Despite the fact that a large proportion of children with fever in Africa present at primary health care facilities, few studies have been designed to specifically study the causes of uncomplicated childhood febrile illness at this level of care, especially in areas like Zanzibar that has recently undergone a dramatic change from high to low malaria transmission.
We prospectively studied the aetiology of febrile illness in 677 children aged 2–59 months with acute uncomplicated fever managed by IMCI (Integrated Management of Childhood Illness) guidelines in Zanzibar, using point-of-care tests, urine culture, blood-PCR, chest X-ray (CXR) of IMCI-pneumonia classified patients, and multiple quantitative (q)PCR investigations of nasopharyngeal (NPH) (all patients) and rectal (GE) swabs (diarrhoea patients). For comparison, we also performed NPH and GE qPCR analyses in 167 healthy community controls. Final fever diagnoses were retrospectively established based on all clinical and laboratory data. Clinical outcome was assessed during a 14-day follow-up. The utility of IMCI for identifying infections presumed to require antibiotics was evaluated.
NPH-qPCR and GE-qPCR detected ≥1 pathogen in 657/672 (98%) and 153/164 (93%) of patients and 158/166 (95%) and 144/165 (87%) of controls, respectively. Overall, 57% (387/677) had IMCI-pneumonia, but only 12% (42/342) had CXR-confirmed pneumonia. Two patients were positive for Plasmodium falciparum. Respiratory syncytial virus (24.5%), influenza A/B (22.3%), rhinovirus (10.5%) and group-A streptococci (6.4%), CXR-confirmed pneumonia (6.2%), Shigella (4.3%) were the most common viral and bacterial fever diagnoses, respectively. Blood-PCR conducted in a sub-group of patients (n = 83) without defined fever diagnosis was negative for rickettsiae, chikungunya, dengue, Rift Valley fever and West Nile viruses. Antibiotics were prescribed to 500 (74%) patients, but only 152 (22%) had an infection retrospectively considered to require antibiotics. Clinical outcome was generally good. However, two children died. Only 68 (11%) patients remained febrile on day 3 and three of them had verified fever on day 14. An additional 29 (4.5%) children had fever relapse on day 14. Regression analysis determined C-reactive Protein (CRP) as the only independent variable significantly associated with CXR-confirmed pneumonia.
This is the first study on uncomplicated febrile illness in African children that both applied a comprehensive laboratory panel and a healthy control group. A majority of patients had viral respiratory tract infection. Pathogens were frequently detected by qPCR also in asymptomatic children, demonstrating the importance of incorporating controls in fever aetiology studies. The precision of IMCI for identifying infections requiring antibiotics was low.
Hepatitis B virus (HBV) DNA in serum of chronically infected patients declines by 3–4 log10 units at loss of HBe antigen (HBeAg) from serum. The mechanisms behind this decline, and the much smaller decline of surface antigen (HBsAg) levels, are still not well known. The aim of this study was to get a better understanding of this process by analysing both serum and intrahepatic markers of HBV replication.
Levels of HBV DNA and HBsAg in serum, and covalently closed circular DNA (cccDNA), pregenomic RNA (pgRNA) and S-RNA and total intrahepatic HBV DNA (ihDNA) in liver biopsies from 84 chronically infected patients (16 positive and 68 negative for HBeAg) were analysed.
Lower HBV DNA levels within HBeAg-positive stage reflected lower levels of cccDNA and pgRNA with strong correlation. In HBeAg-negative patients, ihDNA levels were greater and HBV DNA levels in serum lower than expected from pgRNA levels. A lower HBV DNA/HBsAg ratio corresponded with lower pgRNA/cccDNA (p < 0.01) and higher S-RNA/cccDNA (p < 0.0001) ratios, suggesting that in HBeAg-negative patients transcription of pgRNA, but not of S-RNA, becomes suppressed.
The marked reduction of HBV DNA in serum after loss of HBeAg appears to be due to combined reduction of cccDNA, pgRNA and yet unidentified mechanisms downstream of reverse transcription. Such mechanisms include faster clearance of circulating virus or blocked secretion of virions, the latter supported by the observed relative increase of ihDNA in HBeAg-negative patients. The smaller reduction of S-RNA than of pgRNA partly explains why HBsAg remain high in the HBeAg-negative stage, supporting the possibility of HBsAg synthesis from integrated HBV DNA.
HBV DNA; HBsAg; cccDNA; Replication; pgRNA
Norovirus (NoV) is considered a major cause of nonbacterial gastroenteritis among people of all ages worldwide, but the natural course of infection is incompletely known. In this study, the pattern of circulation of NoVs was studied among 146 children and 137 adults in a small community in southwestern Cameroon. The participants provided monthly fecal samples during a year. NoV RNA was detected in at least one sample from 82 (29%) of the participants. The partial VP1 region could be sequenced in 36 NoV GII-positive samples. Three different genotypes were identified (GII.1, GII.4, and GII.17), with each genotype circulating within 2 to 3 months and reappearing after a relapse period of 2 to 3 months. Most infections occurred once, and 2 episodes at most within a year were detected. No difference in the frequency of NoV infection between children and adults was recorded. The same genotype was detected for a maximum of 2 consecutive months in 3 children only, suggesting that a less than 30-day duration of viral shedding in natural infection was common. Reinfection within a year with the same genotype was not observed, consistent with short-term homotypic immune protection. The study revealed that NoV strains are circulating with a limited duration of viral shedding both in the individuals and the population as part of their natural infection. The results also provide evidence of cross-protective immunity of limited duration between genotypes of the same genogroup.
Tamiflu (oseltamivir phosphate ester, OE) is a widely used antiviral active against influenza A virus. Its active metabolite, oseltamivir carboxylate (OC), is chemically stable and secreted into wastewater treatment plants. OC contamination of natural habitats of waterfowl might induce OC resistance in influenza viruses persistently infecting waterfowl, and lead to transfer of OC-resistance from avian to human influenza. The aim of this study was to evaluate whether such has occurred.
A genomics approach including phylogenetic analysis and probability calculations for homologous recombination was applied on altogether 19,755 neuraminidase (N1 and N2) genes from virus sampled in humans and birds, with and without resistance mutations.
No evidence for transfer of OE resistance mutations from avian to human N genes was obtained, and events suggesting recombination between human and avian influenza virus variants could not be traced in the sequence material studied.
The results indicate that resistance in influenza viruses infecting humans is due to the selection pressure posed by the global OE administration in humans rather than transfer from avian influenza A virus strains carrying mutations induced by environmental exposure to OC.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12879-015-0860-9) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Influenza A; Avian influenza; Tamiflu; Oseltamivir resistance; Resistance mutations
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Hepatitis C; PNPLA 3; Insulin resistance; Viral load
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
ClinicalTrials.gov identifier: NCT01133782.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Rheumatoid arthritis; Biological therapy; B-cell depletion; Viral infection; Epstein–Barr virus
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.