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Unique pharmacological properties of serotonergic G-protein coupled receptors from cestodes

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 9 February 2018 - 10:00pm

by Federico Camicia, Ana M. Celentano, Malcolm E. Johns, John D. Chan, Lucas Maldonado, Hugo Vaca, Nicolás Di Siervi, Laura Kamentezky, Ana M. Gamo, Silvia Ortega-Gutierrez, Mar Martin-Fontecha, Carlos Davio, Jonathan S. Marchant, Mara C. Rosenzvit

Background

Cestodes are a diverse group of parasites, some of them being agents of neglected diseases. In cestodes, little is known about the functional properties of G protein coupled receptors (GPCRs) which have proved to be highly druggable targets in other organisms. Notably, serotonergic G-protein coupled receptors (5-HT GPCRs) play major roles in key functions like movement, development and reproduction in parasites.

Methodology/Principal findings

Three 5-HT GPCRs from Echinococcus granulosus and Mesocestoides corti were cloned, sequenced, bioinformatically analyzed and functionally characterized. Multiple sequence alignment with other GPCRs showed the presence of seven transmembrane segments and conserved motifs but interesting differences were also observed. Phylogenetic analysis grouped these new sequences within the 5-HT7 clade of GPCRs. Molecular modeling showed a striking resemblance in the spatial localization of key residues with their mammalian counterparts. Expression analysis using available RNAseq data showed that both E. granulosus sequences are expressed in larval and adult stages. Localization studies performed in E. granulosus larvae with a fluorescent probe produced a punctiform pattern concentrated in suckers. E. granulosus and M. corti larvae showed an increase in motility in response to serotonin. Heterologous expression revealed elevated levels of cAMP production in response to 5-HT and two of the GPCRs showed extremely high sensitivity to 5-HT (picomolar range). While each of these GPCRs was activated by 5-HT, they exhibit distinct pharmacological properties (5-HT sensitivity, differential responsiveness to ligands).

Conclusions/Significance

These data provide the first functional report of GPCRs in parasitic cestodes. The serotoninergic GPCRs characterized here may represent novel druggable targets for antiparasitic intervention.

A natural agonist of mosquito TRPA1 from the medicinal plant <i>Cinnamosma fragrans</i> that is toxic, antifeedant, and repellent to the yellow fever mosquito <i>Aedes aegypti</i>

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 9 February 2018 - 10:00pm

by Edna Alfaro Inocente, Marguerite Shaya, Nuris Acosta, L. Harinantenaina Rakotondraibe, Peter M. Piermarini

Plants produce various secondary metabolites that offer a potential source of novel insecticides and repellents for the control of mosquito vectors. Plants of the genus Cinnamosma are endemic to, and widely-distributed throughout, the island of Madagascar. The barks of these species are commonly used in traditional medicines for treating a wide range of maladies. The therapeutic nature of the bark is thought to be associated with its enrichment of pungent drimane sesquiterpenes, which elicit antifeedant and toxic effects in some insects. Here we test the hypothesis that a bark extract of Cinnamosma fragrans (CINEX) and its major drimane sesquiterpenes are insecticidal, antifeedant, and repellent to Aedes aegypti, the principal mosquito vector of chikungunya, dengue, yellow fever, and Zika viruses. We demonstrate that CINEX is 1) toxic to larval and adult female mosquitoes, and 2) antifeedant and repellent to adult female mosquitoes. Moreover, we show that cinnamodial (CDIAL), a sesquiterpene dialdehyde isolated from CINEX, duplicates these bioactivities and exhibits similar toxic potency against pyrethroid-susceptible and -resistant strains of Ae. aegypti. Importantly, we show that CDIAL is an agonist of heterologously-expressed mosquito Transient Receptor Potential A1 (TRPA1) channels, and the antifeedant activity of CDIAL is dampened in a TRPA1-deficient strain of Ae. aegypti (TRPA1-/-). Intriguingly, TRPA1-/- mosquitoes do not exhibit toxic resistance to CDIAL. The data indicate that modulation of TRPA1 is required for the sensory detection and avoidance of CDIAL by mosquitoes, but not for inducing the molecule’s toxicity. Our study suggests that CDIAL may serve as a novel chemical platform for the development of natural product-based insecticides and repellents for controlling mosquito vectors.

Evaluation of the WHO 2009 classification for diagnosis of acute dengue in a large cohort of adults and children in Sri Lanka during a dengue-1 epidemic

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 9 February 2018 - 10:00pm

by Champica K. Bodinayake, L. Gayani Tillekeratne, Ajith Nagahawatte, Vasantha Devasiri, Wasantha Kodikara Arachchi, John J. Strouse, October M. Sessions, Ruvini Kurukulasooriya, Anna Uehara, Shiqin Howe, Xin Mei Ong, Sharon Tan, Angelia Chow, Praveen Tummalapalli, Aruna D. De Silva, Truls Østbye, Christopher W. Woods, Duane J. Gubler, Megan E. Reller

Background

Dengue is a leading cause of fever and mimics other acute febrile illnesses (AFI). In 2009, the World Health Organization (WHO) revised criteria for clinical diagnosis of dengue.

Methodology/Principal findings

The new WHO 2009 classification of dengue divides suspected cases into three categories: dengue without warning signs, dengue with warning signs and severe dengue. We evaluated the WHO 2009 classification vs physicians’ subjective clinical diagnosis (gestalt clinical impression) in a large cohort of patients presenting to a tertiary care center in southern Sri Lanka hospitalized with acute febrile illness. We confirmed acute dengue in 388 patients (305 adults ≥ 18 years and 83 children), including 103 primary and 245 secondary cases, of 976 patients prospectively enrolled with AFI. At presentation, both adults and children with acute dengue were more likely than those with other AFI to have leukopenia and thrombocytopenia. Additionally, adults were more likely than those with other AFI to have joint pain, higher temperatures, and absence of crackles on examination whereas children with dengue were more likely than others to have sore throat, fatigue, oliguria, and elevated hematocrit and transaminases. Similarly, presence of joint pain, thrombocytopenia, and absence of cough were independently associated with secondary vs primary dengue in adults whereas no variables were different in children. The 2009 WHO dengue classification was more sensitive than physicians’ clinical diagnosis for identification of acute dengue (71.5% vs 67.1%), but was less specific. However, despite the absence of on-site diagnostic confirmation of dengue, clinical diagnosis was more sensitive on discharge (75.2%). The 2009 WHO criteria classified almost 75% as having warning signs, even though only 9 (2.3%) patients had evidence of plasma leakage and 16 (4.1%) had evidence of bleeding

Conclusions/Significance

In a large cohort with AFI, we identified features predictive of dengue vs other AFI and secondary vs primary dengue in adults versus children. The 2009 WHO dengue classification criteria had high sensitivity but low specificity compared to physicians’ gestaldt diagnosis. Large cohort studies will be needed to validate the diagnostic yield of clinical impression and specific features for dengue relative to the 2009 WHO classification criteria.

Evidence of previous but not current transmission of chikungunya virus in southern and central Vietnam: Results from a systematic review and a seroprevalence study in four locations

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 9 February 2018 - 10:00pm

by Tran Minh Quan, Huynh Thi Phuong, Nguyen Ha Thao Vy, Nguyen Thi Le Thanh, Nguyen Thi Nam Lien, Tran Thi Kim Hong, Pham Ngoc Dung, Nguyen Van Vinh Chau, Maciej F. Boni, Hannah E. Clapham

Background

Arbovirus infections are a serious concern in tropical countries due to their high levels of transmission and morbidity. With the outbreaks of chikungunya (CHIKV) in surrounding regions in recent years and the fact that the environment in Vietnam is suitable for the vectors of CHIKV, the possibility of transmission of CHIKV in Vietnam is of great interest. However, information about CHIKV activity in Vietnam remains limited.

Methodology

In order to address this question, we performed a systematic review of CHIKV in Vietnam and a CHIKV seroprevalence survey. The seroprevalence survey tested for CHIKV IgG in population serum samples from individuals of all ages in 2015 from four locations in Vietnam.

Principal findings

The four locations were An Giang province (n = 137), Ho Chi Minh City (n = 136), Dak Lak province (n = 137), and Hue City (n = 136). The findings give us evidence of some CHIKV activity: 73/546 of overall samples were seropositive (13.4%). The age-adjusted seroprevalences were 12.30% (6.58–18.02), 13.42% (7.16–19.68), 7.97% (3.56–12.38), and 3.72% (1.75–5.69) in An Giang province, Ho Chi Minh City, Dak Lak province, and Hue City respectively. However, the age-stratified seroprevalence suggests that the last transmission ended around 30 years ago, consistent with results from the systematic review. We see no evidence for on-going transmission in three of the locations, though with some evidence of recent exposure in Dak Lak, most likely due to transmission in neighbouring countries. Before the 1980s, when transmission was occurring, we estimate on average 2–4% of the population were infected each year in HCMC and An Giang and Hue (though transmision ended earlier in Hue). We estimate lower transmission in Dak Lak, with around 1% of the population infected each year.

Conclusion

In conclusion, we find evidence of past CHIKV transmission in central and southern Vietnam, but no evidence of recent sustained transmission. When transmission of CHIKV did occur, it appeared to be widespread and affect a geographically diverse population. The estimated susceptibility of the population to chikungunya is continually increasing, therefore the possibility of future CHIKV transmission in Vietnam remains.

Accuracy of molecular biology techniques for the diagnosis of <i>Strongyloides stercoralis</i> infection—A systematic review and meta-analysis

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 9 February 2018 - 10:00pm

by Dora Buonfrate, Ana Requena-Mendez, Andrea Angheben, Michela Cinquini, Mario Cruciani, Andrea Fittipaldo, Giovanni Giorli, Federico Gobbi, Chiara Piubelli, Zeno Bisoffi

Background

Strongyloides stercoralis infection is a neglected tropical disease which can lead to severe symptoms and even death in immunosuppressed people. Unfortunately, its diagnosis is hampered by the lack of a gold standard, as the sensitivity of traditional parasitological tests (including microscopic examination of stool samples and coproculture) is low. Hence, alternative diagnostic methods, such as molecular biology techniques (mostly polymerase chain reaction, PCR) have been implemented. However, there are discrepancies in the reported accuracy of PCR.

Methodology

A systematic review with meta-analysis was conducted in order to evaluate the accuracy of PCR for the diagnosis of S. stercoralis infection. The protocol was registered with PROSPERO International Prospective Register of Systematic Reviews (record: CRD42016054298). Fourteen studies, 12 of which evaluating real-time PCR, were included in the analysis. The specificity of the techniques resulted high (ranging from 93 to 95%, according to the reference test(s) used). When all molecular techniques were compared to parasitological methods, the sensitivity of PCR was assessed at 71.8% (95% CI 52.2–85.5), that decreased to 61.8% (95% CI 42.0–78.4) when serology was added among the reference tests. Similarly, sensitivity of real-time PCR resulted 64.4% (95% CI 46.2–77.7) when compared to parasitological methods only, 56.5% (95% CI 39.2–72.4) including serology.

Conclusions

PCR might not be suitable for screening purpose, whereas it might have a role as a confirmatory test.

A novel antibody surrogate biomarker to monitor parasite persistence in <i>Trypanosoma cruzi</i>-infected patients

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 9 February 2018 - 10:00pm

by Maan Zrein, Elodie Granjon, Lucie Gueyffier, Julie Caillaudeau, Peter Liehl, Hans Pottel, Clareci Silva Cardoso, Claudia Di Lorenzo Oliveira, Lea Campos de Oliveira, Tzong-Hae Lee, Ariela Mota Ferreira, Antonio Luiz P. Ribeiro, Michael P. Busch, Ester Cerdeira Sabino

Background

Trypanosoma cruzi parasite, the causative agent of Chagas disease, infects about six million individuals in more than 20 countries. Monitoring parasite persistence in infected individuals is of utmost importance to develop and evaluate treatments to control the disease. Routine screening for infected human individuals is achieved by serological assays; PCR testing to monitor spontaneous or therapy-induced parasitological cure has limitations due to the low and fluctuating parasitic load in circulating blood. The aim of the present study is to evaluate a newly developed antibody profiling assay as an indirect method to assess parasite persistence based on waning of antibody following spontaneous or therapy-induced clearance of the infection.

Methodology/Principal findings

We designed a multiplex serology assay, an array of fifteen optimized T. cruzi antigens, to evaluate antibody diversity in 1654 serum samples from chronic Chagas patients. One specific antibody response (antibody 3, Ab3) showed a strong correlation with T. cruzi parasite persistence as determined by T. cruzi PCR positive results. High and sustained Ab3 signal was strongly associated with PCR positivity in untreated patients, whereas significant and progressive decline in Ab3 signals was observed in BZN-treated patients who cleared parasitemia based on blood PCR results.

Conclusion/Significance

Ab3 is a new surrogate biomarker that strongly correlates with parasite persistence in chronic and benznidazole-treated Chagas patients. We hypothesize that Ab3 is induced and maintained by incessant stimulation of the immune system by tissue-based and shed parasites that are not consistently detectable by blood based PCR techniques. Hence, a simple immunoassay measurement of Ab3 could be beneficial for monitoring the infectious status of seropositive patients.

Neutralization of antibody-enhanced dengue infection by VIS513, a pan serotype reactive monoclonal antibody targeting domain III of the dengue E protein

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 9 February 2018 - 10:00pm

by Yadunanda Budigi, Eugenia Z. Ong, Luke N. Robinson, Li Ching Ong, Kirk J. Rowley, Alexander Winnett, Hwee Cheng Tan, Sven Hobbie, Zachary Shriver, Gregory J. Babcock, Sylvie Alonso, Eng Eong Ooi

Dengue virus (DENV) infection imposes enormous health and economic burden worldwide with no approved treatment. Several small molecules, including lovastatin, celgosivir, balapiravir and chloroquine have been tested for potential anti-dengue activity in clinical trials; none of these have demonstrated a protective effect. Recently, based on identification and characterization of cross-serotype neutralizing antibodies, there is increasing attention on the potential for dengue immunotherapy. Here, we tested the ability of VIS513, an engineered cross-neutralizing humanized antibody targeting the DENV E protein domain III, to overcome antibody-enhanced infection and high but brief viremia, which are commonly encountered in dengue patients, in various in vitro and in vivo models. We observed that VIS513 efficiently neutralizes DENV at clinically relevant viral loads or in the presence of enhancing levels of DENV immune sera. Single therapeutic administration of VIS513 in mouse models of primary infection or lethal secondary antibody-enhanced infection, reduces DENV titers and protects from lethal infection. Finally, VIS513 administration does not readily lead to resistance, either in cell culture systems or in animal models of dengue infection. The findings suggest that rapid viral reduction during acute DENV infection with a monoclonal antibody is feasible.

An agent-based model of tsetse fly response to seasonal climatic drivers: Assessing the impact on sleeping sickness transmission rates

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 9 February 2018 - 10:00pm

by Simon Alderton, Ewan T. Macleod, Neil E. Anderson, Gwen Palmer, Noreen Machila, Martin Simuunza, Susan C. Welburn, Peter M. Atkinson

Background

This paper presents the development of an agent-based model (ABM) to incorporate climatic drivers which affect tsetse fly (G. m. morsitans) population dynamics, and ultimately disease transmission. The model was used to gain a greater understanding of how tsetse populations fluctuate seasonally, and investigate any response observed in Trypanosoma brucei rhodesiense human African trypanosomiasis (rHAT) disease transmission, with a view to gaining a greater understanding of disease dynamics. Such an understanding is essential for the development of appropriate, well-targeted mitigation strategies in the future.

Methods

The ABM was developed to model rHAT incidence at a fine spatial scale along a 75 km transect in the Luangwa Valley, Zambia. The model incorporates climatic factors that affect pupal mortality, pupal development, birth rate, and death rate. In combination with fine scale demographic data such as ethnicity, age and gender for the human population in the region, as well as an animal census and a sample of daily routines, we create a detailed, plausible simulation model to explore tsetse population and disease transmission dynamics.

Results

The seasonally-driven model suggests that the number of infections reported annually in the simulation is likely to be a reasonable representation of reality, taking into account the high levels of under-detection observed. Similar infection rates were observed in human (0.355 per 1000 person-years (SE = 0.013)), and cattle (0.281 per 1000 cattle-years (SE = 0.025)) populations, likely due to the sparsity of cattle close to the tsetse interface. The model suggests that immigrant tribes and school children are at greatest risk of infection, a result that derives from the bottom-up nature of the ABM and conditioning on multiple constraints. This result could not be inferred using alternative population-level modelling approaches.

Conclusions

In producing a model which models the tsetse population at a very fine resolution, we were able to analyse and evaluate specific elements of the output, such as pupal development and the progression of the teneral population, allowing the development of our understanding of the tsetse population as a whole. This is an important step in the production of a more accurate transmission model for rHAT which can, in turn, help us to gain a greater understanding of the transmission system as a whole.

<i>Taenia solium</i>, <i>Taenia saginata</i>, <i>Taenia asiatica</i>, their hybrids and other helminthic infections occurring in a neglected tropical diseases' highly endemic area in Lao PDR

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 8 February 2018 - 10:00pm

by Marcello Otake Sato, Megumi Sato, Tetsuya Yanagida, Jitra Waikagul, Tiengkham Pongvongsa, Yasuhito Sako, Surapol Sanguankiat, Tipparayat Yoonuan, Sengchanh Kounnavang, Satoru Kawai, Akira Ito, Munehiro Okamoto, Kazuhiko Moji

Most part of Southeast Asia is considered endemic for human-infecting Taenia tapeworms; Taenia solium, T. saginata, and T. asiatica. However, until now there was no report of the occurrence of human cases of T. asiatica in Lao PDR. This study, conducted in Savannakhet Province, Lao PDR, microscopically examined a total of 470 fecal samples by Kato Katz method and found 86% of people harboring at least one helminth. Hookworms were detected in 56% of the samples besides Opisthorchis like eggs (42%), Trichuris trichiura (27%), Ascaris spp. (14%), and Taenia spp. (4%) eggs. Serology for cysticercosis showed 6.8% positives with results varying from 3% to 14.3% in Ethnic School students and Kalouk Kao village respectively. Species-specific PCR targeting mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) of 28 tapeworms, recovered from 16 patients, revealed T. solium (n = 2), T. saginata (n = 21), and T. asiatica (n = 5). Two patients were confirmed to be coinfected with T. saginata and T. asiatica, indicating the endemicity of the 3 human Taenia in Lao PDR. However, nucleotide sequencing of a nuclear DNA gene, DNA polymerase delta (pold) revealed that all the tapeworms identified as T. asiatica using mtDNA had T. saginata type allele at pold locus, demonstrating that they are not “pure T. asiatica” but the hybrid descendants between the two species, confirming the wide distribution of hybrids of T. saginata/ T. asiatica in Southeast Asia. The high prevalence of several helminthic NTDs in east Savannakhet area even with conventional control measures indicates the importance to establish wide and multifaceted health programs to sustainably improve the quality of life of the populations living in these communities.

Host preferences support the prominent role of <i>Hyalomma</i> ticks in the ecology of Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 8 February 2018 - 10:00pm

by Jessica R. Spengler, Agustin Estrada-Peña

Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever virus (CCHFV) is a tick-borne zoonotic agent that is maintained in nature in an enzootic vertebrate-tick-vertebrate cycle. Hyalomma genus ticks have been implicated as the main CCHFV vector and are key in maintaining silent endemic foci. However, what contributes to their central role in CCHFV ecology is unclear. To assess the significance of host preferences of ticks in CCHFV ecology, we performed comparative analyses of hosts exploited by 133 species of ticks; these species represent 5 genera with reported geographical distribution over the range of CCHFV. We found that the composition of vertebrate hosts on which Hyalomma spp. feed is different than for other tick genera. Immatures of the genus Hyalomma feed preferentially on species of the orders Rodentia, Lagomorpha, and the class Aves, while adults concentrate mainly on the family Bovidae. With the exception of Aves, these hosts include the majority of the vertebrates consistently reported to be viremic upon CCHFV infection. While other tick genera also feed on these hosts, Hyalomma spp. almost completely concentrate their populations on them. Hyalomma spp. feed on less phylogenetically diverse hosts than any other tick genus, implying that this network of hosts has a low resilience. Indeed, removing the most prominent hosts quickly collapsed the network of parasitic interactions. These results support the intermittent activity of CCHFV foci: likely, populations of infected Hyalomma spp. ticks exceed the threshold of contact with humans only when these critical hosts reach adequate population density, accounting for the sporadic occurence of clinical tick-transmitted cases. Our data describe the association of vertebrate host preferences with the role of Hyalomma spp. ticks in maintaining endemic CCHFV foci, and highlight the importance of host-tick dynamics in pathogen ecology.

Characteristics of inflammatory reactions during development of liver abscess in hamsters inoculated with <i>Entamoeba nuttalli</i>

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 8 February 2018 - 10:00pm

by Yue Guan, Meng Feng, Xiangyang Min, Hang Zhou, Yongfeng Fu, Hiroshi Tachibana, Xunjia Cheng

Background

Entamoeba nuttalli is an intestinal protozoan with pathogenic potential that can cause amoebic liver abscess. It is highly prevalent in wild and captive macaques. Recently, cysts were detected in a caretaker of nonhuman primates in a zoo, indicating that E. nuttalli may be a zoonotic pathogen. Therefore, it is important to evaluate the pathogenicity of E. nuttalli in detail and in comparison with that of E. histolytica.

Methodology/Principal findings

Trophozoites of E. nuttalli GY4 and E. histolytica SAW755 strains were inoculated into liver of hamsters. Expression levels of proinflammatory factors of hamsters and virulence factors from E. histolytica and E. nuttalli were compared between the two parasites. Inoculations with trophozoites of E. nuttalli resulted in an average necrotic area of 24% in liver tissue in 7 days, whereas this area produced by E. histolytica was nearly 50%. Along with the mild liver tissue damage induced by E. nuttalli, expression levels of proinflammatory factors (TNF-α, IL-6 and IL-1β) and amebic virulence protein genes (lectins, cysteine proteases and amoeba pores) in local tissues were lower with E. nuttalli in comparison with E. histolytica. In addition, M2 type macrophages were increased in E. nuttalli-induced amebic liver abscesses in the late stage of disease progression and lysate of E. nuttalli trophozoites induced higher arginase expression than E. histolytica in vitro.

Conclusions/Significance

The results show that differential secretion of amebic virulence proteins during E. nuttalli infection triggered lower levels of secretion of various cytokines and had an impact on polarization of macrophages towards a M1/M2 balance. However, regardless of the degree of macrophage polarization, there is unambiguous evidence of an intense acute inflammatory reaction in liver of hamsters after infection by both Entamoeba species.

Strategies to improve treatment coverage in community-based public health programs: A systematic review of the literature

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 8 February 2018 - 10:00pm

by Katrina V. Deardorff, Arianna Rubin Means, Kristjana H. Ásbjörnsdóttir, Judd Walson

Background

Community-based public health campaigns, such as those used in mass deworming, vitamin A supplementation and child immunization programs, provide key healthcare interventions to targeted populations at scale. However, these programs often fall short of established coverage targets. The purpose of this systematic review was to evaluate the impact of strategies used to increase treatment coverage in community-based public health campaigns.

Methodology/ principal findings

We systematically searched CAB Direct, Embase, and PubMed archives for studies utilizing specific interventions to increase coverage of community-based distribution of drugs, vaccines, or other public health services. We identified 5,637 articles, from which 79 full texts were evaluated according to pre-defined inclusion and exclusion criteria. Twenty-eight articles met inclusion criteria and data were abstracted regarding strategy-specific changes in coverage from these sources. Strategies used to increase coverage included community-directed treatment (n = 6, pooled percent change in coverage: +26.2%), distributor incentives (n = 2, +25.3%), distribution along kinship networks (n = 1, +24.5%), intensified information, education, and communication activities (n = 8, +21.6%), fixed-point delivery (n = 1, +21.4%), door-to-door delivery (n = 1, +14.0%), integrated service distribution (n = 9, +12.7%), conversion from school- to community-based delivery (n = 3, +11.9%), and management by a non-governmental organization (n = 1, +5.8%).

Conclusions/significance

Strategies that target improving community member ownership of distribution appear to have a large impact on increasing treatment coverage. However, all strategies used to increase coverage successfully did so. These results may be useful to National Ministries, programs, and implementing partners in optimizing treatment coverage in community-based public health programs.

Paediatric schistosomiasis: What we know and what we need to know

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 8 February 2018 - 10:00pm

by Derick N. M. Osakunor, Mark E. J. Woolhouse, Francisca Mutapi

Schistosomiasis affects over 200 million people worldwide, most of whom are children. Research and control strategies directed at preschool-aged children (PSAC), i.e., ≤5 years old, have lagged behind those in older children and adults. With the recent WHO revision of the schistosomiasis treatment guidelines to include PSAC, and the recognition of gaps in our current knowledge on the disease and its treatment in this age group, there is now a concerted effort to address these shortcomings. Global and national schistosome control strategies are yet to include PSAC in treatment schedules. Maximum impact of schistosome treatment programmes will be realised through effective treatment of PSAC. In this review, we (i) discuss the current knowledge on the dynamics and consequences of paediatric schistosomiasis and (ii) identify knowledge and policy gaps relevant to these areas and to the successful control of schistosome infection and disease in this age group. Herein, we highlight risk factors, immune mechanisms, pathology, and optimal timing for screening, diagnosis, and treatment of paediatric schistosomiasis. We also discuss the tools required for treating schistosomiasis in PSAC and strategies for accessing them for treatment.

The association between obesity and dengue severity among pediatric patients: A systematic review and meta-analysis

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 7 February 2018 - 10:00pm

by Mohd Syis Zulkipli, Maznah Dahlui, Nor’ashikin Jamil, Devi Peramalah, Victor Hoe Chee Wai, Awang Bulgiba, Sanjay Rampal

Background

Severe dengue infection often has unpredictable clinical progressions and outcomes. Obesity may play a role in the deterioration of dengue infection due to stronger body immune responses. Several studies found that obese dengue patients have a more severe presentation with a poorer prognosis. However, the association was inconclusive due to the variation in the results of earlier studies. Therefore, we conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis to explore the relationship between obesity and dengue severity.

Methods

We performed a systematic search of relevant studies on Ovid (MEDLINE), EMBASE, the Cochrane Library, Web of Science, Scopus and grey literature databases. At least two authors independently conducted the literature search, selecting eligible studies, and extracting data. Meta-analysis using random-effects model was conducted to compute the pooled odds ratio with 95% confidence intervals (CI).

Findings

We obtained a total of 13,333 articles from the searches. For the final analysis, we included a total of fifteen studies among pediatric patients. Three cohort studies, two case-control studies, and one cross-sectional study found an association between obesity and dengue severity. In contrast, six cohort studies and three case-control studies found no significant relationship between obesity and dengue severity. Our meta-analysis revealed that there was 38 percent higher odds (Odds Ratio = 1.38; 95% CI:1.10, 1.73) of developing severe dengue infection among obese children compared to non-obese children. We found no heterogeneity found between studies. The differences in obesity classification, study quality, and study design do not modify the association between obesity and dengue severity.

Conclusion

This review found that obesity is a risk factor for dengue severity among children. The result highlights and improves our understanding that obesity might influence the severity of dengue infection.

High SMAD7 and p-SMAD2,3 expression is associated with Environmental Enteropathy in children

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 7 February 2018 - 10:00pm

by Sana Syed, Vincenzo Dinallo, Najeeha T. Iqbal, Laura Di Iorio, Davide Di Fusco, Shan Guleria, Beatrice C. Amadi, Kamran Sadiq, Christopher Moskaluk, S. Asad Ali, Paul Kelly, Giovanni Monteleone

Enteropathies such as Crohn’s disease are associated with enteric inflammation characterized by impaired TGF-β signaling, decreased expression of phosphorylated (p)-SMAD2,3 and increased expression of SMAD7 (an inhibitor of SMAD3 phosphorylation). Environmental enteropathy (EE) is an acquired inflammatory disease of the small intestine (SI), which is associated with linear growth disruption, cognitive deficits, and reduced oral vaccine responsiveness in children <5 y in resource-poor countries. We aimed to characterize EE inflammatory pathways by determining SMAD7 and p-SMAD2,3 levels (using Western blotting) in EE duodenal biopsies (N = 19 children, 7 from Pakistan, 12 from Zambia) and comparing these with healthy controls (Ctl) and celiac disease (CD) patients from Italy. Densitometric analysis of immunoblots showed that EE SI biopsies expressed higher levels of both SMAD7 (mean±SD in arbitrary units [a.u.], Ctl = 0.47±0.20 a.u., EE = 1.13±0.25 a.u., p-value = 0.03) and p-SMAD2,3 (mean±SD, Ctl = 0.38±0.14 a.u., EE = 0.60±0.10 a.u., p-value = 0.03). immunohistochemistry showed that, in EE, SMAD7 is expressed in both the epithelium and in mononuclear cells of the lamina propria (LP). In contrast, p-SMAD3 in EE is expressed much more prominently in epithelial cells than in the LP. The high SMAD7 immunoreactivity and lack of p-SMAD2,3 expression in the LP suggests defective TGF-β signaling in the LP in EE similar to a previously reported SMAD7-mediated inflammatory pathway in refractory CD and Crohn’s disease. However, Western blot densitometry showed elevated p-SMAD2,3 levels in EE, possibly suggesting a different inflammatory pathway than Crohn’s disease but more likely reflecting cumulative protein expression from across all compartments of the mucosa as opposed to the LP alone. Further studies are needed to substantiate these preliminary results and to illustrate the relationship between SMAD proteins, TGF-β signaling, and inflammatory cytokine production, all of which may be potential therapeutic targets.

The other <i>Campylobacters</i>: Not innocent bystanders in endemic diarrhea and dysentery in children in low income settings

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 7 February 2018 - 10:00pm

by Ruthly François, Pablo Peñataro Yori, Saba Rouhani, Mery Siguas Salas, Maribel Paredes Olortegui, Dixner Rengifo Trigoso, Nora Pisanic, Rosa Burga, Rina Meza, Graciela Meza Sanchez, Michael J. Gregory, Eric R. Houpt, James A. Platts-Mills, Margaret N. Kosek

Background

Campylobacter is one of the main causes of gastroenteritis worldwide. Most of the current knowledge about the epidemiology of this food-borne infection concerns two species, C. coli and C. jejuni. Recent studies conducted in developing countries and using novel diagnostic techniques have generated evidence of the increasing burden and importance of other Campylobacter species, i.e. non-C. coli/jejuni. We performed a nested case-control study to compare the prevalence of C. coli/jejuni and other Campylobacter in children with clinical dysentery and severe diarrhea as well as without diarrhea to better understand the clinical importance of infections with Campylobacter species other than C. coli/jejuni.

Methodology/Principal findings

Our nested case-control study of 439 stool samples included dysenteric stools, stools collected during severe diarrhea episodes, and asymptomatic stools which were systematically selected to be representative of clinical phenotypes from 9,160 stools collected during a birth cohort study of 201 children followed until two years of age. Other Campylobacter accounted for 76.4% of the 216 Campylobacter detections by qPCR and were more prevalent than C. coli/jejuni across all clinical groups. Other Campylobacter were also more prevalent than C. coli/jejuni across all age groups, with older children bearing a higher burden of other Campylobacter. Biomarkers of intestinal inflammation and injury (methylene blue, fecal occult test, myeloperoxidase or MPO) showed a strong association with dysentery, but mixed results with infection. MPO levels were generally higher among children infected with C. coli/jejuni, but Shigella-infected children suffering from dysentery recorded the highest levels (26,224 ng/mL); the lowest levels (10,625 ng/mL) were among asymptomatic children infected with other Campylobacter. Adjusting for age, sex, and Shigella infection, dysentery was significantly associated with C. coli/jejuni but not with other Campylobacter, whereas severe diarrhea was significantly associated with both C. coli/jejuni and other Campylobacter. Compared to asymptomatic children, children suffering from dysentery had a 14.6 odds of C. coli/jejuni infection (p-value < 0.001, 95% CI 5.5–38.7) but were equally likely to have other Campylobacter infections–odds ratio of 1.3 (0.434, 0.7–2.4). Children suffering from severe diarrhea were more likely than asymptomatic children to test positive for both C. coli/jejuni and other Campylobacter–OR of 2.8 (0.034, 1.1–7.1) and 1.9 (0.018, 1.1–3.1), respectively. Compared to the Campylobacter-free group, the odds of all diarrhea given C. coli/jejuni infection and other Campylobacter infection were 8.8 (<0.001, 3.0–25.7) and 2.4 (0.002, 1.4–4.2), respectively. Eliminating other Campylobacter in this population would eliminate 24.9% of the diarrhea cases, which is almost twice the population attributable fraction of 15.1% due to C. coli/jejuni.

Conclusions/Significance

Eighty-seven of the dysentery and 59.5% of the severe diarrhea samples were positive for Campylobacter, Shigella, or both, emphasizing the importance of targeting these pathogens to limit the impact of dysentery and severe diarrhea in children. Notably, the higher prevalence of other Campylobacter compared to C. coli/jejuni, their increasing burden during early childhood, and their association with severe diarrhea highlight the importance of these non-C. coli/jejuni Campylobacter species and suggest a need to clarify their importance in the etiology of clinical disease across different epidemiological contexts.

Zika virus like particles elicit protective antibodies in mice

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 5 February 2018 - 10:00pm

by Mauricio A. Salvo, Brock Kingstad-Bakke, Cristhian Salas-Quinchucua, Erwin Camacho, Jorge E. Osorio

Mosquito-borne Zika virus (ZIKV) typically causes a mild and self-limiting illness known as Zika fever. Since its recent emergence in 2014 in the American continent, ZIKV infection during pregnancy has been closely associated with a wide range of congenital abnormalities. To date, no vaccines or antivirals are publicly available. We developed Zika virus-like particles (VLPs) and evaluated their immunogenicity and protective efficacy in mouse models. ZIKV VLPs (ZIKVLPs) formulated with alum were injected into 6-8-week-old interferon deficient AG129 mice as well as wild type BALB/c mice. Control mice received PBS/alum. Animals were challenged with 200 PFU (>1000 AG129 LD50s) of ZIKV strain H/PF/2013. All vaccinated mice survived with no morbidity or weight loss while control animals either died at 9 days post challenge (AG129) or had increased viremia (BALB/c). Neutralizing antibodies were observed in all ZIKVLP vaccinated mice. The role of neutralizing antibodies in protecting mice was demonstrated by passive transfer. Our findings demonstrate the protective efficacy of the ZIKVLP vaccine and highlight the important role that neutralizing antibodies play in protection against ZIKV infection.

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