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1.  The Use of Interferon Gamma Inducible Protein 10 as a Potential Biomarker in the Diagnosis of Latent Tuberculosis Infection in Uganda 
PLoS ONE  2016;11(1):e0146098.
In the absence of a gold standard for the diagnosis of latent tuberculosis (TB) infection (LTBI), the current tests available for the diagnosis of LTBI are limited by their inability to differentiate between LTBI and active TB disease. We investigated IP-10 as a potential biomarker for LTBI among household contacts exposed to sputum positive active TB cases.
Active TB cases and contacts were recruited into a cohort with six months’ follow-up. Contacts were tested for LTBI using QuantiFERON®-TB Gold In-Tube (QFN) assay and the tuberculin skin test (TST). Baseline supernatants from the QFN assay of 237 contacts and 102 active TB cases were analysed for Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB) specific and mitogen specific IP-10 responses.
Contacts with LTBI (QFN+TST+) had the highest MTB specific IP-10 responses at baseline, compared to uninfected contacts (QFN-TST-) p<0.0001; and active cases, p = 0.01. Using a cut-off of 8,239 pg/ml, MTB specific IP-10 was able to diagnose LTBI with a sensitivity of 87.1% (95% CI, 76.2–94.3) and specificity of 90.9% (95% CI, 81.3–96.6). MTB specific to mitogen specific IP-10 ratio was higher in HIV negative active TB cases, compared to HIV negative latently infected contacts, p = 0.0004. Concentrations of MTB specific IP-10 were higher in contacts with TST conversion (negative at baseline, positive at 6-months) than in those that were persistently TST negative, p = 0.001.
IP-10 performed well in differentiating contacts with either latent or active TB from those who were uninfected but was not able to differentiate LTBI from active disease except when MTB specific to mitogen specific ratios were used in HIV negative adults. In addition, IP-10 had the potential to diagnose ‘recent TB infection’ in persons classified as having LTBI using the TST. Such individuals with strong IP-10 responses would likely benefit from chemoprophylaxis.
PMCID: PMC4714877  PMID: 26771653
2.  Uptake of Mass Drug Administration Programme for Schistosomiasis Control in Koome Islands, Central Uganda 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(4):e0123673.
Schistosomiasis is one of the neglected tropical diseases targeted for elimination in Uganda through the Mass Drug Administration (MDA) programme. Praziquantel has been distributed using community resource persons in fixed sites and house-to-house visits; however the uptake is still below target coverage. In 2011/2012 MDA exercise, uptake stood at 50% yet WHO target coverage is 75% at community level. We assessed the uptake of MDA and the associated factors in Koome Islands, Central Uganda.
In March 2013, we conducted a mixed methods cross sectional study in 15 randomly selected villages. We interviewed a total of 615 respondents aged 18 years and above using semi structured questionnaires and five key informants were also purposively selected. Univariate and multivariate analysis was done. MDA uptake was defined as self reported swallowing of praziquantel during the last (2012) MDA campaign. We conducted key informant interviews with Ministry of Health, district health personnel and community health workers.
Self reported uptake of praziquantel was 44.7% (275/615), 95% confidence interval (CI) 40.8–48.7%. Of the 275 community members who said they had swallowed praziquantel, 142 (51.6%) reported that they had developed side effects. Uptake of MDA was more likely if the respondent was knowledgeable about schistosomiasis transmission and prevention (adjusted odds ratio [AOR] 1.85, 95% CI 1.22–2.81) and reported to have received health education from the health personnel (AOR 5.95, 95% CI 3.67–9.65). Service delivery challenges such as drug shortages and community health worker attrition also influenced MDA in Koome Islands.
Uptake of MDA for schistosomiasis control in Koome was sub optimal. Lack of knowledge about schistosomiasis transmission and prevention, inadequate health education and drug shortages are some of the major factors associated with low uptake. These could be addressed through routine health education and systematic drug supply for the successful elimination of schistosomiasis on the islands.
PMCID: PMC4382187  PMID: 25830917
3.  Impact of Co-Infections and BCG Immunisation on Immune Responses among Household Contacts of Tuberculosis Patients in a Ugandan Cohort 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(11):e111517.
Tuberculosis incidence in resource poor countries remains high. We hypothesized that immune modulating co-infections such as helminths, malaria, and HIV increase susceptibility to latent tuberculosis infection (LTBI), thereby contributing to maintaining the tuberculosis epidemic.
Adults with sputum-positive tuberculosis (index cases) and their eligible household contacts (HHCs) were recruited to a cohort study between May 2011 and January 2012. HHCs were investigated for helminths, malaria, and HIV at enrolment. HHCs were tested using the QuantiFERON-TB Gold In-Tube (QFN) assay at enrolment and six months later. Overnight whole blood culture supernatants from baseline QFN assays were analyzed for cytokine responses using an 11-plex Luminex assay. Associations between outcomes (LTBI or cytokine responses) and exposures (co-infections and other risk factors) were examined using multivariable logistic and linear regression models.
We enrolled 101 index cases and 291 HHCs. Among HHCs, baseline prevalence of helminths was 9% (25/291), malaria 16% (47/291), HIV 6% (16/291), and LTBI 65% (179/277). Adjusting for other risk factors and household clustering, there was no association between LTBI and any co-infection at baseline or at six months: adjusted odds ratio (95% confidence interval (CI); p-value) at baseline for any helminth, 1.01 (0.39–2.66; 0.96); hookworm, 2.81 (0.56–14.14; 0.20); malaria, 1.06 (0.48–2.35; 0.87); HIV, 0.74 (0.22–2.47; 0.63). HHCs with LTBI had elevated cytokine responses to tuberculosis antigens but co-infections had little effect on cytokine responses. Exploring other risk factors, Th1 cytokines among LTBI-positive HHCs with BCG scars were greatly reduced compared to those without scars: (adjusted geometric mean ratio) IFNγ 0.20 (0.09–0.42), <0.0001; IL-2 0.34 (0.20–0.59), <0.0001; and TNFα 0.36 (0.16–0.79), 0.01.
We found no evidence that co-infections increase the risk of LTBI, or influence the cytokine response profile among those with LTBI. Prior BCG exposure may reduce Th1 cytokine responses in LTBI.
PMCID: PMC4221037  PMID: 25372043
4.  Circulating B-Lymphocytes as Potential Biomarkers of Tuberculosis Infection Activity 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(9):e106796.
Accurate biomarkers of Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection activity would significantly improve early diagnosis, treatment and management of M. tuberculosis infection. We hypothesised that circulating B-lymphocytes may be useful biomarkers of tuberculosis (TB) infection status in highly TB-endemic settings. Ex-vivo and in-vitro mycobacteria-specific B-cell ELISPOT assays were used to examine the plasmablast (PB) and memory B-cell (MBC) responses in the peripheral blood of adult, healthy, community controls (n = 151) and of active TB patients (n = 48) living in Uganda. Frequencies of mycobacteria-specific PBs were markedly higher in active TB patients compared to healthy controls, and, conversely, MBCs were markedly higher in the healthy controls compared to active TB patients. In addition, the community controls with evidence of latent TB infection had higher peripheral blood PB and MBC responses than those without evidence of TB infection. These data demonstrate that peripheral blood B-cell responses are differentially modulated during latent and active M. tuberculosis infection, and suggest that the PB to MBC ratio may be a useful biomarker of TB infection activity.
PMCID: PMC4156407  PMID: 25192196
5.  Prevalence of Bloodstream Pathogens Is Higher in Neonatal Encephalopathy Cases vs. Controls Using a Novel Panel of Real-Time PCR Assays 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(5):e97259.
In neonatal encephalopathy (NE), infectious co-morbidity is difficult to diagnose accurately, but may increase the vulnerability of the developing brain to hypoxia-ischemia. We developed a novel panel of species-specific real-time PCR assays to identify bloodstream pathogens amongst newborns with and without NE in Uganda.
Multiplex real-time PCR assays for important neonatal bloodstream pathogens (gram positive and gram negative bacteria, cytomegalovirus (CMV), herpes simplex virus(HSV) and P. falciparum) were performed on whole blood taken from 202 encephalopathic and 101 control infants. Automated blood culture (BACTEC) was performed for all cases and unwell controls.
Principal Findings
Prevalence of pathogenic bacterial species amongst infants with NE was 3.6%, 6.9% and 8.9%, with culture, PCR and both tests in combination, respectively. More encephalopathic infants than controls had pathogenic bacterial species detected (8.9%vs2.0%, p = 0.028) using culture and PCR in combination. PCR detected bacteremia in 11 culture negative encephalopathic infants (3 Group B Streptococcus, 1 Group A Streptococcus, 1 Staphylococcus aureus and 6 Enterobacteriacae). Coagulase negative staphylococcus, frequently detected by PCR amongst case and control infants, was considered a contaminant. Prevalence of CMV, HSV and malaria amongst cases was low (1.5%, 0.5% and 0.5%, respectively).
This real-time PCR panel detected more bacteremia than culture alone and provides a novel tool for detection of neonatal bloodstream pathogens that may be applied across a range of clinical situations and settings. Significantly more encephalopathic infants than controls had pathogenic bacterial species detected suggesting that infection may be an important risk factor for NE in this setting.
PMCID: PMC4023955  PMID: 24836781
6.  Treatment Outcomes of New Tuberculosis Patients Hospitalized in Kampala, Uganda: A Prospective Cohort Study 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e90614.
In most resource limited settings, new tuberculosis (TB) patients are usually treated as outpatients. We sought to investigate the reasons for hospitalisation and the predictors of poor treatment outcomes and mortality in a cohort of hospitalized new TB patients in Kampala, Uganda
Methods and findings
Ninety-six new TB patients hospitalised between 2003 and 2006 were enrolled and followed for two years. Thirty two were HIV-uninfected and 64 were HIV-infected. Among the HIV-uninfected, the commonest reasons for hospitalization were low Karnofsky score (47%) and need for diagnostic evaluation (25%). HIV-infected patients were commonly hospitalized due to low Karnofsky score (72%), concurrent illness (16%) and diagnostic evaluation (14%). Eleven HIV uninfected patients died (mortality rate 19.7 per 100 person-years) while 41 deaths occurred among the HIV-infected patients (mortality rate 46.9 per 100 person years). In all patients an unsuccessful treatment outcome (treatment failure, death during the treatment period or an unknown outcome) was associated with duration of TB symptoms, with the odds of an unsuccessful outcome decreasing with increasing duration. Among HIV-infected patients, an unsuccessful treatment outcome was also associated with male sex (P = 0.004) and age (P = 0.034). Low Karnofsky score (aHR = 8.93, 95% CI 1.88 – 42.40, P = 0.001) was the only factor significantly associated with mortality among the HIV-uninfected. Mortality among the HIV-infected was associated with the composite variable of CD4 and ART use, with patients with baseline CD4 below 200 cells/µL who were not on ART at a greater risk of death than those who were on ART, and low Karnofsky score (aHR = 2.02, 95% CI 1.02 – 4.01, P = 0.045).
Poor health status is a common cause of hospitalisation for new TB patients. Mortality in this study was very high and associated with advanced HIV Disease and no use of ART.
PMCID: PMC3948371  PMID: 24608875
7.  Hypertension Persisting after Pre-Eclampsia: A Prospective Cohort Study at Mulago Hospital, Uganda  
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e85273.
Pre-eclampsia/eclampsia usually resolves after delivery but sometimes hypertension persists and cardiovascular disease develops later. Our objective was to determine the incidence and maternal socio-demographic and obstetric risk factors for persistence of hypertension in women with pre-eclampsia/eclampsia.
This was a prospective cohort study conducted from July 2009 to June 2011 at Mulago Hospital labour ward and postnatal clinics. We followed up 188 women admitted with pre-eclampsia/eclampsia until 3 months after delivery. Data was collected using interviewer-administered questionnaires, examination of participants and review of medical records. Stata (version12) software was used for data analysis. Univariable analysis was used to compute the relative risk of persistent hypertension at the 95% confidence level. This was followed by multivariable logistic regression analysis to determine factors independently associated with persistence of hypertension.
64 (34%) out of the 188 women analysed had persistent hypertension three months after delivery. Maternal age, gestational age at delivery and parity were predictors of persistent hypertension.
The proportion of women with pre-eclampsia/eclampsia at risk of persistent hypertension at three months after delivery was high, with nearly one of three mothers remaining hypertensive. Follow up of mothers who develop pre-eclampsia is important so that early diagnosis and management of chronic hypertension can be made to avoid long term morbidity and mortality.
PMCID: PMC3877387  PMID: 24392003
8.  Long-Lived Memory B-Cell Responses following BCG Vaccination 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(12):e51381.
The role of T-cells in immunity against Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M. tuberculosis) infection has been extensively studied, however, that of B-cells still remains comparatively unexplored. In this study, we determined the presence and frequencies of mycobacteria-specific memory B-cells (MBCs) in peripheral blood from clinically healthy, Bacillus Calmette Guerin (BCG) vaccinated (n = 79) and unvaccinated (n = 14) donors. Purified protein derivative (PPD)-specific MBCs were present in most donors (both vaccinated and unvaccinated) but their frequencies were significantly higher in vaccinated than in unvaccinated donors. MBCs specific for other mycobacterial antigens [antigen-85A (Ag85A), antigen-85B (Ag85B), 6 kDalton early secretory antigenic target (ESAT-6) and the 10 kDalton-culture filtrate protein (CFP-10)] were less prevalent than those recognising PPD. Furthermore, PPD-specific MBCs were detected in BCG vaccinated donors without ESAT-6 and CFP-10 specific responses. Together, these results indicate that BCG vaccination induces long-lived MBC responses. Similar patterns of response were seen when we examined mycobacteria-specific antibody and T-cell responses in these donors. Our data show for the first time that BCG vaccination elicits long-lived mycobacteria-specific MBC responses in healthy individuals, suggesting a more substantial role of B-cells in the response to BCG and other mycobacterial infections than previously thought.
PMCID: PMC3519837  PMID: 23240017
9.  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
10.  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

Results 1-10 (10)