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A meta-analysis of infection rates of <i>Schistosoma japonicum</i> in sentinel mice associated with infectious waters in mainland China over last 40 years

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 7 June 2019 - 9:00pm

by Chen Qiu, Hui-Ying Zou, Yao Deng, You-sheng Liang, Da-Bing Lu


Schistosomiasis japonica is a zoonotic parasitic disease. After nearly 70 years of control efforts in China, Schistosomiasis transmission has been reduced to a much lower level. The absence or near absence of infections in humans or livestock, based on traditional fecal and serological tests, has made the targets and priorities of future control efforts difficult to determine. However, detection of schistosome cercariae in waters using sentinel mice could be an alternative way of identifying remaining foci of infection, or even serve as a tool for evaluation of control efficacy. This method has been employed in China over last forty years. We therefore performed a meta-analysis of the relevant research to investigate if infections in sentinel mice mirror the ongoing trend of schistosomiasis transmission in China.


We conducted a meta-analysis of studies reporting infection rates of S. japonicum in sentinel mice in China before Sep 1, 2018 in accordance with the PRISMA guidelines. We retrieved all relative studies based on five databases (CNKI, WanFang, VIP, PubMed and Web of Science) and the reference lists of resulting articles. For each individual study, the infection rate in sentinel mice is presented together with its 95% confidence interval (CI). Point estimates of the overall infection rates and their 95% CIs were calculated. Subgroup analyses were performed according to study periods, seasons or regions.


We identified 90 articles, including 290 studies covering eight endemic provinces. The overall rate in sentinel mice was 12.31% (95% CI: 10.14–14.65%) from 1980 to 2018. The value of 3.66% (95% CI: 2.62–4.85%) estimated in 2004 to 2018 was significantly lower than in 1980 to 2003 (22.96%, 95% CI: 19.25–26.89%). The estimate was significantly higher in the middle and lower reaches than in the upper reaches of the Yangtze River. The highest estimates were obtained in Hunan (30.11%, 95% CI: 25.64–34.77%) followed by Anhui (26.34%, 95% CI: 12.88–42.44%) and then Jiangxi (13.73%, 95% CI: 6.71–22.56%). Unlike the other provinces in the middle and lower reaches, no significant reduction was seen in Hubei after 2003. Even in Hubei two studies carried out after 2014 reported infections in sentinel mice, although no infected snails were reported across the province. Infections were most found in April (17.40%, 95% CI: 1.13–45.49%), July (24.98%, 95% CI: 15.64–35.62%) and October (17.08%, 95% CI 5.94–32.05%). High degrees of heterogeneity were observed.


This meta-analysis provides a comprehensive analysis of schistosome infection in sentinel mice across China. The estimates largely mirror the ongoing trends of transmission in terms of periods and regions. Infections were most likely to occur in April, July and October. In areas where no infected snails were reported infections in sentinel mice were still observed. Due to the presence of snails and infected wildlife, detection of schistosomes in waters using such a highly sensitive method as the deployment of sentinel mice, remains of importance in schistosomiasis monitoring. We would suggest the current criteria for transmission interruption or elimination of schistosomiasis in China be adjusted by integrating the results of sentinel mice based surveys.

Host species and site of collection shape the microbiota of Rift Valley fever vectors in Kenya

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 7 June 2019 - 9:00pm

by David P. Tchouassi, Ephantus J. Muturi, Samwel O. Arum, Chang-Hyun Kim, Christopher J. Fields, Baldwyn Torto

The composition and structure of microbial communities associated with mosquitoes remain poorly understood despite their important role in host biology and potential to be harnessed as novel strategies for mosquito-borne disease control. We employed MiSeq sequencing of the 16S rRNA gene amplicons to characterize the bacterial flora of field-collected populations of Aedes mcintoshi and Aedes ochraceus, the primary vectors of Rift Valley fever (RVF) virus in Kenya. Proteobacteria (53.5%), Firmicutes (22.0%) and Actinobacteria (10.0%) were the most abundant bacterial phyla accounting for 85.5% of the total sequences. Non-metric multi-dimensional scaling plots based on Bray-Curtis dissimilarities revealed a clear grouping of the samples by mosquito species, indicating that the two mosquito species harbored distinct microbial communities. Microbial diversity, richness and composition was strongly influenced by the site of mosquito collection and overall, Ae. ochraceus had significantly higher microbial diversity and richness than Ae. mcintoshi. Our findings suggest that host species and site of collection are important determinants of bacterial community composition and diversity in RVF virus vectors and these differences likely contribute to the spatio-temporal transmission dynamics of RVF virus.

A single-dose ChAdOx1-vectored vaccine provides complete protection against Nipah Bangladesh and Malaysia in Syrian golden hamsters

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 6 June 2019 - 9:00pm

by Neeltje van Doremalen, Teresa Lambe, Sarah Sebastian, Trenton Bushmaker, Robert Fischer, Friederike Feldmann, Elaine Haddock, Michael Letko, Victoria A. Avanzato, Ilona Rissanen, Rachel LaCasse, Dana Scott, Thomas A. Bowden, Sarah Gilbert, Vincent Munster

Nipah virus (NiV) is a highly pathogenic re-emerging virus that causes outbreaks in South East Asia. Currently, no approved and licensed vaccine or antivirals exist. Here, we investigated the efficacy of ChAdOx1 NiVB, a simian adenovirus-based vaccine encoding NiV glycoprotein (G) Bangladesh, in Syrian hamsters. Prime-only as well as prime-boost vaccination resulted in uniform protection against a lethal challenge with NiV Bangladesh: all animals survived challenge and we were unable to find infectious virus either in oral swabs, lung or brain tissue. Furthermore, no pathological lung damage was observed. A single-dose of ChAdOx1 NiVB also prevented disease and lethality from heterologous challenge with NiV Malaysia. While we were unable to detect infectious virus in swabs or tissue of animals challenged with the heterologous strain, a very limited amount of viral RNA could be found in lung tissue by in situ hybridization. A single dose of ChAdOx1 NiVB also provided partial protection against Hendra virus and passive transfer of antibodies elicited by ChAdOx1 NiVB vaccination partially protected Syrian hamsters against NiV Bangladesh. From these data, we conclude that ChAdOx1 NiVB is a suitable candidate for further NiV vaccine pre-clinical development.

Disruption of the NlpD lipoprotein of the plague pathogen <i>Yersinia pestis</i> affects iron acquisition and the activity of the twin-arginine translocation system

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 6 June 2019 - 9:00pm

by Avital Tidhar, Yinon Levy, Ayelet Zauberman, Yaron Vagima, David Gur, Moshe Aftalion, Ofir Israeli, Theodor Chitlaru, Naomi Ariel, Yehuda Flashner, Anat Zvi, Emanuelle Mamroud

We have previously shown that the cell morphogenesis NlpD lipoprotein is essential for virulence of the plague bacteria, Yersinia pestis. To elucidate the role of NlpD in Y. pestis pathogenicity, we conducted a whole-genome comparative transcriptome analysis of the wild-type Y. pestis strain and an nlpD mutant under conditions mimicking early stages of infection. The analysis suggested that NlpD is involved in three phenomena: (i) Envelope stability/integrity evidenced by compensatory up-regulation of the Cpx and Psp membrane stress-response systems in the mutant; (ii) iron acquisition, supported by modulation of iron metabolism genes and by limited growth in iron-deprived medium; (iii) activity of the twin-arginine (Tat) system, which translocates folded proteins across the cytoplasmic membrane. Virulence studies of Y. pestis strains mutated in individual Tat components clearly indicated that the Tat system is central in Y. pestis pathogenicity and substantiated the assumption that NlpD essentiality in iron utilization involves the activity of the Tat system. This study reveals a new role for NlpD in Tat system activity and iron assimilation suggesting a modality by which this lipoprotein is involved in Y. pestis pathogenesis.

Regulatory T cells and IgE expression in duodenal mucosa of <i>Strongyloides stercoralis</i> and human T lymphotropic virus type 1 co-infected patients

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 6 June 2019 - 9:00pm

by Luis Malpica, A. Clinton White Jr., Cristina Leguia, Natalia Freundt, Nicolas Barros, Cesar Chian, E. Antonio Antunez, Martin Montes


Strongyloides stercoralis is an intestinal nematode unique in its ability to replicate in the human host, allowing ongoing cycles of autoinfection, persisting for decades within the same host. Although usually asymptomatic, overwhelming infections can occur in Strongyloides and HTLV-1 co-infected individuals (SS/HTLV-1). Regulatory T cells (Tregs) are able to blunt specific Th2 responses necessary to control the parasite. We previously reported that peripheral blood Tregs are increased in SS/HTLV-1 and correlate with low Th2 responses. We hypothesized that Tregs are also increased at the site of infection in duodenal mucosa.


Paraffin embedded duodenal biopsies were obtained from 10 SS/HTLV-1 patients, 3 controls with non-parasitic chronic duodenitis, and 2 healthy controls. Immunohistochemistry was performed using monoclonal antibodies against human CD3, CD8, IgE and FoxP3. The number of cells were counted using a conventional light microscope. The number of CD3+, CD8+, FP3+ and IgE positive cells per 0.35 mm2 was measured using ImagePro Plus software comparing areas adjacent or distant from parasite material.


In patients with SS/HTLV-1, T lymphocyte counts and CD8+ cells were lower in areas adjacent to the parasite compared to non-adjacent areas (CD3+: adjacent: 6.5 [Interquartile range (IQR: 2.8–12.3)]; non-adjacent: 24.5 [IQR: 20.9–34.4]; Mann-Whitney p = 0.0003; CD8+: adjacent: 4.5 [IQR: 2.3–11.8]; non-adjacent: 21 [IQR: 15.3–42.9]; Mann-Whitney p = 0.0011). Tregs cells in the intestines (FoxP3+ expressing cells) were increased in patients with SS/HTLV-1 compared with patients with chronic duodenitis (SS/HTLV-1: 1.5 [IQR: 0.7–2.3]; duodenitis controls: 0 [range 0–0.7]; healthy controls: 0; Mann-Whitney p = 0.034). There was also a trend towards fewer eosinophils adjacent to the parasites. Among SS/HTLV-1 patients the number of IgE expressing cells was increased for in areas not adjacent to the parasite compared to non-adjacent areas (ANOVA, p = 0.001).


Our data shows increased Treg cell numbers localized adjacent to the parasites in the duodenum SS/HTLV-1 patients. In addition, other T lymphocytes and IgE expressing cells were decreased adjacent to the parasites, suggesting an important role for Tregs in down-regulating local parasite effector responses.

Increased growth ability and pathogenicity of American- and Pacific-subtype Zika virus (ZIKV) strains compared with a Southeast Asian-subtype ZIKV strain

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 6 June 2019 - 9:00pm

by Yasuhiro Kawai, Eri Nakayama, Kenta Takahashi, Satoshi Taniguchi, Ken-ichi Shibasaki, Fumihiro Kato, Takahiro Maeki, Tadaki Suzuki, Shigeru Tajima, Masayuki Saijo, Chang-Kweng Lim

We investigated the growth properties and virulence in mice of three Zika virus (ZIKV) strains of Asian/American lineage, PRVABC59, ZIKV/Hu/Chiba/S36/2016 (ChibaS36), and ZIKV/Hu/NIID123/2016 (NIID123), belonging to the three distinct subtypes of this lineage. The American-subtype strain, PRVABC59, showed the highest growth potential in vitro, whereas the Southeast Asian-subtype strain, NIID123, showed the lowest proliferative capacity. Moreover, PRVABC59- and NIID123-infected mice showed the highest and lowest viremia levels and infectious virus levels in the testis, respectively, and the rate of damaged testis in PRVABC59-infected mice was higher than in mice infected with the other two strains. Lastly, ZIKV NS1 antigen was detected in the damaged testes of mice infected with PRVABC59 and the Pacific-subtype strain, ChibaS36, at 2 weeks post-inoculation and in the epididymides of PRVABC59-infected mice at 6 weeks post-inoculation. Our results indicate that PRVABC59 and ChibaS36 exhibit increased abilities to grow in vitro and in vivo and to induce testis damage in mice.

Identification of divergent <i>Leishmania</i> (<i>Viannia</i>) <i>braziliensis</i> ecotypes derived from a geographically restricted area through whole genome analysis

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 6 June 2019 - 9:00pm

by Bruna S. L. Figueiredo de Sá, Antonio M. Rezende, Osvaldo P. de Melo Neto, Maria Edileuza F. de Brito, Sinval P. Brandão Filho

Leishmania braziliensis, the main etiological agent of cutaneous leishmaniasis (CL) in Latin America, is characterized by major differences in basic biology in comparison with better-known Leishmania species. It is also associated with a high phenotypic and possibly genetic diversity that need to be more adequately defined. Here we used whole genome sequences to evaluate the genetic diversity of ten L. braziliensis isolates from a CL endemic area from Northeastern Brazil, previously classified by Multi Locus Enzyme Electrophoresis (MLEE) into ten distinct zymodemes. These sequences were first mapped using the L. braziliensis M2904 reference genome followed by identification of Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs). A substantial level of diversity was observed when compared with the reference genome, with SNP counts ranging from ~95,000 to ~131,000 for the different isolates. When the genome data was used to infer relationship between isolates, those belonging to zymodemes Z72/Z75, recovered from forested environments, were found to cluster separately from the others, generally associated with more urban environments. Among the remaining isolates, those from zymodemes Z74/Z106 were also found to form a separate group. Phylogenetic analyses were also performed using Multi-Locus Sequence Analysis from genes coding for four metabolic enzymes used for MLEE as well as the gene sequence coding for the Hsp70 heat shock protein. All 10 isolates were firmly identified as L. braziliensis, including the zymodeme Z26 isolate previously classified as Leishmania shawi, with the clustering into three groups confirmed. Aneuploidy was also investigated but found in general restricted to chromosome 31, with a single isolate, from zymodeme Z27, characterized by extra copies for other chromosomes. Noteworthy, both Z72 and Z75 isolates are characterized by a much reduced heterozygosity. Our data is consistent with the existence of distinct evolutionary groups in the restricted area sampled and a substantial genetic diversity within L. braziliensis.

Genetic changes associated with the temporal shift in invasive non-typhoidal <i>Salmonella</i> serovars in Bamako Mali

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 6 June 2019 - 9:00pm

by Kristin Bornstein, Sharon M. Tennant, Tracy H. Hazen, John D. Sorkin, Milagritos D. Tapia, Samba O. Sow, Uma Onwuchekwa, Myron M. Levine, David A. Rasko


Invasive non-typhoidal Salmonella (iNTS) serovars S. Typhimurium and S. Enteritidis are major etiologic agents of invasive bacterial disease among infants and young children in sub-Saharan Africa, including in Mali. Early studies of iNTS serovars in several countries indicated that S. Typhimurium was more prevalent than S. Enteritidis, including in Mali before 2008. We investigated genomic and associated phenotypic changes associated with an increase in the relative proportion of iNTS caused by S. Enteritidis versus S. Typhimurium in Bamako, Mali, during the period 2002–2012.

Methodology/Principal findings

Comparative genomics studies identified homologs of tetracycline resistance and arsenic utilization genes that were associated with the temporal shift of serovars causing iNTS shift, along with several hypothetical proteins. These findings, validated through PCR screening and phenotypic assays, provide initial steps towards characterizing the genomic changes consequent to unknown evolutionary pressures associated with the shift in serovar prevalence.


This work identified a shift to S. Enteritidis from the more classic S. Typhimurium, associated with iNTS in Bamako, Mali, during the period 2002–2012. This type of shift in underlying iNTS pathogens are of great importance to pediatric public health in endemic regions of sub-Saharan Africa. Additionally, this work demonstrates the utility of combining epidemiologic data, whole genome sequencing, and functional characterization in the laboratory to identify and characterize genomic changes in the isolates that may be involved with the observed shift in circulating iNTS agents.

Peripheral immune response in the African green monkey model following Nipah-Malaysia virus exposure by intermediate-size particle aerosol

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 5 June 2019 - 9:00pm

by Abigail Lara, Yu Cong, Peter B. Jahrling, Mark Mednikov, Elena Postnikova, Shuiqing Yu, Vincent Munster, Michael R. Holbrook

The ability to appropriately mimic human disease is critical for using animal models as a tool for understanding virus pathogenesis. In the case of Nipah virus (NiV), infection of humans appears to occur either through inhalation, contact with or consumption of infected material. In two of these circumstances, respiratory or sinusoidal exposure represents a likely route of infection. In this study, intermediate-size aerosol particles (~7 μm) of NiV-Malaysia were used to mimic potential routes of exposure by focusing viral deposition in the upper respiratory tract. Our previous report showed this route of exposure extended the disease course and a single animal survived the infection. Here, analysis of the peripheral immune response found minimal evidence of systemic inflammation and depletion of B cells during acute disease. However, the animal that survived infection developed an early IgM response with rapid development of neutralizing antibodies that likely afforded protection. The increase in NiV-specific antibodies correlated with an expansion of the B cell population in the survivor. Cell-mediated immunity was not clearly apparent in animals that succumbed during the acute phase of disease. However, CD4+ and CD8+ effector memory cells increased in the survivor with correlating increases in cytokines and chemokines associated with cell-mediated immunity. Interestingly, kinetic changes of the CD4+ and CD8bright T cell populations over the course of acute disease were opposite from animals that succumbed to infection. In addition, increases in NK cells and basophils during convalescence of the surviving animal were also evident, with viral antigen found in NK cells. These data suggest that a systemic inflammatory response and “cytokine storm” are not major contributors to NiV-Malaysia pathogenesis in the AGM model using this exposure route. Further, these data demonstrate that regulation of cell-mediated immunity, in addition to rapid production of NiV specific antibodies, may be critical for surviving NiV infection.

Linear growth in preschool children treated with mass azithromycin distributions for trachoma: A cluster-randomized trial

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 5 June 2019 - 9:00pm

by Jeremy D. Keenan, Sintayehu Gebresillasie, Nicole E. Stoller, Berhan A. Haile, Zerihun Tadesse, Sun Y. Cotter, Kathryn J. Ray, Kristen Aiemjoy, Travis C. Porco, E. Kelly Callahan, Paul M. Emerson, Thomas M. Lietman


Mass azithromycin distributions have been shown to reduce mortality among pre-school children in sub-Saharan Africa. It is unclear what mediates this mortality reduction, but one possibility is that antibiotics function as growth promoters for young children.

Methods and findings

24 rural Ethiopian communities that had received biannual mass azithromycin distributions over the previous four years were enrolled in a parallel-group, cluster-randomized trial. Communities were randomized in a 1:1 ratio to either continuation of biannual oral azithromycin (20mg/kg for children, 1 g for adults) or to no programmatic antibiotics over the 36 months of the study period. All community members 6 months and older were eligible for the intervention. The primary outcome was ocular chlamydia; height and weight were measured as secondary outcomes on children less than 60 months of age at months 12 and 36. Study participants were not masked; anthropometrists were not informed of the treatment allocation. Anthropometric measurements were collected for 282 children aged 0–36 months at the month 12 assessment and 455 children aged 0–59 months at the month 36 assessment, including 207 children who had measurements at both time points. After adjusting for age and sex, children were slightly but not significantly taller in the biannually treated communities (84.0 cm, 95%CI 83.2–84.8, in the azithromycin-treated communities vs. 83.7 cm, 95%CI 82.9–84.5, in the untreated communities; mean difference 0.31 cm, 95%CI -0.85 to 1.47, P = 0.60). No adverse events were reported.


Periodic mass azithromycin distributions for trachoma did not demonstrate a strong impact on childhood growth.

Trial registration

The TANA II trial was registered on #NCT01202331.

<i>Aedes aegypti</i> microRNA, miR-2944b-5p interacts with 3'UTR of chikungunya virus and cellular target vps-13 to regulate viral replication

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 5 June 2019 - 9:00pm

by Sunil Kumar Dubey, Jatin Shrinet, Sujatha Sunil


RNA interference is among the most important mechanisms that serve to restrict virus replication within mosquitoes, where microRNAs (miRNAs) are important in regulating viral replication and cellular functions. These miRNAs function by binding to complementary sequences mostly in the untranslated regions of the target. Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) genome consists of two open reading frames flanked by 5′ and 3′ untranslated regions on the two sides. A recent study from our laboratory has shown that Aedes miRNAs are regulated during CHIKV infection. The present study was undertaken to further understand the role of these miRNAs in CHIKV replication.


We observe that miR-2944b-5p binds to the 3′ untranslated region of CHIKV and the binding is abated when the binding sites are abolished. Loss-of-function studies of miR-2944b-5p using antagomirs, both in vitro and in vivo, reveal an increase in CHIKV viral replication, thereby directly implying a role of miR-2944b-5p in CHIKV replication. We further showed that the mitochondrial membrane potential of the mosquito cells is maintained by this miRNA during CHIKV replication, and cellular factor vps-13 plays a contributing role.


Our study has opened new avenues to understand vector-virus interactions and provides novel insights into CHIKV replication in Aedes aegypti. Furthermore, our study has shown miR-2944b-5p to be playing role, where one of its target vps-13 also contributes, in maintaining mitochondrial membrane potential in Aedes aegypti.

Modelling the impact of a <i>Schistosoma mansoni</i> vaccine and mass drug administration to achieve morbidity control and transmission elimination

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 5 June 2019 - 9:00pm

by Klodeta Kura, James E. Truscott, Jaspreet Toor, Roy M. Anderson

Mass drug administration (MDA) is, and has been, the principal method for the control of the schistosome helminths. Using MDA only is unlikely to eliminate the infection in areas of high transmission and the implementation of other measures such as reduced water contact improved hygiene and sanitation are required. Ideally a vaccine is needed to ensure long term benefits and eliminate the need for repeated drug treatment since infection does not seem to induce lasting protective immunity. Currently, a candidate vaccine is under trial in a baboon animal model, and very encouraging results have been reported. In this paper, we develop an individual-based stochastic model to evaluate the effect of a vaccine with similar properties in humans to those recorded in baboons in achieving the World Health Organization (WHO) goals of morbidity control and elimination as a public health problem in populations living in a variety of transmission settings. MDA and vaccination assuming different durations of protection and coverage levels, alone or in combination, are examined as treatment strategies to reach the WHO goals of the elimination of morbidity and mortality in the coming decade. We find that the efficacy of a vaccine as an adjunct or main control tool will depend critically on a number of factors including the average duration of protection it provides, vaccine efficacy and the baseline prevalence prior to immunization. In low prevalence settings, simulations suggest that the WHO goals can be achieved for all treatment strategies. In moderate prevalence settings, a vaccine that provides 5 years of protection, can achieve both goals within 15 years of treatment. In high prevalence settings, by vaccinating at age 1, 6 and 11 we can achieve the morbidity control with a probability of nearly 0.89 but we cannot achieve elimination as a public health problem goal. A combined vaccination and MDA treatment plan has the greatest chance of achieving the WHO goals in the shorter term.

On lifestyle trends, health and mosquitoes: Formulating welfare levels for control of the Asian tiger mosquito in Greece

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 4 June 2019 - 9:00pm

by Antonios Kolimenakis, Kostas Bithas, Dionysis Latinopoulos, Clive Richardson

The expansion of urban ecosystems and climate change, both outcomes of massive lifestyle changes, contribute to a series of side effects such as environmental deterioration, spread of diseases, increased greenhouse gas emissions and introduction of invasive species. In the case of the Athens metropolitan area, an invasive mosquito species—the Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus)–has spread widely in the last decade. This spread is favoured within urban environments and is also affected by changing climatic trends. The Asian tiger mosquito is accompanied by risks of mosquito-borne diseases, greater nuisance levels, and increased expenses incurring for its confrontation. The main aims of this paper are (i) to estimate the various costs associated with their control of this invasive species, as well as its health and nuisance impacts, (ii) to evaluate the level of citizens’ well-being from averting these impacts and (iii) to record citizens’ and experts’ perceptions regarding alternative control measures. Evidence shows that experts tend to place a high value on mosquito control when associated with serious health risks, while citizens are more sensitive and concerned about the environmental impacts of control methods. The synthesis of results produced by the current study could act as a preliminary guide for the estimation of societal welfare from the confrontation of similar problems in the context of a complex ecosystem.

Antifungal activity of two oxadiazole compounds for the paracoccidioidomycosis treatment

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 4 June 2019 - 9:00pm

by Franciele Abigail Vilugron Rodrigues-Vendramini, Daniella Renata Faria, Glaucia Sayuri Arita, Isis Regina Grenier Capoci, Karina Mayumi Sakita, Silvana Martins Caparroz-Assef, Tania Cristina Alexandrino Becker, Patrícia de Souza Bonfim-Mendonça, Maria Sueli Felipe, Terezinha Inez Estivalet Svidzinski, Bernard Maigret, Érika Seki Kioshima

Paracoccidioidomycosis (PCM) is a neglected disease present in Latin America with difficulty in treatment and occurrence of serious sequelae. Thus, the development of alternative therapies is imperative. In the current work, two oxadiazole compounds (LMM5 and LMM11) presented fungicidal activity against Paracoccidioides spp. The minimum inhibitory and fungicidal concentration values ranged from 1 to 32 μg/mL, and a synergic effect was observed for both compounds when combined with Amphotericin B. LMM5 and LMM11 were able to reduce CFU counts (≥2 log10) on the 5th and 7th days of time-kill curve, respectively. The fungicide effect was confirmed by fluorescence microscopy (FUN-1/FUN-2). The hippocratic screening and biochemical analysis were performed in Balb/c male mice that received a high dose of each compound, and the compounds showed no in vivo toxicity. The treatment of experimental PCM with the new oxadiazoles led to significant reduction in CFU (≥1 log10). Histopathological analysis of the groups treated exhibited control of inflammation, as well as preserved lung areas. These findings suggest that LMM5 and LMM11 are promising hits structures, opening the door for implementing new PCM therapies.

Clinical and epidemiological features of paracoccidioidomycosis due to <i>Paracoccidioides lutzii</i>

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 4 June 2019 - 9:00pm

by Rosane Christine Hahn, Anderson Messias Rodrigues, Paula Portella Della Terra, Andréia Ferreira Nery, Hugo Dias Hoffmann-Santos, Hellen Meira Góis, Cor Jesus Fernandes Fontes, Zoilo Pires de Camargo


The fungus Paracoccidioides lutzii was recently included as a new causative species of paracoccidioidomycosis (PCM) and most cases have been reported from Brazil. According to available epidemiological information, P. lutzii is concentrated in the Middle-West region in Brazil, mainly in the state of Mato Grosso. However, clinical and laboratorial data available on patients infected with P. lutzii remain extremely limited.

Methodology/Main findings

This work describes the clinical manifestations of 34 patients suffering from PCM caused by P. lutzii, treated along 5 years (2011–2017) at a reference service center for systemic mycoses in Mato Grosso, Brazil. Adult rural workers (men), aged between 28 and 67 predominated. All patients had the chronic form of the disease, and the oral mucosa (n = 19; 55.9%), lymph nodes (n = 23; 67.7%), skin (n = 16; 47.1%) and lung (n = 28; 82.4%) were the most affected sites. Alcohol intake (n = 19; 55.9%) and smoking (n = 29; 85.3%) were frequent habits among the patients. No patient suffered from any other life-threatening disease, such as tuberculosis, cancer or other inflammatory or infectious parasitic diseases. The positivity in culture examination (97.1%) was higher than that found for the direct mycological examination (88.2%). Particularly, one patient presented fungemia at diagnosis, which lead to his death. The time elapsed between the initial symptoms and the initiation of treatment of PCM caused by P. lutzii was 19.7 (31.5) months, with most patients diagnosed 7 months after the symptoms’ onset.


Compared with the classical clinical-epidemiological profile of PCM caused by P. brasiliensis, the results of this descriptive study did not show significant clinical or epidemiological differences that could be attributed to the species P. lutzii. Future studies may confirm or refute the existence of clinical differences between the two fungal species.

The diversity, evolution and ecology of <i>Salmonella</i> in venomous snakes

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 4 June 2019 - 9:00pm

by Caisey V. Pulford, Nicolas Wenner, Martha L. Redway, Ella V. Rodwell, Hermione J. Webster, Roberta Escudero, Carsten Kröger, Rocío Canals, Will Rowe, Javier Lopez, Neil Hall, Paul D. Rowley, Dorina Timofte, Robert A. Harrison, Kate S. Baker, Jay C. D. Hinton


Reptile-associated Salmonella bacteria are a major, but often neglected cause of both gastrointestinal and bloodstream infection in humans globally. The diversity of Salmonella enterica has not yet been determined in venomous snakes, however other ectothermic animals have been reported to carry a broad range of Salmonella bacteria. We investigated the prevalence and diversity of Salmonella in a collection of venomous snakes and non-venomous reptiles.

Methodology/Principle findings

We used a combination of selective enrichment techniques to establish a unique dataset of reptilian isolates to study Salmonella enterica species-level evolution and ecology and used whole-genome sequencing to investigate the relatedness of phylogenetic groups. We observed that 91% of venomous snakes carried Salmonella, and found that a diverse range of serovars (n = 58) were carried by reptiles. The Salmonella serovars belonged to four of the six Salmonella enterica subspecies: diarizonae, enterica, houtanae and salamae. Subspecies enterica isolates were distributed among two distinct phylogenetic clusters, previously described as clade A (52%) and clade B (48%). We identified metabolic differences between S. diarizonae, S. enterica clade A and clade B involving growth on lactose, tartaric acid, dulcitol, myo-inositol and allantoin.


We present the first whole genome-based comparative study of the Salmonella bacteria that colonise venomous and non-venomous reptiles and shed new light on Salmonella evolution. Venomous snakes examined in this study carried a broad range of Salmonella, including serovars which have been associated with disease in humans such as S. Enteritidis. The findings raise the possibility that venomous snakes could be a reservoir for Salmonella serovars associated with human salmonellosis.

Field diagnosis and genotyping of chikungunya virus using a dried reverse transcription loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) assay and MinION sequencing

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 3 June 2019 - 9:00pm

by Kyoko Hayashida, Yasuko Orba, Patricia C. Sequeira, Chihiro Sugimoto, William W. Hall, Yuki Eshita, Yutaka Suzuki, Lucky Runtuwene, Patricia Brasil, Guilherme Calvet, Cintia D. S. Rodrigues, Carolina C. dos Santos, Maria A. M. Mares-Guia, Junya Yamagishi, Ana M. B. de Filippis, Hirofumi Sawa

Detection and sequencing of chikungunya virus (CHIKV) genome was performed using a combination of a modified reverse transcription loop-mediated isothermal amplification (RT-LAMP) method and a MinION sequencer. We developed the protocol for drying all the reagents for the RT-LAMP in a single reaction tube. Using this system, the CHIKV genome was effectively amplified under isothermal conditions, and used as a template for MinION sequencing with a laptop computer. Our in-house RT-LAMP method and MinION sequencing system were also validated with RNAs and serum samples from recent outbreaks of CHIKV patients in Brazil. The obtained sequence data confirmed the CHIKV outbreaks and identified the genotype. In summary, our established inexpensive on-site genome detection and sequencing system is applicable for both diagnosis of CHIKV infected patients and genotyping of the CHIKV virus in future outbreak in remote areas.

<i>Plasmodium knowlesi</i> as a model system for characterising <i>Plasmodium vivax</i> drug resistance candidate genes

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 3 June 2019 - 9:00pm

by Lisa H. Verzier, Rachael Coyle, Shivani Singh, Theo Sanderson, Julian C. Rayner

Plasmodium vivax causes the majority of malaria outside Africa, but is poorly understood at a cellular level partly due to technical difficulties in maintaining it in in vitro culture conditions. In the past decades, drug resistant P. vivax parasites have emerged, mainly in Southeast Asia, but while some molecular markers of resistance have been identified, none have so far been confirmed experimentally, which limits interpretation of the markers, and hence our ability to monitor and control the spread of resistance. Some of these potential markers have been identified through P. vivax genome-wide population genetic analyses, which highlighted genes under recent evolutionary selection in Southeast Asia, where chloroquine resistance is most prevalent. These genes could be involved in drug resistance, but no experimental proof currently exists to support this hypothesis. In this study, we used Plasmodium knowlesi, the most closely related species to P. vivax that can be cultured in human erythrocytes, as a model system to express P. vivax genes and test for their role in drug resistance. We adopted a strategy of episomal expression, and were able to express fourteen P. vivax genes, including two allelic variants of several hypothetical resistance genes. Their expression level and localisation were assessed, confirming cellular locations conjectured from orthologous species, and suggesting locations for several previously unlocalised proteins, including an apical location for PVX_101445. These findings establish P. knowlesi as a suitable model for P. vivax protein expression. We performed chloroquine and mefloquine drug assays, finding no significant differences in drug sensitivity: these results could be due to technical issues, or could indicate that these genes are not actually involved in drug resistance, despite being under positive selection pressure in Southeast Asia. These data confirm that in vitro P. knowlesi is a useful tool for studying P. vivax biology. Its close evolutionary relationship to P. vivax, high transfection efficiency, and the availability of markers for colocalisation, all make it a powerful model system. Our study is the first of its kind using P. knowlesi to study unknown P. vivax proteins and investigate drug resistance mechanisms.

Asymptomatic immune responders to <i>Leishmania</i> among HIV positive patients

PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases News - 3 June 2019 - 9:00pm

by Laura Botana, Ana Victoria Ibarra-Meneses, Carmen Sánchez, Alicia Castro, Juan Victor San Martin, Laura Molina, Jose Manuel Ruiz-Giardin, Eugenia Carrillo, Javier Moreno

Concomitant infection with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and the Leishmania parasite is a growing public health problem, the result of the former spreading to areas where the latter is endemic. Leishmania infection is usually asymptomatic in immunocompetent individuals, but the proportion of HIV+ individuals in contact with the parasite who remain asymptomatic is not known. The aim of the present work was to examine the use of cytokine release assays in the detection of asymptomatic immune responders to Leishmania among HIV+ patients with no previous leishmaniasis or current symptomatology. Eighty two HIV+ patients (all from Fuenlabrada, Madrid, Spain, where a leishmaniasis outbreak occurred in 2009) were examined for Leishmania infantum infection using molecular and humoral response-based methods. None returned a positive molecular or serological result for the parasite. Thirteen subjects showed a positive lymphoproliferative response to soluble Leishmania antigen (SLA), although the mean CD4+ T lymphocyte counts of these patients was below the normal range. Stimulation of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) or whole blood with SLA (the lymphoproliferative assay and whole blood assay respectively), led to the production of specific cytokines and chemokines. Thus, despite being immunocompromised, HIV+ patients can maintain a Th1-type cellular response to Leishmania. In addition, cytokine release assays would appear to be useful tools for detecting these individuals via the identification of IFN-γ in the supernatants of SLA-stimulated PBMC, and of IFN-γ, MIG and IL-2 in SLA-stimulated whole blood. These biomarkers appear to be 100% reliable for detecting asymptomatic immune responders to Leishmania among HIV+ patients.