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1.  The Lake Victoria island intervention study on worms and allergy-related diseases (LaVIISWA): study protocol for a randomised controlled trial 
Trials  2015;16:187.
The Hygiene Hypothesis proposes that infection exposure protects against inflammatory conditions. Helminths possess allergen-like molecules and may specifically modulate allergy-related immunological pathways to inhibit responses which protect against them. Mass drug administration is recommended for helminth-endemic communities to control helminth-induced pathology, but may also result in increased rates of inflammation-mediated diseases in resource-poor settings. Immunological studies integrated with implementation of helminth control measures may elucidate how helminth elimination contributes to ongoing epidemics of inflammatory diseases. We present the design of the Lake Victoria Island Intervention Study on Worms and Allergy-related diseases (LaVIISWA), a cluster-randomised trial evaluating the risks and benefits of intensive versus standard anthelminthic treatment for allergy-related diseases and other health outcomes.
The setting is comprised of island fishing communities in Mukono district, Uganda. Twenty-six communities have been randomised in a 1:1 ratio to receive standard or intensive anthelminthic intervention for a three-year period. Baseline characteristics were collected immediately prior to intervention rollout, commenced in February 2013. Primary outcomes are reported wheeze in the past 12 months and atopy (skin prick test response and allergen-specific immunoglobulin (asIg) E concentration). Secondary outcomes are visible flexural dermatitis, helminth infections, haemoglobin, growth parameters, hepatosplenomegaly, and responses to vaccine antigens. The trial provides a platform for in-depth analysis of clinical and immunological consequences of the contrasting interventions.
The baseline survey has been completed successfully in a challenging environment. Baseline characteristics were balanced between trial arms. Prevalence of Schistosoma mansoni, hookworm, Strongyloides stercoralis and Trichuris trichiura was 52%, 23%, 13%, and 12%, respectively; 31% of Schistosoma mansoni infections were heavy (>400 eggs/gram). The prevalence of reported wheeze and positive skin prick test to any allergen was 5% and 20%, respectively. Respectively, 77% and 87% of participants had Dermatophagoides- and German cockroach-specific IgE above 0.35 kUA/L. These characteristics suggest that the LaVIISWA study will provide an excellent framework for investigating beneficial and detrimental effects of worms and their treatment, and the mechanisms of such effects.
Trial registration
This trial was registered with Current Controlled Trials (identifier: ISRCTN47196031) on 7 September 2012.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13063-015-0702-5) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4413531  PMID: 25902705
Helminths; Anthelminthic treatment; Allergy; Atopy; Wheeze; Cluster-randomised trial
2.  Factors associated with tuberculosis infection, and with anti-mycobacterial immune responses, among five year olds BCG-immunised at birth in Entebbe, Uganda 
Vaccine  2015;33(6):796-804.
•Urban residence and history of TB contact/disease were associated with increased risk of latent TB infection at age five years.•BCG vaccine strain, LTBI, HIV and malaria infections, and anthropometry predict anti-mycobacterial immune responses.•Helminth infections do not influence response to BCG vaccination.•Cytokine responses at one year were not associated with LTBI at age five years.
BCG is used widely as the sole licensed vaccine against tuberculosis, but it has variable efficacy and the reasons for this are still unclear. No reliable biomarkers to predict future protection against, or acquisition of, TB infection following immunisation have been identified. Lessons from BCG could be valuable in the development of effective tuberculosis vaccines.
Within the Entebbe Mother and Baby Study birth cohort in Uganda, infants received BCG at birth. We investigated factors associated with latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI) and with cytokine response to mycobacterial antigen at age five years. We also investigated whether cytokine responses at one year were associated with LTBI at five years of age.
Blood samples from age one and five years were stimulated using crude culture filtrates of Mycobacterium tuberculosis in a six-day whole blood assay. IFN-γ, IL-5, IL-13 and IL-10 production was measured. LTBI at five years was determined using T-SPOT.TB® assay. Associations with LTBI at five years were assessed using multivariable logistic regression. Multiple linear regression with bootstrapping was used to determine factors associated with cytokine responses at age five years.
LTBI prevalence was 9% at age five years. Only urban residence and history of TB contact/disease were positively associated with LTBI. BCG vaccine strain, LTBI, HIV infection, asymptomatic malaria, growth z-scores, childhood anthelminthic treatment and maternal BCG scar were associated with cytokine responses at age five. Cytokine responses at one year were not associated with acquisition of LTBI by five years of age.
Although multiple factors influenced anti-myocbacterial immune responses at age five, factors likely to be associated with exposure to infectious cases (history of household contact, and urban residence) dominated the risk of LTBI.
PMCID: PMC4317190  PMID: 25529292
Tuberculosis; HIV; Helminth; Pregnancy; Bacille Calmette–Guerin; Crude culture filtrate protein
3.  Factors affecting the infant antibody response to measles immunisation in Entebbe-Uganda 
BMC Public Health  2013;13:619.
Vaccine failure is an important concern in the tropics with many contributing elements. Among them, it has been suggested that exposure to natural infections might contribute to vaccine failure and recurrent disease outbreaks. We tested this hypothesis by examining the influence of co-infections on maternal and infant measles-specific IgG levels.
We conducted an observational analysis using samples and data that had been collected during a larger randomised controlled trial, the Entebbe Mother and Baby Study (ISRCTN32849447). For the present study, 711 pregnant women and their offspring were considered. Helminth infections including hookworm, Schistosoma mansoni and Mansonella perstans, along with HIV, malaria, and other potential confounding factors were determined in mothers during pregnancy and in their infants at age one year. Infants received their measles immunisation at age nine months. Levels of total IgG against measles were measured in mothers during pregnancy and at delivery, as well as in cord blood and from infants at age one year.
Among the 711 pregnant women studied, 66% had at least one helminth infection at enrolment, 41% had hookworm, 20% M. perstans and 19% S. mansoni. Asymptomatic malaria and HIV prevalence was 8% and 10% respectively. At enrolment, 96% of the women had measles-specific IgG levels considered protective (median 4274 mIU/ml (IQR 1784, 7767)). IgG levels in cord blood were positively correlated to maternal measles-specific IgG levels at delivery (r = 0.81, p < 0.0001). Among the infants at one year of age, median measles-specific IgG levels were markedly lower than in maternal and cord blood (median 370 mIU/ml (IQR 198, 656) p < 0.0001). In addition, only 75% of the infants had measles-specific IgG levels considered to be protective. In a multivariate regression analysis, factors associated with reduced measles-specific antibody levels in infancy were maternal malaria infection, infant malaria parasitaemia, infant HIV and infant wasting. There was no association with maternal helminth infection.
Malaria and HIV infection in mothers during pregnancy, and in their infants, along with infant malnutrition, may result in reduction of the antibody response to measles immunisation in infancy. This re-emphasises the importance of malaria and HIV control, and support for infant nutrition, as these interventions may have benefits for vaccine efficacy in tropical settings.
PMCID: PMC3733798  PMID: 23816281
Infections; Co-infections; Measles; Helminth; Malaria; HIV; Maternal; Infants; Pregnancy; Immunisation
4.  The effect of anthelminthic treatment during pregnancy on HIV plasma viral load; results from a randomised, double blinded, placebo-controlled trial in Uganda 
To investigate the effect of helminth infections and their treatment during pregnancy on HIV load, we conducted a 2×2 factorial randomised controlled trial of albendazole versus placebo and praziquantel versus placebo in pregnant women in Entebbe, Uganda
Two hundred and sixty-four HIV-infected women from the Entebbe Mother and Baby Study (ISRCTN32849447) were included in this analysis. Women were tested for helminth infections at enrolment and mean HIV load was compared between infected and uninfected groups. The effect of anthelminthic treatment on HIV load was evaluated at six weeks post-treatment and at delivery using linear regression and adjusting for enrolment viral load.
Hookworm and Trichuris infections were associated with higher mean viral load at enrolment (adjusted mean difference 0.24log10 copies/ml, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.01 to 0.47, p=0.03 and 0.37log10 copies/ml, 95%CI: 0.00 to 0.74, p=0.05, respectively). There were no associations between viral load and other helminth species. There was some evidence that albendazole reduced viral load at six weeks post-treatment (adjusted mean difference −0.17, 95% CI: −0.36 to 0.01, p=0.07), however this effect did not differ according to mother’s hookworm infection status and had diminished at delivery (adjusted mean difference −0.11, 95% CI: −0.28 to 0.07, p=0.23). There was no effect of praziquantel treatment on HIV load at any time point.
Infection with some soil-transmitted helminth species is associated with increased HIV load in pregnancy. Treatment with albendazole causes a small decrease in HIV load, however this may not represent a direct effect of worm removal.
PMCID: PMC3383620  PMID: 22728750
HIV; viral load; helminths; anthelminthic treatment; clinical trial
5.  Impact of Anthelminthic Treatment in Pregnancy and Childhood on Immunisations, Infections and Eczema in Childhood: A Randomised Controlled Trial 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(12):e50325.
Helminth infections may modulate immune responses to unrelated pathogens and allergens; these effects may commence prenatally. We addressed the hypothesis that anthelminthic treatment in pregnancy and early childhood would improve responses to immunisation and modulate disease incidence in early childhood with both beneficial and detrimental effects.
Methods and Findings
A randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial was conducted in Entebbe, Uganda [ISRCTN32849447]. In three independent randomisations, 2507 pregnant women were allocated to receive single-dose albendazole or placebo, and praziquantel or placebo; 2016 of their offspring were randomised to receive quarterly single-dose albendazole or placebo from age 15 months to 5 years. Primary outcomes were post-immunisation recall responses to BCG and tetanus antigens, and incidence of malaria, diarrhoea, and pneumonia; incidence of eczema was an important secondary outcome. Analysis was by intention-to-treat. Of 2345 live births, 1622 (69%) children remained in follow-up at age 5 years. 68% of mothers at enrolment, and 11% of five-year-olds, had helminth infections. Maternal hookworm and Schistosoma mansoni were effectively treated by albendazole and praziquantel, respectively; and childhood hookworm and Ascaris by quarterly albendazole. Incidence rates of malaria, diarrhoea, pneumonia, and eczema were 34, 65, 10 and 5 per 100 py, respectively. Albendazole during pregnancy caused an increased rate of eczema in the children (HR 1.58 (95% CI 1.15–2.17), p = 0.005). Quarterly albendazole during childhood was associated with reduced incidence of clinical malaria (HR 0.85 (95% CI 0.73–0.98), p = 0.03). There were no consistent effects of the interventions on any other outcome.
Routine use of albendazole in pregnancy may not always be beneficial, even in tropical developing countries. By contrast, regular albendazole treatment in preschool children may have an additional benefit for malaria control where helminths and malaria are co-endemic. Given the low helminth prevalence in our children, the effect of albendazole on malaria is likely to be direct.
Trial registration
Current Controlled Trials ISRCTN32849447
PMCID: PMC3517620  PMID: 23236367
6.  Determining Mycobacterium tuberculosis Infection among BCG-Immunised Ugandan Children by T-SPOT.TB and Tuberculin Skin Testing 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(10):e47340.
Children with latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI) represent a huge reservoir for future disease. We wished to determine Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M.tb) infection prevalence among BCG-immunised five-year-old children in Entebbe, Uganda, but there are limited data on the performance of immunoassays for diagnosis of tuberculosis infection in children in endemic settings. We therefore evaluated agreement between a commercial interferon gamma release assay (T-SPOT.TB) and the tuberculin skin test (TST; 2 units RT-23 tuberculin; positive defined as diameter ≥10 mm), along with the reproducibility of T-SPOT.TB on short-term follow-up, in this population.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We recruited 907 children of which 56 were household contacts of TB patients. They were tested with T-SPOT.TB at age five years and then re-examined with T-SPOT.TB (n = 405) and TST (n = 319) approximately three weeks later. The principal outcome measures were T-SPOT.TB and TST positivity. At five years, 88 (9.7%) children tested positive by T-SPOT.TB. More than half of those that were T-SPOT.TB positive at five years were negative at follow-up, whereas 96% of baseline negatives were consistently negative. We observed somewhat better agreement between initial and follow-up T-SPOT.TB results among household TB contacts (κ = 0.77) than among non-contacts (κ = 0.39). Agreement between T-SPOT.TB and TST was weak (κ = 0.28 and κ = 0.40 for T-SPOT.TB at 5 years and follow-up, respectively). Of 28 children who were positive on both T-SPOT.TB tests, 14 (50%) had a negative TST. Analysis of spot counts showed high levels of instability in responses between baseline and follow-up, indicating variability in circulating numbers of T cells specific for certain M.tb antigens.
We found that T-SPOT.TB positives are unstable over a three-week follow-up interval, and that TST compares poorly with T-SPOT.TB, making the categorisation of children as TB-infected or TB-uninfected difficult. Existing tools for the diagnosis of TB infection are unsatisfactory in determining infection among children in this setting.
PMCID: PMC3471887  PMID: 23077594
7.  Effect of single-dose anthelmintic treatment during pregnancy on an infant's response to immunisation and on susceptibility to infectious diseases in infancy: a randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial 
Lancet  2011;377(9759):52-62.
Helminth infections affect the human immune response. We investigated whether prenatal exposure to and treatment of maternal helminth infections affects development of an infant's immune response to immunisations and unrelated infections.
In this randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial, we enrolled 2507 women in the second or third trimester of pregnancy who were planning to deliver in Entebbe General Hospital, Entebbe, Uganda. With a computer-generated random number sequence in blocks of 100, we assigned patients to 440 mg albendazole and 40 mg/kg praziquantel (n=628), 440 mg albendazole and a praziquantel-matching placebo (n=625), 40 mg/kg praziquantel and an albendazole-matching placebo (n=626), or an albendazole-matching placebo and praziquantel-matching placebo (n=628). All participants and hospital staff were masked to allocation. Primary outcomes were immune response at age 1 year to BCG, tetanus, and measles immunisation; incidence of infectious diseases during infancy; and vertical HIV transmission. Analysis was by intention-to-treat. This trial is registered, number ISRCTN32849447.
Data were available at delivery for 2356 women, with 2345 livebirths; 2115 (90%) of liveborn infants remained in follow-up at 1 year of age. Neither albendazole nor praziquantel treatments affected infant response to BCG, tetanus, or measles immunisation. However, in infants of mothers with hookworm infection, albendazole treatment reduced interleukin-5 (geometric mean ratio 0·50, 95% CI 0·30–0·81, interaction p=0·02) and interleukin-13 (0·52, 0·34–0·82, 0·0005) response to tetanus toxoid. The rate per 100 person-years of malaria was 40·9 (95% CI 38·3–43·7), of diarrhoea was 134·1 (129·2–139·2), and of pneumonia was 22·3 (20·4–24·4). We noted no effect on infectious disease incidence for albendazole treatment (malaria [hazard ratio 0·95, 95% CI 0·79–1.14], diarrhoea [1·06, 0·96–1·16], pneumonia [1·11, 0·90–1·38]) or praziquantel treatment (malaria [1·00, 0·84–1·20], diarrhoea [1·07, 0·98–1·18], pneumonia [1·00, 0·80–1·24]). In HIV-exposed infants, 39 (18%) were infected at 6 weeks; vertical transmission was not associated with albendazole (odds ratio 0·70, 95% CI 0·35–1·42) or praziquantel (0·60, 0·29–1·23) treatment.
These results do not accord with the recently advocated policy of routine antenatal anthelmintic treatment, and the value of such a policy may need to be reviewed.
Wellcome Trust.
PMCID: PMC3018567  PMID: 21176950
8.  Uptake of HIV and syphilis testing of pregnant women and their male partners in a programme for prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission in Uganda 
To describe uptake of HIV and syphilis testing in a prevention of mother-to-child HIV transmission programme in Uganda.
Analysis of data from routine HIV and syphilis testing at Entebbe Hospital antenatal services.
A total of 20 738 women attended antenatal services. Exactly 62.8% of women, but only 1.8% of their male partners, accepted testing for HIV; 82.2% of women, but only 1.1% of their male partners accepted syphilis testing. Partners of women with positive HIV results were more likely to come for subsequent testing. Of 200 couples whose partners accepted HIV-testing within 30 days of one another, 19 (9.5%) were HIV-discordant, representing 65.5% of couples with at least one partner HIV-positive. HIV prevalence was 12.6% for women and 10.8% for men; syphilis prevalence was 4.0% for women and 6.2% for men.
Uptake of HIV and syphilis testing was fairly good among pregnant women attending antenatal clinics at Entebbe Hospital, but very low among their male partners. The level of HIV-discordant couples was high. These clinics should be made more couples-friendly to identify both HIV-positive men for treatment and discordant couples for HIV prevention.
PMCID: PMC2592475  PMID: 18331533
HIV; PMTCT; Uganda; pregnant; couple; syphilis
9.  Associations between mild-to-moderate anaemia in pregnancy and helminth, malaria and HIV infection in Entebbe, Uganda 
It is suggested that helminths, particularly hookworm and schistosomiasis, may be important causes of anaemia in pregnancy. We assessed the associations between mild-to-moderate anaemia (haemoglobin >8.0 g/dl and <11.2 g/dl) and helminths, malaria and HIV among 2507 otherwise healthy pregnant women at enrolment to a trial of deworming in pregnancy in Entebbe, Uganda. The prevalence of anaemia was 39.7%. The prevalence of hookworm was 44.5%, Mansonella perstans 21.3%, Schistosoma mansoni 18.3%, Strongyloides 12.3%, Trichuris 9.1%, Ascaris 2.3%, asymptomatic Plasmodium falciparum parasitaemia 10.9% and HIV 11.9%. Anaemia showed little association with the presence of any helminth, but showed a strong association with malaria (adjusted odds ratio (AOR) 3.22, 95% CI 2.43–4.26) and HIV (AOR 2.46, 95% CI 1.90–3.19). There was a weak association between anaemia and increasing hookworm infection intensity. Thus, although highly prevalent, helminths showed little association with mild-to-moderate anaemia in this population, but HIV and malaria both showed a strong association. This result may relate to relatively good nutrition and low helminth infection intensity. These findings are pertinent to estimating the disease burden of helminths and other infections in pregnancy. [Clinical Trial No. ISRCTN32849447]
PMCID: PMC1950430  PMID: 17555783
Anaemia; Helminth; Pregnancy; HIV; Malaria; Uganda
10.  Maternal hookworm modifies risk factors for childhood eczema: results from a birth cohort in Uganda 
Pediatric Allergy and Immunology  2014;25(5):481-488.
Worms may protect against allergy. Early-life worm exposure may be critical, but this has not been fully investigated.
To investigate whether worms in pregnancy and in early childhood are associated with childhood eczema incidence.
The Entebbe Mother and Baby Study, an anthelminthic treatment trial, enrolled pregnant women between 2003 and 2005 in Uganda. Mothers were investigated for worms during pregnancy and children annually. Eczema was doctor-diagnosed from birth to age five years. A planned observational analysis was conducted within the trial cohort to investigate associations between worms and eczema.
Data for 2345 live-born children were analysed. Hookworm was the most prevalent maternal worm (45%). Childhood worms were less prevalent. Eczema incidence was 4.68/100 person-years. Maternal hookworm was associated with reduced eczema incidence [adjusted hazard ratio (95% confidence interval), p-value: 0.71(0.51–0.99), 0.04] and modified effects of known risk factors for eczema: Dermatophagoides-specific IgE in children was positively associated with eczema incidence if the mother had no hookworm [2.72(1.11–6.63), 0.03], but not if the mother had hookworm [0.41(0.10–1.69), 0.22], interaction p-value = 0.03. Similar interactions were seen for maternal history of eczema {[2.87(1.31–6.27, 0.008) vs. [0.73(0.23–2.30), 0.60], interaction p-value = 0.05}, female gender {[1.82(1.22–2.73), 0.004 vs. [0.96(0.60–1.53), 0.87], interaction p-value = 0.04} and allergen-specific IgE. ChildhoodTrichuris trichiura and hookworm were inversely associated with eczema.
Maternal hookworm modifies effects of known risk factors for eczema. Mechanisms by which early-life worm exposures influence allergy need investigation. Worms or worm products, and intervention during pregnancy have potential for primary prevention of allergy.
PMCID: PMC4312885  PMID: 25171741
birth cohort; children; eczema; effect modification; hookworm; IgE; incidence; pregnancy; skin prick test; Uganda

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