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1.  Strong Relationship between Oral Dose and Tenofovir Hair Levels in a Randomized Trial: Hair as a Potential Adherence Measure for Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(1):e83736.
Pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) trials using tenofovir-based regimens have demonstrated that high levels of adherence are required to evaluate efficacy; the incorporation of objective biomarkers of adherence in trial design has been essential to interpretation, given the inaccuracy of self-report. Antiretroviral measurements in scalp hair have been useful as a marker of long-term exposure in the HIV treatment setting, and hair samples are relatively easy and inexpensive to collect, transport, and store for analysis. To evaluate the relationship between dose and tenofovir concentrations in hair, we examined the dose proportionality of tenofovir in hair in healthy, HIV-uninfected adults.
A phase I, crossover pharmacokinetic study was performed in 24 HIV-negative adults receiving directly-observed oral tenofovir tablets administered 2, 4, and 7 doses/week for 6 weeks, with a ≥3-week break between periods. Small samples of hair were collected after each six-week period and analyzed for tenofovir concentrations. Geometric-mean-ratios compared levels between each pair of dosing conditions. Intensive plasma pharmacokinetic studies were performed during the daily-dosing period to calculate areas-under-the-time-concentration curves (AUCs).
Over 90% of doses were observed per protocol. Median tenofovir concentrations in hair increased monotonically with dose. A log-linear relationship was seen between dose and hair levels, with an estimated 76% (95% CI 60–93%) increase in hair level per 2-fold dose increase. Tenofovir plasma AUCs modestly predicted drug concentrations in hair.
This study found a strong linear relationship between frequency of dosing and tenofovir levels in scalp hair. The analysis of quantitative drug levels in hair has the potential to improve adherence measurement in the PrEP field and may be helpful in determining exposure thresholds for protection and explaining failures in PrEP trials. Hair measures for adherence monitoring may also facilitate adherence measurement in real-world settings and merit further investigation in upcoming PrEP implementation studies and programs.
Trial Registration +NCT00903084.
PMCID: PMC3885443  PMID: 24421901
2.  Association of Multiple Sclerosis Susceptibility Variants and Early Attack Location in the CNS 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e75565.
The anatomic location of subsequent relapses in early multiple sclerosis (MS) appears to be predicted by the first attack location. We sought to determine if genetic polymorphisms associated with MS susceptibility are associated with attack location.
17 genome-wide association study-identified MS susceptibility polymorphisms were genotyped in 503 white, non-Hispanic patients seen within a year of MS onset. Their association with the CNS location of the first two MS attacks was assessed in multivariate repeated measures analyses (generalized estimating equations with robust standard errors).
The IL12A polymorphism was independently associated with increased odds of attacks involving the spinal cord (OR = 1.52, 95% CI 1.11, 2.07, p = 0.009), as was the IRF8 polymorphism (OR = 2.40, 95% CI [1.04, 5.50], p = 0.040). The IL7R polymorphism was associated with reduced odds of attacks involving the brainstem/cerebellum (OR = 0.46, 95% CI 0.22, 0.97, p = 0.041), as were the TNFRSF1A and IL12A polymorphisms. The CD6 polymorphism conferred reduced odds of optic neuritis as an attack location (OR = 0.69, 95% CI [0.49, 0.97], p = 0.034). Several other genes showed trends for association with attack location.
Some of the MS susceptibility genes may be associated with MS attack location. The IL12A polymorphism is of particular interest given that interferon beta therapy appears to influence IL12 levels. These findings may lead to improved understanding of MS pathogenesis and treatment.
PMCID: PMC3794979  PMID: 24130718
3.  Multiple Sclerosis Susceptibility Genes: Associations with Relapse Severity and Recovery 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e75416.
Patients with early multiple sclerosis (MS) have stereotyped attack severity and recovery. We sought to determine if polymorphisms in MS susceptibility genes are associated with these attack features or with the risk of a second attack.
503 white subjects evaluated within a year of MS onset were included in the study. The severity of and recovery from the first two attacks were determined based on published definitions. Seventeen MS susceptibility genes were genotyped at the UCSF MS Genetics laboratory. Each polymorphism was evaluated in multivariate ordinal models, adjusted for the other polymorphisms, for its association with attack severity and recovery. We also assessed if these polymorphisms were associated with increased risk of a second attack.
The MPHOSPH9 polymorphism was associated with greater attack severity (odds ratios [OR] = 1.47, 95% CI [1.11, 1.94], p = 0.008), while the RGS1 and TNFRSF1A polymorphisms tended to be associated with reduced attack severity. The CD6 polymorphism tended to be associated with increased odds of worse attack recovery (OR = 1.25, 95% CI [0.93, 1.68], p = 0.13). In those who were HLA-DRB1-negative, the EVI5 polymorphism was associated with attacks of less severity; in HLA-DRB1 positive patients, EVI5 was associated with attacks of greater severity and worse recovery. The IL7R, TNFRSF1A, and GPC5 polymorphisms tended to be associated with having a second event within a year.
Some MS susceptibility polymorphisms may be associated with attack severity, recovery, or frequency. Further characterization of these genes may lead to a better understanding of MS pathogenesis and to a more individualized treatment approach.
PMCID: PMC3793991  PMID: 24130709
4.  Cortisol Patterns Are Associated with T Cell Activation in HIV 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e63429.
The level of T cell activation in untreated HIV disease is strongly and independently associated with risk of immunologic and clinical progression. The factors that influence the level of activation, however, are not fully defined. Since endogenous glucocorticoids are important in regulating inflammation, we sought to determine whether less optimal diurnal cortisol patterns are associated with greater T cell activation.
We studied 128 HIV-infected adults who were not on treatment and had a CD4+ T cell count above 250 cells/µl. We assessed T cell activation by CD38 expression using flow cytometry, and diurnal cortisol was assessed with salivary measurements.
Lower waking cortisol levels correlated with greater T cell immune activation, measured by CD38 mean fluorescent intensity, on CD4+ T cells (r = −0.26, p = 0.006). Participants with lower waking cortisol also showed a trend toward greater activation on CD8+ T cells (r = −0.17, p = 0.08). A greater diurnal decline in cortisol, usually considered a healthy pattern, correlated with less CD4+ (r = 0.24, p = 0.018) and CD8+ (r = 0.24, p = 0.017) activation.
These data suggest that the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis contributes to the regulation of T cell activation in HIV. This may represent an important pathway through which psychological states and the HPA axis influence progression of HIV.
PMCID: PMC3724863  PMID: 23922644
5.  Rituximab in Relapsing and Progressive Forms of Multiple Sclerosis: A Systematic Review 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e66308.
Rituximab is an anti-CD20 monoclonal antibody approved for non Hodgkin lymphoma and rheumatoid arthritis. It is being considered for the treatment of MS.
To evaluate the efficacy and safety of rituximab for MS treatment.
Data collection
Studies were selected if they were clinical trials, irrespective of the dosage or combination therapies.
Main results
Four studies with a total of 599 patients were included. One assessed the efficacy of rituximab for primary progressive (PP) MS while the other three focused on relapsing-remitting (RR) MS. In the PPMS study, rituximab delayed time to confirmed disease progression (CDP) in pre-planned sub-group analyses. The increase in T2 lesion volume was lower in the rituximab group at week 96 compared with placebo. For the RRMS studies, an open-label phase I study found that rituximab reduced the annualized relapse rate to 0.25 from pre-therapy baseline to week 24, while in the randomized placebo-controlled phase II trial, annualized relapse rates were 0.37 in the rituximab group and 0.84 in the placebo group (p = 0.04) at week 24. Rituximab dramatically reduced the number of gadolinium-enhancing lesions on brain MRI scans for both RRMS studies. Off-label rituximab as an add-on therapy in patients with breakthrough disease on first-line agents was associated with an 88% reduction when comparing the mean number of gadolinium-enhancing lesions prior to and after the treatment. Although frequent adverse events classified as mild or moderate occurred in up to 77% of the patients, there were no grade 4 infusion-related adverse events.
Author’s conclusion
Despite the frequent mild/moderate adverse events related to the drug, rituximab appears overall safe for up to 2 years of therapy and has a substantial impact on the inflammatory disease activity (clinical and/or radiological) of RRMS. The effect of rituximab on disease progression in PPMS appears to be marginal.
PMCID: PMC3699597  PMID: 23843952
6.  Fetal Outcomes in Pregnancies Complicated by Intrahepatic Cholestasis of Pregnancy in a Northern California Cohort 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(3):e28343.
Intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy (ICP) has important fetal implications. There is increased risk for poor fetal outcomes, including preterm delivery, meconium staining of amniotic fluid, respiratory distress, fetal distress and demise.
One hundred and one women diagnosed with ICP between January 2005 and March 2009 at San Francisco General Hospital were included in this study. Single predictor logistic regression models were used to assess the associations of maternal clinical and biochemical predictors with fetal complications. Clinical predictors analyzed included age, race/ethnicity, gravidity, parity, history of liver or biliary disease, history of ICP in previous pregnancies, and induction. Biochemical predictors analyzed included serum aspartate aminotransferase, alanine aminotransferase, alkaline phosphatase, total bilirubin, direct bilirubin, albumin, total protein, and total bile acids (TBA).
The prevalence of ICP was 1.9%. Most were Latina (90%). Labor was induced in the majority (87%) and most were delivered by normal spontaneous vaginal delivery (84%). Fetal complications occurred in 33% of the deliveries, with respiratory distress accounting for the majority of complications. There were no statistically significant clinical or biochemical predictors associated with an increased risk of fetal complications. Elevated TBA had little association with fetal complications until reaching greater than 100 µmoL/L, with 3 out of 5 having reported complications. ICP in previous pregnancies was associated with decreased risk of fetal complications (OR 0.21, p = 0.046). There were no cases of late term fetal demise.
Maternal clinical and laboratory features, including elevated TBA, did not appear to be substantial predictors of fetal complications in ICP.
PMCID: PMC3293870  PMID: 22403605
7.  Association of Low Level Viremia with Inflammation and Mortality in HIV-Infected Adults 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(11):e26320.
Whether HIV viremia, particularly at low levels is associated with inflammation, increased coagulation, and all-cause mortality is unclear.
The associations of HIV RNA level with C-reactive protein (CRP), fibrinogen, interleukin (IL)-6 and mortality were evaluated in 1116 HIV-infected participants from the Study of Fat Redistribution and Metabolic Change in HIV infection. HIV RNA level was categorized as undetectable (i.e., “target not detected”), 1–19, 20–399, 400–9999, and ≥10,000 copies/ml. Covariates included demographics, lifestyle, adipose tissue, and HIV-related factors.
HIV RNA level had little association with CRP. Categories of HIV RNA below 10,000 copies/ml had similar levels of IL-6 compared with an undetectable HIV RNA level, while HIV RNA ≥10,000 copies/ml was associated with 89% higher IL-6 (p<0.001). This association was attenuated by ∼50% after adjustment for CD4+ cell count. Higher HIV RNA was associated with higher fibrinogen. Compared to an undetectable HIV RNA level, fibrinogen was 0.6%, 1.9%, 4.5%, 4.6%, and 9.4% higher across HIV RNA categories, respectively, and statistically significant at the highest level (p = 0.0002 for HIV RNA ≥10,000 copies/ml). Higher HIV RNA was associated with mortality during follow-up in unadjusted analysis, but showed little association after adjustment for CD4+ cell count and inflammation.
HIV RNA ≥10,000 copies/ml was associated with higher IL-6 and fibrinogen, but lower levels of viremia appeared similar, and there was little association with CRP. The relationship of HIV RNA with IL-6 was strongly affected by CD4 cell depletion. After adjustment for CD4+ cell count and inflammation, viremia did not appear to be substantially associated with mortality risk over 5 years.
PMCID: PMC3206804  PMID: 22073156
8.  Progression of Biopsy-Measured Liver Fibrosis in Untreated Patients with Hepatitis C Infection: Non-Markov Multistate Model Analysis 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(5):e20104.
Fibrosis stages from liver biopsies reflect liver damage from hepatitis C infection, but analysis is challenging due to their ordered but non-numeric nature, infrequent measurement, misclassification, and unknown infection times.
We used a non-Markov multistate model, accounting for misclassification, with multiple imputation of unknown infection times, applied to 1062 participants of whom 159 had multiple biopsies. Odds ratios (OR) quantified the estimated effects of covariates on progression risk at any given time.
Models estimated that progression risk decreased the more time participants had already spent in the current stage, African American race was protective (OR 0.75, 95% confidence interval 0.60 to 0.95, p = 0.018), and older current age increased risk (OR 1.33 per decade, 95% confidence interval 1.15 to 1.54, p = 0.0002). When controlled for current age, older age at infection did not appear to increase risk (OR 0.92 per decade, 95% confidence interval 0.47 to 1.79, p = 0.80). There was a suggestion that co-infection with human immunodeficiency virus increased risk of progression in the era of highly active antiretroviral treatment beginning in 1996 (OR 2.1, 95% confidence interval 0.97 to 4.4, p = 0.059). Other examined risk factors may influence progression risk, but evidence for or against this was weak due to wide confidence intervals. The main results were essentially unchanged using different assumed misclassification rates or imputation of age of infection.
The analysis avoided problems inherent in simpler methods, supported the previously suspected protective effect of African American race, and suggested that current age rather than age of infection increases risk. Decreasing risk of progression with longer time already spent in a stage was also previously found for post-transplant progression. This could reflect varying disease activity, with recent progression indicating active disease and high risk, while longer time already spent in a stage indicates quiescent disease and low risk.
PMCID: PMC3103523  PMID: 21637766
9.  Transmitted Drug Resistance in Persons with Acute/Early HIV-1 in San Francisco, 2002-2009 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(12):e15510.
Transmitted HIV-1 drug resistance (TDR) is an ongoing public health problem, representing 10–20% of new HIV infections in many geographic areas. TDR usually arises from two main sources: individuals on antiretroviral therapy (ART) who are failing to achieve virologic suppression, and individuals who acquired TDR and transmit it while still ART-naïve. TDR rates can be impacted when novel antiretroviral medications are introduced that allow for greater virologic suppression of source patients. Although several new HIV medications were introduced starting in late 2007, including raltegravir, maraviroc, and etravirine, it is not known whether the prevalence of TDR was subsequently affected in 2008–2009.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We performed population sequence genotyping on individuals who were diagnosed with acute or early HIV (<6 months duration) and who enrolled in the Options Project, a prospective cohort, between 2002 and 2009. We used logistic regression to compare the odds of acquiring drug-resistant HIV before versus after the arrival of new ART (2005–2007 vs. 2008–2009). From 2003–2007, TDR rose from 7% to 24%. Prevalence of TDR was then 15% in 2008 and in 2009. While the odds of acquiring TDR were lower in 2008–2009 compared to 2005–2007, this was not statistically significant (odds ratio 0.65, 95% CI 0.31–1.38; p = 0.27).
Our study suggests that transmitted drug resistance rose from 2003–2007, but this upward trend did not continue in 2008 and 2009. Nevertheless, the TDR prevalence in 2008–2009 remained substantial, emphasizing that improved management strategies for drug-resistant HIV are needed if TDR is to be further reduced. Continued surveillance for TDR will be important in understanding the full impact of new antiretroviral medications.
PMCID: PMC3000814  PMID: 21170322
10.  Modeling Insertional Mutagenesis Using Gene Length and Expression in Murine Embryonic Stem Cells 
PLoS ONE  2007;2(7):e617.
High-throughput mutagenesis of the mammalian genome is a powerful means to facilitate analysis of gene function. Gene trapping in embryonic stem cells (ESCs) is the most widely used form of insertional mutagenesis in mammals. However, the rules governing its efficiency are not fully understood, and the effects of vector design on the likelihood of gene-trapping events have not been tested on a genome-wide scale.
Methodology/Principal Findings
In this study, we used public gene-trap data to model gene-trap likelihood. Using the association of gene length and gene expression with gene-trap likelihood, we constructed spline-based regression models that characterize which genes are susceptible and which genes are resistant to gene-trapping techniques. We report results for three classes of gene-trap vectors, showing that both length and expression are significant determinants of trap likelihood for all vectors. Using our models, we also quantitatively identified hotspots of gene-trap activity, which represent loci where the high likelihood of vector insertion is controlled by factors other than length and expression. These formalized statistical models describe a high proportion of the variance in the likelihood of a gene being trapped by expression-dependent vectors and a lower, but still significant, proportion of the variance for vectors that are predicted to be independent of endogenous gene expression.
The findings of significant expression and length effects reported here further the understanding of the determinants of vector insertion. Results from this analysis can be applied to help identify other important determinants of this important biological phenomenon and could assist planning of large-scale mutagenesis efforts.
PMCID: PMC1910612  PMID: 17637833

Results 1-10 (10)