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1.  Real-Time PCR Threshold Cycle Cutoffs Help To Identify Agents Causing Acute Childhood Diarrhea in Zanzibar 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2014;52(3):916-923.
Molecular assays might improve the identification of causes of acute diarrheal disease but might lead to more frequent detection of asymptomatic infections. In the present study, real-time PCR targeting 14 pathogens was applied to rectal swabs from 330 children aged 2 to 59 months in Zanzibar, including 165 patients with acute diarrhea and 165 asymptomatic control subjects. At least one pathogen was detected for 94% of the patients and 84% of the controls, with higher rates among patients for norovirus genogroup II (20% versus 2.4%; P < 0.0001), rotavirus (10% versus 1.8%; P = 0.003), and Cryptosporidium (30% versus 11%; P < 0.0001). Detection rates did not differ significantly for enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC)-estA (33% versus 24%), ETEC-eltB (44% versus 46%), Shigella (35% versus 33%), and Campylobacter (35% versus 33%), but for these agents threshold cycle (CT) values were lower (pathogen loads were higher) in sick children than in controls. In a multivariate analysis, CT values for norovirus genogroup II, rotavirus, Cryptosporidium, ETEC-estA, and Shigella were independently associated with diarrhea. We conclude that this real-time PCR allows convenient detection of essentially all diarrheagenic agents and provides CT values that may be critical for the interpretation of results for pathogens with similar detection rates in patients and controls. The results indicate that the assessment of pathogen loads may improve the identification of agents causing gastroenteritis in children.
doi:10.1128/JCM.02697-13
PMCID: PMC3957757  PMID: 24403298
2.  A Novel Fibrosis Index Comprising a Non-Cholesterol Sterol Accurately Predicts HCV-Related Liver Cirrhosis 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(4):e93601.
Diagnosis of liver cirrhosis is essential in the management of chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. Liver biopsy is invasive and thus entails a risk of complications as well as a potential risk of sampling error. Therefore, non-invasive diagnostic tools are preferential. The aim of the present study was to create a model for accurate prediction of liver cirrhosis based on patient characteristics and biomarkers of liver fibrosis, including a panel of non-cholesterol sterols reflecting cholesterol synthesis and absorption and secretion. We evaluated variables with potential predictive significance for liver fibrosis in 278 patients originally included in a multicenter phase III treatment trial for chronic HCV infection. A stepwise multivariate logistic model selection was performed with liver cirrhosis, defined as Ishak fibrosis stage 5–6, as the outcome variable. A new index, referred to as Nordic Liver Index (NoLI) in the paper, was based on the model: Log-odds (predicting cirrhosis) = −12.17+ (age×0.11) + (BMI (kg/m2)×0.23) + (D7-lathosterol (μg/100 mg cholesterol)×(−0.013)) + (Platelet count (x109/L)×(−0.018)) + (Prothrombin-INR×3.69). The area under the ROC curve (AUROC) for prediction of cirrhosis was 0.91 (95% CI 0.86–0.96). The index was validated in a separate cohort of 83 patients and the AUROC for this cohort was similar (0.90; 95% CI: 0.82–0.98). In conclusion, the new index may complement other methods in diagnosing cirrhosis in patients with chronic HCV infection.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0093601
PMCID: PMC3974766  PMID: 24699777
3.  Impact of IL28B-Related Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms on Liver Transient Elastography in Chronic Hepatitis C Infection 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e80172.
Background and Aims
Recently, several genome-wide association studies have revealed that single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in proximity to IL28B predict spontaneous clearance of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection as well as outcome following pegylated interferon and ribavirin therapy among genotype 1 infected patients. Additionally the presence of the otherwise favorable IL28B genetic variants in the context of HCV genotype 3 infection reportedly entail more pronounced liver fibrosis and steatosis. The present study aimed to evaluate the impact of IL28B SNP variability on liver stiffness as accessed by transient elastography.
Methods
Seven hundred and seventy-one Swedish HCV infected patients sequentially undergoing liver stiffness measurement by means of Fibroscan® in the context of a real-life trial had samples available for IL28B genotyping (rs12979860) and HCV genotyping.
Results
CCrs12979860 was more common among HCV genotype 2 or 3 infected treatment-naïve patients than among those infected with genotype 1 (P<0.0001). Additionally CCrs12979860 among HCV genotype 3 infected patients was associated with higher liver stiffness values (P = 0.004), and higher AST to platelet ratio index (APRI; p = 0.02) as compared to carriers of the T allele. Among HCV genotype 1 infected patients, CCrs12979860 was significantly associated with higher viral load (P = 0.001), with a similar non-significant trend noted among HCV genotype 3 infected patients.
Conclusion
This study confirms previous reports that the CCrs12979860 SNP is associated with more pronounced liver pathology in patients chronically infected with HCV genotype 3 as compared to genotype 1, suggesting that IL28B genetic variants differently regulates the course of HCV infection across HCV genotypes.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0080172
PMCID: PMC3828208  PMID: 24244641
4.  The landscape of viral expression and host gene fusion and adaptation in human cancer 
Nature Communications  2013;4:2513.
Viruses cause 10–15% of all human cancers. Massively parallel sequencing has recently proved effective for uncovering novel viruses and virus–tumour associations, but this approach has not yet been applied to comprehensive patient cohorts. Here we screen a diverse landscape of human cancer, encompassing 4,433 tumours and 19 cancer types, for known and novel expressed viruses based on >700 billion transcriptome sequencing reads from The Cancer Genome Atlas Research Network. The resulting map confirms and extends current knowledge. We observe recurrent fusion events, including human papillomavirus insertions in RAD51B and ERBB2. Patterns of coadaptation between host and viral gene expression give clues to papillomavirus oncogene function. Importantly, our analysis argues strongly against viral aetiology in several cancers where this has frequently been proposed. We provide a virus–tumour map of unprecedented scale that constitutes a reference for future studies of tumour-associated viruses using transcriptome sequencing data.
Viruses contribute to the pathogenesis of certain cancers. Using massively parallel sequencing data from The Cancer Genome Atlas to analyse viral expression in 19 tumour types, Tang et al. both confirm and reject previously described viral associations and present new information on viral integration and host interaction.
doi:10.1038/ncomms3513
PMCID: PMC3806554  PMID: 24085110
5.  Comparison of rectal swabs and faeces for real-time PCR detection of enteric agents in Rwandan children with gastroenteritis 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2013;13:447.
Background
Molecular diagnostics have emerged as an efficient and feasible alternative for broad detection of pathogens in faeces. However, collection of stool samples is often impractical in both clinical work and in epidemiology studies. The aim of this study was to investigate the diagnostic performance of rectal swabs as compared with traditional faeces samples for detection of enteric agents by PCR.
Method
Three hundred twenty-six pairs of rectal swab and stool samples, obtained from Rwandan children aged 0.5-4.99 years, with or without diarrhoea, were analysed by multiple real-time PCR amplifying 3 viral, 6 bacterial and one protozoan target.
Results
For all agents there was a significant correlation (R2 0.31-0.85) between Ct values in faeces and rectal swabs. For most agents the Ct values, a marker for target concentration, were significantly lower (by 1–3 cycles) in faeces, indicating pathogen content up to ten times higher than in rectal swabs. Despite this, there was no significant difference in detection rate between faeces and rectal swabs for any agent, reflecting that pathogen concentration was far above the limit of detection in the majority of cases.
Conclusion
The similar detection rates and the Ct value correlations as compared with traditional faeces samples indicate that rectal swabs are accurate for real-time PCR-based identification of enteric agents and may be used also for quantitative estimation of pathogen load.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-13-447
PMCID: PMC3850680  PMID: 24073740
6.  Impact of Soluble CD26 on Treatment Outcome and Hepatitis C Virus-Specific T Cells in Chronic Hepatitis C Virus Genotype 1 Infection 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(2):e56991.
Background
Interferon and ribavirin therapy for chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection yields sustained virological response (SVR) rates of 50–80%. Several factors such as non-1 genotype, beneficial IL28B genetic variants, low baseline IP-10, and the functionality of HCV-specific T cells predict SVR. With the pending introduction of new therapies for HCV entailing very rapid clearance of plasma HCV RNA, the importance of baseline biomarkers likely will increase in order to tailor therapy. CD26 (DPPIV) truncates the chemokine IP-10 into a shorter antagonistic form, and this truncation of IP-10 has been suggested to influence treatment outcome in patients with chronic HCV infection patients. In addition, previous reports have shown CD26 to be a co-stimulator for T cells. The aim of the present study was to assess the utility of CD26 as a biomarker for treatment outcome in chronic hepatitis C and to define its association with HCV-specific T cells.
Methods
Baseline plasma from 153 genotype 1 and 58 genotype 2/3 infected patients enrolled in an international multicenter phase III trial (DITTO-HCV) and 36 genotype 1 infected patients participating in a Swedish trial (TTG1) were evaluated regarding baseline soluble CD26 (sCD26) and the functionality of HCV-specific CD8+ T cells.
Results
Genotype 1 infected patients achieving SVR in the DITTO (P = 0.002) and the TTG1 (P = 0.02) studies had lower pretreatment sCD26 concentrations compared with non-SVR patients. Sixty-five percent of patients with sCD26 concentrations below 600 ng/mL achieved SVR compared with 39% of the patients with sCD26 exceeding 600 ng/mL (P = 0.01). Patients with sCD26 concentrations below 600 ng/mL had significantly higher frequencies of HCV-specific CD8+ T cells (P = 0.02).
Conclusions
Low baseline systemic concentrations of sCD26 predict favorable treatment outcome in chronic HCV infection and may be associated with higher blood counts of HCV-specific CD8+ T cells.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0056991
PMCID: PMC3577643  PMID: 23437290
7.  PNPLA 3 I148M genetic variant associates with insulin resistance and baseline viral load in HCV genotype 2 but not in genotype 3 infection 
BMC Medical Genetics  2012;13:82.
Background
Hepatic steatosis in HCV patients has been postulated as a risk factor associated with a higher frequency of fibrosis and cirrhosis. A single genetic variant, PNPLA3 I148M, has been widely associated with increased hepatic steatosis. Previous studies of the PNPLA3 I148M sequence variant in HCV infected individuals have reported an association between this variant and prevalence of steatosis, fibrosis, and cirrhosis. To evaluate the impact of PNPLA3 I148M variant on metabolic traits and treatment response in HCV genotype 2 and 3 infected patients.
Methods
Three hundred and eighty-two treatment naïve HCV genotype 2 or 3 infected patients were included in a phase III, open label, randomized, multicenter, investigator-initiated trial (the NORDynamIC study), in which pretreatment liver biopsies were mandatory. PNPLA3I148M genotyping was performed in a total of 359 Caucasian patients.
Results
In HCV genotype 2 infected patients carrying the PNPLA3 148M allele, there was significantly increased insulin resistance (P = 0.023) and lower viral load (P = 0.005) at baseline as well as the first seven days of antiviral treatment. These results were not observed in HCV genotype 3 infected patients.
Conclusions
Our results suggest a possible association between the PNPLA3 148M allele and insulin resistance as well as baseline viral load in HCV genotype 2, but not in genotype 3.
doi:10.1186/1471-2350-13-82
PMCID: PMC3495049  PMID: 22978414
Hepatitis C; PNPLA 3; Insulin resistance; Viral load
8.  Hepatitis B Viral DNA Decline at Loss of HBeAg Is Mainly Explained by Reduced cccDNA Load – Down-Regulated Transcription of PgRNA Has Limited Impact 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(7):e36349.
Background
Quantification of hepatitis B virus (HBV) DNA and surface antigen (HBsAg) serum levels have become increasingly important for the assessment of clinical stage and response to treatment for chronic hepatitis B. Effective immune clearance results in reduction of viremia by 4–5 log units and HBsAg levels by 2 log, but these processes are not well understood. Thus, it is uncertain to what extent mechanisms that inhibit transcription of the pregenomic RNA (pgRNA), an RNA intermediate, contribute to suppression of viremia. Likewise, it is unclear if transcriptional regulation is important for the excessive production of surface antigen (HBsAg) that is a hallmark of HBV infection.
Methods
HBV RNA and cccDNA were quantified in 19 liver biopsies from patients with chronic HBV infection, as well as in transfected Huh7.5 cells and in PLC/PRF/5 cells carrying integrated HBV genome.
Results
Patients negative for HBeAg had 2.15 log lower levels of cccDNA in liver tissue, 4.84 log lower serum levels of HBV DNA and 1.45 log lower serum levels of HBsAg, than HBeAg-positive patients. The pgRNA in liver tissue correlated strongly with cccDNA (R2 = 0.87, p<0.0001) and HBV DNA levels in serum (R2 = 0.81, p<0.0001), whereas S-RNA correlated strongly with cccDNA (R2 = 0.65, p<0.0001) and HBsAg levels (R2 = 0.57, p = 0.0003). The S-RNA/pgRNA ratio was higher in HBeAg-negative patients (ratio 40 vs. 3, p = 0.01) and in PLC/PRF/5 cells, and was in transfected Huh7.5 cells not influenced by mutations in the HBV core promoter.
Conclusion
The reduction of viremia that is observed after loss of HBeAg was mainly explained by reduced cccDNA load in the liver, whereas the contribution of down-regulation of pgRNA transcription was relatively small. Enhanced transcription of S-RNA does not explain excessive production of HBsAg.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0036349
PMCID: PMC3401194  PMID: 22911677
9.  Type-Specific Human Papillomavirus E6/E7 mRNA Detection by Real-Time PCR Improves Identification of Cervical Neoplasia ▿  
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2011;49(11):3794-3799.
DNA-based human papillomavirus (HPV) assays show high sensitivity but poor specificity in detecting high-grade cervical lesions. Assays detecting mRNA of the oncoproteins E6 and E7 show higher specificity but lack either detection of all high-risk HPV genotypes or the capacity to specify the detected genotypes. Therefore, a real-time PCR assay detecting type-specific E6/E7 mRNA was developed and the clinical performance evaluated. A total of 210 cervical LBC (liquid-based cytology) samples from 204 women were analyzed for HPV DNA and mRNA with the in-house real-time PCR as well as PreTect HPV-Proofer. The sensitivity of real-time PCR mRNA detection to identify histologically confirmed CIN2+ (cervical intraepithelial neoplasia, grade 2 or higher) was 0.91, compared to 0.95 for DNA analysis. The specificity was 0.68 compared to 0.38, and the positive predictive value (PPV) was higher for mRNA (0.67 versus 0.52) without any loss in negative predictive value (NPV). The sensitivity of the real-time PCR mRNA test was somewhat higher than that for PreTect HPV-Proofer (0.83 versus 0.75) in analyses for the same genotypes. The specificities were similar (0.76 versus 0.77). In analyses for mRNA of the eight most common genotypes in cervical cancer (HPV16, -18, -31, -33, -35, -45, -52, and -58), the sensitivity of detection of CIN2+ lesions was 0.87 and the specificity 0.74, with a PPV of 0.70. In conclusion, real-time PCR for detection of HPV E6/E7 mRNA transcripts can be a sensitive and specific tool in screening and investigation of cervical neoplasia. The composition of HPV types in mRNA testing needs to be further investigated to optimize sensitivity and specificity.
doi:10.1128/JCM.00549-11
PMCID: PMC3209103  PMID: 21940473
10.  Impact of IL28B-Related Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms on Liver Histopathology in Chronic Hepatitis C Genotype 2 and 3 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(1):e29370.
Background and Aims
Recently, several genome-wide association studies have revealed that single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in proximity to IL28B predict spontaneous clearance of HCV infection as well as outcome following peginterferon and ribavirin therapy among HCV genotype 1 infected patients. The present study aimed to evaluate the impact of IL28B SNP variability on liver histology in the context of a phase III treatment trial (NORDynamIC) for treatment-naïve patients with chronic HCV genotype 2 or 3 infection, where pretreatment liver biopsies were mandatory.
Methods
Three hundred and thirty-nine Caucasian patients had samples available for IL28B genotyping (rs12979860) of whom 314 had pretreatment liver biopsies that were evaluated using the Ishak protocol, allowing for detailed grading and staging of liver histopathology.
Results
IL28B CCrs12979860 genotype in HCV genotype 3 infected patients was associated with higher ALT levels (p<0.0001), higher AST to platelet ratio index (APRI; p = 0.001), and higher baseline viral load (p<0.0001) as compared to patients with the CT or TT genotypes. Additionally the CCrs12979860 genotype entailed more pronounced portal inflammation (p = 0.02) and steatosis (p = 0.03). None of these associations were noted among HCV genotype 2 infected patients.
Conclusion
This study shows that the CCrs12979860 SNP is associated with more pronounced liver histopathology in patients chronically infected with HCV genotype 3, which may be secondary to higher viral load. The finding that IL28B variability did not impact on liver pathology or viral load among genotype 2 infected patients implies that IL28B may differentially regulate the course of genotype 2 and 3 infection.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0029370
PMCID: PMC3258245  PMID: 22253715
11.  Real-time PCR detection of Human Herpesvirus 1-5 in patients lacking clinical signs of a viral CNS infection 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2011;11:220.
Background
Infections of the central nervous system (CNS) with herpes- or enterovirus can be self-limiting and benign, but occasionally result in severe and fatal disease. The polymerase chain reaction (PCR) has revolutionized the diagnostics of viral pathogens, and by multiple displacement amplification (MDA) prior to real-time PCR the sensitivity might be further enhanced. The aim of this study was to investigate if herpes- or enterovirus can be detected in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) from patients without symptoms.
Methods
Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) samples from 373 patients lacking typical symptoms of viral CNS infection were analysed by real-time PCR targeting herpesviruses or enteroviruses with or without prior MDA.
Results
In total, virus was detected in 17 patients (4%). Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) was most commonly detected, in general from patients with other conditions (e.g. infections, cerebral hemorrhage). MDA satisfactorily amplified viral DNA in the absence of human nucleic acids, but showed poor amplification capacity for viral DNA in CSF samples, and did not increase the sensitivity for herpes virus-detection with our methodology.
Conclusions
Viral pathogens are rarely detected in CSF from patients without signs of CNS infection, supporting the view that real-time PCR is a highly specific method to detect symptomatic CNS-infection caused by these viruses. However, EBV may be subclinically reactivated due to other pathological conditions in the CNS.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-11-220
PMCID: PMC3176207  PMID: 21849074
12.  Core mutations, IL28B polymorphisms and response to peginterferon/ribavirin treatment in Swedish patients with hepatitis C virus genotype 1 infection 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2011;11:124.
Background
Patients infected with hepatitis C virus (HCV) genotype 1 respond poorly to standard treatment with 50% or less achieving sustained virologic response. Predicting outcome is essential and could help avoid unnecessary treatment and reduce health cost. Recently, an association of amino acid substitutions in the core region and treatment outcome was observed in Japanese patients. In the present study, the impact of these mutations on response kinetics and treatment outcome was explored in Caucasian patients.
Methods
The core region of HCV pre-treatment samples obtained from 50 patients treated with peginterferon/ribavirin in a previous Swedish clinical trial with genotype 1 infection were sequenced. The alleles at rs12979860, a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP), were assessed in order to identify any co-association with this strong response predictor.
Results
No association between treatment response and substitutions of core residue 91 was found. In contrast, substitutions of core residue 70 were observed in 6/21 (29%) non-responders, but only in one of 29 responders (p = 0.03), and were more common in subgenotype 1b (R70Q in 6 of 13 strains) than in 1a (R70P in 1 of 37 strains, p = 0.004). The rs12979860 SNP upstream of the IL28B gene was overall the strongest response predictor (p = 0.0001). Core 70 substitutions were associated with poorer response kinetics in patients carrying the CT genotype at rs12979860.
Conclusions
The results indicate that substitutions of core residue 70 are related to treatment response in Caucasian patients with HCV-1b infection, but are of less importance than IL28B polymorphism.
doi:10.1186/1471-2334-11-124
PMCID: PMC3112098  PMID: 21569441
13.  Access to a polymerase chain reaction assay method targeting 13 respiratory viruses can reduce antibiotics: a randomised, controlled trial 
BMC Medicine  2011;9:44.
Background
Viral respiratory infections are common worldwide and range from completely benign disease to life-threatening illness. Symptoms can be unspecific, and an etiologic diagnosis is rarely established because of a lack of suitable diagnostic tools. Improper use of antibiotics is common in this setting, which is detrimental in light of the development of bacterial resistance. It has been suggested that the use of diagnostic tests could reduce antibiotic prescription rates. The objective of this study was to evaluate whether access to a multiplex polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assay panel for etiologic diagnosis of acute respiratory tract infections (ARTIs) would have an impact on antibiotic prescription rate in primary care clinical settings.
Methods
Adult patients with symptoms of ARTI were prospectively included. Nasopharyngeal and throat swabs were analysed by using a multiplex real-time PCR method targeting thirteen viruses and two bacteria. Patients were recruited at 12 outpatient units from October 2006 through April 2009, and samples were collected on the day of inclusion (initial visit) and after 10 days (follow-up visit). Patients were randomised in an open-label treatment protocol to receive a rapid or delayed result (on the following day or after eight to twelve days). The primary outcome measure was the antibiotic prescription rate at the initial visit, and the secondary outcome was the total antibiotic prescription rate during the study period.
Results
A total sample of 447 patients was randomised. Forty-one were excluded, leaving 406 patients for analysis. In the group of patients randomised for a rapid result, 4.5% (9 of 202) of patients received antibiotics at the initial visit, compared to 12.3% (25 of 204) (P = 0.005) of patients in the delayed result group. At follow-up, there was no significant difference between the groups: 13.9% (28 of 202) in the rapid result group and 17.2% (35 of 204) in the delayed result group (P = 0.359), respectively.
Conclusions
Access to a rapid method for etiologic diagnosis of ARTIs may reduce antibiotic prescription rates at the initial visit in an outpatient setting. To sustain this effect, however, it seems necessary to better define how to follow and manage the patient according to the result of the test, which warrants further investigation.
Trial registration
ClinicalTrials.gov identifier: NCT01133782.
doi:10.1186/1741-7015-9-44
PMCID: PMC3108322  PMID: 21521505
14.  Response Prediction in Chronic Hepatitis C by Assessment of IP-10 and IL28B-Related Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(2):e17232.
Background
High baseline levels of IP-10 predict a slower first phase decline in HCV RNA and a poor outcome following interferon/ribavirin therapy in patients with chronic hepatitis C. Several recent studies report that single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) adjacent to IL28B predict spontaneous resolution of HCV infection and outcome of treatment among HCV genotype 1 infected patients.
Methods and Findings
In the present study, we correlated the occurrence of variants at three such SNPs (rs12979860, rs12980275, and rs8099917) with pretreatment plasma IP-10 and HCV RNA throughout therapy within a phase III treatment trial (HCV-DITTO) involving 253 Caucasian patients. The favorable SNP variants (CC, AA, and TT, respectively) were associated with lower baseline IP-10 (P = 0.02, P = 0.01, P = 0.04) and were less common among HCV genotype 1 infected patients than genotype 2/3 (P<0.0001, P<0.0001, and P = 0.01). Patients carrying favorable SNP genotypes had higher baseline viral load than those carrying unfavorable variants (P = 0.0013, P = 0.029, P = 0.0004 respectively). Among HCV genotype 1 infected carriers of the favorable C, A, or T alleles, IP-10 below 150 pg/mL significantly predicted a more pronounced reduction of HCV RNA from day 0 to 4 (first phase decline), which translated into increased rates of RVR (62%, 53%, and 39%) and SVR (85%, 76%, and 75% respectively) among homozygous carriers with baseline IP-10 below 150 pg/mL. In multivariate analyses of genotype 1-infected patients, baseline IP-10 and C genotype at rs12979860 independently predicted the first phase viral decline and RVR, which in turn independently predicted SVR.
Conclusions
Concomitant assessment of pretreatment IP-10 and IL28B-related SNPs augments the prediction of the first phase decline in HCV RNA, RVR, and final therapeutic outcome.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0017232
PMCID: PMC3044738  PMID: 21390311
15.  Novel Method for Genotyping Hepatitis B Virus on the Basis of TaqMan Real-Time PCR▿ †  
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2010;48(4):1105-1111.
Chronic infection with hepatitis B virus (HBV) is an important cause of cirrhosis and cancer of the liver. HBV is currently classified into eight genotypes, A to H. Accumulated evidence shows that the genotype influences both the clinical course of infection and the response to treatment. We describe a new method for genotyping based on TaqMan real-time PCR, which identifies all HBV genotypes without post-PCR processing. In this assay, each sample is processed in four multiplex real-time PCRs, each targeting two or three genotype-specific segments of HBV. By analyzing 185 samples representing all genotypes and different proportions of genotype mixtures, we could validate high accuracy of the assay. We conclude that this new assay represents a significant advancement for both diagnostics and clinical research because it is accurate, practical, and based on a technique that is well established in many virological laboratories.
doi:10.1128/JCM.01442-09
PMCID: PMC2849621  PMID: 20107090
16.  Epstein–Barr virus in bone marrow of rheumatoid arthritis patients predicts response to rituximab treatment 
Rheumatology (Oxford, England)  2010;49(10):1911-1919.
Objectives. Viruses may contribute to RA. This prompted us to monitor viral load and response to anti-CD20 therapy in RA patients.
Methods. Blood and bone marrow from 35 RA patients were analysed for CMV, EBV, HSV-1, HSV-2, parvovirus B19 and polyomavirus using real-time PCR before and 3 months after rituximab (RTX) treatment and related to the levels of autoantibodies and B-cell depletion. Clinical response to RTX was defined as decrease in the 28-joint disease activity score (DAS-28) >1.3 at 6 months.
Results. Before RTX treatment, EBV was identified in 15 out of 35 patients (EBV-positive group), of which 4 expressed parvovirus. Parvovirus was further detected in eight patients (parvo-positive group). Twelve patients were negative for the analysed viruses. Following RTX, EBV was cleared, whereas parvovirus was unaffected. Eighteen patients were responders, of which 12 were EBV positive. The decrease in the DAS-28 was significantly higher in EBV-positive group compared with parvo-positive group (P = 0.002) and virus-negative patients (P = 0.04). Most of EBV-negative patients that responded to RTX (75%) required retreatment within the following 11 months compared with only 8% of responding EBV-positive patients. A decrease of RF, Ig-producing cells and CD19+ B cells was observed following RTX but did not distinguish between viral infections. However, EBV-infected patients had significantly higher levels of Fas-expressing B cells at baseline as compared with EBV-negative groups.
Conclusions. EBV and parvovirus genomes are frequently found in bone marrow of RA patients. The presence of EBV genome was associated with a better clinical response to RTX. Thus, presence of EBV genome may predict clinical response to RTX.
doi:10.1093/rheumatology/keq159
PMCID: PMC2936947  PMID: 20547657
Rheumatoid arthritis; Biological therapy; B-cell depletion; Viral infection; Epstein–Barr virus
17.  Response Prediction and Treatment Tailoring for Chronic Hepatitis C Virus Genotype 1 Infection▿  
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2007;45(8):2439-2445.
We monitored early viral response during the treatment of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection with the aim of identifying predictors of treatment outcome. We studied 53 patients with genotype 1 infection who received 180 μg/week pegylated interferon alfa-2a and 1,000 or 1,200 mg/day ribavirin depending on body weight and serially assessed HCV RNA in serum, using the Cobas TaqMan assay. Thirty-one patients (58%) achieved sustained viral response (SVR). SVR was obtained in 100% (10/10) of patients with pretreatment viremia concentrations below 400,000 IU/ml, in 100% (14/14) of patients with more than 1.5 log reduction of HCV RNA after 4 days of treatment, and in 95% (22/23) of patients with a rate of decline in viremia higher than 0.70 log units/week during the second phase. Non-SVR was seen in all patients with a second-phase decline rate lower than 0.35 log units/week. Patients with slopes between 0.50 and 0.80 log units/week achieved SVR (4/4) unless the treatment dose was modified (3/3). We conclude that the second-phase slope appears to be an accurate and useful predictor of treatment response. On the basis of these findings, we propose a model of tailored treatment which takes into account the second-phase slope and the amount of HCV RNA after 21 days of treatment.
doi:10.1128/JCM.00577-07
PMCID: PMC1951238  PMID: 17581934
18.  Simultaneous Quantification and Genotyping of Hepatitis B Virus for Genotypes A to G by Real-Time PCR and Two-Step Melting Curve Analysis▿  
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2006;44(12):4491-4497.
Both the viral titer and the genotype significantly determine clinical outcomes and responses to antiviral treatment in chronic hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection. A method was developed for large-scale A-to-G genotyping with simultaneous viral quantification. The assay was run on a LightCycler instrument using hybridization probes. The genotype was determined from the melting points of the probes in a two-step manner. Set 1 amplicons differentiated genotypes B, E, and F from A, C, D, and G and simultaneously quantified viremia by real-time PCR. Melting curve analysis using the set 2-1 amplicon or the set 2-2 amplicon reaction mixture was then used to differentiate these genotype groups into single genotypes. HBV DNA quantification was consistent with that of the Amplicor assay and linear in a range from 102 to 1013 copies/ml. By comparison with the restriction fragment length polymorphism method, 92.3% of 441 samples were accurately genotyped by the current assay. The method should be useful for genotyping and quantification of HBV DNA in areas where all genotypes exist.
doi:10.1128/JCM.01375-06
PMCID: PMC1698380  PMID: 17021067
19.  Lamivudine Resistance of Hepatitis B Virus Masked by Coemergence of Mutations in Probe Region of the COBAS AMPLICOR Assay 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2006;44(7):2587-2589.
The COBAS AMPLICOR hepatitis B virus assay targets a conserved region of the genome and is widely used to monitor treatment of hepatitis B in order to identify emerging resistance. However, the assay failed to recognize increasing viremia levels when YMDD mutations were paralleled by mutations in the segment targeted by the COBAS AMPLICOR probe.
doi:10.1128/JCM.00265-06
PMCID: PMC1489515  PMID: 16825388
20.  Dynamic Range and Reproducibility of Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) DNA Detection and Quantification by Cobas Taqman HBV, a Real-Time Semiautomated Assay 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2005;43(8):4251-4254.
The Cobas Taqman assay for hepatitis B virus (HBV) DNA showed linear detection over 7 logs for genotypes A to D. The coefficient of variation was 1.2% at ≥1,000 IU/ml and 22.0% at 10 IU/ml. In 97 clinical samples, the log HBV DNA/ml differed by 0.11 between Cobas Amplicor and Cobas Taqman (r2 = 0.97).
doi:10.1128/JCM.43.8.4251-4254.2005
PMCID: PMC1233936  PMID: 16081992
21.  Detection and Typing of Herpes Simplex Virus (HSV) in Mucocutaneous Samples by TaqMan PCR Targeting a gB Segment Homologous for HSV Types 1 and 2 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2005;43(5):2058-2064.
Herpes simplex virus types 1 (HSV-1) and 2 (HSV-2) are major causes of mucocutaneous lesions and severe infections of the central nervous system. Here a new semiautomated method for detecting and typing of HSV was used to analyze 479 mucocutaneous swab samples. After DNA extraction using a Magnapure LC robot, a 118-bp segment of the gB region was amplified by real-time PCR utilizing type-specific TaqMan probes to identify HSV-1 or HSV-2. HSV detection in a single well using probes labeled with carboxyfluorescein (FAM) for HSV-1 and JOE (6-carboxy-4′,5′-dichloro-2′,7′-dimethoxyfluorescein) for HSV-2 had a sensitivity similar to that seen in separate reactions. All but one of 217 samples (99.5%) that had been positive by virus culture were positive by TaqMan PCR, with a correct identification of type in all cases. Out of 262 samples negative by virus culture, 48 (18.3%) were positive by TaqMan PCR, with higher Ct values compared with culture positive samples (P < 0.0001). Overall, the Ct values for HSV-1 were lower than for HSV-2 (mean, 25.5 versus 27.9), but to some extent this could be due to weaker fluorescence by JOE. Lower Ct values for HSV-1 were seen also in the 202 genital samples (79 HSV-1, 122 HSV-2, 1 HSV-1 and HSV-2), indicating that HSV-1 replicates as well as HSV-2 in the genital area. HSV-1 constituted 40% of genital infections and was associated with lower mean age (29.2 versus 36.4 years), probably reflecting the fact that recurrent genital HSV-1 infections are rare.
doi:10.1128/JCM.43.5.2058-2064.2005
PMCID: PMC1153722  PMID: 15872222
22.  Phylogenetic Analysis of Clinical Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1 Isolates Identified Three Genetic Groups and Recombinant Viruses 
Journal of Virology  2004;78(19):10755-10764.
Herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) is a ubiquitous human pathogen which establishes lifelong infections. In the present study, we determined the sequence diversity of the complete genes coding for glycoproteins G (gG), I (gI), and E (gE), comprising 2.3% of the HSV-1 genome and located within the unique short (US) region, for 28 clinical HSV-1 isolates inducing oral lesions, genital lesions, or encephalitis. Laboratory strains F and KOS321 were sequenced in parallel. Phylogenetic analysis, including analysis of laboratory strain 17 (GenBank), revealed that the sequences were separated into three genetic groups. The identification of different genogroups facilitated the detection of recombinant viruses by using specific nucleotide substitutions as recombination markers. Seven of the isolates and strain 17 displayed sequences consistent with intergenic recombination, and at least four isolates were intragenic recombinants. The observed frequency of recombination based on an analysis of a short stretch of the US region suggests that most full-length HSV-1 genomes consist of a mosaic of segments from different genetic groups. Polymorphic tandem repeat regions, consisting of two to eight blocks of 21 nucleotides in the gI gene and seven to eight repeats of 3 nucleotides in the gG gene, were also detected. Laboratory strain KOS321 displayed a frameshift mutation in the gI gene with a subsequent alteration of the deduced intracellular portion of the protein. The presence of polymorphic tandem repeat regions and the different genogroup identities can be used for molecular epidemiology studies and for further detection of recombination in the HSV-1 genome.
doi:10.1128/JVI.78.19.10755-10764.2004
PMCID: PMC516408  PMID: 15367642
23.  Comparison of Serum Hepatitis C Virus RNA and Core Antigen Concentrations and Determination of Whether Levels Are Associated with Liver Histology or Affected by Specimen Storage Time 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2002;40(11):4224-4229.
An enzyme immunoassay has recently been developed for the hepatitis C virus (HCV) core antigen. To evaluate the possible association between core antigen and HCV RNA levels with regards to the change in liver histology over time as well as study the effect of duration of storage on viral load results, sequential sera were analyzed from 45 patients with chronic HCV infection who had undergone two or more liver biopsies. A relatively strong association was found between the core antigen and HCV RNA concentrations (rs = 0.8), with a core antigen level of 1 pg/ml corresponding to approximately 1,000 IU/ml. All 42 sera with detectable HCV RNA at the time of the second biopsy had core antigen concentrations above 1 pg/ml, and the three sera without detectable HCV RNA had concentrations below 1 pg/ml. No association was found between HCV RNA or core antigen levels and the stage of fibrosis in biopsy samples, progression of fibrosis, necro-inflammatory grade, steatosis, genotype, alanine aminotransferase level, or alcohol consumption. A significant association was demonstrated between the storage time of the samples and both the HCV RNA and core antigen concentrations. The median log HCV RNA concentrations (international units/milliliter) were 3.92 for the sera obtained at the time of the first biopsy (median storage time, 13.0 years) and 4.41 for the sera obtained at the time of the second biopsy (median storage time, 6.6 years) compared to 5.96, the median for 102 different routine clinical patient samples.
doi:10.1128/JCM.40.11.4224-4229.2002
PMCID: PMC139660  PMID: 12409402
24.  Dichotomy of Glycoprotein G Gene in Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1 Isolates 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2002;40(9):3245-3251.
Herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) encodes 11 envelope glycoproteins, of which glycoprotein G-1 (gG-1) induces a type-specific antibody response. Variability of the gG-1 gene among wild-type strains may be a factor of importance for a reliable serodiagnosis and typing of HSV-1 isolates. Here, we used a gG-1 type-specific monoclonal antibody (MAb) to screen for mutations in the immunodominant region of this protein in 108 clinical HSV-1 isolates. Of these, 42 isolates showed no reactivity to the anti-gG-1 MAb. One hundred five strains were further examined by DNA sequencing of the middle part of the gG-1 gene, encompassing 106 amino acids including the immunodominant region and epitope of the anti-gG-1 MAb. By phylogenetic comparisons based on the sequence data, we observed two (main) genetic variants of the gG-1 gene among the clinical isolates corresponding to reactivity or nonreactivity to the anti-gG-1 MAb. Furthermore, four strains appeared to be recombinants of the two gG-1 variants. In addition, one strain displayed a gG-1-negative phenotype due to a frameshift mutation, in the form of insertion of a cytosine nucleotide. When immunoglobulin G reactivity to HSV-1 in sera from patients infected with either of the two variants was investigated, no significant differences were found between the two groups, either in a type-common enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) or in a type-specific gG-1 antigen-based ELISA. Despite the here-documented existence of two variants of the gG-1 gene affecting the immunodominant region of the protein, other circumstances, such as early phase of infection, might be sought for explaining the seronegativity to gG-1 commonly found in a proportion of the HSV-1-infected patients.
doi:10.1128/JCM.40.9.3245-3251.2002
PMCID: PMC130675  PMID: 12202560
25.  Phylogenetic Origin of Hepatitis B Virus Strains with Precore C-1858 Variant 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2001;39(9):3200-3203.
Mutations that prevent the expression of the hepatitis B e antigen frequently emerge in the immunoreactive phase of infection. The predominant mutation, the precore G→A-1896 mutation, is restricted by the variability at position 1858 and is rare in strains with cytosine at nucleotide 1858. The C-1858 variant is characteristic of genotype A. It also occurs in genotypes C and F, but not in B, D, or E, explaining the geographical variation in the prevalence of precore mutants. C-1858 strains have been frequently observed in southeast Asia, but have not been phylogenetically characterized. By sequencing eight complete hepatitis B virus genomes, C-1858 variants of east Asian origin were found to constitute a phylogenetic entity within genotype C that probably diverged several hundred years ago. Further study of the distribution of this variant is warranted.
doi:10.1128/JCM.39.9.3200-3203.2001
PMCID: PMC88319  PMID: 11526151

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