN-γ, interleukin-2 (IL-2), and IL-17 production by CD4+ T cells in TB cases and household contacts (HHCs) as well as the level of secreted IFN-γ in whole-blood culture supernatant. HHCs were further classified as tuberculin skin test (TST) positive or negative, and the group was also divided as HIV positive or negative. Our study revealed that HBHA induces multifunctional IFN-γ-, IL-2-, and IL-17-coexpressing CD4+ T cells in HHCs but not in active TB cases; however, IFN-γ levels in culture supernatant did not differ between participant groups. Further studies are needed to completely understand how HBHA induces immune responses in different disease groups.
PMCID: PMC3346316  PMID: 22461525
19.  Plasma Level of IL-4 Differs in Patients Infected with Different Modern Lineages of M. tuberculosis 
Journal of Tropical Medicine  2012;2012:518564.
Epidemiological evidence from tuberculosis outbreaks revealed that some genotypes of M. tuberculosis are more transmissible and capable of causing disease than others. We analysed the plasma cytokine levels of pulmonary tuberculosis patients infected with different strains of M. tuberculosis to test the hypothesis that immune responses would be linked to the bacterial genotype. Spoligotyping was carried out for genotyping, and we used Luminex technology to measure 17 cytokines (EGF, fractalkine, GM-CSF, IFN-γ, IL-1, IL-10, IL-12, IL-17, IL-4, IL-7, IL-9, IP-10, MCP-1, MCP-3, MIP-1β, TNF, and VEGF) from plasma samples of tuberculosis patients. The levels of IL-12 (p40), IL-4, IL-7, and MIP-1beta were higher in patients infected with lineage 3, however, it was only IL-4 which showed statistically significant difference (P < 0.05) between lineage 3 and lineage 4. We further grouped the lineages into families (CAS, H and T families), and we found that the plasma level of IL-4 was significantly higher in patients infected with the CAS family (P < 0.05) in comparison with T and H families. However, there was no difference between T and H families. Therefore, the higher level of IL-4 in lineage 3 families might indicate that possible differences in the response elicited from host depend on strain lineages in the studied population.
PMCID: PMC3463165  PMID: 23049571
20.  Effect of Ascaris Lumbricoides specific IgE on tuberculin skin test responses in children in a high-burden setting: a cross-sectional community-based study 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2012;12:211.
M.tuberculosis (M.tb) is associated with enhanced T helper cell type 1 (Th1) immune responses while helminth infection is associated with T helper cell type 2 (Th2) immune responses. Our aim was to investigate whether helminth infection could influence the ability to generate an appropriate Th1 immune response that is characterized by a positive tuberculin skin test (TST), in M.tb exposed children.
We completed a community-based, cross sectional household contact tracing study, using matched enrolment of HIV negative children with and without documented household M.tb exposure. We documented demographics, clinical characteristics, HIV status, M.tb exposure (using a standard contact score) and M.tb infection status (TST > = 10 mm). Ascaris lumbricoides-specific IgE was used as proxy for Ascaris infection/exposure.
Of 271 children (median age 4 years (range: 4 months to 15 years)) enrolled, 65 participants (24%) were serum positive for Ascaris IgE. There were 168 (62%) children with a documented household tuberculosis contact and 107 (40%) were (TST) positive overall.
A positive TST was associated with increasing age (Odds Ratio (OR) =1.17, p < 0.001), increasing M.tb contact score (OR = 1.17, p < 0.001), previous tuberculosis treatment (OR = 4.8, p = 0.06) and previous isoniazid preventive treatment (OR = 3.16, p = 0.01). A visible bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) scar was associated with reduced odds of being TST positive (OR = 0.42, p = 0.01).
Ascaris IgE was not associated with TST status in univariate analysis (OR = 0.9, p = 0.6), but multivariable logistic regression analysis suggested an inverse association between Ascaris IgE status and a positive TST (OR = 0.6, p = 0.08), when adjusted for age, and M.tb contact score. The addition of an age interaction term to the model suggested that the age effect was stronger among Ascaris IgE positive children; the effect of being Ascaris IgE positive significantly reduced the odds of being TST positive amongst younger children while this effect weakened with increasing age.
Our preliminary findings highlight a high prevalence of both Ascaris exposure/infection and M.tb infection in children in an urban setting. Helminth exposure/infection may reduce the immune response following M.tb exposure when controlling for epidemiological and clinical covariates. These findings might be relevant to the interpretation of immunological tests of M.tb infection in children.
PMCID: PMC3482567  PMID: 22966931
Tuberculosis; Helminth infection; Ascaris, M.tb infection; Immune polarization; Paediatric tuberculosis
22.  Higher human CD4 T cell response to novel Mycobacterium tuberculosis latency associated antigens Rv2660 and Rv2659 in latent infection compared with tuberculosis disease 
Vaccine  2010;29(1):51-57.
One third of the world’s population is infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M.tb). A vaccine that would prevent progression to TB disease will have a dramatic impact on the global TB burden. We propose that antigens of M.tb that are preferentially expressed during latent infection will be excellent candidates for post-exposure vaccination. We therefore assessed human T cell recognition of two such antigens, Rv2660 and Rv2659. Expression of these was shown to be associated with non-replicating persistence in vitro. After six days incubation of PBMC from persons with latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI) and tuberculosis (TB) disease, Rv2660 and Rv2659 induced IFN-γ production in a greater proportion of persons with LTBI, compared with TB diseased patients. Persons with LTBI also had increased numbers of viable T cells, and greater specific CD4+ T cell proliferation and cytokine expression capacity. Persons with LTBI preferentially recognize Rv2659 and Rv2660, compared with patients with TB disease. These results suggest promise of these antigens for incorporation into post-exposure TB vaccines.
PMCID: PMC3376751  PMID: 20974305
Mycobacterium tuberculosis; LTBI; TB disease; latency antigens; post-infection vaccine
23.  Potential of Host Markers Produced by Infection Phase-Dependent Antigen-Stimulated Cells for the Diagnosis of Tuberculosis in a Highly Endemic Area 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(6):e38501.
Recent interferon gamma (IFN-γ)-based studies have identified novel Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M.tb) infection phase-dependent antigens as diagnostic candidates. In this study, the levels of 11 host markers other than IFN-γ, were evaluated in whole blood culture supernatants after stimulation with M.tb infection phase-dependent antigens, for the diagnosis of TB disease.
Methodology and Principal Findings
Five M.tb infection phase-dependent antigens, comprising of three DosR-regulon-encoded proteins (Rv2032, Rv0081, Rv1737c), and two resucitation promoting factors (Rv0867c and Rv2389c), were evaluated in a case-control study with 15 pulmonary TB patients and 15 household contacts that were recruited from a high TB incidence setting in Cape Town, South Africa. After a 7-day whole blood culture, supernatants were harvested and the levels of the host markers evaluated using the Luminex platform. Multiple antigen-specific host markers were identified with promising diagnostic potential. Rv0081-specific levels of IL-12(p40), IP-10, IL-10 and TNF-α were the most promising diagnostic candidates, each ascertaining TB disease with an accuracy of 100%, 95% confidence interval for the area under the receiver operating characteristics plots, (1.0 to 1.0).
Multiple cytokines other than IFN-γ in whole blood culture supernatants after stimulation with M.tb infection phase-dependent antigens show promise as diagnostic markers for active TB. These preliminary findings should be verified in well-designed diagnostic studies employing short-term culture assays.
PMCID: PMC3367928  PMID: 22693640
24.  Effect of Standard Tuberculosis Treatment on Plasma Cytokine Levels in Patients with Active Pulmonary Tuberculosis 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(5):e36886.
Sputum Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) culture is commonly used to assess response to antibiotic treatment in individuals with pulmonary tuberculosis (TB). Such techniques are constrained by the slow growth rate of Mtb, and more sensitive methods to monitor Mtb clearance are needed. The goal of this study was to evaluate changes in plasma cytokines in patients undergoing treatment for TB as a means of identifying candidate host markers associated with microbiologic response to therapy.
Twenty-four plasma cytokines/chemokines were measured in 42 individuals diagnosed with active pulmonary TB, 52% were HIV co-infected. Individuals, undergoing a 26-week standard TB treatment, were followed longitudinally over 18 months and measurements were associated with HIV status and rates of sputum culture conversion.
Plasma concentrations of interferon-inducible protein-10 (IP-10) and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) were significantly reduced upon TB treatment, regardless of HIV status. By the end of treatment, IP-10 concentrations were significantly lower in HIV negative individuals when compared to HIV-positive individuals (p = 0.02). Moreover, in HIV negative patients, plasma VEGF concentrations, measured as early as 2-weeks post TB treatment initiation, positively correlated with the time of sputum conversion (p = 0.0017). No significant changes were observed in other studied immune mediators.
These data suggest that VEGF plasma concentration, measured during early TB treatment, could represent a surrogate marker to monitor sputum culture conversion in HIV uninfected individuals.
PMCID: PMC3351475  PMID: 22606304
25.  Molecular Bacterial Load Assay, a Culture-Free Biomarker for Rapid and Accurate Quantification of Sputum Mycobacterium tuberculosis Bacillary Load during Treatment ▿ #  
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2011;49(11):3905-3911.
A molecular assay to quantify Mycobacterium tuberculosis is described. In vitro, 98% (n = 96) of sputum samples with a known number of bacilli (107 to 102 bacilli) could be enumerated within 0.5 log10. In comparison to culture, the molecular bacterial load (MBL) assay is unaffected by other microorganisms present in the sample, results are obtained more quickly (within 24 h) and are seldom inhibited (0.7% samples), and the MBL assay critically shows the same biphasic decline as observed longitudinally during treatment. As a biomarker of treatment response, the MBL assay responds rapidly, with a mean decline in bacterial load for 111 subjects of 0.99 log10 (95% confidence interval [95% CI], 0.81 to 1.17) after 3 days of chemotherapy. There was a significant association between the rate of bacterial decline during the same 3 days and bacilli ml−1 sputum at day 0 (linear regression, P = 0.0003) and a 3.62 increased odds ratio of relapse for every 1 log10 increase in pretreatment bacterial load (95% CI, 1.53 to 8.59).
PMCID: PMC3209113  PMID: 21900522

Results 1-25 (46)