A flow cytometric method is proposed to study in vitro drug sensitivity of Plasmodium falciparum. Standard [(3)H]-hypoxanthine incorporation assay gives only information on inhibition of maturation by drugs. This method is usable on field isolates and provides data on both inhibition of maturation and re-invasion.
Plague, a zoonosis caused by Yersinia pestis, is still found in Africa, Asia, and the Americas. Madagascar reports almost one third of the cases worldwide. Y. pestis can be encountered in three very different types of foci: urban, rural, and sylvatic. Flea vector and wild rodent host population dynamics are tightly correlated with modulation of climatic conditions, an association that could be crucial for both the maintenance of foci and human plague epidemics. The black rat Rattus rattus, the main host of Y. pestis in Madagascar, is found to exhibit high resistance to plague in endemic areas, opposing the concept of high mortality rates among rats exposed to the infection. Also, endemic fleas could play an essential role in maintenance of the foci. This review discusses recent advances in the understanding of the role of these factors as well as human behavior in the persistence of plague in Madagascar.
Cerebral malaria (CM) is characterized by a dysregulated immune response that results in endothelial membrane destabilization and increased microparticle (MP) production. Citicoline (CTC) is a membrane stabilizer used for the treatment of neurological disorders. We evaluated the efficacy of CTC as adjunct therapy to aid recovery from experimental CM. We show that CTC reduces MP production in vitro; in combination with artesunate in vivo, confers partial protection against CM; and prolongs survival.
Taenia solium cysticercosis is a zoonosis of public health importance in areas where the disease is endemic, with significant economic impacts on human health and the swine industry. Several gaps remain in the epidemiology of the parasite and the strategies of control in developing countries. We detail the key factors to consider in Madagascar in terms of the porcine husbandry system, Taenia transmission cycle, and diagnosis of cysticercosis in pigs, in order to better estimate the sanitary and economic impacts of this parasitic disease as well as to define an integrated control program.
Vascular endothelial cells (ECs) form a barrier that plays a crucial role in the health and integrity of tissues by regulating the passage of molecules, liquids and immune cells. Dysfunctions or disruption of this barrier leads to edema, inflammation, and associated pathologies. During infection, ECs control transmigration of cells by a complex system of molecules. However pathogens can hijack this pathway to invade ECs and/or tissues. They can also trigger the opening of intercellular junction, apoptosis of ECs or activation of the immune system, which in turn lead to the destruction of the endothelial wall and subsequent edema. Activation of immune cells by pathogens can also enhance the destruction of EC and edema. The review summarizes the state-of-the-art knowledge on the key steps of the complex interactions between the endothelial wall, pathogens, and the immune system that lead to the opening of junctions and/or destruction of the wall, enhancing pathology. A better understanding of these points will allow the development of adjunctive treatments to be used in combination with therapies targeting pathogens, with the aim of protecting the wall and improving the recovery of patients with severe infectious diseases.
Infection with Plasmodium berghei is a widely used model of murine malaria and a powerful tool for reverse genetic and pathogenesis studies. However, the efficacy of in vitro reinvasion of erythrocytes is generally low, limiting in vitro studies.
Plasmodium falciparum isolates with decreased susceptibility to quinine are increasingly being found in malaria patients. Mechanisms involved in this resistance are not yet understood. Several studies claim that alongside mutations in the Pfcrt and Pfmdr1 genes, the Pfnhe-1 Na(+)/H(+) exchanger polymorphism plays a role in decreasing susceptibility. However, conflicting results on the link between the Pfnhe-1 gene and quinine resistance arise from field- and culture-adapted isolates. We tested the association between Pfnhe-1, Pfcrt, and Pfmdr1 polymorphisms in field- and culture-adapted isolates from various countries with their in vitro susceptibility to quinine. Field isolates presented a higher diversity of the Pfnhe-1 microsatellite sequence than culture-adapted isolates. In culture-adapted isolates but not in field isolates, mutations in the Pfcrt and Pfmdr1 genes, as well as a higher number of DNNND repeats in the Pfnhe-1 gene, were associated with a higher 50% inhibitory concentration (IC(50)) of quinine. Furthermore, most of the culture-adapted isolates with more than one DNNND repeat in the Pfnhe-1 gene also harbored mutated Pfcrt and Pfmdr1 genes with an apparent cumulative effect on quinine susceptibility. This study supports the involvement of the Pfnhe-1 gene in the modulation of the in vitro quinine response when associated with mutated Pfcrt and Pfmdr1 genes. Culture adaptation could be responsible for selection of specific haplotypes of these three genes. Methods used for drug testing might thus influence the association between Pfnhe-1 polymorphism and quinine susceptibility. However, we do not exclude the possibility that in particular settings, Pfnhe-1 polymorphism can be used as a molecular marker for surveillance of quinine resistance.
Artemisinin combination therapy (ACT) paves the way for new opportunities to eliminate malaria in the tropics. However, the huge increase of ACT consumption raises major concerns about their availability over the next few years. At the same time a decrease in their efficacy has already been reported. Alongside the deployment of multifocal control programs, the process ranging from artemisia crop production to accreditation of new ACT combinations urgently needs to be strengthened to supply sufficient quantities of high-quality drugs. New suppliers will have the opportunity to enter this market to develop new formulations, and bioequivalence studies are required to validate these new formulations. It is thus crucial for national malaria control teams to be able to better scrutinize the dossier of these new formulations.
Cerebral malaria, a major cause of death during malaria infection, is characterised by the sequestration of infected red blood cells (IRBC) in brain microvessels. Most of the molecules implicated in the adhesion of IRBC on endothelial cells (EC) are already described; however, the structure of the IRBC/EC junction and the impact of this adhesion on the EC are poorly understood. We analysed this interaction using human brain microvascular EC monolayers co-cultured with IRBC. Our study demonstrates the transfer of material from the IRBC to the brain EC plasma membrane in a trogocytosis-like process, followed by a TNF-enhanced IRBC engulfing process. Upon IRBC/EC binding, parasite antigens are transferred to early endosomes in the EC, in a cytoskeleton-dependent process. This is associated with the opening of the intercellular junctions. The transfer of IRBC antigens can thus transform EC into a target for the immune response and contribute to the profound EC alterations, including peri-vascular oedema, associated with cerebral malaria.
Placental malaria (PM) is associated with poor foetal development, but the pathophysiological processes involved are poorly understood. Cyclooxygenase (COX) and lipoxygenase (LOX) which convert fatty acids to prostaglandins and leukotrienes, play important roles in pregnancy and foetal development. COX-2, currently targeted by specific drugs, plays a dual role as it associates with both pre-eclampsia pathology and recovery during infection. The role of COX during PM was questioned by quantifying at delivery COX-1, COX-2, 15-LOX, and IL-10 expression in two groups of malaria infected and uninfected placenta.
Cysticercosis is a zoonotic disease due to Taenia solium, which involves porcines as intermediate host. It is endemic in Madagascar, however minimal data has been reported concerning porcine cysticercosis prevalence. Lack of ante-mortem diagnostic tools renders the evaluation of its prevalence difficult. Tongue palpation is specific but has poor sensitivity. Serological tests detecting antigens or antibodies are sensitive to human cysticercosis and apt for diagnosis but are not yet considered as a gold standard in porcine ante-mortem examination. PCR are widely used to detect pathogens but also poorly evaluated in regards to the diagnosis of cysticercosis. We compare the performance of PCR and ELISA assays on 67 pig serums: 22 from cysticercosis positive pigs (meat inspection) and 45 from cysticercosis negative animals (originating from a non-endemic country or grown in industrial and well isolated pigsties). Among the negative samples 19 were collected from pigs with trichinellosis and 4 from pigs with toxoplasmosis. Results indicate that ELISA assay showed high sensitivity and good specificity while the PCR assays showed high specificity but a low sensitivity.
Transmission of malaria in West African urban areas is low and healthcare facilities are well organized. However, malaria mortality remains high. We conducted a survey in Dakar with the general objective to establish who died from severe malaria (SM) in urban areas (particularly looking at the age-groups) and to compare parasite isolates associated with mild or severe malaria.
Artemisinin, a thapsigargin-like sesquiterpene has been shown to inhibit the Plasmodium falciparum sarco/endoplasmic reticulum calcium-ATPase PfSERCA. To collect baseline pfserca sequence information before field deployment of Artemisinin-based Combination therapies that may select mutant parasites, we conducted a sequence analysis of 100 isolates from multiple sites in Africa, Asia and South America. Coding sequence diversity was large, with 29 mutated codons, including 32 SNPs (average of one SNP/115 bp), of which 19 were novel mutations. Most SNP detected in this study were clustered within a region in the cytosolic head of the protein. The PfSERCA functional domains were very well conserved, with non synonymous mutations located outside the functional domains, except for the S769N mutation associated in French Guiana with elevated IC(50) for artemether. The S769N mutation is located close to the hinge of the headpiece, which in other species modulates calcium affinity and in consequence efficacy of inhibitors, possibly linking calcium homeostasis to drug resistance. Genetic diversity was highest in Senegal, Brazil and French Guiana, and few mutations were identified in Asia. Population genetic analysis was conducted for a partial fragment of the gene encompassing nucleotide coordinates 87-2862 (unambiguous sequence available for 96 isolates). This supported a geographic clustering, with a separation between Old and New World samples and one dominant ancestral haplotype. Genetic drift alone cannot explain the observed polymorphism, suggesting that other evolutionary mechanisms are operating. One possible contributor could be the frequency of haemoglobinopathies that are associated with calcium dysregulation in the erythrocyte.
Cerebral malaria (CM) is still a major world health problem whose pathogenic mechanisms remain incompletely understood. After reviewing some particularities of anti-malarial immunity, we focus here on the neurovascular aspects of CM. We specifically address the central role of endothelial activation and alteration in disease pathogenesis. We discuss the respective roles of "mediator-induced" versus "host cell-induced" mechanisms of endothelial alteration. The former include cytokines, chemokines and their receptors, while the latter encompass cells located inside and outside the vessel, notably glial cells. We also present evidence for a pathogenic role for membrane microparticles (MP) in CM, based on studies in African patients and in a recognised mouse model. Intervention studies on MP production, via either gene knockout or pharmacological inhibition, can prevent the neurological syndrome and its associated mortality, suggesting potential new therapeutic avenues.
Madagascar has been known for having bio-geo-ecological diversity which is reflected by a complex malaria epidemiology ranging from hyperendemic to malaria-free areas. Malaria-related attacks and infection are frequently recorded both in children and adults living in areas of low malaria transmission. To integrate this variability in the national malaria control policy, extensive epidemiological studies are required to up-date previous records and adjust strategies.
A dysregulated host immune response, as opposed to the intrinsic virulence of a microbial pathogen induces a large part of the pathology seen in infectious diseases. However, current therapies are designed to target the pathogen rather than the underlying pathogenic mechanisms responsible for the manifestation of the pathology. Recent studies have highlighted the role of endothelial cell alteration in the pathology induced in sepsis and cerebral malaria. The endothelial onslaught described, is similar to that seen during ischemia reperfusion in stroke. Protecting endothelial cell membranes during sepsis and cerebral malaria, using citicoline in the same way as in stroke, has thus emerged as a new strategy that needs to be evaluated urgently. Citicoline is a natural compound that is registered for use in ischemic stroke, head trauma and neurological disorders. It enters the phosphatidylcholine synthesis pathway as a rate-limiting step and is involved in the modulation of a large number of metabolic pathways and neurotransmitter levels, and also in the biosynthesis of phospholipids in neuronal membranes. This short review highlights the potential role of citicoline as part of adjunct therapy in the treatment of infectious diseases.
Recent studies suggest shared pathogenic pathways during malaria and allergy. Indeed, IgE, histamine, and the parasite-derived Plasmodium falciparum histamine-releasing factor translationally controlled tumor protein (PfTCTP) can be found at high levels in serum from patients experiencing malaria, but their relationship with basophil activation remains unknown. We recruited P. falciparum-infected patients in Senegal with mild malaria (MM; n = 19) or severe malaria (SM; n = 9) symptoms and healthy controls (HC; n = 38). Levels of serum IgE, PfTCTP, and IgG antibodies against PfTCTP were determined by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA). Basophil reactivities to IgE-dependent and -independent stimulations were measured ex vivo using fresh blood by looking at the expression level of the basophil activation marker CD203c with flow cytometry. Unstimulated basophils from MM had significantly lower levels of CD203c expression compared to those from HC and SM. After normalization on this baseline level, basophils from SM showed an enhanced reactivity to calcimycin (A23187) and hemozoin. Although SM reached higher median levels of activation after anti-IgE stimulation, great interindividual differences did not allow the results to reach statistical significance. When primed with recombinant TCTP before anti-IgE, qualitative differences in terms of a better ability to control excessive activation could be described for SM. IgE levels were very high in malaria patients, but concentrations in MM and SM were similar and were not associated with basophil responses, which demonstrates that the presence of IgE alone cannot explain the various basophil reactivities. Indeed, PfTCTP could be detected in 32% of patients, with higher concentrations for SM. These PfTCTP-positive patients displayed significantly higher basophil reactivities to any stimulus. Moreover, the absence of anti-PfTCTP IgG was associated with higher responses in SM but not MM. Our results show an association between basophil reactivity and malaria severity and suggest a pathogenic role for plasmodial PfTCTP in the induction of this allergy-like mechanism.
Plague is endemic within the central highlands of Madagascar, where its main reservoir is the black rat, Rattus rattus. Typically this species is considered susceptible to plague, rapidly dying after infection inducing the spread of infected fleas and, therefore, dissemination of the disease to humans. However, persistence of transmission foci in the same area from year to year, supposes mechanisms of maintenance among which rat immune responses could play a major role. Immunity against plague and subsequent rat survival could play an important role in the stabilization of the foci. In this study, we aimed to investigate serological responses to plague in wild black rats from endemic areas of Madagascar. In addition, we evaluate the use of a recently developed rapid serological diagnostic test to investigate the immune response of potential reservoir hosts in plague foci.
Disruption of the endothelial cell (EC) barrier leads to pathology via edema and inflammation. During infections, pathogens are known to invade the EC barrier and modulate vascular permeability. However, ECs are semi-professional antigen-presenting cells, triggering T-cell costimulation and specific immune-cell activation. This in turn leads to the release of inflammatory mediators and the destruction of infected cells by effectors such as CD8(+) T-cells. During malaria, transfer of parasite antigens to the EC surface is now established. At the same time, CD8 activation seems to play a major role in cerebral malaria. We summarize here some of the pathways leading to antigen presentation by ECs and address the involvement of these mechanisms in the pathophysiology of cerebral malaria.
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