ResearchPad - apicomplexa https://www.researchpad.co Default RSS Feed en-us © 2020 Newgen KnowledgeWorks <![CDATA[Single-cell transcription analysis of <i>Plasmodium vivax</i> blood-stage parasites identifies stage- and species-specific profiles of expression]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_14651 Analysis of individual Plasmodium vivax parasites reveals the tight control of the expression of most genes during the intra-erythrocytic cycle and the differentiation of male and female gametocytes, and highlights differences between the development of P. vivax and P. falciparum.

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<![CDATA[Cytokine signatures of <i>Plasmodium vivax</i> infection during pregnancy and delivery outcomes]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_14648 Cytokine and growth factor plasma concentrations were evaluated in women from five countries endemic for malaria vivax, at different moments and blood compartments during pregnancy. P. vivax infection during pregnancy was associated with a pro-inflammatory and TH1 response, together with an antiinflammatory response. Nevertheless, at delivery most associations between cytokines and infection were lost. Of note, CCL11/eotaxin, a chemokine not generally analyzed in malaria studies, presented a lower concentration in P. vivax-infected women and a protective association with hemoglobin levels at delivery. Moreover, IL-4 levels had a negative association with birth weight. Data suggest that a compensated inflammatory/antiinflammatory response in P. vivax infection during pregnancy might avoid poor delivery outcomes, while a predominance of TH2 responses may be detrimental for birth weight. Further research is warranted to unravel the role of CCL11 in malaria infection or exposure.

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<![CDATA[Novel malaria antigen <i>Plasmodium yoelii</i> E140 induces antibody-mediated sterile protection in mice against malaria challenge]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_14592 Only a small fraction of the antigens expressed by malaria parasites have been evaluated as vaccine candidates. A successful malaria subunit vaccine will likely require multiple antigenic targets to achieve broad protection with high protective efficacy. Here we describe protective efficacy of a novel antigen, Plasmodium yoelii (Py) E140 (PyE140), evaluated against P. yoelii challenge of mice. Vaccines targeting PyE140 reproducibly induced up to 100% sterile protection in both inbred and outbred murine challenge models. Although PyE140 immunization induced high frequency and multifunctional CD8+ T cell responses, as well as CD4+ T cell responses, protection was mediated by PyE140 antibodies acting against blood stage parasites. Protection in mice was long-lasting with up to 100% sterile protection at twelve weeks post-immunization and durable high titer anti-PyE140 antibodies. The E140 antigen is expressed in all Plasmodium species, is highly conserved in both P. falciparum lab-adapted strains and endemic circulating parasites, and is thus a promising lead vaccine candidate for future evaluation against human malaria parasite species.

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<![CDATA[Quantification of glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase activity by spectrophotometry: A systematic review and meta-analysis]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_14551 Complete cure of vivax malaria, the most geographically widespread malaria species, requires the use of 8-aminoquinoline drugs to clear dormant liver stages of the parasite (‘radical cure’); however, these drugs can cause severe haemolysis in individuals with glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency.Ultraviolet (UV) spectrophotometry is used as the reference test to measure G6PD activity, for validating new point-of-care diagnostics, and to determine population-specific definitions of G6PD deficiency.Currently, there is no universal threshold to define G6PD deficiency, and each laboratory must invest time and resources to derive site- and laboratory-specific definitions of G6PD deficiency.What did the researchers do and find?We pooled measurements of G6PD activity from studies conducted across different countries and laboratories worldwide.We assessed the comparability of spectrophotometry results between these laboratories to see whether a universal definition and diagnostic cutoff for G6PD deficiency could be determined.There was substantial variation in the performance and absolute measurements of spectrophotometry conducted in different laboratories, hindering the definition of a universal cutoff for G6PD deficiency.What do these findings mean?These findings highlight the importance of quality-control measures to minimise the influence of laboratory procedures on observed measurements.The data suggest that while a robust universal, assay-specific G6PD activity cutoff value can be established for diagnosis of severe G6PD deficiency (<30% normal enzyme activity), this approach is less robust for diagnosing intermediate G6PD deficiency.Newly developed diagnostic assays that are less sensitive to laboratory conditions and require less sample preparation are required and may help provide more standardised quantitative G6PD activity measurements across different contexts. ]]> <![CDATA[A mathematical model for assessing the effectiveness of controlling relapse in Plasmodium vivax malaria endemic in the Republic of Korea]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/Nf3d8dda1-10e2-4286-9776-07d534017a03

Malaria has persisted as an endemic near the Demilitarized Zone in the Republic of Korea since the re-emergence of Plasmodium vivax malaria in 1993. The number of patients affected by malaria has increased recently despite many controls tools, one of the reasons behind which is the relapse of malaria via liver hypnozoites. Tafenoquine, a new drug approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration in 2018, is expected to reduce the rate of relapse of malaria hypnozoites and thereby decrease the prevalence of malaria among the population. In this work, we have developed a new transmission model for Plasmodium vivax that takes into account a more realistic intrinsic distribution from existing literature to quantify the current values of relapse parameters and to evaluate the effectiveness of the anti-relapse therapy. The model is especially suitable for estimating parameters near the Demilitarized Zone in Korea, in which the disease follows a distinguishable seasonality. Results were shown that radical cure could significantly reduce the prevalence level of malaria. However, eradication would still take a long time (over 10 years) even if the high-level treatment were to persist. In addition, considering that the vector’s behavior is manipulated by the malaria parasite, relapse repression through vector control at the current level may result in a negative effect in containing the disease. We conclude that the use of effective drugs should be considered together with the increased level of the vector control to reduce malaria prevalence.

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<![CDATA[Behavior and abundance of Anopheles darlingi in communities living in the Colombian Amazon riverside]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c8acc3ed5eed0c48498f2cc

In the past few years, relative frequencies of malaria parasite species in communities living in the Colombian Amazon riverside have changed, being Plasmodium vivax (61.4%) and Plasmodium malariae (43.8%) the most frequent. Given this epidemiological scenario, it is important to determine the species of anophelines involved in these parasites’ transmission. This study was carried out in June 2016 in two indigenous communities living close to the tributaries of the Amazon River using protected human bait. The results of this study showed a total abundance of 1,085 mosquitos, of which 99.2% corresponded to Anopheles darlingi. Additionally, only two anopheline species were found, showing low diversity in the study areas. Molecular confirmation of some individuals was then followed by evolutionary analysis by using the COI gene. Nested PCR was used for identifying the three Plasmodium species circulating in the study areas. Of the two species collected in this study, 21.0% of the An. darlingi mosquitoes were infected with P. malariae, 21.9% with P. vivax and 10.3% with Plasmodium falciparum. It exhibited exophilic and exophagic behavior in both study areas, having marked differences regarding its abundance in each community (Tipisca first sampling 49.4%, Tipisca second sampling 39.6% and Doce de Octubre 10.9%). Interestingly, An. mattogrossensis infected by P. vivax was found for the first time in Colombia (in 50% of the four females collected). Analysis of An. darlingi COI gene diversity indicated a single population maintaining a high gene flow between the study areas. The An. darlingi behavior pattern found in both communities represents a risk factor for the region’s inhabitants living/working near these sites. This highlights the need for vector control efforts such as the use of personal repellents and insecticides for use on cattle, which must be made available in order to reduce this Anopheline’s abundance.

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<![CDATA[Phosphodiesterase beta is the master regulator of cAMP signalling during malaria parasite invasion]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c99020cd5eed0c484b97558

Cyclic nucleotide signalling is a major regulator of malaria parasite differentiation. Phosphodiesterase (PDE) enzymes are known to control cyclic GMP (cGMP) levels in the parasite, but the mechanisms by which cyclic AMP (cAMP) is regulated remain enigmatic. Here, we demonstrate that Plasmodium falciparum phosphodiesterase β (PDEβ) hydrolyses both cAMP and cGMP and is essential for blood stage viability. Conditional gene disruption causes a profound reduction in invasion of erythrocytes and rapid death of those merozoites that invade. We show that this dual phenotype results from elevated cAMP levels and hyperactivation of the cAMP-dependent protein kinase (PKA). Phosphoproteomic analysis of PDEβ-null parasites reveals a >2-fold increase in phosphorylation at over 200 phosphosites, more than half of which conform to a PKA substrate consensus sequence. We conclude that PDEβ plays a critical role in governing correct temporal activation of PKA required for erythrocyte invasion, whilst suppressing untimely PKA activation during early intra-erythrocytic development.

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<![CDATA[In vitro and ex vivo evaluation of the anti-Giardia duodenalis activity of the supernatant of Slab51 (SivoMixx)]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c8acce0d5eed0c4849901f8

The effects on Giardia duodenalis of Slab51 probiotic supernatants were evaluated in vitro and ex vivo. In vitro, Slab51 (101 UFC) was cultured and the obtained supernatant was filtered, adjusted at pH 7, and added (100μl/ml) as such (Slab51 FS) or after heat-treatment, to G. duodenalis cultures to evaluate its effects on G. duodenalis trophozoites growth and adherence. For comparison, negative and metronidazole (20μg/ml) treated controls were used. The morphological and ultrastructural alterations of G. duodenals trophozoites following treatment with Slab51 FS supernatant were investigated by transmission electron microscopy. Ex vivo, mice duodenal portions were cultivated in standard conditions with 5x105 G. duodenalis trophozoites/ml, while to further five duodenal portions similarly cultured and infected, Slab51 FS 200μl was added. After 12 and 18h, samples were fixed in 10% buffered formalin and histologically processed to score Giardia infection and cell damage. Cell proliferation/apoptosis was scored by Ki67, TUNEL and Caspase–3 tests. All experiments were conducted in triplicate throughout the study. All data were statistically evaluated (P< 0.05). Results showed that Slab51 FS significantly reduced Giardia growth and adherence respect to negative controls, but its efficacy was overall lower than that of metronidazole. Moreover, the effects of Slab51 FS were significantly lowered by heat-treatment and this reduction was statistically higher at 90°C than at 56°C, indicating a heat-sensitive nature of active Slab51 FS compounds. At the ultrastructural level, Slab51 FS treated Giardia trophozoites were swelling, increased in size and showed alterations of their cellular membrane and vacuole patterns, loss of the nuclear envelope and nuclear architecture. In ex vivo trials, viable G. duodenalis trophozoites and enterocyte TUNEL+ and Caspase-3 expression were significantly reduced in intestinal sections added with Slab51 FS, while enterocyte Ki67 expression was significantly increased, confirming the anti-G. duodenalis activity of Slab51 FS observed in vitro. In conclusion, results from this study showed that the fresh culture supernatant of the commercial probiotic Slab51 has anti-G. duodenalis properties both in vitro and ex vivo in a mouse model.

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<![CDATA[Host-parasite interaction explains variation in the prevalence of avian haemosporidians at the community level]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c897744d5eed0c4847d2876

Parasites are a selective force that shape host community structure and dynamics, but host communities can also influence parasitism. Understanding the dual nature from host-parasite interactions can be facilitated by quantifying the variation in parasite prevalence among host species and then comparing that variation to other ecological factors that are known to also shape host communities. Avian haemosporidian parasites (e.g. Plasmodium and Haemoproteus) are abundant and widespread representing an excellent model for the study of host-parasite interactions. Several geographic and environmental factors have been suggested to determine prevalence of avian haemosporidians in bird communities. However, it remains unknown whether host and parasite traits, represented by phylogenetic distances among species and degree of specialization in host-parasite relationships, can influence infection status. The aims of this study were to analyze factors affecting infection status in a bird community and to test whether the degree of parasite specialization on their hosts is determined by host traits. Our statistical analyses suggest that infection status is mainly determined by the interaction between host species and parasite lineages where tolerance and/or susceptibility to parasites plays an essential role. Additionally, we found that although some of the parasite lineages infected a low number of bird individuals, the species they infected were distantly related and therefore the parasites themselves should not be considered typical host specialists. Infection status was higher for generalist than for specialist parasites in some, but not all, host species. These results suggest that detected prevalence in a species mainly results from the interaction between host immune defences and parasite exploitation strategies wherein the result of an association between particular parasite lineages and particular host species is idiosyncratic.

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<![CDATA[Antibody responses to Plasmodium vivax Duffy binding and Erythrocyte binding proteins predict risk of infection and are associated with protection from clinical Malaria]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c706793d5eed0c4847c7266

Background

The Plasmodium vivax Duffy Binding Protein (PvDBP) is a key target of naturally acquired immunity. However, region II of PvDBP, which contains the receptor-binding site, is highly polymorphic. The natural acquisition of antibodies to different variants of PvDBP region II (PvDBPII), including the AH, O, P and Sal1 alleles, the central region III-V (PvDBPIII-V), and P. vivax Erythrocyte Binding Protein region II (PvEBPII) and their associations with risk of clinical P. vivax malaria are not well understood.

Methodology

Total IgG and IgG subclasses 1, 2, and 3 that recognize four alleles of PvDBPII (AH, O, P, and Sal1), PvDBPIII-V and PvEBPII were measured in samples collected from a cohort of 1 to 3 year old Papua New Guinean (PNG) children living in a highly endemic area of PNG. The levels of binding inhibitory antibodies (BIAbs) to PvDBPII (AH, O, and Sal1) were also tested in a subset of children. The association of presence of IgG with age, cumulative exposure (measured as the product of age and malaria infections during follow-up) and prospective risk of clinical malaria were evaluated.

Results

The increase in antigen-specific total IgG, IgG1, and IgG3 with age and cumulative exposure was only observed for PvDBPII AH and PvEBPII. High levels of total IgG and predominant subclass IgG3 specific for PvDBPII AH were associated with decreased incidence of clinical P. vivax episodes (aIRR = 0.56–0.68, P≤0.001–0.021). High levels of total IgG and IgG1 to PvEBPII correlated strongly with protection against clinical vivax malaria compared with IgGs against all PvDBPII variants (aIRR = 0.38, P<0.001). Antibodies to PvDBPII AH and PvEBPII showed evidence of an additive effect, with a joint protective association of 70%.

Conclusion

Antibodies to the key parasite invasion ligands PvDBPII and PvEBPII are good correlates of protection against P. vivax malaria in PNG. This further strengthens the rationale for inclusion of PvDBPII in a recombinant subunit vaccine for P. vivax malaria and highlights the need for further functional studies to determine the potential of PvEBPII as a component of a subunit vaccine for P. vivax malaria.

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<![CDATA[Algorithms for sequential interpretation of a malaria rapid diagnostic test detecting two different targets of Plasmodium species to improve diagnostic accuracy in a rural setting (Nanoro, Burkina Faso)]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c6dc99fd5eed0c484529f2d

Background

Malaria rapid diagnostic tests (RDT) have limitations due to the persistence of histidine-rich protein 2 (HRP2) antigen after treatment and low sensitivity of Plasmodium lactate dehydrogenase (pLDH) based RDTs. To improve the diagnosis of malaria in febrile children, two diagnostic algorithms, based on sequential interpretation of a malaria rapid diagnostic test detecting two different targets of Plasmodium species and followed by expert microscopy, were evaluated.

Methods

Two diagnostic algorithms were evaluated using 407 blood samples collected between April and October 2016 from febrile children and the diagnostic accuracy of both algorithms was determined. Algorithm 1: The result of line T1-HRP2 were read first; if negative, malaria infection was considered to be absent. If positive, confirmation was done with the line T2-pLDH. If T2-pLDH test was negative, the malaria diagnosis was considered as “inconclusive” and microscopy was performed; Algorithm 2: The result of line T2-pLDH were read first; if positive, malaria infection was considered to be present. If negative, confirmation was done with the line T1-HRP2. If T1-HRP2 was positive the malaria diagnosis was considered as “inconclusive” and microscopy was performed. In absence of malaria microscopy, a malaria infection was ruled out in children with an inconclusive diagnostic test result when previous antimalarial treatment was reported.

Results

For single interpretation, the sensitivity of PfHRP2 was 98.4% and the specificity was 74.2%, and for the pLDH test the sensitivity was 89.3% and the specificity was 98.8%. Malaria was accurately diagnosed using both algorithms in 84.5% children. The algorithms with the two-line malaria RDT classified the test results into two groups: conclusive and inconclusive results. The diagnostic accuracy for conclusive results was 98.3% using diagnostic algorithm 1 and 98.6% using algorithm 2. The sensitivity and specificity for the conclusive results were 98.2% and 98.4% for algorithm 1, and 98.6% and 98.4% for algorithm 2, respectively. There were 63 (15.5%) children who had an “inconclusive” result for whom expert microscopy was needed. In children with inconclusive results (PfHRP2+/pLDH- only) previous antimalarial treatment was reported in 16 children with malaria negative microscopy (16/40; 40%) and 1 child with malaria positive microscopy (1/23; 4.3%).

Conclusion

The strategy of sequential interpretation of two-line malaria RDT can improve the diagnosis of malaria. However, some cases will still require confirmative testing with microscopy or additional investigations on previous antimalarial treatment.

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<![CDATA[A mutagenesis screen for essential plastid biogenesis genes in human malaria parasites]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c648d3cd5eed0c484c82311

Endosymbiosis has driven major molecular and cellular innovations. Plasmodium spp. parasites that cause malaria contain an essential, non-photosynthetic plastid—the apicoplast—which originated from a secondary (eukaryote–eukaryote) endosymbiosis. To discover organellar pathways with evolutionary and biomedical significance, we performed a mutagenesis screen for essential genes required for apicoplast biogenesis in Plasmodium falciparum. Apicoplast(−) mutants were isolated using a chemical rescue that permits conditional disruption of the apicoplast and a new fluorescent reporter for organelle loss. Five candidate genes were validated (out of 12 identified), including a triosephosphate isomerase (TIM)-barrel protein that likely derived from a core metabolic enzyme but evolved a new activity. Our results demonstrate, to our knowledge, the first forward genetic screen to assign essential cellular functions to unannotated P. falciparum genes. A putative TIM-barrel enzyme and other newly identified apicoplast biogenesis proteins open opportunities to discover new mechanisms of organelle biogenesis, molecular evolution underlying eukaryotic diversity, and drug targets against multiple parasitic diseases.

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<![CDATA[Growing evidence of Plasmodium vivax across malaria-endemic Africa]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c5ca2d6d5eed0c48441eb93

Effective malaria control strategies require an accurate understanding of the epidemiology of locally transmitted Plasmodium species. Compared to Plasmodium falciparum infection, Plasmodium vivax has a lower asexual parasitaemia, forms dormant liver-stages (hypnozoites), and is more transmissible. Hence, treatment and diagnostic policies aimed exclusively at P. falciparum are far less efficient against endemic P. vivax. Within sub-Saharan Africa, malaria control programmes justly focus on reducing the morbidity and mortality associated with P. falciparum. However, the recent emphasis on malaria elimination and increased accessibility of more sensitive diagnostic tools have revealed greater intricacies in malaria epidemiology across the continent. Since 2010, the number of studies identifying P. vivax endemic to Africa has expanded considerably, with 88 new scientific reports published since a review of evidence in 2015, approximately doubling the available data. There is evidence of P. vivax in all regions of Africa, apparent from infected vectors, clinical cases, serological indicators, parasite prevalence, exported infections, and P. vivax-infected Duffy-negative individuals. Where the prevalence of microscopic parasitaemia is low, a greater proportion of P. vivax infections were observed relative to P. falciparum. This evidence highlights an underlying widespread presence of P. vivax across all malaria-endemic regions of Africa, further complicating the current practical understanding of malaria epidemiology in this region. Thus, ultimate elimination of malaria in Africa will require national malaria control programmes to adopt policy and practice aimed at all human species of malaria.

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<![CDATA[The impact of targeted malaria elimination with mass drug administrations on falciparum malaria in Southeast Asia: A cluster randomised trial]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c706743d5eed0c4847c6ce8

Background

The emergence and spread of multidrug-resistant Plasmodium falciparum in the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) threatens global malaria elimination efforts. Mass drug administration (MDA), the presumptive antimalarial treatment of an entire population to clear the subclinical parasite reservoir, is a strategy to accelerate malaria elimination. We report a cluster randomised trial to assess the effectiveness of dihydroartemisinin-piperaquine (DP) MDA in reducing falciparum malaria incidence and prevalence in 16 remote village populations in Myanmar, Vietnam, Cambodia, and the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, where artemisinin resistance is prevalent.

Methods and findings

After establishing vector control and community-based case management and following intensive community engagement, we used restricted randomisation within village pairs to select 8 villages to receive early DP MDA and 8 villages as controls for 12 months, after which the control villages received deferred DP MDA. The MDA comprised 3 monthly rounds of 3 daily doses of DP and, except in Cambodia, a single low dose of primaquine. We conducted exhaustive cross-sectional surveys of the entire population of each village at quarterly intervals using ultrasensitive quantitative PCR to detect Plasmodium infections. The study was conducted between May 2013 and July 2017. The investigators randomised 16 villages that had a total of 8,445 residents at the start of the study. Of these 8,445 residents, 4,135 (49%) residents living in 8 villages, plus an additional 288 newcomers to the villages, were randomised to receive early MDA; 3,790 out of the 4,423 (86%) participated in at least 1 MDA round, and 2,520 out of the 4,423 (57%) participated in all 3 rounds. The primary outcome, P. falciparum prevalence by month 3 (M3), fell by 92% (from 5.1% [171/3,340] to 0.4% [12/2,828]) in early MDA villages and by 29% (from 7.2% [246/3,405] to 5.1% [155/3,057]) in control villages. Over the following 9 months, the P. falciparum prevalence increased to 3.3% (96/2,881) in early MDA villages and to 6.1% (128/2,101) in control villages (adjusted incidence rate ratio 0.41 [95% CI 0.20 to 0.84]; p = 0.015). Individual protection was proportional to the number of completed MDA rounds. Of 221 participants with subclinical P. falciparum infections who participated in MDA and could be followed up, 207 (94%) cleared their infections, including 9 of 10 with artemisinin- and piperaquine-resistant infections. The DP MDAs were well tolerated; 6 severe adverse events were detected during the follow-up period, but none was attributable to the intervention.

Conclusions

Added to community-based basic malaria control measures, 3 monthly rounds of DP MDA reduced the incidence and prevalence of falciparum malaria over a 1-year period in areas affected by artemisinin resistance. P. falciparum infections returned during the follow-up period as the remaining infections spread and malaria was reintroduced from surrounding areas. Limitations of this study include a relatively small sample of villages, heterogeneity between villages, and mobility of villagers that may have limited the impact of the intervention. These results suggest that, if used as part of a comprehensive, well-organised, and well-resourced elimination programme, DP MDA can be a useful additional tool to accelerate malaria elimination.

Trial registration

ClinicalTrials.gov NCT01872702

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<![CDATA[Prevalence of malaria and hepatitis B among pregnant women in Northern Ghana: Comparing RDTs with PCR]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c648d4fd5eed0c484c8250b

Background

High prevalence of malaria and hepatitis B has been reported among pregnant women in Ghana. In endemic areas, the diagnoses of malaria and hepatitis B among pregnant women on antenatal visits are done using histidine-rich protein 2 (HRP2) and hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg) rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs), respectively, which are, however, reported to give some false positive results. Also, socio-economic determinants have been drawn from these RDTs results which may have questionable implications. Thus, this study was aimed at evaluating the prevalence of malaria and hepatitis B by comparing RDTs with polymerase chain reaction (PCR) outcomes, and relating the PCR prevalence with socio-economic status among pregnant women in Northern Ghana.

Methods

We screened 2071 pregnant women on their first antenatal visit for Plasmodium falciparum and hepatitis B virus (HBV) using HRP2 and HBsAg RDTs, and confirming the infections with PCR. Socio-economic and obstetric information were collected using a pre-tested questionnaire, and associations with the infections were determined using Pearson’s chi-square and multinomial logistic regression analyses at a significance level of p<0.05.

Results

The prevalence of the infections by RDTs/PCR was: 14.1%/13.4% for P. falciparum mono-infection, 7.9%/7.5% for HBV mono-infection, and 1.9%/1.7% for P. falciparum/HBV co-infection. No statistical difference in prevalence rates were observed between the RDTs and PCRs (χ2  =  0.119, p = 0.73 for malaria and χ2  =  0.139, p = 0.709 for hepatitis B). Compared with PCRs, the sensitivity/specificity of the RDTs was 97.5%/99.1% and 97.9%/99.4% for HRP2 and HBsAg respectively. Socio-economic status was observed not to influence HBV mono-infection among the pregnant women (educational status: AOR = 0.78, 95% CI = 0.52–1.16, p = 0.222; economic status: AOR = 1.07, 95% CI = 0.72–1.56, p = 0.739; financial status: AOR = 0.66, 95% CI = 0.44–1.00, p = 0.052). However, pregnant women with formal education were at a lower risk for P. falciparum mono-infection (AOR = 0.48, 95% CI  =  0.32–0.71, p<0.001) and P. falciparum/HBV co-infection (AOR = 0.27, 95% CI  =  0.11–0.67, p = 0.005). Also those with good financial status were also at a lower risk for P. falciparum mono-infection (AOR = 0.52, 95% CI  =  0.36–0.74, p<0.001).

Conclusion

Our data has shown that, the RDTs are comparable to PCR and can give a representative picture of the prevalence of malaria and hepatitis B in endemic countries. Also, our results support the facts that improving socio-economic status is paramount in eliminating malaria in endemic settings. However, socio-economic status did not influence the prevalence of HBV mono-infection among pregnant women in Northern Ghana.

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<![CDATA[Predicting the direct and indirect impacts of climate change on malaria in coastal Kenya]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c648cdfd5eed0c484c819a9

Background

The transmission of malaria is highly variable and depends on a range of climatic and anthropogenic factors. This study investigates the combined, i.e. direct and indirect, impacts of climate change on the dynamics of malaria through modifications in: (i) the sporogonic cycle of Plasmodium induced by air temperature increase, and (ii) the life cycle of Anopheles vector triggered by changes in natural breeding habitat arising from the altered moisture dynamics resulting from acclimation responses of vegetation under climate change. The study is performed for a rural region in Kilifi county, Kenya.

Methods and findings

We use a stochastic lattice-based malaria (SLIM) model to make predictions of changes in Anopheles vector abundance, the life cycle of Plasmodium parasites, and thus malaria transmission under projected climate change in the study region. SLIM incorporates a nonlinear temperature-dependence of malaria parasite development to estimate the extrinsic incubation period of Plasmodium. It is also linked with a spatially distributed eco-hydrologic modeling framework to capture the impacts of climate change on soil moisture dynamics, which served as a key determinant for the formation and persistence of mosquito larval habitats on the land surface. Malaria incidence data collected from 2008 to 2013 is used for SLIM model validation. Projections of climate change and human population for the region are used to run the models for prediction scenarios.

Under elevated atmospheric CO2 concentration ([CO2]) only, modeled results reveal wetter soil moisture in the root zone due to the suppression of transpiration from vegetation acclimation, which increases the abundance of Anopheles vectors and the risk of malaria. When air temperature increases are also considered along with elevated [CO2], the life cycle of Anopheles vector and the extrinsic incubation period of Plasmodium parasites are shortened nonlinearly. However, the reduction of soil moisture resulting from higher evapotranspiration due to air temperature increase also reduces the larval habitats of the vector. Our findings show the complicated role of vegetation acclimation under elevated [CO2] on malaria dynamics and indicate an indirect but ignored impact of air temperature increase on malaria transmission through reduction in larval habitats and vector density.

Conclusions

Vegetation acclimation triggered by elevated [CO2] under climate change increases the risk of malaria. In addition, air temperature increase under climate change has opposing effects on mosquito larval habitats and the life cycles of both Anopheles vectors and Plasmodium parasites. The indirect impacts of temperature change on soil moisture dynamics are significant and should be weighed together with the direct effects of temperature change on the life cycles of mosquitoes and parasites for future malaria prediction and control.

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<![CDATA[Plasmodium male gametocyte development and transmission are critically regulated by the two putative deadenylases of the CAF1/CCR4/NOT complex]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c5ca300d5eed0c48441efa2

With relatively few known specific transcription factors to control the abundance of specific mRNAs, Plasmodium parasites may rely more on the regulation of transcript stability and turnover to provide sufficient gene regulation. Plasmodium transmission stages impose translational repression on specific transcripts in part to accomplish this. However, few proteins are known to participate in this process, and those that are characterized primarily affect female gametocytes. We have identified and characterized Plasmodium yoelii (Py) CCR4-1, a putative deadenylase, which plays a role in the development and activation of male gametocytes, regulates the abundance of specific mRNAs in gametocytes, and ultimately increases the efficiency of host-to-vector transmission. We find that when pyccr4-1 is deleted or its protein made catalytically inactive, there is a loss in the initial coordination of male gametocyte maturation and a reduction of parasite infectivity of the mosquito. Expression of only the N-terminal CAF1 domain of the essential CAF1 deadenylase leads to a similar phenotype. Comparative RNA-seq revealed that PyCCR4-1 affects transcripts important for transmission-related functions that are associated with male or female gametocytes, some of which directly associate with the immunoprecipitated complex. Finally, circular RT-PCR of one of the bound, dysregulated transcripts showed that deletion of the pyccr4-1 gene does not result in gross changes to its UTR or poly(A) tail length. We conclude that the two putative deadenylases of the CAF1/CCR4/NOT complex play critical and intertwined roles in gametocyte maturation and transmission.

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<![CDATA[General contextual effects on neglected tropical disease risk in rural Kenya]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c269762d5eed0c48470f5f8

The neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) are characterized by their tendency to cluster within groups of people, typically the poorest and most marginalized. Despite this, measures of clustering, such as within-group correlation or between-group heterogeneity, are rarely reported from community-based studies of NTD risk. We describe a general contextual analysis that uses multi-level models to partition and quantify variation in individual NTD risk at multiple grouping levels in rural Kenya. The importance of general contextual effects (GCE) in structuring variation in individual infection with Schistosoma mansoni, the soil-transmitted helminths, Taenia species, and Entamoeba histolytica/dispar was examined at the household-, sublocation- and constituency-levels using variance partition/intra-class correlation co-efficients and median odds ratios. These were compared with GCE for HIV, Plasmodium falciparum and Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The role of place of residence in shaping infection risk was further assessed using the spatial scan statistic. Individuals from the same household showed correlation in infection for all pathogens, and this was consistently highest for the gastrointestinal helminths. The lowest levels of household clustering were observed for E. histolytica/dispar, P. falciparum and M. tuberculosis. Substantial heterogeneity in individual infection risk was observed between sublocations for S. mansoni and Taenia solium cysticercosis and between constituencies for infection with S. mansoni, Trichuris trichiura and Ascaris lumbricoides. Large overlapping spatial clusters were detected for S. mansoni, T. trichiura, A. lumbricoides, and Taenia spp., which overlapped a large cluster of elevated HIV risk. Important place-based heterogeneities in infection risk exist in this community, and these GCEs are greater for the NTDs and HIV than for TB and malaria. Our findings suggest that broad-scale contextual drivers shape infectious disease risk in this population, but these effects operate at different grouping-levels for different pathogens. A general contextual analysis can provide a foundation for understanding the complex ecology of NTDs and contribute to the targeting of interventions.

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<![CDATA[Antagonistic effects of Plasmodium-helminth co-infections on malaria pathology in different population groups in Côte d’Ivoire]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c40f783d5eed0c4843862ba

Introduction

Plasmodium spp. and helminths are co-endemic in many parts of the tropics; hence, co-infection is a common phenomenon. Interactions between Plasmodium and helminth infections may alter the host’s immune response and susceptibility and thus impact on morbidity. There is little information on the direction and magnitude of such interactions and results are conflicting. This study aimed at shedding new light on the potential interactions of Plasmodium and helminth co-infections on anemia and splenomegaly in different population groups in Côte d’Ivoire.

Methodology

Parasitologic and clinical data were obtained from four cross-sectional community-based studies and a national school-based survey conducted between 2011 and 2013 in Côte d’Ivoire. Six scenarios of co-infection pairs defined as Plasmodium infection or high parasitemia, combined with one of three common helminth infections (i.e., Schistosoma mansoni, S. haematobium, and hookworm) served for analysis. Adjusted logistic regression models were built for each scenario and interaction measures on additive scale calculated according to Rothman et al., while an interaction term in the model served as multiplicative scale measure.

Principal findings

All identified significant interactions were of antagonistic nature but varied in magnitude and species combination. In study participants aged 5–18 years from community-based studies, Plasmodium-hookworm co-infection showed an antagonistic interaction on additive scale on splenomegaly, while Plasmodium-Schistosoma co-infection scenarios showed protective effects on multiplicative scale for anemia and splenomegaly in participants aged 5–16 years from a school-based study.

Conclusions/Significance

No exacerbation from co-infection with Plasmodium and helminths was observed, neither in participants aged 5–18 years nor in adults from the community-based studies. Future studies should unravel underlying mechanisms of the observed interactions, as this knowledge might help shaping control efforts against these diseases of poverty.

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<![CDATA[A probabilistic model of pre-erythrocytic malaria vaccine combination in mice]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c3fa5a2d5eed0c484ca6b39

Malaria remains one the world’s most deadly infectious diseases, with almost half a million deaths and over 150 million clinical cases each year. An effective vaccine would contribute enormously to malaria control and will almost certainly be required for eventual eradication of the disease. However, the leading malaria vaccine candidate, RTS,S, shows only 30–50% efficacy under field conditions, making it less cost-effective than long-lasting insecticide treated bed nets. Other subunit malaria vaccine candidates, including TRAP-based vaccines, show no better protective efficacy. This has led to increased interest in combining subunit malaria vaccines as a means of enhancing protective efficacy. Mathematical models of the effect of combining such vaccines on protective efficacy can help inform optimal vaccine strategies and decision-making at all stages of the clinical process. So far, however, no such model has been developed for pre-clinical murine studies, the stage at which all candidate antigens and combinations begin evaluation. To address this gap, this paper develops a mathematical model of vaccine combination adapted to murine malaria studies. The model is based on simple probabilistic assumptions which put the model on a firmer theoretical footing than previous clinical models, which rather than deriving a relationship between immune responses and protective efficacy posit the relationship to be either exponential or Hill curves. Data from pre-clinical murine malaria studies are used to derive values for unknowns in the model which in turn allows simulations of vaccine combination efficacy and suggests optimal strategies to pursue. Finally, the ability of the model to shed light on fundamental biological variables of murine malaria such as the blood stage growth rate and sporozoite infectivity is explored.

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