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Epidemiology of intestinal helminthiases in a rural community of Ethiopia: Is it time to expand control programs to include <i>Strongyloides stercoralis</i> and the entire community?

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 4 June 2020 - 9:00pm

by Aranzazu Amor Aramendia, Melaku Anegagrie, Derjew Zewdie, Elena Dacal, Jose M. Saugar, Zaida Herrador, Tadesse Hailu, Mulat Yimer, María V. Periago, Esperanza Rodriguez, Agustín Benito


Soil transmitted helminths are highly prevalent worldwide. Globally, approximately 1.5 billion people are infected with Ascaris lumbricoides, Trichuris trichiura or hookworm. Endemic countries carry out periodic mass treatment of at-risk populations with albendazole or mebendazole as a control measure. Most prevalence studies have focused on school aged children and therefore control programs are implemented at school level, not at community level. In this study, the prevalence of intestinal helminths, including Strongyloides stercoralis, was examined using a comprehensive laboratory approach in a community in north-western Ethiopia.


A cross-sectional survey was conducted on 792 individuals ≥5 years old in randomly selected houses in a rural district. Stools were examined using three techniques: a formol-ether concentration, the Baermann technique and a real time polymerase chain reaction test (these last two specific for S. stercoralis). Statistical analyses were performed between two large age groups, children (≤14 years old) and adults (≥15 years old).


The prevalence of helminths was 91.3%; (95% CI: 89.3–93.3%). Hookworm was the most prevalent, 78.7% (95% CI 75.6–81.4%), followed by S. stercoralis 55.7% (95% CI 52.2–59.1%). Co-infection with both was detected in 45.4% (95% CI 42.0–49.0%) of the participants. The mean age of hookworm-infected individuals was significantly higher than non-infected ones (p = 0.003). Also, S. stercoralis infection was significantly associated with age, being more prevalent in adults (p = 0.002).


This is the highest prevalence of S. stercoralis detected in Ethiopia so far. Our results highlight the need of searching specifically for infection by this parasite since it usually goes unnoticed if helminth studies rely only on conventional diagnostic techniques, i.e. Kato-Katz. Moreover, the focus of these programs on children undermines the actual prevalence of hookworm. The adult population acts as a reservoir for both hookworm and S. stercoralis and this fact may negatively impact the current control programs in Ethiopia which only target treatment of school aged children. This reservoir, together with a lack of adequate water, sanitation and hygiene, increases the probability of re-infection in children. Finally, the high prevalence of S. stercoralis found calls for a comprehensive diagnostic approach in endemic areas in addition to a revision of control measures that is, adding ivermectin to current albendazole/mebendazole, since it is the drug of choice for S. stercoralis.

Interactions between helminths and tuberculosis infections: Implications for tuberculosis diagnosis and vaccination in Africa

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 4 June 2020 - 9:00pm

by Simeon I. Cadmus, Victor O. Akinseye, Babafemi O. Taiwo, Elena O. Pinelli, Dick van Soolingen, Shelley G. Rhodes

Africa is the second most populous continent and has perennial health challenges. Of the estimated 181 million school aged children in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA), nearly half suffer from ascariasis, trichuriasis, or a combination of these infections. Coupled with these is the problem of tuberculosis (TB) caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) infection, which is a leading cause of death in the region. Compared to the effect of the human immunodeficiency virus on the development of TB, the effect of chronic helminth infections is a neglected area of research, yet helminth infections are as ubiquitous as they are varied and may potentially have profound effects upon host immunity, particularly as it relates to TB infection, diagnosis, and vaccination. Protection against active TB is known to require a clearly delineated T-helper type 1 (Th1) response, while helminths induce a strong opposing Th2 and immune-regulatory host response. This Review highlights the potential challenges of helminth–TB co-infection in Africa and the need for further research.

Distribution and molecular characterization of rickettsiae in ticks in Harbin area of Northeastern China

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 4 June 2020 - 9:00pm

by Jian-Wei Shao, Xue-Lian Zhang, Wen-Jun Li, Hui-Lan Huang, Jie Yan

Tick-borne rickettsioses are world-spreading infectious zoonoses. Ticks serve as reservoirs and vectors for Rickettsia and play a key role in transmission of rickettsioses. Most of the Chinese rickettsiosis patients are reported from Northeastern China but the distribution of tick and tick-borne Rickettsia species in Northeastern China remain poorly studied. In this study, a total of 1,286 ticks were captured from the seven counties of Harbin, an area in Northeastern China, and the tick-borne Rickettsia species were identified by PCR and sequencing of rrs, gltA, groEL, ompA and 17-kDa antigen-encoding genes. Of the 5 identified tick species, Haemaphysalis longicornis and Ixodes persulcatus were the predominant tick species in the livestock and vegetation, respectively. Rickettsia raoultii and “Candidatus Rickettsia tarasevichiae” were the two detectable Rickettsia species in the ticks with a 28.8% positive rate but no rickettsiae were found in ticks of Haemaphysalis concinna. R. raoultii detected in 37.6% of the Dermacentor nuttalli, Dermacentor silvarum and H. longicornis ticks while “Ca. R. tarasevichiae” was only present in 22.8% of the I. persulcatus ticks. In particular, the positive rate of both R. raoultii and “Ca. R. tarasevichiae” in ticks from the livestock (40.7%) was significantly higher than that from the vegetation (19.5%). The results indicate that the tick and tick-borne Rickettsia species are diverse in different regions of Harbin due to geographic difference and the ticks from livestock may play a more important role in transmission of rickettsioses to human.

Quantification of parasite burden of <i>Trypanosoma cruzi</i> and identification of Discrete Typing Units (DTUs) in blood samples of Latin American immigrants residing in Barcelona, Spain

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 4 June 2020 - 9:00pm

by Maykon Tavares de Oliveira, Elena Sulleiro, Aroa Silgado Gimenez, Marta de Lana, Bianca Zingales, João Santana da Silva, J. Antônio Marin-Neto, Israel Molina


Trypanosoma cruzi has a high genetic and biological diversity and has been subdivided into seven genetic lineages, named TcI-TcVI and TcBat. DTUs TcI-TcII-TcV and TcVI are agents of ChD in different regions of Latin America. Due to population movements, the disease is an emergent global public health problem. Thus, the aim of this study was to quantify the parasitic load and identify the presence of T. cruzi DTUs in 101 Latin American immigrants with chronic ChD, residing in Barcelona, Spain.

Methodology / Principal findings

5ml of peripheral blood were collected in guanidine/EDTA from each patient for DNA extraction, quantification of the parasitic load and genotyping. A great variation of the parasitic load of the patients was verified: from 0.001 to 22.2 T. cruzi DNA (fg) / Blood DNA (ng). In patients from Bolivia the parasitic load was 3.76±4.43 T. cruzi DNA (fg) / Blood DNA (ng) (mean ± SD), in patients of other countries was 0.95±1.38 T. cruzi DNA (fg) / Blood DNA (ng). No statistically significant difference was observed in the parasitic load between patients with the indeterminate and cardiac forms of ChD (p = 0,57). Parasite genotyping was performed by multilocus conventional PCR. In patients from Bolivia there was a nearly equal prevalence of DTUs TcV (27/77), TcII/TcV/TcVI (26/77), and TcII/TcVI (22/77). TcVI was detected in only 2 samples (2/77). A higher prevalence of TcII/TcVI (19/24) was verified in patients of other countries, with low prevalence of TcII/TcV/TcVI (4/24) and TcV (1/24).


In this study, low/medium parasitic load was found in all patients evaluated. Our data corroborate previous conclusions indicating that patients from the Bolivia, living in Spain, are predominantly infected by TcV, and TcVI DTUs. On the other hand, in Non-Bolivians patients TcII/TcVI predominated. Surprisingly, in our cohort of 101 patients no infection by TcI DTU was observed.

Independent inhibition of the polymerase and deubiquitinase activities of the Crimean-Congo Hemorrhagic Fever Virus full-length L-protein

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 4 June 2020 - 9:00pm

by Egor P. Tchesnokov, Ben A. Bailey-Elkin, Brian L. Mark, Matthias Götte


The Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever virus (CCHFV) is a segmented negative-sense RNA virus that can cause severe human disease. The World Health Organization (WHO) has listed CCHFVas a priority pathogen with an urgent need for enhanced research activities to develop effective countermeasures. Here we adopted a biochemical approach that targets the viral RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp). The CCHFV RdRp activity is part of a multifunctional L protein that is unusually large with a molecular weight of ~450 kDa. The CCHFV L-protein also contains an ovarian tumor (OTU) domain that exhibits deubiquitinating (DUB) activity, which was shown to interfere with innate immune responses and viral replication. We report on the expression, characterization and inhibition of the CCHFV full-length L-protein and studied both RNA synthesis and DUB activity.

Methodology/Principle findings

Recombinant full-length CCHFV L protein was expressed in insect cells and purified to near homogeneity using affinity chromatography. RdRp activity was monitored with model primer/templates during elongation in the presence of divalent metal ions. We observed a 14-mer full length RNA product as well as the expected shorter products when omitting certain nucleotides from the reaction mixture. The D2517N mutation of the putative active site rendered the enzyme inactive. Inhibition of RNA synthesis was studies with the broad-spectrum antivirals ribavirin and favipiravir that mimic nucleotide substrates. The triphosphate form of these compounds act like ATP or GTP; however, incorporation of ATP or GTP is markedly favored over the inhibitors. We also studied the effects of bona fide nucleotide analogues 2’-deoxy-2’-fluoro-CTP (FdC) and 2’-deoxy-2’-amino-CTP and demonstrate increased inhibitory effects due to higher rates of incorporation. We further show that the CCHFV L full-length protein and the isolated OTU domain cleave Lys48- and Lys63-linked polyubiqutin chains. Moreover, the ubiquitin analogue CC.4 inhibits the CCHFV-associated DUB activity of the full-length L protein and the isolated DUB domain to a similar extent. Inhibition of DUB activity does not affect elongation of RNA synthesis, and inhibition of RNA synthesis does not affect DUB activity. Both domains are functionally independent under these conditions.


The requirements for high biosafety measures hamper drug discovery and development efforts with infectious CCHFV. The availability of full-length CCHFV L-protein provides an important tool in this regard. High-throughput screening (HTS) campaigns are now feasible. The same enzyme preparations can be employed to identify novel polymerase and DUB inhibitors.

Characterization and applications of a Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever virus nucleoprotein-specific Affimer: Inhibitory effects in viral replication and development of colorimetric diagnostic tests

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 3 June 2020 - 9:00pm

by Beatriz Álvarez-Rodríguez, Christian Tiede, Alexis C. R. Hoste, Rebecca A. Surtees, Chi Trinh, Gillian S. Slack, John Chamberlain, Roger Hewson, Alba Fresco, Patricia Sastre, Darren C. Tomlinson, Paul A. Millner, Thomas A. Edwards, John N. Barr

Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever orthonairovirus (CCHFV) is one of the most widespread medically important arboviruses, causing human infections that result in mortality rates of up to 60%. We describe the selection of a high-affinity small protein (Affimer-NP) that binds specifically to the nucleoprotein (NP) of CCHFV. We demonstrate the interference of Affimer-NP in the RNA-binding function of CCHFV NP using fluorescence anisotropy, and its inhibitory effects on CCHFV gene expression in mammalian cells using a mini-genome system. Solution of the crystallographic structure of the complex formed by these two molecules at 2.84 Å resolution revealed the structural basis for this interference, with the Affimer-NP binding site positioned at the critical NP oligomerization interface. Finally, we validate the in vitro application of Affimer-NP for the development of enzyme-linked immunosorbent and lateral flow assays, presenting the first published point-of-care format test able to detect recombinant CCHFV NP in spiked human and animal sera.

Chikungunya outbreak (2015) in the Colombian Caribbean: Latent classes and gender differences in virus infection

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 3 June 2020 - 9:00pm

by Oscar M. Vidal, Jorge Acosta-Reyes, Jesús Padilla, Edgar Navarro-Lechuga, Elsa Bravo, Diego Viasus, Mauricio Arcos-Burgos, Jorge I. Vélez

Chikungunya virus (CHIKV), a mosquito-borne alphavirus of the Togaviridae family, is part of a group of emergent diseases, including arbovirus, constituting an increasing public health problem in tropical areas worldwide. CHIKV causes a severe and debilitating disease with high morbidity. The first Colombian autochthonous case was reported in the Colombian Caribbean region in September 2014. Within the next two to three months, the CHIKV outbreak reached its peak. Although the CHIKV pattern of clinical symptomatology has been documented in different epidemiological studies, understanding of the relationship between clinical symptomatology and variation in phenotypic response to CHIKV infection in humans remains limited. We performed a cross sectional study following 1160 individuals clinically diagnosed with CHIKV at the peak of the Chikungunya outbreak in the Colombian Caribbean region. We examined the relationship between symptomatology and diverse phenotypic responses. Latent Class Cluster Analysis (LCCA) models were used to characterize patients’ symptomatology and further identify subgroups of individuals with differential phenotypic response. We found that most individuals presented fever (94.4%), headache (73.28%) and general discomfort (59.4%), which are distinct clinical symptoms of a viral infection. Furthermore, 11/26 (43.2%) of the categorized symptoms were more frequent in women than in men. LCCA disclosed seven distinctive phenotypic response profiles in this population of CHIKV infected individuals. Interestingly, 282 (24.3%) individuals exhibited a lower symptomatic “extreme” phenotype and 74 (6.4%) patients were within the severe complex “extreme” phenotype. Although clinical symptomatology may be diverse, there are distinct symptoms or group of symptoms that can be correlated with differential phenotypic response and perhaps susceptibility to CHIKV infection, especially in the female population. This suggests that, comparatively to men, women are a CHIKV at-risk population. Further study is needed to validate these results and determine whether the distinct LCCA profiles are a result of the immune response or a mixture of genetic, lifestyle and environmental factors. Our findings could contribute to the development of machine learning and artificial intelligence approaches to characterizing CHIKV infection in other populations. Preliminary results show that the accuracy reached of some approaches reaches up to 92% overall, with substantial sensitivity, specificity and accuracy values per LCCA-derived cluster.

Liver gene regulation of hemostasis-related factors is altered by experimental snake envenomation in mice

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 1 June 2020 - 9:00pm

by Ana Teresa Azevedo Sachetto, José Ricardo Jensen, Marcelo Larami Santoro

Few studies have addressed gene expression of hemostasis-related factors during acute thrombo-hemorrhagic diseases. Bites by the lanced-headed viper Bothrops jaracaca induce rapid hemostatic disturbances in victims, leading to systemic bleedings, thrombocytopenia and consumption coagulopathy. Although circulating levels of coagulation factors recover rapidly after administration of specific antivenom therapy, it is unclear if B. jararaca venom (BjV) upregulates the mRNA synthesis of hepatic hemostasis-related factors, or if the recovery occurs under basal conditions after the neutralization of venom components by antivenom. Thus, we aimed to investigate if BjV regulates gene expression of important hemostasis-related factors synthetized by the liver. On that account, Swiss mice were injected with saline or BjV (1.6 mg/kg b.w, s.c.), and after 3, 6 and 24 h blood samples and liver fragments were collected to analyze mRNA expression by real-time qPCR. Increased gene expression of fibrinogen chains, haptoglobin and STAT3 was observed during envenomation, particularly at 3 and 6 h. At 24h, mRNA levels of F10 were raised, while those of Serpinc1, Proc and Adamts13 were diminished. Surprisingly, F3 mRNA levels were steadily decreased at 3 h. Gene expression of Thpo, F7, F5 Tfpi, Mug1 was unaltered. mRNA levels of Vwf, P4hb, F8, F2, Plg, and Serpinf2 were minimally altered, but showed important associations with Nfkb1 gene expression. In conclusion, snakebite envenomation upregulates hepatic mRNA synthesis particularly of fibrinogen chains, and acute-phase markers. This response explains the fast recovery of fibrinogen levels after antivenom administration to patients bitten by B. jararaca snakes.

Comparative genomic analysis provides insight into the phylogeny and virulence of atypical enteropathogenic <i>Escherichia coli</i> strains from Brazil

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 1 June 2020 - 9:00pm

by Rodrigo T. Hernandes, Tracy H. Hazen, Luís F. dos Santos, Taylor K. S. Richter, Jane M. Michalski, David A. Rasko


Atypical enteropathogenic Escherichia coli (aEPEC) are one of the most frequent intestinal E. coli pathotypes isolated from diarrheal patients in Brazil. Isolates of aEPEC contain the locus of enterocyte effacement, but lack the genes of the bundle-forming pilus of typical EPEC, and the Shiga toxin of enterohemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC). The objective of this study was to evaluate the phylogeny and the gene content of Brazilian aEPEC genomes compared to a global aEPEC collection.


Single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP)-based phylogenomic analysis was used to compare 106 sequenced Brazilian aEPEC with 221 aEPEC obtained from other geographic origins. Additionally, Large-Scale BLAST Score Ratio was used to determine the shared versus unique gene content of the aEPEC studied.

Principal Findings

Phylogenomic analysis demonstrated the 106 Brazilian aEPEC were present in phylogroups B1 (47.2%, 50/106), B2 (23.6%, 25/106), A (22.6%, 24/106), and E (6.6%, 7/106). Identification of EPEC and EHEC phylogenomic lineages demonstrated that 42.5% (45/106) of the Brazilian aEPEC were in four of the previously defined lineages: EPEC10 (17.9%, 19/106), EPEC9 (10.4%, 11/106), EHEC2 (7.5%, 8/106) and EPEC7 (6.6%, 7/106). Interestingly, an additional 28.3% (30/106) of the Brazilian aEPEC were identified in five novel lineages: EPEC11 (14.2%, 15/106), EPEC12 (4.7%, 5/106), EPEC13 (1.9%, 2/106), EPEC14 (5.7%, 6/106) and EPEC15 (1.9%, 2/106). We identified 246 genes that were more frequent among the aEPEC isolates from Brazil compared to the global aEPEC collection, including espG2, espT and espC (P<0.001). Moreover, the nleF gene was more frequently identified among Brazilian aEPEC isolates obtained from diarrheagenic patients when compared to healthy subjects (69.7% vs 41.2%, P<0.05).


The current study demonstrates significant genomic diversity among aEPEC from Brazil, with the identification of Brazilian aEPEC isolates to five novel EPEC lineages. The greater prevalence of some virulence genes among Brazilian aEPEC genomes could be important to the specific virulence strategies used by aEPEC in Brazil to cause diarrheal disease.

Chikungunya in Indonesia: Epidemiology and diagnostic challenges

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 1 June 2020 - 9:00pm

by Mansyur Arif, Patricia Tauran, Herman Kosasih, Ninny Meutia Pelupessy, Nurhayana Sennang, Risna Halim Mubin, Pratiwi Sudarmono, Emiliana Tjitra, Dewi Murniati, Anggraini Alam, Muhammad Hussein Gasem, Abu Tholib Aman, Dewi Lokida, Usman Hadi, Ketut Tuti Merati Parwati, Chuen-Yen Lau, Aaron Neal, Muhammad Karyana


Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) is often-overlooked as an etiology of fever in tropical and sub-tropical regions. Lack of diagnostic testing capacity in these areas combined with co-circulation of clinically similar pathogens such as dengue virus (DENV), hinders CHIKV diagnosis. To better address CHIKV in Indonesia, an improved understanding of epidemiology, clinical presentation, and diagnostic approaches is needed.

Methodology/Principal findings

Acutely hospitalized febrile patients ≥1-year-old were enrolled in a multi-site observational cohort study conducted in Indonesia from 2013 to 2016. Demographic and clinical data were collected at enrollment; blood specimens were collected at enrollment, once during days 14 to 28, and three months after enrollment. Plasma samples negative for DENV by serology and/or molecular assays were screened for evidence of acute CHIKV infection (ACI) by serology and molecular assays. To address the co-infection of DENV and CHIKV, DENV cases were selected randomly to be screened for evidence of ACI. ACI was confirmed in 40/1,089 (3.7%) screened subjects, all of whom were DENV negative. All 40 cases initially received other diagnoses, most commonly dengue fever, typhoid fever, and leptospirosis. ACI was found at five of the seven study cities, though evidence of prior CHIKV exposure was observed in 25.2% to 45.9% of subjects across sites. All subjects were assessed during hospitalization as mildly or moderately ill, consistent with the Asian genotype of CHIKV. Subjects with ACI had clinical presentations that overlapped with other common syndromes, atypical manifestations of disease, or persistent or false-positive IgM against Salmonella Typhi. Two of the 40 cases were possibly secondary ACI.


CHIKV remains an underdiagnosed acute febrile illness in Indonesia. Public health measures should support development of CHIKV diagnostic capacity. Improved access to point-of-care diagnostic tests and clinical training on presentations of ACI will facilitate appropriate case management such as avoiding unneccessary treatments or antibiotics, early response to control mosquito population and eventually reducing disease transmission.

Correction: Dengue illness impacts daily human mobility patterns in Iquitos, Peru

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 1 June 2020 - 9:00pm

by Kathryn L. Schaber, Valerie A. Paz-Soldan, Amy C. Morrison, William H. D. Elson, Alan L. Rothman, Christopher N. Mores, Helvio Astete-Vega, Thomas W. Scott, Lance A. Waller, Uriel Kitron, John P. Elder, Christopher M. Barker, T. Alex Perkins, Gonzalo M. Vazquez-Prokopec

Risk factors associated with failing pre-transmission assessment surveys (pre-TAS) in lymphatic filariasis elimination programs: Results of a multi-country analysis

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 1 June 2020 - 9:00pm

by Clara R. Burgert-Brucker, Kathryn L. Zoerhoff, Maureen Headland, Erica A. Shoemaker, Rachel Stelmach, Mohammad Jahirul Karim, Wilfrid Batcho, Clarisse Bougouma, Roland Bougma, Biholong Benjamin Didier, Nko'Ayissi Georges, Benjamin Marfo, Jean Frantz Lemoine, Helena Ullyartha Pangaribuan, Eksi Wijayanti, Yaya Ibrahim Coulibaly, Salif Seriba Doumbia, Pradip Rimal, Adamou Bacthiri Salissou, Yukaba Bah, Upendo Mwingira, Andreas Nshala, Edridah Muheki, Joseph Shott, Violetta Yevstigneyeva, Egide Ndayishimye, Margaret Baker, John Kraemer, Molly Brady

Achieving elimination of lymphatic filariasis (LF) as a public health problem requires a minimum of five effective rounds of mass drug administration (MDA) and demonstrating low prevalence in subsequent assessments. The first assessments recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) are sentinel and spot-check sites—referred to as pre-transmission assessment surveys (pre-TAS)—in each implementation unit after MDA. If pre-TAS shows that prevalence in each site has been lowered to less than 1% microfilaremia or less than 2% antigenemia, the implementation unit conducts a TAS to determine whether MDA can be stopped. Failure to pass pre-TAS means that further rounds of MDA are required. This study aims to understand factors influencing pre-TAS results using existing programmatic data from 554 implementation units, of which 74 (13%) failed, in 13 countries. Secondary data analysis was completed using existing data from Bangladesh, Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ghana, Haiti, Indonesia, Mali, Nepal, Niger, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, and Uganda. Additional covariate data were obtained from spatial raster data sets. Bivariate analysis and multilinear regression were performed to establish potential relationships between variables and the pre-TAS result. Higher baseline prevalence and lower elevation were significant in the regression model. Variables statistically significantly associated with failure (p-value ≤0.05) in the bivariate analyses included baseline prevalence at or above 5% or 10%, use of Filariasis Test Strips (FTS), primary vector of Culex, treatment with diethylcarbamazine-albendazole, higher elevation, higher population density, higher enhanced vegetation index (EVI), higher annual rainfall, and 6 or more rounds of MDA. This paper reports for the first time factors associated with pre-TAS results from a multi-country analysis. This information can help countries more effectively forecast program activities, such as the potential need for more rounds of MDA, and prioritize resources to ensure adequate coverage of all persons in areas at highest risk of failing pre-TAS.

The excretory/secretory products of fifth-stage larval <i>Angiostrongylus cantonensis</i> induces autophagy via the Sonic hedgehog pathway in mouse brain astrocytes

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 1 June 2020 - 9:00pm

by Kuang-Yao Chen, Chien-Ju Cheng, Chih-Chieh Cheng, Kai-Yuan Jhan, Yi-Ju Chen, Lian-Chen Wang

Angiostrongyliasis is induced by the nematode Angiostrongylus cantonensis and leads to eosinophilic meningitis and meningoencephalitis in humans. Excretory-secretory products (ESPs) are important investigation targets for studying the relationship between hosts and nematodes. These products assist worms in penetrating the blood-brain barrier and avoiding the host immune response. Autophagy is a catabolic process that is responsible for digesting cytoplasmic organelles, proteins, and lipids and removing them through lysosomes. This process is essential to cell survival and homeostasis during nutritional deficiency, cell injury and stress. In this study, we investigated autophagy induction upon treatment with the ESPs of the fifth-stage larvae (L5) of A. cantonensis and observed the relationship between autophagy and the Shh pathway. First, the results showed that A. cantonensis infection induced blood-brain barrier dysfunction and pathological changes in the brain. Moreover, A. cantonensis L5 ESPs stimulated autophagosome formation and the expression of autophagy molecules, such as LC3B, Beclin, and p62. The data showed that upon ESPs treatment, rapamycin elevated cell viability through the activation of the autophagy mechanism in astrocytes. Finally, we found that ESPs induced the activation of the Sonic hedgehog (Shh) signaling pathway and that the expression of autophagy molecules was increased through the Shh signaling pathway. Collectively, these results suggest that A. cantonensis L5 ESPs stimulate autophagy through the Shh signaling pathway and that autophagy has a protective effect in astrocytes.

Rift Valley fever in northern Senegal: A modelling approach to analyse the processes underlying virus circulation recurrence

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 1 June 2020 - 9:00pm

by Benoit Durand, Moustapha Lo Modou, Annelise Tran, Aminata Ba, Fafa Sow, Jaber Belkhiria, Assane Gueye Fall, Biram Biteye, Vladimir Grosbois, Véronique Chevalier

Rift Valley fever (RVF) is endemic in northern Senegal, a Sahelian area characterized by a temporary pond network that drive both RVF mosquito population dynamics and nomadic herd movements. To investigate the mechanisms that explain RVF recurrent circulation, we modelled a realistic epidemiological system at the pond level integrating vector population dynamics, resident and nomadic ruminant herd population dynamics, and nomadic herd movements recorded in Younoufere area. To calibrate the model, serological surveys were performed in 2015–2016 on both resident and nomadic domestic herds in the same area. Mosquito population dynamics were obtained from a published model trained in the same region. Model comparison techniques were used to compare five different scenarios of virus introduction by nomadic herds associated or not with vertical transmission in Aedes vexans. Our serological results confirmed a long lasting RVF endemicity in resident herds (IgG seroprevalence rate of 15.3%, n = 222), and provided the first estimation of RVF IgG seroprevalence in nomadic herds in West Africa (12.4%, n = 660). Multivariate analysis of serological data suggested an amplification of the transmission cycle during the rainy season with a peak of circulation at the end of that season. The best scenario of virus introduction combined yearly introductions of RVFV from 2008 to 2015 (the study period) by nomadic herds, with a proportion of viraemic individuals predicted to be larger in animals arriving during the 2nd half of the rainy season (3.4%). This result is coherent with the IgM prevalence rate (4%) found in nomadic herds sampled during the 2nd half of the rainy season. Although the existence of a vertical transmission mechanism in Aedes cannot be ruled out, our model demonstrates that nomadic movements are sufficient to account for this endemic circulation in northern Senegal.

Bortezomib inhibits chikungunya virus replication by interfering with viral protein synthesis

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 29 May 2020 - 9:00pm

by Parveen Kaur, Laura Sandra Lello, Age Utt, Sujit Krishna Dutta, Andres Merits, Justin Jang Hann Chu

Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) is an alphavirus that causes a febrile illness accompanied by myalgia and arthralgia. Despite having re-emerged as a significant public health threat, there are no approved therapeutics or prophylactics for CHIKV infection. In this study, we explored the anti-CHIKV effects of proteasome inhibitors and their potential mechanism of antiviral action. A panel of proteasome inhibitors with different functional groups reduced CHIKV infectious titers in a dose-dependent manner. Bortezomib, which has been FDA-approved for multiple myeloma and mantle cell lymphoma, was further investigated in downstream studies. The inhibitory activities of bortezomib were confirmed using different cellular models and CHIKV strains. Time-of-addition and time-of-removal studies suggested that bortezomib inhibited CHIKV at an early, post-entry stage of replication. In western blot analysis, bortezomib treatment resulted in a prominent decrease in structural protein levels as early as 6 hpi. Contrastingly, nsP4 levels showed strong elevations across all time-points. NsP2 and nsP3 levels showed a fluctuating trend, with some elevations between 12 to 20 hpi. Finally, qRT-PCR data revealed increased levels of both positive- and negative-sense CHIKV RNA at late stages of infection. It is likely that the reductions in structural protein levels is a major factor in the observed reductions in virus titer, with the alterations in non-structural protein ratios potentially being a contributing factor. Proteasome inhibitors like bortezomib likely disrupt CHIKV replication through a variety of complex mechanisms and may display a potential for use as therapeutics against CHIKV infection. They also represent valuable tools for studies of CHIKV molecular biology and virus-host interactions.

The roles of stakeholder experience and organizational learning in declining mass drug administration coverage for lymphatic filariasis in Port-au-Prince, Haiti: A case study

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 29 May 2020 - 9:00pm

by Breanna K. Wodnik, Didié Hérold Louis, Michel Joseph, Lee T. Wilkers, Susan D. Landskroener, Luccene Desir, Jean Frantz Lemoine, James V. Lavery

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines an effective round of mass drug administration (MDA) for lymphatic filariasis (LF) as one that reaches at least 65% of the target population. In its first round of MDA in 2011–2012, the National Program to Eliminate LF in Haiti achieved a 79% epidemiological coverage in urban Port-au-Prince. In 2013, coverage dropped below the WHO threshold and has declined year-over-year to a low of 41% in 2017. We conducted a retrospective qualitative case study to identify key factors behind the decline in coverage in Port-au-Prince and ways to address them. Our findings suggest that the main contributors to the decline in MDA coverage appear to be the absence of effective documentation of practices, reporting, analysis, and program quality improvement—i.e., learning mechanisms—within the program’s MDA design and implementation strategy. In addition to their contribution to the program’s failure to meet its coverage targets, these deficits have resulted in a high cost for the MDA campaign in both lost momentum and depleted morale. Through a proposed operating logic model, we explore how the pathway from program inputs to outcomes is influenced by a wide array of mediating factors, which shape potential participants’ experience of MDA and, in turn, influence their reasoning and decisions to take, or not take, the pills. Our model suggests that the decisions and behavior of individuals are a reflection of their overall experience of the program itself, mediated through a host of contextual factors, and not simply the expression of a fixed choice or preference. This holistic approach offers a novel and potentially valuable framing for the planning and evaluation of MDA strategies for LF and other diseases, and may be applicable in a variety of global health programs.

Global changes in nitration levels and DNA binding profile of <i>Trypanosoma cruzi</i> histones induced by incubation with host extracellular matrix

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 29 May 2020 - 9:00pm

by Rubens Daniel Miserani Magalhães, Eliciane Cevolani Mattos, Andrei Rozanski, Pedro Alexandre Favoretto Galante, Giuseppe Palmisano, Angela Kaysel Cruz, Walter Colli, Anamaria Aranha Camargo, Maria Júlia Manso Alves

Adhesion of T. cruzi trypomastigotes to components of the extracellular matrix (ECM) is an important step in mammalian host cell invasion. We have recently described a significant increase in the tyrosine nitration levels of histones H2A and H4 when trypomastigotes are incubated with components of the ECM. In this work, we used chromatin immunoprecipitation (ChIP) with an anti-nitrotyrosine antibody followed by mass spectrometry to identify nitrated DNA binding proteins in T. cruzi and to detect alterations in nitration levels induced upon parasite incubation with the ECM. Histone H1, H2B, H2A and H3 were detected among the 9 most abundant nitrated DNA binding proteins using this proteomic approach. One nitrated tyrosine residue (Y29) was identified in Histone H2B in the MS/MS spectrum. In addition, we observed a significant increase in the nitration levels of histones H1, H2B, H2A and H4 upon parasite incubation with ECM. Finally, we used ChIP-Seq to map global changes in the DNA binding profile of nitrated proteins. We observed a significant change in the binding pattern of nitrated proteins to DNA after parasite incubation with ECM. This work provides the first global profile of nitrated DNA binding proteins in T. cruzi and additional evidence for modification in the nitration profile of histones upon parasite incubation with ECM. Our data also indicate that the parasite interaction with the ECM induces alterations in chromatin structure, possibly affecting nuclear functions.

SipD and IpaD induce a cross-protection against <i>Shigella</i> and <i>Salmonella</i> infections

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 28 May 2020 - 9:00pm

by Bakhos Jneid, Audrey Rouaix, Cécile Féraudet-Tarisse, Stéphanie Simon

Salmonella and Shigella species are food- and water-borne pathogens that are responsible for enteric infections in both humans and animals and are still the major cause of morbidity and mortality in the emerging countries. The existence of multiple Salmonella and Shigella serotypes as well as the emergence of strains resistant to antibiotics require the development of broadly protective therapies. Those bacteria utilize a Type III Secretion System (T3SS), necessary for their pathogenicity. The structural proteins composing the T3SS are common to all virulent Salmonella and Shigella spp., particularly the needle-tip proteins SipD (Salmonella) and IpaD (Shigella). We investigated the immunogenicity and protective efficacy of SipD and IpaD administered by intranasal and intragastric routes, in a mouse model of Salmonella enterica serotype Typhimurium (S. Typhimurium) intestinal challenge. Robust IgG (in all immunization routes) and IgA (in intranasal and oral immunization routes) antibody responses were induced against both proteins. Mice immunized with SipD or IpaD were protected against lethal intestinal challenge with S. Typhimurium or Shigella flexneri (100 Lethal Dose 50%). We have shown that SipD and IpaD are able to induce a cross-protection in a murine model of infection by Salmonella and Shigella. We provide the first demonstration that Salmonella and Shigella T3SS SipD and IpaD are promising antigens for the development of a cross-protective Salmonella-Shigella vaccine. These results open the way to the development of cross-protective therapeutic molecules.