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1.  Assessment of High-Risk Human Papillomavirus Infections Using Clinician- and Self-Collected Cervical Sampling Methods in Rural Women from Far Western Nepal 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(6):e101255.
Nepal has one of the highest cervical cancer rates in South Asia. Only a few studies in populations from urban areas have investigated type specific distribution of human papillomavirus (HPV) in Nepali women. Data on high-risk HPV (HR-HPV) types are not currently available for rural populations in Nepal. We aimed to assess the distribution of HR- HPV among rural Nepali women while assessing self-collected and clinician-collected cervico-vaginal specimens as sample collection methods for HPV screening.
Study participants were recruited during a health camp conducted by Nepal Fertility Care Center in Achham District of rural far western Nepal. Women of reproductive age completed a socio-demographic and clinical questionnaire, and provided two specimens; one cervical-vaginal specimen using a self-collection method and another cervical specimen collected by health camp auxiliary nurse midwives during a pelvic examination. All samples were tested for 14 different HR-HPV mRNA and also specific for HPV16/18/45 mRNA.
Of 261 women with both clinician- and self-collected cervical samples, 25 tested positive for HR-HPV, resulting in an overall HR-HPV prevalence of 9.6% (95% confidence Interval [CI]: 6.3–13.8). The overall Kappa value assessing agreement between clinician- and self-collected tests was 0.62 (95% CI: 0.43–0.81), indicating a “good” level of agreement. Abnormal cytology was reported for 8 women. One woman identified with squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), and 7 women with high grade squamous intraepithelial lesions (HSIL). Seven of the 8 women tested positive for HR-HPV (87.5%) in clinician-collected samples and 6 in self-collected samples (75.0%).
This is the first study to assess HR-HPV among rural Nepali women. Self-collected sampling methods should be the subject of additional research in Nepal for screening HR-HPV, associated with pre-cancer lesions and cancer, in women in rural areas with limited access to health services.
PMCID: PMC4076302  PMID: 24978811
2.  Dense Genotyping of Immune-Related Loci Identifies Variants Associated with Clearance of HPV among HIV-Positive Women in the HIV Epidemiology Research Study (HERS) 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(6):e99109.
Persistent high-risk human papillomavirus (HR-HPV) is a necessary and causal factor of cervical cancer. Most women naturally clear HPV infections; however, the biological mechanisms related to HPV pathogenesis have not been clearly elucidated. Host genetic factors that specifically regulate immune response could play an important role. All HIV-positive women in the HIV Epidemiology Research Study (HERS) with a HR-HPV infection and at least one follow-up biannual visit were included in the study. Cervicovaginal lavage samples were tested for HPV using type-specific HPV hybridization assays. Type-specific HPV clearance was defined as two consecutive HPV-negative tests after a positive test. DNA from participants was genotyped for 196,524 variants within 186 known immune related loci using the custom ImmunoChip microarray. To assess the influence of each single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) with HR-HPV clearance, the Cox proportional hazards model with the Wei-Lin-Weissfeld approach was used, adjusting for CD4+ count, low risk HPV (LR-HPV) co-infection, and relevant confounders. Three analytical models were performed: race-specific (African Americans (n = 258), European Americans (n = 87), Hispanics (n = 55), race-adjusted combined analysis, and meta-analysis of pooled independent race-specific analyses. Women were followed for a median time of 1,617 days. Overall, three SNPs (rs1112085, rs11102637, and rs12030900) in the MAGI-3 gene and one SNP (rs8031627) in the SMAD3 gene were associated with HR-HPV clearance (p<10−6). A variant (rs1633038) in HLA-G were also significantly associated in African American. Results from this study support associations of immune-related genes, having potential biological mechanism, with differential cervical HR-HPV infection outcomes.
PMCID: PMC4053382  PMID: 24918582
3.  Genomic Copy Number Variants: Evidence for Association with Antibody Response to Anthrax Vaccine Adsorbed 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(5):e64813.
Anthrax and its etiologic agent remain a biological threat. Anthrax vaccine is highly effective, but vaccine-induced IgG antibody responses vary widely following required doses of vaccinations. Such variation can be related to genetic factors, especially genomic copy number variants (CNVs) that are known to be enriched among genes with immunologic function. We have tested this hypothesis in two study populations from a clinical trial of anthrax vaccination.
We performed CNV-based genome-wide association analyses separately on 794 European Americans and 200 African-Americans. Antibodies to protective antigen were measured at week 8 (early response) and week 30 (peak response) using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. We used DNA microarray data (Affymetrix 6.0) and two CNV detection algorithms, hidden markov model (PennCNV) and circular binary segmentation (GeneSpring) to determine CNVs in all individuals. Multivariable regression analyses were used to identify CNV-specific associations after adjusting for relevant non-genetic covariates.
Within the 22 autosomal chromosomes, 2,943 non-overlapping CNV regions were detected by both algorithms. Genomic insertions containing HLA-DRB5, DRB1 and DQA1/DRA genes in the major histocompatibility complex (MHC) region (chromosome 6p21.3) were moderately associated with elevated early antibody response (β = 0.14, p = 1.78×10−3) among European Americans, and the strongest association was observed between peak antibody response and a segmental insertion on chromosome 1, containing NBPF4, NBPF5, STXMP3, CLCC1, and GPSM2 genes (β = 1.66, p = 6.06×10−5). For African-Americans, segmental deletions spanning PRR20, PCDH17 and PCH68 genes on chromosome 13 were associated with elevated early antibody production (β = 0.18, p = 4.47×10−5). Population-specific findings aside, one genomic insertion on chromosome 17 (containing NSF, ARL17 and LRRC37A genes) was associated with elevated peak antibody response in both populations.
Multiple CNV regions, including the one consisting of MHC genes that is consistent with earlier research, can be important to humoral immune responses to anthrax vaccine adsorbed.
PMCID: PMC3669407  PMID: 23741398
4.  Transitional Probability-Based Model for HPV Clearance in HIV-1-Positive Adolescent Females 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(1):e30736.
HIV-1-positive patients clear the human papillomavirus (HPV) infection less frequently than HIV-1-negative. Datasets for estimating HPV clearance probability often have irregular measurements of HPV status and risk factors. A new transitional probability-based model for estimation of probability of HPV clearance was developed to fully incorporate information on HIV-1-related clinical data, such as CD4 counts, HIV-1 viral load (VL), highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART), and risk factors (measured quarterly), and HPV infection status (measured at 6-month intervals).
Methodology and Findings
Data from 266 HIV-1-positive and 134 at-risk HIV-1-negative adolescent females from the Reaching for Excellence in Adolescent Care and Health (REACH) cohort were used in this study. First, the associations were evaluated using the Cox proportional hazard model, and the variables that demonstrated significant effects on HPV clearance were included in transitional probability models. The new model established the efficacy of CD4 cell counts as a main clearance predictor for all type-specific HPV phylogenetic groups. The 3-month probability of HPV clearance in HIV-1-infected patients significantly increased with increasing CD4 counts for HPV16/16-like (p<0.001), HPV18/18-like (p<0.001), HPV56/56-like (p = 0.05), and low-risk HPV (p<0.001) phylogenetic groups, with the lowest probability found for HPV16/16-like infections (21.60±1.81% at CD4 level 200 cells/mm3, p<0.05; and 28.03±1.47% at CD4 level 500 cells/mm3). HIV-1 VL was a significant predictor for clearance of low-risk HPV infections (p<0.05). HAART (with protease inhibitor) was significant predictor of probability of HPV16 clearance (p<0.05). HPV16/16-like and HPV18/18-like groups showed heterogeneity (p<0.05) in terms of how CD4 counts, HIV VL, and HAART affected probability of clearance of each HPV infection.
This new model predicts the 3-month probability of HPV infection clearance based on CD4 cell counts and other HIV-1-related clinical measurements.
PMCID: PMC3265500  PMID: 22292027
5.  Interleukin-10 (IL-10) Pathway: Genetic Variants and Outcomes of HIV-1 Infection in African American Adolescents 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(10):e13384.
Immunological and clinical outcomes can vary considerably at the individual and population levels during both treated and untreated HIV-1 infection. Cytokines encoded by the interleukin-10 gene (IL10) family have broad immunomodulatory function in viral persistence, and several SNPs in the IL10 promoter sequence have been reported to influence pathogenesis or acquisition of HIV-1 infection.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We examined 104 informative SNPs in IL10, IL19, IL20, IL24, IL10RA and IL10RB among 250 HIV-1 seropositive and 106 high-risk seronegative African American adolescents in the REACH cohort. In subsequent evaluation of five different immunological and virological outcomes related to HIV-1 infection, 25 SNPs were associated with a single outcome and three were associated with two different outcomes. One SNP, rs2243191 in the IL19 open reading frame (Ser to Phe substitution) was associated with CD4+ T-cell increase during treatment. Another SNP rs2244305 in IL10RB (in strong linkage disequilibrium with rs443498) was associated with an initial decrease in CD4+ T-cell by 23±9% and 29±9% every 3 months (for AA and AG genotypes, respectively, compared with GG) during ART-free period. These associations were reversed during treatment, as CD4+ T-cell increased by 31±0.9% and 17±8% every 3 months for AA and AG genotype, respectively.
In African Americans, variants in IL10 and related genes might influence multiple outcomes of HIV-1 infection, especially immunological response to HAART. Fine mapping coupled with analysis of gene expression and function should help reveal the immunological importance of the IL10 gene family to HIV-1/AIDS.
PMCID: PMC2954785  PMID: 20976276

Results 1-5 (5)