ResearchPad - viral-transmission-and-infection https://www.researchpad.co Default RSS Feed en-us © 2020 Newgen KnowledgeWorks <![CDATA[A systematic review and meta-analyses on initiation, adherence and outcomes of antiretroviral therapy in incarcerated people]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_15746 Incarcerated people are at increased risk of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection relative to the general population. Despite a high burden of infection, HIV care use among prison populations is often suboptimal and varies among settings, and little evidence exists explaining the discrepancy. Therefore, this review assessed barriers to optimal use of HIV care cascade in incarcerated people.MethodsQuantitative and qualitative studies investigating factors affecting linkage to care, ART (antiretroviral therapy) initiation, adherence and/or outcomes among inmates were systematically searched across seven databases. Studies published in English language and indexed up to 26 October 2018 were reviewed. We performed a narrative review for both quantitative and qualitative studies, and meta-analyses on selected quantitative studies. All retrieved quantitative studies were assessed for risk of bias. Meta-analyses were conducted using RevMan-5 software and pooled odds ratios were calculated using Mantel-Haenszel statistics with 95% confidence interval at a p<0.05. The review protocol has been published at the International Prospective Register of Systematic Reviews (PROSPERO; Number: CRD42019135502).ResultsOf forty-two studies included in the narrative review, eight were qualitative studies. Sixteen of the quantitative studies were eligible for meta-analyses. The narrative synthesis revealed structural factors such as: a lack of access to community standard of HIV care, particularly in resource limited countries; loss of privacy; and history of incarceration and re-incarceration as risk factors for poor HIV care use in prison populations. Among social and personal characteristics, lack of social support, stigma, discrimination, substance use, having limited knowledge about, and negative perception towards ART were the main determinants of suboptimal use of care in incarcerated people. In the meta-analyses, lower odds of ART initiation was noticed among inmates with higher baseline CD4 count (CD4 ≥500celss/mm3) (OR = 0.37, 95%CI: 0.14–0.97, I2 = 43%), new HIV diagnosis (OR = 0.07, 95%CI: 0.05–0.10, I2 = 68%), and in those who lacked belief in ART safety (OR = 0.32, 95%CI: 0.18–0.56, I2 = 0%) and efficacy (OR = 0.31, 95%CI: 0.17–0.57, I2 = 0%). Non-adherence was high among inmates who lacked social support (OR = 3.36, 95%CI: 2.03–5.56, I2 = 35%), had low self-efficiency score (OR = 2.50, 95%CI: 1.64,-3.80, I2 = 22%) and those with depressive symptoms (OR = 2.02, 95%CI: 1.34–3.02, I2 = 0%). Lower odds of viral suppression was associated with history of incarceration (OR = 0.40, 95%CI: 0.35–0.46, I2 = 0%), re-incarceration (OR = 0.09, 95%CI: 0.06–0.13, I2 = 64%) and male gender (OR = 0.55, 95%CI: 0.42–0.72, I2 = 0%). Higher odds of CD4 count <200cells/mm3 (OR = 2.01, 95%CI: 1.62, 2.50, I2 = 44%) and lower odds of viral suppression (OR = 0.20, 95%CI: 0.17–0.22, I2 = 0%) were observed during prison entry compared to those noticed during release.ConclusionGiven the high HIV risk in prison populations and rapid movements of these people between prison and community, correctional facilities have the potential to substantially contribute to the use of HIV treatment as a prevention strategy. Thus, there is an urgent need for reviewing context specific interventions and ensuring standard of HIV care in prisons, particularly in resource limited countries. ]]> <![CDATA[Confidential, accessible point-of-care sexual health services to support the participation of key populations in biobehavioural surveys: Lessons for Papua New Guinea and other settings where reach of key populations is limited]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_14720 To achieve the UNAIDS 90-90-90 targets at a national level, many countries must accelerate service coverage among key populations. To do this, key population programs have adopted methods similar to those used in respondent-driven sampling (RDS) to expand reach. A deeper understanding of factors from RDS surveys that enhance health service engagement can improve key population programs. To understand the in-depth lives of key populations, acceptance of expanded point-of-care biological testing and determine drivers of participation in RDS surveys, we conducted semi-structured interviews with 111 key population participants (12–65 years) were purposefully selected from six biobehavioral surveys (BBS) in three cities in Papua New Guinea. Key populations were female sex workers, men who have sex with men, and transgender women. Four reasons motivated individuals to participate in the BBS: peer referrals; private, confidential, and stigma-free study facilities; “one-stop shop” services that provided multiple tests and with same-day results, sexually transmitted infection treatment, and referrals; and the desire to know ones’ health status. Biobehavioral surveys, and programs offering key population services can incorporate the approach we used to facilitate key population engagement in the HIV cascade.

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<![CDATA[<i>Salmonella</i> Typhimurium discreet-invasion of the murine gut absorptive epithelium]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_14650 Bacterial pathogens can use secreted effector molecules to drive entry into host cells. Studies of the intestinal pathogen S.Tm have been central to uncover the mechanistic basis for the entry process. More than two decades of research have resulted in a detailed model for how S.Tm invades gut epithelial cells through effector triggering of large Rho-GTPase-dependent actin ruffles. However, the evidence for this model comes predominantly from studies in cultured cell lines. These experimental systems lack many of the architectural and signaling features of the intact gut epithelium. Our study surprisingly reveals that in the intact mouse gut, S.Tm invades absorptive epithelial cells through a process that does not require the Rho-GTPase-activating effectors and can proceed in the absence of the prototypical ruffling response. Instead, S.Tm exploits another effector, SipA, to sneak in through discreet entry structures close to cell–cell junctions. Our results challenge the current model for S.Tm epithelial cell entry and emphasizes the need of taking a physiological host cell context into account when studying bacterium–host cell interactions.

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<![CDATA[<i>Ehrlichia chaffeensis</i> TRP120-mediated ubiquitination and proteasomal degradation of tumor suppressor FBW7 increases oncoprotein stability and promotes infection]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/elastic_article_13827 E. chaffeensis is an obligately intracellular bacterium that replicates in mononuclear phagocytes by secreting effectors that manipulate host cell processes and exploit evolutionarily conserved pathways. This investigation reveals the complex and expanding role of the E. chaffeensis TRP120 moonlighting effector as a ubiquitin (Ub) ligase targeting host nuclear proteins. Herein, we demonstrate that E. chaffeensis TRP120 HECT Ub ligase targets the nuclear tumor suppressor Skp1-cullin-1-FBOX E3 ubiquitin (Ub) ligase complex substrate recognition subunit, F-BOX and WD domain repeating-containing 7 (FBW7) for degradation. FBW7 is a central regulator of broadly acting host cell oncoproteins involved in cell proliferation and survival. The reduction in FBW7 through TRP120-mediated ubiquitination increases cellular oncoprotein levels and promotes E. chaffeensis infection. This study illuminates novel bacterial effector-host interactions, the importance and interplay of both host and bacterial Ub ligases and the Ub-proteasome system for infection, and mechanisms whereby evolutionarily conserved signaling pathways are hijacked by obligately intracellular pathogens.

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<![CDATA[The tetraspanin CD9 facilitates MERS-coronavirus entry by scaffolding host cell receptors and proteases]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/598bdfb5fa495b7488185485

Infection by enveloped coronaviruses (CoVs) initiates with viral spike (S) proteins binding to cellular receptors, and is followed by proteolytic cleavage of receptor-bound S proteins, which prompts S protein-mediated virus-cell membrane fusion. Infection therefore requires close proximity of receptors and proteases. We considered whether tetraspanins, scaffolding proteins known to facilitate CoV infections, hold receptors and proteases together on cell membranes. Using knockout cell lines, we found that the tetraspanin CD9, but not the tetraspanin CD81, formed cell-surface complexes of dipeptidyl peptidase 4 (DPP4), the MERS-CoV receptor, and the type II transmembrane serine protease (TTSP) member TMPRSS2, a CoV-activating protease. This CD9-facilitated condensation of receptors and proteases allowed MERS-CoV pseudoviruses to enter cells rapidly and efficiently. Without CD9, MERS-CoV viruses were not activated by TTSPs, and they trafficked into endosomes to be cleaved much later and less efficiently by cathepsins. Thus, we identified DPP4:CD9:TTSP as the protein complexes necessary for early, efficient MERS-CoV entry. To evaluate the importance of these complexes in an in vivo CoV infection model, we used recombinant Adenovirus 5 (rAd5) vectors to express human DPP4 in mouse lungs, thereby sensitizing the animals to MERS-CoV infection. When the rAd5-hDPP4 vectors co-expressed small RNAs silencing Cd9 or Tmprss2, the animals were significantly less susceptible, indicating that CD9 and TMPRSS2 facilitated robust in vivo MERS-CoV infection of mouse lungs. Furthermore, the S proteins of virulent mouse-adapted MERS-CoVs acquired a CD9-dependent cell entry character, suggesting that CD9 is a selective agent in the evolution of CoV virulence.

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<![CDATA[Baloxavir treatment of ferrets infected with influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 virus reduces onward transmission]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/Nca8f7add-a1d9-4373-9c77-344aec55ea94

Influenza viruses cause seasonal outbreaks and pose a continuous pandemic threat. Although vaccines are available for influenza control, their efficacy varies each season and a vaccine for a novel pandemic virus manufactured using current technology will not be available fast enough to mitigate the effect of the first pandemic wave. Antivirals can be effective against many different influenza viruses but have not thus far been used extensively for outbreak control. Baloxavir, a recently licensed antiviral drug that targets the influenza virus endonuclease, has been shown to reduce virus shedding more effectively than oseltamivir, a widely used neuraminidase inhibitor drug. Thus it is possible that treatment with baloxavir might also interrupt onward virus transmission. To test this, we utilized the ferret model, which is the most commonly used animal model to study influenza virus transmission. We established a subcutaneous baloxavir administration method in ferrets which achieved similar pharmacokinetics to the approved human oral dose. Transmission studies were then conducted in two different locations with different experimental setups to compare the onward transmission of A(H1N1)pdm09 virus from infected ferrets treated with baloxavir, oseltamivir or placebo to naïve sentinel ferrets exposed either indirectly in adjacent cages or directly by co-housing. We found that baloxavir treatment reduced infectious viral shedding in the upper respiratory tract of ferrets compared to placebo, and reduced the frequency of transmission amongst sentinels in both experimental setups, even when treatment was delayed until 2 days post-infection. In contrast, oseltamivir treatment did not substantially affect viral shedding or transmission compared to placebo. We did not detect the emergence of baloxavir-resistant variants in treated animals or in untreated sentinels. Our results support the concept that antivirals which decrease viral shedding could also reduce influenza transmission in the community.

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<![CDATA[Mapping the coevolution, leadership and financing of research on viral vectors, RNAi, CRISPR/Cas9 and other genomic editing technologies]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/N5b989351-f842-4a35-9237-928ff4c9c806

Genomic editing technologies are developing rapidly, promising significant developments for biomedicine, agriculture and other fields. In the present investigation, we analyzed and compared the process of innovation for six genomic technologies: viral vectors, RNAi, TALENs, meganucleases, ZFNs and CRISPR/Cas including the profile of the main research institutions and their funders, to understand how innovation evolved and what institutions influenced research trajectories. A Web of Science search of papers on viral vectors RNAi, CRISPR/Cas, TALENs, ZFNs and meganucleases was used to build a citation network of 16,746 papers. An analysis of network clustering combined with text mining was performed. For viral vectors, a long-term process of incremental innovation was identified, which was largely publicly funded in the United States and the European Union. The trajectory of RNAi research included clusters related to the study of RNAi as a biological phenomenon and its use in functional genomics, biomedicine and pest control. A British philanthropic organization and a US pharmaceutical company played a key role in the development of basic RNAi research and clinical application respectively, in addition to government and academic institutions. In the case of CRISPR/Cas research, basic science discoveries led to the technical improvements, and these two in turn provided the information required for the development of biomedical, agricultural, livestock and industrial applications. The trajectory of CRISPR/Cas research exhibits a geopolitical division of the investigation efforts between the US, as the main producer and funder of basic research and technical improvements, and Chinese research institutions increasingly leading applied research. Our results reflect a change in the model for financing science, with reduced public financing for basic science and applied research on publicly funded technological developments in the US, and the emergence of China as a scientific superpower, with implications for the development of applications of genomic technologies.

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<![CDATA[The inhibitor of apoptosis proteins antagonist Debio 1143 promotes the PD-1 blockade-mediated HIV load reduction in blood and tissues of humanized mice]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/N65563527-6ce7-4ff1-862d-df2c817374ce

The immune checkpoint programmed cell death protein 1 (PD-1) plays a major role in T cell exhaustion in cancer and chronic HIV infection. The inhibitor of apoptosis protein antagonist Debio 1143 (D1143) enhances tumor cell death and synergizes with anti-PD-1 agents to promote tumor immunity and displayed HIV latency reversal activity in vitro. We asked in this study whether D1143 would stimulate the potency of an anti-human PD-1 monoclonal antibody (mAb) to reduce HIV loads in humanized mice. Anti-PD-1 mAb treatment decreased PD-1+ CD8+ cell population by 32.3% after interruption of four weeks treatment, and D1143 co-treatment further reduced it from 32.3 to 73%. Anti-PD-1 mAb administration reduced HIV load in blood by 94%, and addition of D1143 further enhanced this reduction from 94 to 97%. D1143 also more profoundly promoted with the anti-PD-1-mediated reduction of HIV loads in all tissues analyzed including spleen (71 to 96.4%), lymph nodes (64.3 to 80%), liver (64.2 to 94.4), lung (64.3 to 80.1%) and thymic organoid (78.2 to 98.2%), achieving a >5 log reduction of HIV loads in CD4+ cells isolated from tissues 2 weeks after drug treatment interruption. Ex vivo anti-CD3/CD28 stimulation increased the ability to activate exhausted CD8+ T cells in infected mice having received in vivo anti-PD-1 treatment by 7.9-fold (5 to 39.6%), and an additional increase by 1.7-fold upon D1143 co-treatment (39.6 to 67.3%). These findings demonstrate for the first time that an inhibitor of apoptosis protein antagonist enhances in a statistically manner the effects of an immune check point inhibitor on antiviral immunity and on HIV load reduction in tissues of humanized mice, suggesting that the combination of two distinct classes of immunomodulatory agents constitutes a promising anti-HIV immunotherapeutic approach.

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<![CDATA[Comparative performance of four rapid Ebola antigen-detection lateral flow immunoassays during the 2014-2016 Ebola epidemic in West Africa]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c8acc8bd5eed0c48498f9b7

Background

Without an effective vaccine, as was the case early in the 2014–2016 Ebola Outbreak in West Africa, disease control depends entirely on interrupting transmission through early disease detection and prompt patient isolation. Lateral Flow Immunoassays (LFI) are a potential supplement to centralized reference laboratory testing for the early diagnosis of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD).

The goal of this study was to assess the performance of commercially available simple and rapid antigen detection LFIs, submitted for review to the WHO via the Emergency Use Assessment and Listing procedure. The study was performed in an Ebola Treatment Centre laboratory involved in EVD testing in Sierra Leone.

In light of the current Ebola outbreak in May 2018 in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which highlights the lack of clarity in the global health community about appropriate Ebola diagnostics, our findings are increasingly critical.

Methods

A cross-sectional study was conducted to assess comparative performance of four LFIs for detecting EVD. LFIs were assessed against the same 328 plasma samples and 100 whole EDTA blood samples, using the altona RealStar Filovirus Screen real-time RT-PCR as the bench mark assay. The performance of the Public Health England (PHE) in-house Zaire ebolavirus-specific real time RT-PCR Trombley assay was concurrently assessed. Statistical analysis using generalized estimating equations was conducted to compare LFI performance.

Findings

Sensitivity and specificity varied between the LFIs, with specificity found to be significantly higher for whole EDTA blood samples compared to plasma samples in at least 2 LFIs (P≤0.003). Using the altona RT-PCR assay as the bench mark, sensitivities on plasma samples ranged from 79.53% (101/127, 95% CI: 71.46–86.17%) for the DEDIATEST EBOLA (SD Biosensor) to 98.43% (125/127, 95% CI: 94.43–99.81%) for the One step Ebola test (Intec). Specificities ranged from 80.20% (158/197, 95% CI: 74.07–88.60%) for plasma samples using the ReEBOV Antigen test Kit (Corgenix) to 100.00% (98/98, 95% CI: 96.31–100.00%) for whole blood samples using the DEDIATEST EBOLA (SD Biosensor) and SD Ebola Zaire Ag (SD Biosensor). Results also showed the Trombley RT-PCR assay had a lower limit of detection than the altona assay, with some LFIs having higher sensitivity than the altona assay when the Trombley assay was the bench mark.

Interpretation

All of the tested EVD LFIs may be considered suitable for use in an outbreak situation (i.e. rule out testing in communities), although they had variable performance characteristics, with none possessing both high sensitivity and specificity. The non-commercial Trombley Zaire ebolavirus RT-PCR assay warrants further investigation, as it appeared more sensitive than the current gold standard, the altona Filovirus Screen RT-PCR assay.

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<![CDATA[Posterior ventral tegmental area-nucleus accumbens shell circuitry modulates response to novelty]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c8823b2d5eed0c484638e5a

Dopamine release in the nucleus accumbens from ventral tegmental area (VTA) efferent neurons is critical for orientation and response to novel stimuli in the environment. However, there are considerable differences between neuronal populations of the VTA and it is unclear which specific cell populations modulate behavioral responses to environmental novelty. A retroDREADDs (designer drugs exclusively activated by designer receptors) technique, comprising designer G protein-coupled receptors exclusively activated by designer drugs and modulated by retrograde transported Cre, was used to selectively stimulate neurons of the VTA which project to the nucleus accumbens shell (AcbSh). First, the selectivity and expression of the human M3 muscarinic receptor-based adeno-associated virus (AAV-hM3D) was confirmed in primary neuronal cell cultures. Second, AAV-CMV-GFP/Cre was infused into the AcbSh and AAV-hSyn-DIO-hM3D(Gq)-mCherry (a presynaptic enhancer in the presence of its cognate ligand clozapine-N-oxide) was infused into the VTA of ovariectomized female Fisher 344 rats to elicit hM3D(Gq)-mCherry production specifically in neurons of the VTA which synapse in the AcbSh. Finally, administration of clozapine-N-oxide significantly altered rodents’ response to novelty (e.g. absence of white background noise) by activation of hM3D(Gq) receptors, without altering gross locomotor activity or auditory processing per se. Confocal imaging confirmed production of mCherry in neurons of the posterior aspect of the VTA (pVTA) suggesting these neurons contribute to novelty responses. These results suggest the pVTA-AcbSh circuit is potentially altered in motivational disorders such as apathy, depression, and drug addiction. Targeting the pVTA-AcbSh circuit, therefore, may be an effective target for pharmacological management of such psychopathologies.

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<![CDATA[Empowering HIV-infected women in low-resource settings: A pilot study evaluating a patient-centered HIV prevention strategy for reproduction in Kisumu, Kenya]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c897736d5eed0c4847d26fe

Background

Female positive/male negative HIV-serodiscordant couples express a desire for children and may engage in condomless sex to become pregnant. Current guidelines recommend antiretroviral treatment in HIV-serodiscordant couples, yet HIV RNA viral suppression may not be routinely assessed or guaranteed and pre-exposure prophylaxis may not be readily available. Therefore, options for becoming pregnant while limiting HIV transmission should be offered and accessible to HIV-affected couples desiring children.

Methods

A prospective pilot study of female positive/male negative HIV-serodiscordant couples desiring children was conducted to evaluate the acceptability, feasibility, and effectiveness of timed vaginal insemination. Eligible women were 18–34 years with regular menses. Prior to timed vaginal insemination, couples were observed for two months, and tested and treated for sexually transmitted infections. Timed vaginal insemination was performed for up to six menstrual cycles. A fertility evaluation and HIV RNA viral load assessment was offered to couples who did not become pregnant.

Findings

Forty female positive/male negative HIV-serodiscordant couples were enrolled; 17 (42.5%) exited prior to timed vaginal insemination. Twenty-three couples (57.5%) were introduced to timed vaginal insemination; eight (34.8%) achieved pregnancy, and six live births resulted without a case of HIV transmission. Seven couples completed a fertility evaluation. Four women had no demonstrable tubal patency bilaterally; one male partner had decreased sperm motility. Five women had unilateral/bilateral tubal patency; and seven women had an HIV RNA viral load (≥ 400 copies/mL).

Conclusion

Timed vaginal insemination is an acceptable, feasible, and effective method for attempting pregnancy. Given the desire for children and inadequate viral suppression, interventions to support safely becoming pregnant should be integrated into HIV prevention programs.

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<![CDATA[Effects of highly active antiretroviral therapy on semen parameters of a cohort of 770 HIV-1 infected men]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c78500cd5eed0c484007bb8

Background

HIV-1 infected patients show impaired semen parameters. Currently, it is not clear whether HIV-1 infection itself or antiretroviral therapy have an effect on semen parameters. We aim evaluate semen quality in a large cohort of fertile HIV-1 infected men under stable highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) and to assess the effect of HAART type and duration on semen parameters.

Materials and methods

Between January 2010 and June 2014, we enrolled in a retrospective case-control study 770 HIV-1 patients under stable HAART asking a reproductive counselling with their HIV negative partner. Co-infections with HBV or HCV, genital tract infections and known causes of infertility represented exclusion criteria. Semen samples were analysed and compared with the WHO reference values. A multivariate analysis including HAART type and duration, age, viral load and CD4 count, was performed on 600 patients out of 770.

Results

The median values of all semen parameters were significantly lower among HIV-1 infected patients compared to the WHO reference group, with a significant proportion of patients having values below the 5th percentile of the WHO reference value. In a multivariate analysis, only age and viral load negatively impacted progressive motility (β -0.3 (95% CI: -0.5; -0.0) %, p<0.05) and semen morphology (β -0.00 (95% CI: -0.00; -0.00) %, p≤0.01), while no associations were detected as regards HAART type and duration.

Conclusions

HIV-1 infected patients showed a significant impairment of semen parameters compared to the reference values. HAART type and duration showed no associations with semen quality. Further research is needed to investigate implications for clinical care of HIV infected men desiring a child.

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<![CDATA[Antiretroviral adherence and virologic suppression in partnered and unpartnered HIV-positive individuals in southern Brazil]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c803c70d5eed0c484ad896d

Background

An undetectable serum HIV-1 load is key to effectiveness of antiretroviral (ARV) therapy, which depends on adherence to treatment. We evaluated factors possibly associated with ARV adherence and virologic response in HIV-infected heterosexual individuals.

Methods

A cross-sectional study was conducted in 200 HIV-1 serodiscordant couples and 100 unpartnered individuals receiving ARV treatment at a tertiary hospital in southern Brazil. All subjects provided written informed consent, answered demographic/behavioral questionnaires through audio computer-assisted self-interviews (ACASI), and collected blood and vaginal samples for biological markers and assessment of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). HIV-negative partners were counseled and tested for HIV-1.

Results

The study population mean age was 39.9 years, 53.6% were female, 62.5% were Caucasian, 52.6% had incomplete or complete elementary education, 63.1% resided in Porto Alegre. Demographic, behavioral and biological marker characteristics were similar between couples and single individuals. There was an association between adherence reported on ACASI and an undetectable serum viral load (P<0.0001). Logistic regression analysis demonstrated that single-tablet ARV-regimens were independently associated with adherence (OR = 2.3; 95CI%: 1.2–4.4; P = 0.011) after controlling for age, gender, education, marital status, personal income, ARV regimen, and median time of ARV use. A positive correlation between genital secretion PCR results and serum viral load was significant in the presence of STIs (r = 0.359; P = 0.017). Although HIV PCR detection in vaginal secretions was more frequent in women with detectable viremia (9/51, 17.6%), it was also present in 7 of 157 women with undetectable serum viral loads (4.5%), p = 0.005.

Conclusions

ARV single tablet regimens are associated with adherence. Detectable HIV-1 may be present in the genital secretions of women with undetectable viremia which means there is potential for HIV transmission in adherent individuals with serologic suppression.

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<![CDATA[Economic and public health impact of decentralized HIV viral load testing: A modelling study in Kenya]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c803c61d5eed0c484ad883e

Kenya has the world’s 4th largest HIV burden. Various strategies to control the epidemic have been implemented, including the implementation of viral load (VL) testing to monitor HIV patients on ARVs. Like many resource limited settings, Kenya’s healthcare system faces serious challenges in effectively providing quality health services to its population. Increased investments to strengthen the country’s capacity to diagnose, monitor and treat diseases, particularly HIV and TB, continue to be made but are still inadequate in the face of global health goals like the UNAIDS 90:90:90 which require scaling up of VL tests amid existing constraints. In Kenya, there is an increase in the demand for VL tests amidst these existing constraints. The GeneXpert system is a diagnostic point-of-care technology that can quantify, amongst others, HIV VL. Currently, GeneXpert technology is widely distributed in Kenya for testing of tuberculosis. This study aimed to determine the economic and public health impact of incorporating VL test modules on the existing GeneXpert infrastructure. Markov models were constructed for different populations (non-pregnant adults, pregnant women and children). The scenarios analysed were 100% centralized VL testing compared to 50% GeneXpert plus 50% centralized VL testing, with time horizons of 5 years for the adult and child populations, and 31 months for the pregnant population. Incremental effectiveness was measured in terms of the number of HIV transmissions or opportunistic infections avoided when implementing the GeneXpert scenario compared to a 100% centralized scenario. The model indicated that, for all three populations combined, the GeneXpert scenario resulted in 117 less HIV transmissions and 393 less opportunistic infections. The cost decreased by $21,978,755 for the non-pregnant and pregnant adults and $22,808,533 for non-pregnant adults, pregnant adults and children. The model showed that GeneXpert would cost less and be more effective in terms of total cost per HIV transmission avoided and the total cost per opportunistic infection avoided, except for the pregnant population, when considered separately.

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<![CDATA[EBV miRNA expression profiles in different infection stages: A prospective cohort study]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c6dc9c8d5eed0c48452a18f

The Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) produces different microRNAs (miRNA) with distinct regulatory functions within the infectious cycle. These viral miRNAs regulate the expression of viral and host genes and have been discussed as potential diagnostic markers or even therapeutic targets, provided that the expression profile can be unambiguously correlated to a specific stage of infection or a specific EBV-induced disorder. In this context, miRNA profiling becomes more important since the roles of these miRNAs in the pathogenesis of infections and malignancies are not fully understood. Studies of EBV miRNA expression profiles are sparse and have mainly focused on associated malignancies. This study is the first to examine the miRNA profiles of EBV reactivation and to use a correction step with seronegative patients as a reference. Between 2012 and 2017, we examined the expression profiles of 11 selected EBV miRNAs in 129 whole blood samples from primary infection, reactivation, healthy carriers and EBV seronegative patients. Three of the miRNAs could not be detected in any sample. Other miRNAs showed significantly higher expression levels and prevalence during primary infection than in other stages; miR-BHRF1-1 was the most abundant. The expression profiles from reactivation differed slightly but not significantly from those of healthy carriers, but a specific marker miRNA for each stage could not be identified within the selected EBV miRNA targets.

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<![CDATA[TLR4 signaling improves PD-1 blockade therapy during chronic viral infection]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c648d56d5eed0c484c825e7

CD8 T cells are necessary for the elimination of intracellular pathogens, but during chronic viral infections, CD8 T cells become exhausted and unable to control the persistent infection. Programmed cell death-1 (PD-1) blockade therapies have been shown to improve CD8 T cell responses during chronic viral infections. These therapies have been licensed to treat cancers in humans, but they have not yet been licensed to treat chronic viral infections because limited benefit is seen in pre-clinical animal models of chronic infection. In the present study, we investigated whether TLR4 triggering could improve PD-1 therapy during a chronic viral infection. Using the model of chronic lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus (LCMV) infection in mice, we show that TLR4 triggering with sublethal doses of lipopolysaccharide (LPS) followed by PD-1 blockade results in superior improvement in circulating virus-specific CD8 T cell responses, relative to PD-1 blockade alone. Moreover, we show that the synergy between LPS and PD-1 blockade is dependent on B7 costimulation and mediated by a dendritic cell (DC) intrinsic mechanism. Systemic LPS administration may have safety concerns, motivating us to devise a safer regimen. We show that ex vivo activation of DCs with LPS, followed by adoptive DC transfer, results in a similar potentiation of PD-1 therapy without inducing wasting disease. In summary, our data demonstrate a previously unidentified role for LPS/TLR4 signaling in modulating the host response to PD-1 therapy. These findings may be important for developing novel checkpoint therapies against chronic viral infection.

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<![CDATA[Does prior dengue virus exposure worsen clinical outcomes of Zika virus infection? A systematic review, pooled analysis and lessons learned]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c57e689d5eed0c484ef3602

Zika virus (ZIKV) recently caused a pandemic complicated by Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS) and birth defects. ZIKV is structurally similar to the dengue viruses (DENV) and in vitro studies suggest antibody dependent enhancement occurs in ZIKV infections preceded by DENV; however, the clinical significance of this remains unclear. We undertook a PRISMA-adherent systematic review of all current human and non-human primate (NHP) data to determine if prior infection with DENV, compared to DENV-naïve hosts, is associated with a greater risk of ZIKV clinical complications or greater ZIKV peak viremia in vivo. We identified 1146 studies in MEDLINE, EMBASE and the grey literature, of which five studies were eligible. One human study indicated no increase in the risk of GBS in ZIKV infections with prior DENV exposure. Two additional human studies showed a small increase in ZIKV viremia in those with prior DENV exposure; however, this was not statistically significant nor was it associated with an increase in clinical severity or adverse pregnancy outcomes. While no meta-analysis was possible using human data, a pooled analysis of the two NHP studies leveraging extended data provided only weak evidence of a 0.39 log10 GE/mL rise in ZIKV viremia in DENV experienced rhesus macaques compared to those with no DENV exposure (p = 0.22). Using a customized quality grading criteria, we further show that no existing published human studies have offered high quality measurement of both acute ZIKV and antecedent DENV infections. In conclusion, limited human and NHP studies indicate a small and non-statistically significant increase in ZIKV viremia in DENV-experienced versus DENV-naïve hosts; however, there is no evidence that even a possible small increase in ZIKV viremia would correlate with a change in ZIKV clinical phenotype. More data derived from larger sample sizes and improved sero-assays are needed to resolve this question, which has major relevance for clinical prognosis and vaccine design.

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<![CDATA[Pelargonium sidoides radix extract EPs 7630 reduces rhinovirus infection through modulation of viral binding proteins on human bronchial epithelial cells]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c5df34ed5eed0c484581110

Bronchial epithelial cells are the first target cell for rhinovirus infection. The course of viral infections in patients with acute bronchitis, asthma and COPD can be improved by oral application of Pelargonium sidoides radix extract; however, the mechanism is not well understood. This study investigated the in vitro effect of Pelargonium sidoides radix extract (EPs 7630) on the expression of virus binding cell membrane and host defence supporting proteins on primary human bronchial epithelial cells (hBEC). Cells were isolated from patients with severe asthma (n = 6), moderate COPD (n = 6) and non-diseased controls (n = 6). Protein expression was determined by Western-blot and immunofluorescence. Rhinovirus infection was determined by immunofluorescence as well as by polymerase chain reaction. Cell survival was determined by manual cell count after live/death immunofluorescence staining. All parameters were determined over a period of 3 days. The results show that EPs 7630 concentration-dependently and significantly increased hBEC survival after rhinovirus infection. This effect was paralleled by decreased expression of the inducible co-stimulator (ICOS), its ligand ICOSL and cell surface calreticulin (C1qR). In contrast, EPs 7630 up-regulated the expression of the host defence supporting proteins β-defensin-1 and SOCS-1, both in rhinovirus infected and un-infected hBEC. The expression of other virus interacting cell membrane proteins such as MyD88, TRL2/4 or ICAM-1 was not altered by EPs 7630. The results indicate that EPs 7630 may reduce rhinovirus infection of human primary BEC by down-regulating cell membrane docking proteins and up-regulating host defence proteins.

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<![CDATA[HIV virologic failure and its predictors among HIV-infected adults on antiretroviral therapy in the African Cohort Study]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c633958d5eed0c484ae6500

Introduction

The 2016 WHO consolidated guidelines on the use of antiretroviral drugs defines HIV virologic failure for low and middle income countries (LMIC) as plasma HIV-RNA ≥ 1000 copies/mL. We evaluated virologic failure and predictors in four African countries.

Materials and methods

We included HIV-infected participants on a WHO recommended antiretroviral therapy (ART) regimen and enrolled in the African Cohort Study between January 2013 and October 2017. Studied outcomes were virologic failure (plasma HIV-RNA ≥ 1000 copies/mL at the most recent visit), viraemia (plasma HIV-RNA ≥ 50 copies/mL at the most recent visit); and persistent viraemia (plasma HIV-RNA ≥ 50 copies/mL at two consecutive visits). Generalized linear models were used to estimate relative risks with their 95% confidence intervals.

Results

2054 participants were included in this analysis. Viraemia, persistent viraemia and virologic failure were observed in 396 (19.3%), 160 (7.8%) and 184 (9%) participants respectively. Of the participants with persistent viraemia, only 57.5% (92/160) had confirmed virologic failure. In the multivariate analysis, attending clinical care site other than the Uganda sitebeing on 2nd line ART (aRR 1.8, 95% CI 1·28–2·66); other ART combinations not first line and not second line (aRR 3.8, 95% CI 1.18–11.9), a history of fever in the past week (aRR 3.7, 95% CI 1.69–8.05), low CD4 count (aRR 6.9, 95% CI 4.7–10.2) and missing any day of ART (aRR 1·8, 95% CI 1·27–2.57) increased the risk of virologic failure. Being on 2nd line therapy, the site where one receives care and CD4 count < 500 predicted viraemia, persistent viraemia and virologic failure.

Conclusion

In conclusion, these findings demonstrate that HIV-infected patients established on ART for more than six months in the African setting frequently experienced viraemia while continuing to be on ART. The findings also show that being on second line, low CD4 count, missing any day of ART and history of fever in the past week remain important predictors of virologic failure that should trigger intensified adherence counselling especially in the absence of reliable or readily available viral load monitoring. Finally, clinical care sites are different calling for further analyses to elucidate on the unique features of these sites.

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<![CDATA[Enhanced adherence counselling and viral load suppression in HIV seropositive patients with an initial high viral load in Harare, Zimbabwe: Operational issues]]> https://www.researchpad.co/article/5c633956d5eed0c484ae64da

Background

In people living with HIV (PLHIV) who are on anti-retroviral therapy (ART), it is essential to identify persons with high blood viral loads (VLs) (≥1000 copies/ml), provide enhanced adherence counselling (EAC) for 3 months and assess for VL suppression (<1000 copies/ml).

Objective

Our study objectives were to determine the proportion who had a high viral load in those people who underwent viral load testing between 1 August 2016–31 July 2017 at Wilkins Hospital, Harare, Zimbabwe. Of those with high viral load to assess; a) the proportion who enrolled for EAC, the demographic and clinical characteristics associated with enrolment for EAC and, b) the proportion who achieved viral load suppression and demographic, clinical characteristics associated with viral load suppression.

Design

Retrospective cohort study using routinely collected programme data. Data was collected from PLHIV who were on ART and had a high viral load from 1 August 2016 to 31 July 2017.

Results

Of 5,573 PLHIV on ART between 1 August 2016 and 31 July 2017, 4787 (85.9%) had undergone VL testing and 646 (13.5%) had high VLs. Of these 646, only 489 (75.7%) were enrolled for EAC, of whom 444 (69%) underwent a repeat VL test at ≥ 3 months with 201 (31.2%) achieving VL suppression. The clinical characteristics that were independently associated with higher probability of VL suppression were: a) undergoing 3 sessions of EAC; b) being on 2nd line ART. Initial VL levels >5,000 copies/ml were associated with lower probability of viral suppression.

Conclusion

The routine VL testing levels were high, but there were major programmatic gaps in enrolling PLHIV with high VLs into EAC and achieving VL suppression. The full potential of EAC on achieving viral load suppression has not been achieved in this setting. The reasons for these gaps need to be assessed in future research studies and addressed by suitable changes in policies/practices.

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