Recursos de Sanidad, Biomedicina y Salud

Noticias Externas del Tuesday 20 de December de 2011

The New York Times
The National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity has urged Science and Nature to keep details out of reports that they intend to publish on a highly transmissible form of the bird flu.
Scientists were asked not to reveal all the details of how to make a version of the deadly bird flu they created in labs.

by Lucas Bleicher, Ney Lemke, Richard Charles Garratt

Correlated mutation analysis has a long history of interesting applications, mostly in the detection of contact pairs in protein structures. Based on previous observations that, if properly assessed, amino acid correlation data can also provide insights about functional sub-classes in a protein family, we provide a complete framework devoted to this purpose. An amino acid specific correlation measure is proposed, which can be used to build networks summarizing all correlation and anti-correlation patterns in a protein family. These networks can be submitted to community structure detection algorithms, resulting in subsets of correlated amino acids which can be further assessed by specific parameters and procedures that provide insight into the relationship between different communities, the individual importance of community members and the adherence of a given amino acid sequence to a given community. By applying this framework to three protein families with contrasting characteristics (the Fe/Mn-superoxide dismutases, the peroxidase-catalase family and the C-type lysozyme/α-lactalbumin family), we show how our method and the proposed parameters and procedures are related to biological characteristics observed in these protein families, highlighting their potential use in protein characterization and gene annotation.

by Xiang-Ying Ji, Xi-Qiao Feng

Microtubule dynamics is largely influenced by nucleotide hydrolysis and the resultant tubulin configuration changes. The GTP cap model has been proposed to interpret the stabilizing mechanisms of microtubule growth from the view of hydrolysis effects. Besides, the growth of a microtubule involves the closure of a curved sheet at its growing end. The curvature conversion from the longitudinal direction to the circumferential direction also helps to stabilize the successive growth, and the curved sheet is referred to as the conformational cap. However, there still lacks theoretical investigation on the mechanical–chemical coupling growth process of microtubules. In this paper, we study the growth mechanisms of microtubules by using a coarse-grained molecular method. First, the closure process involving a sheet-to-tube transition is simulated. The results verify the stabilizing effect of the sheet structure and predict that the minimum conformational cap length that can stabilize the growth is two dimers. Then, we show that the conformational cap and the GTP cap can function independently and harmoniously, signifying the pivotal role of mechanical factors. Furthermore, based on our theoretical results, we describe a Tetris-like growth style of microtubules: the stochastic tubulin assembly is regulated by energy and harmonized with the seam zipping such that the sheet keeps a practically constant length during growth.

by Yangjin Kim, Soyeon Roh, Sean Lawler, Avner Friedman

Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is the most common and the most aggressive type of brain cancer; the median survival time from the time of diagnosis is approximately one year. GBM is characterized by the hallmarks of rapid proliferation and aggressive invasion. miR-451 is known to play a key role in glioblastoma by modulating the balance of active proliferation and invasion in response to metabolic stress in the microenvironment. The present paper develops a mathematical model of GBM evolution which focuses on the relative balance of growth and invasion. In the present work we represent the miR-451/AMPK pathway by a simple model and show how the effects of glucose on cells need to be “refined” by taking into account the recent history of glucose variations. The simulations show how variations in glucose significantly affect the level of miR-451 and, in turn, cell migration. The model predicts that oscillations in the levels of glucose increase the growth of the primary tumor. The model also suggests that drugs which upregulate miR-451, or block other components of the CAB39/AMPK pathway, will slow down glioma cell migration. The model provides an explanation for the growth-invasion cycling patterns of glioma cells in response to high/low glucose uptake in microenvironment in vitro, and suggests new targets for drugs, associated with miR-451 upregulation.

by Chad M. Cox, Kate Goodin, Emily Fisher, Fatimah S. Dawood, Janet J. Hamilton, German F. Leparc, Monica Gray, Linda Nelson, Rebekah H. Borse, James A. Singleton, Carrie Reed, Amanda L. Balish, Jacqueline M. Katz, Richard S. Hopkins, Alicia M. Fry


In 2009, a novel influenza virus (2009 pandemic influenza A (H1N1) virus (pH1N1)) caused significant disease in the United States. Most states, including Florida, experienced a large fall wave of disease from September through November, after which disease activity decreased substantially. We determined the prevalence of antibodies due to the pH1N1 virus in Florida after influenza activity had peaked and estimated the proportion of the population infected with pH1N1 virus during the pandemic.


During November-December 2009, we collected leftover serum from a blood bank, a pediatric children's hospital and a pediatric outpatient clinic in Tampa Bay Florida. Serum was tested for pH1N1 virus antibodies using the hemagglutination-inhibition (HI) assay. HI titers ≥40 were considered seropositive. We adjusted seroprevalence results to account for previously established HI assay specificity and sensitivity and employed a simple statistical model to estimate the proportion of seropositivity due to pH1N1 virus infection and vaccination.


During the study time period, the overall seroprevalence in Tampa Bay, Florida was 25%, increasing to 30% after adjusting for HI assay sensitivity and specificity. We estimated that 5.9% of the population had vaccine-induced seropositivity while 25% had seropositivity secondary to pH1N1 virus infection. The highest cumulative incidence of pH1N1 virus infection was among children aged 5–17 years (53%) and young adults aged 18–24 years (47%), while adults aged ≥50 years had the lowest cumulative incidence (11–13%) of pH1N1 virus infection.


After the peak of the fall wave of the pandemic, an estimated one quarter of the Tampa Bay population had been infected with the pH1N1 virus. Consistent with epidemiologic trends observed during the pandemic, the highest burdens of disease were among school-aged children and young adults.


by Augusto Pessina, Arianna Bonomi, Valentina Coccè, Gloria Invernici, Stefania Navone, Loredana Cavicchini, Francesca Sisto, Maura Ferrari, Lucia Viganò, Alberta Locatelli, Emilio Ciusani, Graziella Cappelletti, Daniele Cartelli, Caruso Arnaldo, Eugenio Parati, Giovanni Marfia, Roberto Pallini, Maria Laura Falchetti, Giulio Alessandri


Mesenchymal stromal cells may represent an ideal candidate to deliver anti-cancer drugs. In a previous study, we demonstrated that exposure of mouse bone marrow derived stromal cells to Doxorubicin led them to acquire anti-proliferative potential towards co-cultured haematopoietic stem cells (HSCs). We thus hypothesized whether freshly isolated human bone marrow Mesenchymal stem cells (hMSCs) and mature murine stromal cells (SR4987 line) primed in vitro with anti-cancer drugs and then localized near cancer cells, could inhibit proliferation.

Methods and Principal Findings

Paclitaxel (PTX) was used to prime culture of hMSCs and SR4987. Incorporation of PTX into hMSCs was studied by using FICT-labelled-PTX and analyzed by FACS and confocal microscopy. Release of PTX in culture medium by PTX primed hMSCs (hMSCsPTX) was investigated by HPLC. Culture of Endothelial cells (ECs) and aorta ring assay were used to test the anti-angiogenic activity of hMSCsPTX and PTX primed SR4987(SR4987PTX), while anti-tumor activity was tested in vitro on the proliferation of different tumor cell lines and in vivo by co-transplanting hMSCsPTX and SR4987PTX with cancer cells in mice. Nevertheless, despite a loss of cells due to chemo-induced apoptosis, both hMSCs and SR4987 were able to rapidly incorporate PTX and could slowly release PTX in the culture medium in a time dependent manner. PTX primed cells acquired a potent anti-tumor and anti-angiogenic activity in vitro that was dose dependent, and demonstrable by using their conditioned medium or by co-culture assay. Finally, hMSCsPTX and SR4987PTX co-injected with human cancer cells (DU145 and U87MG) and mouse melanoma cells (B16) in immunodeficient and in syngenic mice significantly delayed tumor takes and reduced tumor growth.


These data demonstrate, for the first time, that without any genetic manipulation, mesenchymal stromal cells can uptake and subsequently slowly release PTX. This may lead to potential new tools to increase efficacy of cancer therapy.


by Jessica Worthington Wilmer, Lynde Murray, Ché Elkin, Chris Wilcox, Darren Niejalke, Hugh Possingham

The role of disturbance in the promotion of biological heterogeneity is widely recognised and occurs at a variety of ecological and evolutionary scales. However, within species, the impact of disturbances that decimate populations are neither predicted nor known to result in conditions that promote genetic diversity. Directly examining the population genetic consequences of catastrophic disturbances however, is rarely possible, as it requires both longitudinal genetic data sets and serendipitous timing. Our long-term study of the endemic aquatic invertebrates of the artesian spring ecosystem of arid central Australia has presented such an opportunity. Here we show a catastrophic flood event, which caused a near total population crash in an aquatic snail species (Fonscochlea accepta) endemic to this ecosystem, may have led to enhanced levels of within species genetic diversity. Analyses of individuals sampled and genotyped from the same springs sampled both pre (1988–1990) and post (1995, 2002–2006) a devastating flood event in 1992, revealed significantly higher allelic richness, reduced temporal population structuring and greater effective population sizes in nearly all post flood populations. Our results suggest that the response of individual species to disturbance and severe population bottlenecks is likely to be highly idiosyncratic and may depend on both their ecology (whether they are resilient or resistant to disturbance) and the stability of the environmental conditions (i.e. frequency and intensity of disturbances) in which they have evolved.

by Jingchun Chen, Darlene H. Brunzell, Kia Jackson, Andrew van der Vaart, Jennie Z. Ma, Thomas J. Payne, Richard Sherva, Lindsay A. Farrer, Pablo Gejman, Douglas F. Levinson, Peter Holmans, Steven H. Aggen, Imad Damaj, Po-Hsiu Kuo, Bradley T. Webb, Raymond Anton, Henry R. Kranzler, Joel Gelernter, Ming D. Li, Kenneth S. Kendler, Xiangning Chen

Individuals with schizophrenia tend to be heavy smokers and are at high risk for tobacco dependence. However, the nature of the comorbidity is not entirely clear. We previously reported evidence for association of schizophrenia with SNPs and SNP haplotypes in a region of chromosome 5q containing the SPEC2, PDZ-GEF2 and ACSL6 genes. In this current study, analysis of the control subjects of the Molecular Genetics of Schizophrenia (MGS) sample showed similar pattern of association with number of cigarettes smoked per day (numCIG) for the same region. To further test if this locus is associated with tobacco smoking as measured by numCIG and FTND, we conducted replication and meta-analysis in 12 independent samples (n>16,000) for two markers in ACSL6 reported in our previous schizophrenia study. In the meta-analysis of the replication samples, we found that rs667437 and rs477084 were significantly associated with numCIG (p = 0.00038 and 0.00136 respectively) but not with FTND scores. We then used in vitro and in vivo techniques to test if nicotine exposure influences the expression of ACSL6 in brain. Primary cortical culture studies showed that chronic (5-day) exposure to nicotine stimulated ACSL6 mRNA expression. Fourteen days of nicotine administration via osmotic mini pump also increased ACSL6 protein levels in the prefrontal cortex and hippocampus of mice. These increases were suppressed by injection of the nicotinic receptor antagonist mecamylamine, suggesting that elevated expression of ACSL6 requires nicotinic receptor activation. These findings suggest that variations in the ACSL6 gene may contribute to the quantity of cigarettes smoked. The independent associations of this locus with schizophrenia and with numCIG in non-schizophrenic subjects suggest that this locus may be a common liability to both conditions.

by Josette M. Douville, David Y. C. Cheung, Krista L. Herbert, Teri Moffatt, Jeffrey T. Wigle

Senescence, the state of permanent cell cycle arrest, has been associated with endothelial cell dysfunction and atherosclerosis. The cyclin dependent kinase inhibitors p21CIP1/WAF1 and p16INK4a govern the G1/S cell cycle checkpoint and are essential for determining whether a cell enters into an arrested state. The homeodomain transcription factor MEOX2 is an important regulator of vascular cell proliferation and is a direct transcriptional activator of both p21CIP1/WAF1 and p16INK4a. MEOX1 and MEOX2 have been shown to be partially functionally redundant during development, suggesting that they regulate similar target genes in vivo. We compared the ability of MEOX1 and MEOX2 to activate p21CIP1/WAF1 and p16INK4a expression and induce endothelial cell cycle arrest. Our results demonstrate for the first time that MEOX1 regulates the MEOX2 target genes p21CIP1/WAF1 and p16INK4a. In addition, increased expression of either of the MEOX homeodomain transcription factors leads to cell cycle arrest and endothelial cell senescence. Furthermore, we show that the mechanism of transcriptional activation of these cyclin dependent kinase inhibitor genes by MEOX1 and MEOX2 is distinct. MEOX1 and MEOX2 activate p16INK4a in a DNA binding dependent manner, whereas they induce p21CIP1/WAF1 in a DNA binding independent manner.

by Masahiro Banno, Takayoshi Koide, Branko Aleksic, Kazuo Yamada, Tsutomu Kikuchi, Kunihiro Kohmura, Yasunori Adachi, Naoko Kawano, Itaru Kushima, Masashi Ikeda, Toshiya Inada, Takeo Yoshikawa, Nakao Iwata, Norio Ozaki


Using a knock-out mouse model, it was shown that NETO1 is a critical component of the NMDAR complex, and that loss of Neto1 leads to impaired hippocampal long term potentiation and hippocampal-dependent learning and memory. Moreover, hemizygosity of NETO1 was shown to be associated with autistic-like behavior in humans.

Purpose of the Research

We examined the association between schizophrenia and the neuropilin and tolloid-like 1 gene (NETO1). First, we selected eight single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) within the NETO1 locus, based on the Japanese schizophrenia genome wide association study (JGWAS) results and previously conducted association studies. These SNPs were genotyped in the replication sample comprised of 963 schizophrenic patients and 919 healthy controls. We also examined the effect of associated SNPs on scores in the Continuous Performance Test and the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test Keio version (schizophrenic patients 107, healthy controls 104).


There were no significant allele-wise and haplotype-wise associations in the replication analysis after Bonferroni correction. However, in meta-analysis (JGWAS and replication dataset) three association signals were observed (rs17795324: p = 0.028, rs8098760: p = 0.017, rs17086492: p = 0.003). These SNPs were followed up but we could not detect the allele-specific effect on cognitive performance measured by the Continuous performance test (CPT) and Wisconsin Card Sorting test (WCST).

Major Conclusions

We did not detect evidence for the association of NETO1 with schizophrenia in the Japanese population. Common variants within the NETO1 locus may not increase the genetic risk for schizophrenia in the Japanese population. Additionally, common variants investigated in the current study did not affect cognitive performance, as measured by the CPT and WCST.


by Michael C. Brown, Tony R. Joaquim, Ross Chambers, Dale V. Onisk, Fenglin Yin, Janet M. Moriango, Yichun Xu, David A. Fancy, Erin L. Crowgey, Yida He, James W. Stave, Klaus Lindpaintner

Antibodies are quintessential affinity reagents for the investigation and determination of a protein's expression patterns, localization, quantitation, modifications, purification, and functional understanding. Antibodies are typically used in techniques such as Western blot, immunohistochemistry (IHC), and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA), among others. The methods employed to generate antibodies can have a profound impact on their success in any of these applications. We raised antibodies against 10 serum proteins using 3 immunization methods: peptide antigens (3 per protein), DNA prime/protein fragment-boost (“DNA immunization”; 3 per protein), and full length protein. Antibodies thus generated were systematically evaluated using several different assay technologies (ELISA, IHC, and Western blot). Antibodies raised against peptides worked predominantly in applications where the target protein was denatured (57% success in Western blot, 66% success in immunohistochemistry), although 37% of the antibodies thus generated did not work in any of these applications. In contrast, antibodies produced by DNA immunization performed well against both denatured and native targets with a high level of success: 93% success in Western blots, 100% success in immunohistochemistry, and 79% success in ELISA. Importantly, success in one assay method was not predictive of success in another. Immunization with full length protein consistently yielded the best results; however, this method is not typically available for new targets, due to the difficulty of generating full length protein. We conclude that DNA immunization strategies which are not encumbered by the limitations of efficacy (peptides) or requirements for full length proteins can be quite successful, particularly when multiple constructs for each protein are used.

by Carly Vynne, Jonah L. Keim, Ricardo B. Machado, Jader Marinho-Filho, Leandro Silveira, Martha J. Groom, Samuel K. Wasser

Conserving animals beyond protected areas is critical because even the largest reserves may be too small to maintain viable populations for many wide-ranging species. Identification of landscape features that will promote persistence of a diverse array of species is a high priority, particularly, for protected areas that reside in regions of otherwise extensive habitat loss. This is the case for Emas National Park, a small but important protected area located in the Brazilian Cerrado, the world's most biologically diverse savanna. Emas Park is a large-mammal global conservation priority area but is too small to protect wide-ranging mammals for the long-term and conserving these populations will depend on the landscape surrounding the park. We employed novel, noninvasive methods to determine the relative importance of resources found within the park, as well as identify landscape features that promote persistence of wide-ranging mammals outside reserve borders. We used scat detection dogs to survey for five large mammals of conservation concern: giant armadillo (Priodontes maximus), giant anteater (Myrmecophaga tridactyla), maned wolf (Chrysocyon brachyurus), jaguar (Panthera onca), and puma (Puma concolor). We estimated resource selection probability functions for each species from 1,572 scat locations and 434 giant armadillo burrow locations. Results indicate that giant armadillos and jaguars are highly selective of natural habitats, which makes both species sensitive to landscape change from agricultural development. Due to the high amount of such development outside of the Emas Park boundary, the park provides rare resource conditions that are particularly important for these two species. We also reveal that both woodland and forest vegetation remnants enable use of the agricultural landscape as a whole for maned wolves, pumas, and giant anteaters. We identify those features and their landscape compositions that should be prioritized for conservation, arguing that a multi-faceted approach is required to protect these species.

by Christine von Klitzing, Richard Huss, Anna Lena Illert, Astrid Fröschl, Sabine Wötzel, Christian Peschel, Florian Bassermann, Justus Duyster

NIPA (Nuclear Interaction Partner of Alk kinase) is an F-box like protein that targets nuclear Cyclin B1 for degradation. Integrity and therefore activity of the SCFNIPA E3 ligase is regulated by cell-cycle-dependent phosphorylation of NIPA, restricting substrate ubiquitination to interphase. Here we show that phosphorylated NIPA is degraded in late mitosis in an APC/CCdh1-dependent manner. Binding of the unphosphorylated form of NIPA to Skp1 interferes with binding to the APC/C-adaptor protein Cdh1 and therefore protects unphosphorylated NIPA from degradation in interphase. Our data thus define a novel mode of regulating APC/C-mediated ubiquitination.

by Janneke Koerts, Marije Van Beilen, Oliver Tucha, Klaus L. Leenders, Wiebo H. Brouwer

Impairments in executive functioning are frequently observed in Parkinson's disease (PD). However, executive functioning needed in daily life is difficult to measure. Considering this difficulty the Cognitive Effort Test (CET) was recently developed. In this multi-task test the goals are specified but participants are free in their approach. This study applies the CET in PD patients and investigates whether initiative, planning and multi-tasking are associated with aspects of executive functions and psychomotor speed. Thirty-six PD patients with a mild to moderate disease severity and thirty-four healthy participants were included in this study. PD patients planned and demonstrated more sequential task execution, which was associated with a decreased psychomotor speed. Furthermore, patients with a moderate PD planned to execute fewer tasks at the same time than patients with a mild PD. No differences were found between these groups for multi-tasking. In conclusion, PD patients planned and executed the tasks of the CET sequentially rather than in parallel presumably reflecting a compensation strategy for a decreased psychomotor speed. Furthermore, patients with moderate PD appeared to take their impairments into consideration when planning how to engage the tasks of the test. This compensation could not be detected in patients with mild PD.

by David Alais, Deborah Apthorp, Anna Karmann, John Cass

Temporal integration in the visual system causes fast-moving objects to leave oriented ‘motion streaks’ in their wake, which could be used to facilitate motion direction perception. Temporal integration is thought to occur over 100 ms in early cortex, although this has never been tested for motion streaks. Here we compare the ability of fast-moving (‘streaky’) and slow-moving fields of dots to mask briefly flashed gratings either parallel or orthogonal to the motion trajectory. Gratings were presented at various asynchronies relative to motion onset (from to ms) to sample the time-course of the accumulating streaks. Predictions were that masking would be strongest for the fast parallel condition, and would be weak at early asynchronies and strengthen over time as integration rendered the translating dots more streaky and grating-like. The asynchrony where the masking function reached a plateau would correspond to the temporal integration period. As expected, fast-moving dots caused greater masking of parallel gratings than orthogonal gratings, and slow motion produced only modest masking of either grating orientation. Masking strength in the fast, parallel condition increased with time and reached a plateau after 77 ms, providing an estimate of the temporal integration period for mechanisms encoding motion streaks. Interestingly, the greater masking by fast motion of parallel compared with orthogonal gratings first reached significance at 48 ms before motion onset, indicating an effect of backward masking by motion streaks.

by Hiromichi Wada, Shuichi Ura, Shuji Kitaoka, Noriko Satoh-Asahara, Takahiro Horie, Koh Ono, Tomohide Takaya, Rieko Takanabe-Mori, Masaharu Akao, Mitsuru Abe, Tatsuya Morimoto, Toshinori Murayama, Masayuki Yokode, Masatoshi Fujita, Akira Shimatsu, Koji Hasegawa

The mechanisms that lead from obesity to atherosclerotic disease are not fully understood. Obesity involves angiogenesis in which vascular endothelial growth factor-A (VEGF-A) plays a key role. On the other hand, vascular endothelial growth factor-C (VEGF-C) plays a pivotal role in lymphangiogenesis. Circulating levels of VEGF-A and VEGF-C are elevated in sera from obese subjects. However, relationships of VEGF-C with atherosclerotic risk factors and atherosclerosis are unknown. We determined circulating levels of VEGF-A and VEGF-C in 423 consecutive subjects not receiving any drugs at the Health Evaluation Center. After adjusting for age and gender, VEGF-A levels were significantly and more strongly correlated with the body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference than VEGF-C. Conversely, VEGF-C levels were significantly and more closely correlated with metabolic (e.g., fasting plasma glucose, hemoglobin A1c, immunoreactive insulin, and the homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance) and lipid parameters (e.g., triglycerides, total cholesterol (TC), low-density-lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C), and non-high-density-lipoprotein cholesterol (non-HDL-C)) than VEGF-A. Stepwise regression analyses revealed that independent determinants of VEGF-A were the BMI and age, whereas strong independent determinants of VEGF-C were age, triglycerides, and non-HDL-C. In apolipoprotein E-deficient mice fed a high-fat-diet (HFD) or normal chow (NC) for 16 weeks, levels of VEGF-A were not significantly different between the two groups. However, levels of VEGF-C were significantly higher in HFD mice with advanced atherosclerosis and marked hypercholesterolemia than NC mice. Furthermore, immunohistochemistry revealed that the expression of VEGF-C in atheromatous plaque of the aortic sinus was significantly intensified by feeding HFD compared to NC, while that of VEGF-A was not. In conclusion, these findings demonstrate that VEGF-C, rather than VEGF-A, is closely related to dyslipidemia and atherosclerosis.

by Takashi Kodama, Tadayasu Togawa, Takahiro Tsukimura, Ikuo Kawashima, Kazuhiko Matsuoka, Keisuke Kitakaze, Daisuke Tsuji, Kohji Itoh, Yo-ichi Ishida, Minoru Suzuki, Toshihiro Suzuki, Hitoshi Sakuraba

To find a new biomarker of Tay-Sachs disease and Sandhoff disease. The lyso-GM2 ganglioside (lyso-GM2) levels in the brain and plasma in Sandhoff mice were measured by means of high performance liquid chromatography and the effect of a modified hexosaminidase (Hex) B exhibiting Hex A-like activity was examined. Then, the lyso-GM2 concentrations in human plasma samples were determined. The lyso-GM2 levels in the brain and plasma in Sandhoff mice were apparently increased compared with those in wild-type mice, and they decreased on intracerebroventricular administration of the modified Hex B. The lyso-GM2 levels in plasma of patients with Tay-Sachs disease and Sandhoff disease were increased, and the increase in lyso-GM2 was associated with a decrease in Hex A activity. Lyso-GM2 is expected to be a potential biomarker of Tay-Sachs disease and Sandhoff disease.

by Whitney M. Ellefson, Ashley M. Lakner, Alicia Hamilton, Iain H. McKillop, Herbert L. Bonkovsky, Nury M. Steuerwald, Yvette M. Huet, Laura W. Schrum

Alcoholic liver disease (ALD) affects millions of people worldwide and is a major cause of morbidity and mortality. However, fewer than 10% of heavy drinkers progress to later stages of injury, suggesting other factors in ALD development, including environmental exposures and genetics. Females display greater susceptibility to the early damaging effects of ethanol. Estrogen (E2) and ethanol metabolizing enzymes (cytochrome P450, CYP450) are implicated in sex differences of ALD. Sex steroid hormones are developmentally regulated by the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal (HPG) axis, which controls sex-specific cycling of gonadal steroid production and expression of hepatic enzymes. The aim of this study was to determine if early postnatal inhibition of adult cyclic E2 alters ethanol metabolizing enzyme expression contributing to the development of ALD in adulthood. An androgenized rat model was used to inhibit cyclic E2 production. Control females (Ctrl), androgenized females (Andro) and Andro females with E2 implants were administered either an ethanol or isocalorically-matched control Lieber-DeCarli diet for four weeks and liver injury and CYP450 expression assessed. Androgenization exacerbated the deleterious effects of ethanol demonstrated by increased steatosis, lipid peroxidation, profibrotic gene expression and decreased antioxidant defenses compared to Ctrl. Additionally, CYP2E1 expression was down-regulated in Andro animals on both diets. No change was observed in CYP1A2 protein expression. Further, continuous exogenous administration of E2 to Andro in adulthood attenuated these effects, suggesting that E2 has protective effects in the androgenized animal. Therefore, early postnatal inhibition of cyclic E2 modulates development and progression of ALD in adulthood.

by Carlos Alfaro, Natalia Suarez, Carmen Oñate, Jose L. Perez-Gracia, Ivan Martinez-Forero, Sandra Hervas-Stubbs, Inmaculada Rodriguez, Guiomar Perez, Elixabet Bolaños, Asis Palazon, Miguel Fernandez de Sanmamed, Aizea Morales-Kastresana, Alvaro Gonzalez, Ignacio Melero

Dendritic cells (DC) are endowed with the ability to cross-present antigens from other cell types to cognate T cells. DC are poised to meet polymorphonuclear leukocytes (PMNs) as a result of being co-attracted by interleukin-8 (IL-8), for instance as produced by tumor cells or infected tissue. Human monocyte-derived and mouse bone marrow-derived DC can readily internalize viable or UV-irradiated PMNs. Such internalization was abrogated at 4°C and partly inhibited by anti-CD18 mAb. In mice, DC which had internalized PMNs containing electroporated ovalbumin (OVA) protein, were able to cross-present the antigen to CD8 (OT-1) and CD4 (OT-2) TCR-transgenic T cells. Moreover, in humans, tumor cell debris is internalized by PMNs and the tumor-cell material can be subsequently taken up from the immunomagnetically re-isolated PMNs by DC. Importantly, if human neutrophils had endocytosed bacteria, they were able to trigger the maturation program of the DC. Moreover, when mouse PMNs with E. coli in their interior are co-injected in the foot pad with DC, many DC loaded with fluorescent material from the PMNs reach draining lymph nodes. Using CT26 (H-2d) mouse tumor cells, it was observed that if tumor cells are intracellularly loaded with OVA protein and UV-irradiated, they become phagocytic prey of H-2d PMNs. If such PMNs, that cannot present antigens to OT-1 T cells, are immunomagnetically re-isolated and phagocytosed by H-2b DC, such DC productively cross-present OVA antigen determinants to OT-1 T cells. Cross-presentation to adoptively transferred OT-1 lymphocytes at draining lymph nodes also take place when OVA-loaded PMNs (H-2d) are coinjected in the footpad of mice with autologous DC (H-2b). In summary, our results indicate that antigens phagocytosed by short-lived PMNs can be in turn internalized and productively cross-presented by DC.

by Gilles Wandeler, Olivia Keiser, Bernard Hirschel, Huldrych F. Günthard, Enos Bernasconi, Manuel Battegay, Olivier Clerc, Pietro L. Vernazza, Hansjakob Furrer, the Swiss HIV Cohort Study


In order to facilitate and improve the use of antiretroviral therapy (ART), international recommendations are released and updated regularly. We aimed to study if adherence to the recommendations is associated with better treatment outcomes in the Swiss HIV Cohort Study (SHCS).


Initial ART regimens prescribed to participants between 1998 and 2007 were classified according to IAS-USA recommendations. Baseline characteristics of patients who received regimens in violation with these recommendations (violation ART) were compared to other patients. Multivariable logistic and linear regression analyses were performed to identify associations between violation ART and (i) virological suppression and (ii) CD4 cell count increase, after one year.


Between 1998 and 2007, 4189 SHCS participants started 241 different ART regimens. A violation ART was started in 5% of patients. Female patients (adjusted odds ratio aOR 1.83, 95%CI 1.28–2.62), those with a high education level (aOR 1.49, 95%CI 1.07–2.06) or a high CD4 count (aOR 1.53, 95%CI 1.02–2.30) were more likely to receive violation ART. The proportion of patients with an undetectable viral load (


by Max L. Fletcher

Odors are rarely composed of a single compound, but rather contain a large and complex variety of chemical components. Often, these mixtures are perceived as having unique qualities that can be quite different than the combination of their components. In many cases, a majority of the components of a mixture cannot be individually identified. This synthetic processing of odor information suggests that individual component representations of the mixture must interact somewhere along the olfactory pathway. The anatomical nature of sensory neuron input into segregated glomeruli with the bulb suggests that initial input of odor information into the bulb is analytic. However, a large network of interneurons within the olfactory bulb could allow for mixture interactions via mechanisms such as lateral inhibition. Currently in mammals, it is unclear if postsynaptic mitral/tufted cell glomerular mixture responses reflect the analytical mixture input, or provide the initial basis for synthetic processing with the olfactory system. To address this, olfactory bulb glomerular binary mixture representations were compared to representations of each component using transgenic mice expressing the calcium indicator G-CaMP2 in olfactory bulb mitral/tufted cells. Overall, dorsal surface mixture representations showed little mixture interaction and often appeared as a simple combination of the component representations. Based on this, it is concluded that dorsal surface glomerular mixture representations remain largely analytical with nearly all component information preserved.

by Toshiyuki Sakaeda, Kaori Kadoyama, Yasushi Okuno


Adverse event reports (AERs) submitted to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) were reviewed to assess the muscular and renal adverse events induced by the administration of 3-hydroxy-3-methylglutaryl coenzyme A (HMG-CoA) reductase inhibitors (statins) and to attempt to determine the rank-order of the association.


After a revision of arbitrary drug names and the deletion of duplicated submissions, AERs involving pravastatin, simvastatin, atorvastatin, or rosuvastatin were analyzed. Authorized pharmacovigilance tools were used for quantitative detection of signals, i.e., drug-associated adverse events, including the proportional reporting ratio, the reporting odds ratio, the information component given by a Bayesian confidence propagation neural network, and the empirical Bayes geometric mean. Myalgia, rhabdomyolysis and an increase in creatine phosphokinase level were focused on as the muscular adverse events, and acute renal failure, non-acute renal failure, and an increase in blood creatinine level as the renal adverse events.


Based on 1,644,220 AERs from 2004 to 2009, signals were detected for 4 statins with respect to myalgia, rhabdomyolysis, and an increase in creatine phosphokinase level, but these signals were stronger for rosuvastatin than pravastatin and atorvastatin. Signals were also detected for acute renal failure, though in the case of atorvastatin, the association was marginal, and furthermore, a signal was not detected for non-acute renal failure or for an increase in blood creatinine level.


Data mining of the FDA's adverse event reporting system, AERS, is useful for examining statin-associated muscular and renal adverse events. The data strongly suggest the necessity of well-organized clinical studies with respect to statin-associated adverse events.


by Béatrice Cambien, Peggy Richard-Fiardo, Babou F. Karimdjee, Violette Martini, Bernard Ferrua, Bruno Pitard, Heidy Schmid-Antomarchi, Annie Schmid-Alliana

Increased CCL5 levels are markers of an unfavourable outcome in patients with melanoma, breast, cervical, prostate, gastric or pancreatic cancer. Here, we have assessed the role played by CCL5/CCR5 interactions in the development of colon cancer. To do so, we have examined a number of human colorectal carcinoma clinical specimens and found CCL5 and its receptors over-expressed within primary as well as liver and pulmonary metastases of patients compared to healthy tissues. In vitro, CCL5 increased the growth and migratory responses of colon cancer cells from both human and mouse origins. In addition, systemic treatment of mice with CCL5-directed antibodies reduced the extent of development of subcutaneous colon tumors, of liver metastases and of peritoneal carcinosis. Consistently, we found increased numbers of CD45-immunoreactive cells within the stroma of the remaining lesions as well as at the interface with the healthy tissue. In contrast, selective targeting of CCR5 through administration of TAK-779, a CCR5 antagonist, only partially compromised colon cancer progression. Furthermore, CCL5 neutralization rendered the tumors more sensitive to a PDGFRβ-directed strategy in mice, this combination regimen offering the greatest protection against liver metastases and suppressing macroscopic peritoneal carcinosis. Collectively, our data demonstrate the involvement of CCL5 in the pathogenesis of colorectal carcinoma and point to its potential value as a therapeutic target.

by Jonathan Dushoff, Audrey Patocs, Chyun-Fung Shi


Evidence from biological, epidemiological, and controlled intervention studies has demonstrated that male circumcision (MC) protects males from HIV infection, and MC is now advocated as a public-health intervention against HIV. MC provides direct protection only to men, but is expected to provide indirect protection to women at risk of acquiring HIV from heterosexual transmission. How such indirect protection interacts with the possibility that MC campaigns will lead to behavior changes, however, is not yet well understood. Our objective here is to investigate the link between individual-level effects of MC campaigns and long-term population-level outcomes resulting from disease dynamics, looking at both genders separately, over a broad range of parameters.

Methods and Findings

We use simple mathematical models of heterosexual transmission to investigate the potential effects of a circumcision scale-up, combined with possible associated behavioral disinhibition. We examine patterns in expected long-term prevalence using a simple equilibrium model based on transmission factors, and validate our results with ODE-based simulations, focusing on the link between effects on females and those on males.We find that the long-term population-level effects on females and males are not strongly linked: there are many possible ways in which an intervention which reduces prevalence in males might nonetheless increase prevalence in females.


Since an intervention that reduces long-term male prevalence could nonetheless increase long-term female prevalence, MC campaigns should explicitly consider both the short-term and long-term effects of MC interventions on females. Our findings strongly underline the importance of pairing MC programs with education, support programs and HIV testing and counseling, together with other prevention measures.


by Ismini Lasithiotaki, Katerina M. Antoniou, Virginia-Maria Vlahava, Konstantinos Karagiannis, Demetrios A. Spandidos, Nikolaos M. Siafakas, George Sourvinos

The current study intends to investigate i) the incidence of herpes viruses including Herpes Simplex Virus type-1 (HSV-1), Cytomegalovirus (CMV) and Human Herpes Virus -6, -7, -8 (HHV6, HHV7, HHV8) in two biological samples, bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) and lung tissue biopsy, in different forms of pulmonary fibrosis, and ii) the induction of molecular pathways involved in fibrosis by herpesvirus infection in primary cell cultures. PCR was employed for the detection of CMV, HHV6-8 and HSV-1 DNA in lung specimens (4 controls and 11 IPF specimens) and BALF pellet [6 controls and 20 fibrotic Idiopathic Intestitial Pneumonias (f-IIPs) samples: 13 idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) and 7 nonspecific idiopathic interstitial pneumonia (NSIP)] samples. Among all herpesviruses tested, HSV-1 was detected in 1/11 (9%) specimens from IPF lung tissue and in 2/20 (10%) samples of f-IIPs BALF whereas the control group was negative. Primary cell cultures from BALF of patients with IPF and healthy controls were infected in vitro with wild-type HSV-1 virus and Real Time PCR was employed for the detection of gene transcription of specific axes implicated in lung fibrosis. Primary cell cultures were permissive to HSV-1, resulting in an upregulation of the fibrotic growth factors TGFβ1 and FGF, the angiogenetic markers SDF1a, SDF1b, VEGF, FGF and the regulators of tissue wound healing MMP9 and CCR7. Downregulation was noted for the CXCR4 and MMP2 genes, while a different response has been detected in healthy donors regarding the expression of the aforementioned markers. These results implicate for the first time the HSV-1 with Fibrotic Idiopathic Interstitial Pneumonias since the virus presented similar incidence in two different biological samples.

by HaoQiang Zheng, Hongwei Jia, Anupama Shankar, Walid Heneine, William M. Switzer

The xenotropic murine leukemia virus (MLV)-related viruses (XMRV) have been reported in persons with prostate cancer, chronic fatigue syndrome, and less frequently in blood donors. Polytropic MLVs have also been described in persons with CFS and blood donors. However, many studies have failed to confirm these findings, raising the possibility of contamination as a source of the positive results. One PCR reagent, Platinum Taq polymerase (pol) has been reported to contain mouse DNA that produces false-positive MLV PCR results. We report here the finding of a large number of PCR reagents that have low levels of MLV sequences. We found that recombinant reverse-transcriptase (RT) enzymes from six companies derived from either MLV or avian myeloblastosis virus contained MLV pol DNA sequences but not gag or mouse DNA sequences. Sequence and phylogenetic analysis showed high relatedness to Moloney MLV, suggesting residual contamination with an RT-containing plasmid. In addition, we identified contamination with mouse DNA and a variety of MLV sequences in commercially available human DNAs from leukocytes, brain tissues, and cell lines. These results identify new sources of MLV contamination and highlight the importance of careful pre-screening of commercial specimens and diagnostic reagents to avoid false-positive MLV PCR results.
PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases

by Roberto Barrera, Manuel Amador, Andrew J. MacKay

Previous studies on the influence of weather on Aedes aegypti dynamics in Puerto Rico suggested that rainfall was a significant driver of immature mosquito populations and dengue incidence, but mostly in the drier areas of the island. We conducted a longitudinal study of Ae. aegypti in two neighborhoods of the metropolitan area of San Juan city, Puerto Rico where rainfall is more uniformly distributed throughout the year. We assessed the impacts of rainfall, temperature, and human activities on the temporal dynamics of adult Ae. aegypti and oviposition. Changes in adult mosquitoes were monitored with BG-Sentinel traps and oviposition activity with CDC enhanced ovitraps. Pupal surveys were conducted during the drier and wetter parts of the year in both neighborhoods to determine the contribution of humans and rains to mosquito production. Mosquito dynamics in each neighborhood was compared with dengue incidence in their respective municipalities during the study. Our results showed that: 1. Most pupae were produced in containers managed by people, which explains the prevalence of adult mosquitoes at times when rainfall was scant; 2. Water meters were documented for the first time as productive habitats for Ae. aegypti; 3. Even though Puerto Rico has a reliable supply of tap water and an active tire recycling program, water storage containers and discarded tires were important mosquito producers; 4. Peaks in mosquito density preceded maximum dengue incidence; and 5. Ae. aegypti dynamics were driven by weather and human activity and oviposition was significantly correlated with dengue incidence.

by Kari D. Hagen, Matthew P. Hirakawa, Susan A. House, Cindi L. Schwartz, Jonathan K. Pham, Michael J. Cipriano, Moises J. De La Torre, Albert C. Sek, Gary Du, Brystal M. Forsythe, Scott C. Dawson

Giardia intestinalis is a ubiquitous parasitic protist that is the causative agent of giardiasis, one of the most common protozoan diarrheal diseases in the world. Giardia trophozoites attach to the intestinal epithelium using a specialized and elaborate microtubule structure, the ventral disc. Surrounding the ventral disc is a less characterized putatively contractile structure, the lateral crest, which forms a continuous perimeter seal with the substrate. A better understanding of ventral disc and lateral crest structure, conformational dynamics, and biogenesis is critical for understanding the mechanism of giardial attachment to the host. To determine the components comprising the ventral disc and lateral crest, we used shotgun proteomics to identify proteins in a preparation of isolated ventral discs. Candidate disc-associated proteins, or DAPs, were GFP-tagged using a ligation-independent high-throughput cloning method. Based on disc localization, we identified eighteen novel DAPs, which more than doubles the number of known disc-associated proteins. Ten of the novel DAPs are associated with the lateral crest or outer edge of the disc, and are the first confirmed components of this structure. Using Fluorescence Recovery After Photobleaching (FRAP) with representative novel DAP::GFP strains we found that the newly identified DAPs tested did not recover after photobleaching and are therefore structural components of the ventral disc or lateral crest. Functional analyses of the novel DAPs will be central toward understanding the mechanism of ventral disc-mediated attachment and the mechanism of disc biogenesis during cell division. Since attachment of Giardia to the intestine via the ventral disc is essential for pathogenesis, it is possible that some proteins comprising the disc could be potential drug targets if their loss or disruption interfered with disc biogenesis or function, preventing attachment.

by Simran Preet, Sanjay Bharati, Geeta Shukla, Ashwani Koul, Praveen Rishi


Amoebiasis is a major public health problem in tropical and subtropical countries. Currently, metronidazole is the gold choice medication for the treatment of this disease. However, reports have indicated towards the possibility of development of metronidazole-resistance in Entamoeba strains in near future. In view of the emergence of this possibility, in addition to the associated side effects and mutagenic ability of the currently available anti-amoebic drugs, there is a need to explore newer therapeutics against this disease. In this context, the present study evaluated the amoebicidal potential of cryptdin-2 against E. histolytica.

Methods/Principal Findings

In the present study, cryptdin-2 exhibited potent in-vitro amoebicidal activity against E. histolytica in a concentration dependent manner at a minimum amoebicidal concentration (MAC) of 4 mg/L. Scanning electron microscopy as well as phase contrast microscopic investigations of cryptdin-2 treated trophozoites revealed that the peptide was able to induce significant morphological alterations in terms of membrane wrinkling, leakage of the cytoplasmic contents and damaged plasma membrane suggesting a possible membrane dependent amoebicidal activity. N-phenyl napthylamine (NPN) uptake assay in presence of sulethal, lethal as well as twice the lethal concentrations further confirmed the membrane-dependent mode of action of cryptdin-2 and suggested that the peptide could permeabilize the plasma membrane of E. histolytica. It was also found that cryptdin-2 interfered with DNA, RNA as well as protein synthesis of E. histolytica exerting the highest effect against DNA synthesis. Thus, the macromolecular synthesis studies correlated well with the observations of membrane permeabilization studies.


The amoebicidal efficacy of cryptdin-2 suggests that it may be exploited as a promising option to combat amoebiasis or, at least, may act as an adjunct to metronidazole and/or other available anti-amoebic drugs.


by Ruben Ramirez-Aquino, Irena Radovanovic, Anny Fortin, Edda Sciutto-Conde, Gladis Fragoso-González, Philippe Gros, Irma Aguilar-Delfin

Human neurocysticercosis (NC) caused by Taenia solium is a parasitic disease of the central nervous system that is endemic in many developing countries. In this study, a genetic approach using the murine intraperitoneal cysticercosis caused by the related cestode Taenia crassiceps was employed to identify host factors that regulate the establishment and proliferation of the parasite. A/J mice are permissive to T. crassiceps infection while C57BL/6J mice (B6) are comparatively restrictive, with a 10-fold difference in numbers of peritoneal cysticerci recovered 30 days after infection. The genetic basis of this inter-strain difference was explored using 34 AcB/BcA recombinant congenic strains derived from A/J and B6 progenitors, that were phenotyped for T. crassiceps replication. In agreement with their genetic background, most AcB strains (A/J-derived) were found to be permissive to infection while most BcA strains (B6-derived) were restrictive with the exception of a few discordant strains, together suggesting a possible simple genetic control. Initial haplotype association mapping using >1200 informative SNPs pointed to linkages on chromosomes 2 (proximal) and 6 as controlling parasite replication in the AcB/BcA panel. Additional linkage analysis by genome scan in informative [AcB55xDBA/2]F1 and F2 mice (derived from the discordant AcB55 strain), confirmed the effect of chromosome 2 on parasite replication, and further delineated a major locus (LOD = 4.76, p

by Alpha Kabinet Keita, Hubert Bassene, Adama Tall, Cheikh Sokhna, Pavel Ratmanov, Jean-François Trape, Didier Raoult, Florence Fenollar


Tropheryma whipplei is known as the cause of Whipple's disease, but it is also an emerging pathogen, detected in stool, that causes various chronic localized infections without histological digestive involvement and is associated with acute infections, including gastroenteritis and bacteremia.

Methods/Principal Findings

We conducted a study in 2008 and 2009 using 497 non-diarrheic and diarrheic stool samples, 370 saliva samples, 454 sera samples and 105 samples obtained from water samples in two rural Sine-Saloum villages (Dielmo and Ndiop) in Senegal. The presence of T. whipplei was investigated by using specific quantitative PCR. Genotyping was performed on positive samples. A serological analysis by western blotting was performed to determine the seroprevalence and to detect seroconversion. Overall, T. whipplei was identified in 31.2% of the stool samples (139/446) and 3.5% of the saliva samples (13/370) obtained from healthy subjects. The carriage in the stool specimens was significantly (p


by Tara C. Thiemann, Sarah S. Wheeler, Christopher M. Barker, William K. Reisen

Host selection by vector mosquitoes is a critical component of virus proliferation, particularly for viruses such as West Nile (WNV) that are transmitted enzootically to a variety of avian hosts, and tangentially to dead-end hosts such as humans. Culex tarsalis is a principal vector of WNV in rural areas of western North America. Based on previous work, Cx. tarsalis utilizes a variety of avian and mammalian hosts and tends to feed more frequently on mammals in the late summer than during the rest of the year. To further explore this and other temporal changes in host selection, bloodfed females were collected at a rural farmstead and heron nesting site in Northern California from May 2008 through May 2009, and bloodmeal hosts identified using either a microsphere-based array or by sequencing of the mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase I (COI) gene. Host composition during summer was dominated by four species of nesting Ardeidae. In addition, the site was populated with various passerine species as well as domestic farm animals and humans. When present, Cx. tarsalis fed predominantly (>80%) upon the ardeids, with Black-crowned Night-Herons, a highly competent WNV host, the most prevalent summer host. As the ardeids fledged and left the area and mosquito abundance increased in late summer, Cx. tarsalis feeding shifted to include more mammals, primarily cattle, and a high diversity of avian species. In the winter, Yellow-billed Magpies and House Sparrows were the predominant hosts, and Yellow-billed Magpies and American Robins were fed upon more frequently than expected given their relative abundance. These data demonstrated that host selection was likely based both on host availability and differences in utilization, that the shift of bloodfeeding to include more mammalian hosts was likely the result of both host availability and increased mosquito abundance, and that WNV-competent hosts were fed upon by Cx. tarsalis throughout the year.

by Solomon Nwaka, Dominique Besson, Bernadette Ramirez, Louis Maes, An Matheeussen, Quentin Bickle, Nuha R. Mansour, Fouad Yousif, Simon Townson, Suzanne Gokool, Fidelis Cho-Ngwa, Moses Samje, Shailja Misra-Bhattacharya, P. K. Murthy, Foluke Fakorede, Jean-Marc Paris, Clive Yeates, Robert Ridley, Wesley C. Van Voorhis, Timothy Geary

New chemical entities are desperately needed that overcome the limitations of existing drugs for neglected diseases. Screening a diverse library of 10,000 drug-like compounds against 7 neglected disease pathogens resulted in an integrated dataset of 744 hits. We discuss the prioritization of these hits for each pathogen and the strong correlation observed between compounds active against more than two pathogens and mammalian cell toxicity. Our work suggests that the efficiency of early drug discovery for neglected diseases can be enhanced through a collaborative, multi-pathogen approach.

by José Bustos-Arriaga, Jazmín García-Machorro, Moisés León-Juárez, Julio García-Cordero, Leopoldo Santos-Argumedo, Leopoldo Flores-Romo, A. René Méndez-Cruz, Francisco J. Juárez-Delgado, Leticia Cedillo-Barrón


When mosquitoes infected with DENV are feeding, the proboscis must traverse the epidermis several times (“probing”) before reaching a blood vessel in the dermis. During this process, the salivary glands release the virus, which is likely to interact first with cells of the various epidermal and dermal layers, cells which could be physiologically relevant to DENV infection and replication in humans. However, important questions are whether more abundant non-hematopoietic cells such as fibroblasts become infected, and whether they play any role in antiviral innate immunity in the very early stages of infection, or even if they might be used by DENV as primary replication cells.

Methodology/Principal Findings

Fibroblasts freshly released from healthy skin and infected 12 hours after their isolation show a positive signal for DENV. In addition, when primary skin fibroblast cultures were established and subsequently infected, we showed DENV-2 antigen-positive intracellular signal at 24 hours and 48 hours post-infection. Moreover, the fibroblasts showed productive infection in a conventional plaque assay. The skin fibroblasts infected with DENV-2 underwent potent signaling through both TLR3 and RIG- 1, but not Mda5, triggering up-regulation of IFNβ, TNFα, defensin 5 (HB5) and β defensin 2 (HβD2). In addition, DENV infected fibroblasts showed increased nuclear translocation of interferon (IFN) regulatory factor 3 (IRF3), but not interferon regulatory factor 7 (IRF7), when compared with mock-infected fibroblasts.


In this work, we demonstrated the high susceptibility to DENV infection by primary fibroblasts from normal human skin, both in situ and in vitro. Our results suggest that these cells may contribute to the pro-inflammatory and anti-viral microenvironment in the early stages of interaction with DENV-2. Furthermore, the data suggest that fibroblast may also be used as a primary site of DENV replication and provide viral particles that may contribute to subsequent viral dissemination.


by Cristian Koepfli, Amanda Ross, Benson Kiniboro, Thomas A. Smith, Peter A. Zimmerman, Peter Siba, Ivo Mueller, Ingrid Felger

Plasmodium vivax is highly endemic in the lowlands of Papua New Guinea and accounts for a large proportion of the malaria cases in children less than 5 years of age. We collected 2117 blood samples at 2-monthly intervals from a cohort of 268 children aged 1 to 4.5 years and estimated the diversity and multiplicity of P. vivax infection. All P. vivax clones were genotyped using the merozoite surface protein 1 F3 fragment (msp1F3) and the microsatellite MS16 as molecular markers. High diversity was observed with msp1F3 (HE = 88.1%) and MS16 (HE = 97.8%). Of the 1162 P. vivax positive samples, 74% harbored multi-clone infections with a mean multiplicity of 2.7 (IQR = 1–3). The multiplicity of P. vivax infection increased slightly with age (P = 0.02), with the strongest increase in very young children. Intensified efforts to control malaria can benefit from knowledge of the diversity and MOI both for assessing the endemic situation and monitoring the effects of interventions.

by Célestine M. Atyame, Nicole Pasteur, Emilie Dumas, Pablo Tortosa, Michaël Luciano Tantely, Nicolas Pocquet, Séverine Licciardi, Ambicadutt Bheecarry, Betty Zumbo, Mylène Weill, Olivier Duron

The use of the bacterium Wolbachia is an attractive alternative method to control vector populations. In mosquitoes, as in members of the Culex pipiens complex, Wolbachia induces a form of embryonic lethality called cytoplasmic incompatibility, a sperm-egg incompatibility occurring when infected males mate either with uninfected females or with females infected with incompatible Wolbachia strain(s). Here we explore the feasibility of the Incompatible Insect Technique (IIT), a species-specific control approach in which field females are sterilized by inundative releases of incompatible males. We show that the Wolbachia wPip(Is) strain, naturally infecting Cx. p. pipiens mosquitoes from Turkey, is a good candidate to control Cx. p. quinquefasciatus populations on four islands of the south-western Indian Ocean (La Réunion, Mauritius, Grande Glorieuse and Mayotte). The wPip(Is) strain was introduced into the nuclear background of Cx. p. quinquefasciatus mosquitoes from La Réunion, leading to the LR[wPip(Is)] line. Total embryonic lethality was observed in crosses between LR[wPip(Is)] males and all tested field females from the four islands. Interestingly, most crosses involving LR[wPip(Is)] females and field males were also incompatible, which is expected to reduce the impact of any accidental release of LR[wPip(Is)] females. Cage experiments demonstrate that LR[wPip(Is)] males are equally competitive with La Réunion males resulting in demographic crash when LR[wPip(Is)] males were introduced into La Réunion laboratory cages. These results, together with the geographic isolation of the four south-western Indian Ocean islands and their limited land area, support the feasibility of an IIT program using LR[wPip(Is)] males and stimulate the implementation of field tests for a Cx. p. quinquefasciatus control strategy on these islands.

by Saumyabrata Mazumder, Mithun Maji, Nahid Ali


Vaccines that activate strong specific Th1-predominant immune responses are critically needed for many intracellular pathogens, including Leishmania. The requirement for sustained and efficient vaccination against leishmaniasis is to formulate the best combination of immunopotentiating adjuvant with the stable antigen (Ag) delivery system. The aim of the present study is to evaluate the effectiveness of an immunomodulator on liposomal Ag through subcutaneous (s.c.) route of immunization, and its usefulness during prime/boost against visceral leishmaniasis (VL) in BALB/c mice.

Methodology/Principal Findings

Towards this goal, we formulated recombinant GP63 (rGP63)-based vaccines either with monophosphoryl lipid A-trehalose dicorynomycolate (MPL-TDM) or entrapped within cationic liposomes or both. Combinatorial administration of liposomes with MPL-TDM during prime confers activation of dendritic cells, and induces an early robust T cell response. To investigate whether the combined formulation is required for optimum immune response during boost as well, we chose to evaluate the vaccine efficacy in mice primed with combined adjuvant system followed by boosting with either rGP63 alone, in association with MPL-TDM, liposomes or both. We provide evidences that the presence of either liposomal rGP63 or combined formulations during boost is necessary for effective Th1 immune responses (IFN-γ, IL-12, NO) before challenge infection. However, boosting with MPL-TDM in conjugation with liposomal rGP63 resulted in a greater number of IFN-γ producing effector T cells, significantly higher levels of splenocyte proliferation, and Th1 responses compared to mice boosted with liposomal rGP63, after virulent Leishmania donovani (L. donovani) challenge. Moreover, combined formulations offered superior protection against intracellular amastigote replication in macrophages in vitro, and hepatic and splenic parasite load in vivo.


Our results define the immunopotentiating effect of MPL-TDM on protein Ag encapsulated in a controlled release system against experimental VL.


by Virginie Rougeron, Thierry De Meeûs, Mallorie Hide, Georges Le Falher, Bruno Bucheton, Jacques Dereure, Sayda H. El-Safi, Alain Dessein, Anne-Laure Bañuls

Leishmania species of the subgenus Leishmania and especially L. donovani are responsible for a large proportion of visceral leishmaniasis cases. The debate on the mode of reproduction and population structure of Leishmania parasites remains opened. It has been suggested that Leishmania parasites could alternate different modes of reproduction, more particularly clonality and frequent recombinations either between related individuals (endogamy) or between unrelated individuals (outcrossing) within strongly isolated subpopulations. To determine whether this assumption is generalized to other species, a population genetics analysis within Leishmania donovani complex strains was conducted within a single village. The results suggest that a mixed-mating reproduction system exists, an important heterogeneity of subsamples and the coexistence of several genetic entities in Sudanese L. donovani. Indeed, results showed significant genetic differentiation between the three taxa (L. donovani, L. infantum and L. archibaldi) and between the human or canine strains of such taxa, suggesting that there may be different imbricated transmission cycles involving either dogs or humans. Results also are in agreement with an almost strict specificity of L. donovani stricto sensu to human hosts. This empirical study demonstrates the complexity of population structure in the genus Leishmania and the need to pursue such kind of analyses at the smallest possible spatio-temporal and ecological scales.

by Surendra Uranw, Bart Ostyn, Arpana Rijal, Saru Devkota, Basudha Khanal, Joris Menten, Marleen Boelaert, Suman Rijal


Post-kala-azar dermal leishmaniasis (PKDL) is a cutaneous complication appearing after treatment of visceral leishmaniasis, and PKDL patients are considered infectious to sand flies and may therefore play a role in the transmission of VL. We estimated the risk and risk factors of PKDL in patients with past VL treatment in south-eastern Nepal.


Between February and May 2010 we traced all patients who had received VL treatment during 2000–2009 in five high-endemic districts and screened them for PKDL-like skin lesions. Suspected cases were referred to a tertiary care hospital for confirmation by parasitology (slit skin smear (SSS)) and/or histopathology. We calculated the risk of PKDL using Kaplan-Meier survival curves and exact logistic regression for risk factors.


Out of 680 past-treated VL patients, 37(5.4%) presented active skin lesions suspect of PKDL during the survey. Thirty-three of them underwent dermatological assessment, and 16 (2.4%) were ascertained as probable (2) or confirmed (14) PKDL. Survival analysis showed a 1.4% risk of PKDL within 2 years of VL treatment. All 16 had been previously treated with sodium stibogluconate (SSG) for their VL. In 5, treatment had not been completed (≤21 injections). Skin lesions developed after a median time interval of 23 months [interquartile range (IQR) 16–40]. We found a higher PKDL rate (29.4%) in those inadequately treated compared to those who received a full SSG course (2.0%). In the logistic regression model, unsupervised treatment [odds ratio (OR) = 8.58, 95% CI 1.21–374.77], and inadequate SSG treatment for VL in the past (OR = 11.68, 95% CI 2.71–45.47) were significantly associated with PKDL.


The occurrence of PKDL after VL treatment in Nepal is low compared to neighboring countries. Supervised and adequate treatment of VL seems essential to reduce the risk of PKDL development and active surveillance for PKDL is needed.


by Simbarashe Chitanga, Tanguy Marcotty, Boniface Namangala, Peter Van den Bossche, Jan Van Den Abbeele, Vincent Delespaux


Trypanosomosis caused by Trypanosoma congolense is a major constraint to animal health in sub-Saharan Africa. Unfortunately, the treatment of the disease is impaired by the spread of drug resistance. Resistance to diminazene aceturate (DA) in T. congolense is linked to a mutation modifying the functioning of a P2-type purine-transporter responsible for the uptake of the drug. Our objective was to verify if the mutation was linked or not to drug pressure.

Methodology/Principal Findings

Thirty-four T. congolense isolates sampled from tsetse or wildlife were screened for the DA-resistance linked mutation using DpnII-PCR-RFLP. The results showed 1 sensitive, 12 resistant and 21 mixed DpnII-PCR-RFLP profiles. This suggests that the mutation is present on at least one allele of each of the 33 isolates. For twelve of the isolates, a standard screening method in mice was used by (i) microscopic examination, (ii) trypanosome-specific 18S-PCR after 2 months of observation and (iii) weekly trypanosome-specific 18S-PCR for 8 weeks. The results showed that all mice remained microscopically trypanosome-positive after treatment with 5 mg/kg DA. With 10 and 20 mg/kg, 8.3% (n = 72) and 0% (n = 72) of the mice became parasitologically positive after treatment. However, in these latter groups the trypanosome-specific 18S-PCR indicated a higher degree of trypanosome-positivity, i.e., with a unique test, 51.4% (n = 72) and 38.9% (n = 72) and with the weekly tests 79.2% (n = 24) and 66.7% (n = 24) for 10 and 20 mg/kg respectively.


The widespread presence of the DA-resistance linked mutation in T. congolense isolated from wildlife suggests that this mutation is favourable to parasite survival and/or its dissemination in the host population independent from the presence of drug. After treatment with DA, those T. congolense isolates cause persisting low parasitaemias even after complete elimination of the drug and with little impact on the host's health.


by Leonardo Lucantoni, Michela Magaraggia, Giulio Lupidi, Robert Kossivi Ouedraogo, Olimpia Coppellotti, Fulvio Esposito, Clara Fabris, Giulio Jori, Annette Habluetzel


Control of the mosquito vector population is the most effective strategy currently available for the prevention of dengue fever and the containment of outbreaks. Photo-activated oxidants may represent promising tools for developing effective, safe and ecofriendly novel larvicides. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the potential of the synthetic meso-substituted porphyrin meso-tri(N-methylpyridyl), meso-mono(N-tetradecylpyridyl)porphine (C14) as a photoactivatable larvicide against the dengue vector Aedes (Stegomyia) aegypti.


The photophysical and photochemical properties of the C14 molecule were assessed spectrophotometrically. Photomediated larvicidal efficacy, route of intake and site of action were determined on Ae. aegypti larvae by laboratory bioassays and fluorescence microscopy. Using powdered food pellet for laboratory rodents (a common larval food used in the laboratory) as a carrier for C14, loading-release dynamics, larvicidal efficacy and residual activity of the C14-carrier complex were investigated.

Main Findings

The C14 molecule was found to exert a potent photosensitizing activity on Ae. aegypti larvae. At irradiation intervals of 12 h and 1 h, at a light intensity of 4.0 mW/cm2, which is 50–100 times lower than that of natural sunlight, LC50 values of 0.1 µM (0.15 mg/l) and 0.5 µM (0.77 mg/l) were obtained, respectively. The molecule was active after ingestion by the larvae and caused irreversible, lethal damage to the midgut and caecal epithelia. The amphiphilic nature of C14 allowed a formulate to be produced that not only was as active against the larvae as C14 in solution, but also possessed a residual activity of at least two weeks, in laboratory conditions.


The meso-substituted synthetic porphyrin C14, thanks to its photo-sensitizing properties represents an attractive candidate for the development of novel photolarvicides for dengue vector control.


by Xiao-Nong Zhou, Jing Xu, Hong-Gen Chen, Tian-Ping Wang, Xi-Bao Huang, Dan-Dan Lin, Qi-Zhi Wang, Li Tang, Jia-Gang Guo, Xiao-Hua Wu, Ting Feng, Jia-Xu Chen, Jian Guo, Shao-Hong Chen, Hao Li, Zhong-Dao Wu, Rosanna W. Peeling


Appropriate diagnostics to monitor disease trends and assess the effectiveness and impact of interventions are essential for guiding treatment strategies at different thresholds of schistosomiasis transmission and for certifying elimination. Field validation of these assays is urgently needed before they can be adopted to support policy decisions of the national programme for control and elimination of schistosomiasis in P.R. China. We compared the efficacy and utility of different immunoassays in guiding control strategies and monitoring the endemic status of S. japonicum infections towards elimination.

Methodology/Principal Findings

A cross-sectional survey was conducted in seven villages with different transmission intensities settings to assess the performance and utility of three immunoassays, e.g., an indirect hemagglutination assay (IHA_JX), an enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA_SZ), and a dot immunogold filtration assay (DIGFA_SH). 6,248 individuals aged 6–65 years old who gave consent and supplied their stool and blood samples were included for data analysis. Results showed that ELISA_SZ performed significantly higher sensitivity (95.45%, 95%CI: 92.94–97.97%) than IHA_JX (87.59%, 95%CI: 83.51–91.49%) and DIGFA_SH (79.55%, 95%CI: 74.68–84.41%), especially in subgroups with very low infection intensity. The specificity of ELISA_SZ, IHA_JX, DIGFA_SH in 6–9 year olds with occasional exposure was nearly 90%. DIGFA_SH performed the highest screening efficacy for patients among three assays with overall positive predicative value of 13.07% (95%CI: 11.42–14.72%). We found a positive correlation of antibody positive rate of IHA_JX with results of stool examination in age strata (r = 0.70, P


by Veronique Chevalier, Toky Rakotondrafara, Marion Jourdan, Jean Michel Heraud, Harena Rasamoelina Andriamanivo, Benoit Durand, Julie Ravaomanana, Pierre E. Rollin, René Rakotondravao

Rift Valley fever is an acute, zoonotic viral disease of domestic ruminants, caused by a phlebovirus (Bunyaviridae family). A large outbreak occurred in Madagascar in 2008–2009. The goal of the present study was to evaluate the point prevalence of antibodies against Rift Valley Fever Virus (RVFV) in cattle in the Anjozorobe district, located in the wet and temperate highland region of Madagascar and yet heavily affected by the disease, and analyse environmental and trade factors potentially linked to RVFV transmission. A serological study was performed in 2009 in 894 bovines. For each bovine, the following variables were recorded: age, location of the night pen, minimum distance from the pen to the nearest water point and the forest, nearest water point type, and herd replacement practices. The serological data were analyzed using a generalized linear mixed model. The overall anti-RVFV IgG seroprevalence rate was 28% [CI95% 25–31]. Age was statistically linked to prevalence (p = 10−4), being consistent with a recurrent RVFV circulation. Distance from the night pen to the nearest water point was a protective factor (p = 5.10−3), which would be compatible with a substantial part of the virus transmission being carried out by nocturnal mosquito vectors. However, water point type did not influence the risk of infection: several mosquito species are probably involved. Cattle belonging to owners who purchase animals to renew the herd were significantly more likely to have seroconverted than others (p = 0.04): cattle trade may contribute to the introduction of the virus in this area. The minimum distance of the night pen to the forest was not linked to the prevalence. This is the first evidence of a recurrent transmission of RVFV in such an ecosystem that associates a wet, temperate climate, high altitude, paddy fields, and vicinity to a dense rain forest. Persistence mechanisms need to be further investigated.

by Ana Marta Silva, Anabela Cordeiro-da-Silva, Graham H. Coombs

The genome sequencing of several Leishmania species has provided immense amounts of data and allowed the prediction of the metabolic pathways potentially operating. Subsequent genetic and proteomic studies have identified stage-specific proteins and putative virulence factors but many aspects of the metabolic adaptations of Leishmania remain to be elucidated. In this study, we have used an untargeted metabolomics approach to analyze changes in the metabolite profile as promastigotes of L. donovani develop during in vitro cultures from logarithmic to stationary phase. The results show that the metabolomes of promastigotes on days 3–6 of culture differ significantly from each other, consistent with there being distinct developmental changes. Most notable were the structural changes in glycerophospholipids and increase in the abundance of sphingolipids and glycerolipids as cells progress from logarithmic to stationary phase.

by Luis R. Carrasco, Linda K. Lee, Vernon J. Lee, Eng Eong Ooi, Donald S. Shepard, Tun L. Thein, Victor Gan, Alex R. Cook, David Lye, Lee Ching Ng, Yee Sin Leo


Dengue illness causes 50–100 million infections worldwide and threatens 2.5 billion people in the tropical and subtropical regions. Little is known about the disease burden and economic impact of dengue in higher resourced countries or the cost-effectiveness of potential dengue vaccines in such settings.

Methods and Findings

We estimate the direct and indirect costs of dengue from hospitalized and ambulatory cases in Singapore. We consider inter alia the impacts of dengue on the economy using the human-capital and the friction cost methods. Disease burden was estimated using disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) and the cost-effectiveness of a potential vaccine program was evaluated. The average economic impact of dengue illness in Singapore from 2000 to 2009 in constant 2010 US$ ranged between $0.85 billion and $1.15 billion, of which control costs constitute 42%–59%. Using empirically derived disability weights, we estimated an annual average disease burden of 9–14 DALYs per 100 000 habitants, making it comparable to diseases such as hepatitis B or syphilis. The proportion of symptomatic dengue cases detected by the national surveillance system was estimated to be low, and to decrease with age. Under population projections by the United Nations, the price per dose threshold for which vaccines stop being more cost-effective than the current vector control program ranged from $50 for mass vaccination requiring 3 doses and only conferring 10 years of immunity to $300 for vaccination requiring 2 doses and conferring lifetime immunity. The thresholds for these vaccine programs to not be cost-effective for Singapore were $100 and $500 per dose respectively.


Dengue illness presents a serious economic and disease burden in Singapore. Dengue vaccines are expected to be cost-effective if reasonably low prices are adopted and will help to reduce the economic and disease burden of dengue in Singapore substantially.


by Caio T. Fagundes, Vivian V. Costa, Daniel Cisalpino, Flávio A. Amaral, Patrícia R. S. Souza, Rafael S. Souza, Bernhard Ryffel, Leda Q. Vieira, Tarcília A. Silva, Alena Atrasheuskaya, George Ignatyev, Lirlândia P. Sousa, Danielle G. Souza, Mauro M. Teixeira

Dengue is a mosquito-borne disease caused by one of four serotypes of Dengue virus (DENV-1–4). Severe dengue infection in humans is characterized by thrombocytopenia, increased vascular permeability, hemorrhage and shock. However, there is little information about host response to DENV infection. Here, mechanisms accounting for IFN-γ production and effector function during dengue disease were investigated in a murine model of DENV-2 infection. IFN-γ expression was greatly increased after infection of mice and its production was preceded by increase in IL-12 and IL-18 levels. In IFN-γ−/− mice, DENV-2-associated lethality, viral loads, thrombocytopenia, hemoconcentration, and liver injury were enhanced, when compared with wild type-infected mice. IL-12p40−/− and IL-18−/− infected-mice showed decreased IFN-γ production, which was accompanied by increased disease severity, higher viral loads and enhanced lethality. Blockade of IL-18 in infected IL-12p40−/− mice resulted in complete inhibition of IFN-γ production, greater DENV-2 replication, and enhanced disease manifestation, resembling the response seen in DENV-2-infected IFN-γ−/− mice. Reduced IFN-γ production was associated with diminished Nitric Oxide-synthase 2 (NOS2) expression and NOS2−/− mice had elevated lethality, more severe disease evolution and increased viral load after DENV-2 infection. Therefore, IL-12/IL-18-induced IFN-γ production and consequent NOS2 induction are of major importance to host resistance against DENV infection.

by Peter J. Hotez, Serap Aksoy

PLoS Medicine

by Richard E. Cibulskis, Maru Aregawi, Ryan Williams, Mac Otten, Christopher Dye


Measuring progress towards Millennium Development Goal 6, including estimates of, and time trends in, the number of malaria cases, has relied on risk maps constructed from surveys of parasite prevalence, and on routine case reports compiled by health ministries. Here we present a critique of both methods, illustrated with national incidence estimates for 2009.

Methods and Findings

We compiled information on the number of cases reported by National Malaria Control Programs in 99 countries with ongoing malaria transmission. For 71 countries we estimated the total incidence of Plasmodium falciparum and P. vivax by adjusting the number of reported cases using data on reporting completeness, the proportion of suspects that are parasite-positive, the proportion of confirmed cases due to each Plasmodium species, and the extent to which patients use public sector health facilities. All four factors varied markedly among countries and regions. For 28 African countries with less reliable routine surveillance data, we estimated the number of cases from model-based methods that link measures of malaria transmission with case incidence. In 2009, 98% of cases were due to P. falciparum in Africa and 65% in other regions. There were an estimated 225 million malaria cases (5th–95th centiles, 146–316 million) worldwide, 176 (110–248) million in the African region, and 49 (36–68) million elsewhere. Our estimates are lower than other published figures, especially survey-based estimates for non-African countries.


Estimates of malaria incidence derived from routine surveillance data were typically lower than those derived from surveys of parasite prevalence. Carefully interpreted surveillance data can be used to monitor malaria trends in response to control efforts, and to highlight areas where malaria programs and health information systems need to be strengthened. As malaria incidence declines around the world, evaluation of control efforts will increasingly rely on robust systems of routine surveillance.

Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary


by Ivo Mueller, Laurence Slutsker, Marcel Tanner


by Johannes A. Bogaards, Mirjam Kretzschmar, Maria Xiridou, Chris J. L. M. Meijer, Johannes Berkhof, Jacco Wallinga


Sex-specific differences regarding the transmissibility and the course of infection are the rule rather than the exception in the epidemiology of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Human papillomavirus (HPV) provides an example: disease outcomes differ between men and women, as does the potential for transmission to the opposite sex. HPV vaccination of preadolescent girls was recently introduced in many countries, and inclusion of boys in the vaccination programs is being discussed. Here, we address the question of whether vaccinating females only, males only, or both sexes is the most effective strategy to reduce the population prevalence of an STI like HPV.

Methods and Findings

We use a range of two-sex transmission models with varying detail to identify general criteria for allocating a prophylactic vaccine between both sexes. The most effective reduction in the population prevalence of infection is always achieved by single-sex vaccination; vaccinating the sex with the highest prevaccine prevalence is the preferred strategy in most circumstances. Exceptions arise only when the higher prevaccine prevalence is due to a substantially lower rate of natural immunity, or when natural immunity is lifelong, and a prolonged duration of infectiousness coincides with increased transmissibility. Predictions from simple models were confirmed in simulations based on an elaborate HPV transmission model. Our analysis suggests that relatively inefficient genital transmission from males to females might render male vaccination more effective in reducing overall infection levels. However, most existing HPV vaccination programs have achieved sufficient coverage to continue with female-only vaccination.


Increasing vaccine uptake among preadolescent girls is more effective in reducing HPV infection than including boys in existing vaccination programs. As a rule, directing prophylactic immunization at the sex with the highest prevaccine prevalence results in the largest reduction of the population prevalence.

Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary


by Marcia S. Wertz, Thomas Kyriss, Suman Paranjape, Stanton A. Glantz


In 2009, the promulgation of US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) tobacco regulation focused attention on cigarette flavor additives. The tobacco industry had prepared for this eventuality by initiating a research program focusing on additive toxicity. The objective of this study was to analyze Philip Morris' Project MIX as a case study of tobacco industry scientific research being positioned strategically to prevent anticipated tobacco control regulations.

Methods and Findings

We analyzed previously secret tobacco industry documents to identify internal strategies for research on cigarette additives and reanalyzed tobacco industry peer-reviewed published results of this research. We focused on the key group of studies conducted by Phillip Morris in a coordinated effort known as “Project MIX.” Documents showed that Project MIX subsumed the study of various combinations of 333 cigarette additives. In addition to multiple internal reports, this work also led to four peer-reviewed publications (published in 2001). These papers concluded that there was no evidence of substantial toxicity attributable to the cigarette additives studied. Internal documents revealed post hoc changes in analytical protocols after initial statistical findings indicated an additive-associated increase in cigarette toxicity as well as increased total particulate matter (TPM) concentrations in additive-modified cigarette smoke. By expressing the data adjusted by TPM concentration, the published papers obscured this underlying toxicity and particulate increase. The animal toxicology results were based on a small number of rats in each experiment, raising the possibility that the failure to detect statistically significant changes in the end points was due to underpowering the experiments rather than lack of a real effect.


The case study of Project MIX shows tobacco industry scientific research on the use of cigarette additives cannot be taken at face value. The results demonstrate that toxins in cigarette smoke increase substantially when additives are put in cigarettes, including the level of TPM. In particular, regulatory authorities, including the FDA and similar agencies elsewhere, could use the Project MIX data to eliminate the use of these 333 additives (including menthol) from cigarettes.

Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary


by Noriko Fujita, Anthony B. Zwi, Mari Nagai, Hidechika Akashi

The New York Times
Lighter than the traditional beef picadillo, this taco filling is sweet and savory.
More than a third of police officers have a sleep disorder, and those who do are more likely to experience heart disease, problems with job performance and rage toward suspects and citizens, a new study suggests.
Offensive comments were the top reason for friend removals on Facebook; posting too many "depressing" or "political" comments and romantic break-ups were also high on the list, according to research from Nielsen.
National Institutes of Health (NIH)
An experimental vaccine to prevent chikungunya fever, a viral disease spread by certain species of mosquitoes, is being tested in a clinical trial conducted by National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) scientists at the National Institutes of Health.
The New York Times
Finally, the frustrations of caregivers are spilling into public view.
National Institutes of Health (NIH)
For decades, public health initiatives have encouraged people to put less salt in their foods and to check packaged foods for sodium content, but many people still consume too much salt.
The New York Times
This easy do-ahead dish can feed a holiday crowd.
Two nutrient-dense vegetables combine forces in this delicious filling.
This filling turns a typical Mexican condiment into the piquant star of the meal.
National Institutes of Health (NIH)
The U.S. government remains concerned about the threat of influenza, for the risks it poses seasonally, as well as its potential to cause a pandemic.
National Institutes of Health (NIH)
Notice NOT-HD-12-008 from the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts
Notice NOT-AT-12-002 from the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts
Notice NOT-HD-12-005 from the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts
Notice NOT-NS-12-006 from the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts
The New York Times
Antonio Lambert, a self-taught ex-convict turned mental health educator, has relapsed into crime and drug use before. But now, he says, “I know when it’s time to reach out for help.”
The two companies will develop and sell cheaper versions of several biologic cancer drugs.
Eureka Alert!
(Kaiser Permanente) A program for women at risk of substance abuse during pregnancy could save nearly $2 billion annually in health care costs if implemented nationwide, according to a Kaiser Permanente study published online in the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists' journal, Obstetrics & Gynecology.
(Optical Society of America) Vision scientists at Indiana University in Bloomington have come up with a novel way to make the measurements in a living human retina by using information hidden within a commonly used technique called optical coherence tomography. They discuss their results in the Optical Society's open-access journal Biomedical Optics Express.
(Case Western Reserve University) Investigators at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine received a $6.75 million Program Project Grant from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases to study the role of innate immunity in inflammatory bowel disease.
(Boston University Medical Center) Wine consumers, especially in comparison with spirits drinkers, have been shown to have higher levels of education and income, to consume a healthier diet, be more physically active, and have other characteristics that are associated with better health outcomes. However, epidemiologic studies have been inconsistent in showing that, after adjustment for all associated lifestyle factors, consumers of wine have lower risk of cardiovascular disease and mortality than do consumers of other beverages.
(Georgia Health Sciences University) It's rubbed on the skin to reduce signs of aging and consumed by athletes to improve endurance but scientists now have the first evidence of one of vitamin E's normal body functions. The powerful antioxidant found in most foods helps repair tears in the plasma membranes that protect cells from outside forces and screen what enters and exits, Georgia Health Sciences University researchers report in the journal Nature Communications.
(Optical Society of America) Many cancer therapies target specific proteins that proliferate on the outside of some cancer cells, but the therapies are imperfect and the cancer does not always respond. Researchers from Vanderbilt University have demonstrated a new way to optically test cultured cancer cells' response to a particular cancer drug. The results appear in the December issue of OSA's open-access journal Biomedical Optics Express.
(Indiana University School of Medicine) First study to examine patterns of emergency care for an entire state has found that 40 percent of emergency department visits in Indiana over a three-year period were by patients who visited more than one emergency department. This finding challenges conventional wisdom that patients are tightly bound to health care systems and tend to repeatedly visit local facilities.
(University of Missouri-Columbia) University of Missouri engineers and their research collaborators at Nanova, Inc. are one step closer to a painless way to replace fillings. After favorable results in the lab, human clinical trials are underway on the "plasma brush."
(Wellcome Trust) A new candidate malaria vaccine with the potential to neutralize all strains of the most deadly species of malaria parasite has been developed by a team led by scientists at the University of Oxford. The results of this new vaccine independently confirm the utility of a key discovery reported last month from scientists at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute who had identified this target within the parasite as a potential 'Achilles' heel' that could hold significant promise for vaccine development.
(Optical Society of America) A research team, led by Jason D. Riley in the Section on Analytical and Functional Biophotonics at the US National Institutes of Health, has created a handheld device capable of quickly detecting brain injuries such as hematomas. A paper describing the team's proof-of-concept prototype for the hematoma detection device appears in the OSA open-access journal Biomedical Optics Express. The device is based on the concept of using instrumental motion as a signal in near-infrared imaging.
(American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine) The American Institute of Ultrasound in Medicine and American Urological Association are pleased to announce the collaborative development of the Practice Guideline for the Performance of an Ultrasound Examination in the Practice of Urology. This guideline has been developed to assist practitioners performing an ultrasound examination in the practice of urology and provides direction in the areas of kidney, bladder, prostate, scrotal and penile ultrasound.
(American Chemical Society) News media registration opened today for the American Chemical Society’s 243rd National Meeting & Exposition, one of the largest scientific conferences of the New Year. The meeting will be held March 25-29, 2012, in San Diego, Calif., and will take place at the San Diego Convention Center and at area hotels.
(Concordia University) Breastfeeding increased infant survival rates in 19th -Century Montreal in two major ways, according to research from Concordia University and McGill University. Mother's milk protected vulnerable infants from food and water contaminated by fecal bacteria, while breastfeeding postponed the arrival of more siblings and that improved the health of mothers as well as their subsequent children.
(Society of Interventional Radiology) The Society of Interventional Radiology Foundation's Discovery Campaign, which seeks to further the growth of minimally invasive medicine into new areas of discovery, announced a major corporate pledge to that initiative. Siemens Medical Solutions, a provider of imaging and laboratory diagnostic equipment and information technology and management consulting and services to health care customers, pledged $200,000, as a "Pioneer" Supporter.
(National Physical Laboratory) Scientists at the National Physical Laboratory have created a functional model of the native extracellular matrix that provides structural support to cells to aid growth and proliferation. The model could lead to advances in regenerative medicine.The extracellular matrix provides the physical and chemical conditions that enable the development of all biological tissues. It is a complex nano-to-microscale structure made up of protein fibers and serves as a dynamic substrate that supports tissue repair and regeneration.
(American Friends of Tel Aviv University) Tahl Frenkel, a Ph.D. candidate at Tel Aviv University, discovered that anxious study participants weren't as physiologically sensitive to subtle changes in their environment as less fearful individuals. She reasons that anxious people could have a deficit in their threat evaluation capacities, which are necessary for effective decision-making and fear regulation.
(Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres) British researchers of the Max Delbrück Center Berlin have found out why the African naked mole-rat, one of the world's most unusual mammals, feels no pain when exposed to acid. The animals have an altered ion channel in their pain receptors that is inactivated by acid and makes the animals insensitive to this type of pain.
(Boston University Medical Center) Patricia F. Coogan, Sc.D., an associate professor of epidemiology at Boston University's Slone Epidemiology Center, recently was awarded funding for two grants from the National Institutes of Health. The first is a five-year grant from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences The second award is for a three-year grant funded by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.
(University of Gothenburg) Scientists at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, have used advanced light microscopy to show that a substance can be differently absorbed by the skin, depending on what it is mixed with. This may determine whether it causes contact allergy or not.
(University of Western Ontario) The first and only preventative HIV vaccine based on a genetically modified killed whole virus has received approval by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to start human clinical trials.Developed by Dr. Chil-Yong Kang and his team at the University of Western Ontario, with the support of Sumagen Canada, the vaccine (SAV001) has already proven to stimulate strong immune responses in preliminary toxicology tests with no adverse effects or safety risks.
(University of California - Los Angeles Health Sciences) Papillary thyroid cancer accounts for the majority of all thyroid malignancies, which primarily impact women. A new study indicates that routinely removing lymph nodes in the neck in these cancer patients may help prevent the disease from coming back. UCLA researchers and colleagues demonstrate that routine removal of neck lymph nodes during initial thyroid surgery for papillary cancer may lead to lower disease recurrence rates and lower levels of thyroglobulin, a thyroid tumor marker that can be an indicator of disease when elevated.
(Concordia University) Breastfeeding increased infant survival rates in 19th -Century Montreal in two major ways, according to research from Concordia University and McGill University. Mother's milk protected vulnerable infants from food and water contaminated by fecal bacteria, while breastfeeding postponed the arrival of more siblings and that improved the health of mothers as well as their subsequent children.
(University of Gothenburg) A Mediterranean diet with large amounts of vegetables and fish gives a longer life. This is the unanimous result of four studies to be published by the Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg. Research studies ever since the 1950s have shown that a Mediterranean diet, based on a high consumption of fish and vegetables and a low consumption of animal-based products such as meat and milk, leads to better health.
(St. Michael's Hospital) Women who are at risk for breast cancer may also be at greater risk for heart disease, new research has found.
(Emory University) Skeletal evidence that reputedly showed signs of syphilis in Europe and other parts of the Old World before Christopher Columbus made his voyage in 1492 does not hold up when subjected to standardized analyses for diagnosis and dating, according to an appraisal in the current Yearbook of Physical Anthropology. This is the first time that all 54 previously published cases have been evaluated systematically, and bolsters the case that syphilis came from the New World.
(University of Maryland) With $3.6 million in new federal funding, researchers at the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism, based at the University of Maryland, will continue to expand the scientific understanding of the human causes and consequences of terrorism, specifically addressing crucial homeland security issues, such as terrorist behavior, violent extremism and counterterrorism. Funding for the new round of research comes from the US Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate.
(Mayo Clinic) Obesity doubles the risk of cancer recurrence and cancer-related death in patients with esophageal cancer who have been treated with surgery, researchers at Mayo Clinic found.
(Purdue University) Bacteria are able to build camouflaged homes for themselves inside healthy cells. A team that revealed how a pair of proteins from the bacteria Legionella pneumophila, which causes Legionnaires disease, alters a host protein in order to divert raw materials within the cell for use in building and disguising a large structure that houses the bacteria as it replicates.
(University of Copenhagen) A PhD project from LIFE - the Faculty of Life Sciences at the University of Copenhagen has shown that breastfed children follow a different growth pattern than non-breastfed children. Breastfeeding lowers the levels of the growth hormones IGF-I and insulin in the blood, which means that growth is slightly slower. This is believed to reduce the risk of overweight and diabetes later in life.
(University of Gothenburg) Contact allergy affects around 20 percent of the population in the western world. Scientists are working intensively to develop alternative test methods that do not require animal testing. A research group at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, has now developed a unique test method that enables graded results to be obtained using cultured skin cells.
(University of Gothenburg) Analysis of the cerebrospinal fluid can detect whether a person has Alzheimer's disease before symptoms appear. Researchers at the Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, have studied biomarkers that offer more reliable diagnosis and, in the longer term, the possibility of effective new treatments.
(DOE/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory) Working with a special line of human breast cells, Berkeley Lab researchers have shown that for low dose levels of ionizing radiation cancer risks may not be directly proportional to dose. This contradicts the standard model for predicting biological damage from ionizing radiation, which holds that risk is directly proportional to dose at all levels of irradiation.
(University of Gothenburg) Undergoing surgery can be a terrifying experience for a child. But stress and fear, and the use of pain relief after the procedure, can be reduced with simple means: Drawings, continuity and dialogue. This has been shown by research at the Sahlgrenska Academy at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden.
The New York Times
A leading tropical medicine researcher has proposed that the United States extend a friendly hand to Iran over vaccines.
Antonio Lambert, a self-taught ex-convict turned mental health educator, has relapsed into crime and drug use before. But now, he says, "I know when it's time to reach out for help."
The Wall Street Journal
Dogs get the flu, too, with cases confirmed in 38 states. Now, more vets, kennels and groomers are recommending flu vaccinations for the pup.
Scientists are developing ever more sophisticated versions of "virtual patients"—computerized images that mimic real bodies—with the aim of testing medical devices, drugs and procedures that may be too risky to assess in real people.
In vitro fertilization brings hope to many couples struggling with infertility, but there are few easy legal answers when that couple splits and only one still wants to have a child using their frozen embryos.
The Informed Patient column chooses its five favorite books of 2011.
The elevator accident that killed a Manhattan advertising executive last week has made people in New York and elsewhere anxious about stepping onto an elevator. Yet, in a few weeks, very few people will give it a second thought. Why?
Acaba de iniciar su andadura un proyecto europeo que tratará de crear un chip de RAM (memoria de acceso aleatorio) óptica capaz de funcionar a 100 gigabits por segundo (Gbps), el primero en su clase. En este proyecto, titulado RAMPLAS («RAM óptica de 100 Gbps en un chip: RAM óptica integrada y basada en silicio para aplicaciones de alta velocidad en computación y comunicaciones»), participan seis socios. El proyecto ha recibido cerca de 2 millones de euros mediante el tema «Tecnologías de la información y la comunicación» (TIC) perteneciente al Séptimo Programa Marco (7PM) de la Unión Europea. Quality validation date: 2011-12-20
Gracias a unos tubos microscópicos capaces de extraer el dióxido de carbono del aire, aún sería posible utilizar terrenos considerados no aptos para la plantación de árboles para reducir los niveles de dióxido de carbono (CO2) en la atmósfera, incluso sin árboles. Un equipo de científicos innovadores de la Universidad de Edimburgo (Reino Unido) cree que una unidad de 1m2 de tierra que contenga estos tubitos puede adsorber la misma cantidad de carbono que diez árboles de tamaño medio. Los investigadores esperan poder ubicar, en el futuro, versiones más grandes de dichas unidades, desarrolladas como parte de un proyecto titulado NANOTUBES FOR CARBON CAPTURE («Nanotubos para la captura de carbono»), al lado de las autopistas para dar un mejor uso a las tierras baldías y ayudar a reducir nuestra huella de carbono colectiva. Quality validation date: 2011-12-20
Los incendios forestales tienen un gran impacto en los ecosistemas terrestres por todo el mundo. La interacción del tiempo, la vegetación y el uso del suelo provoca este tipo de incendios, lo que hace que sean muy sensibles a los cambios. Por ello resulta importante comprender los mecanismos que controlan los regímenes de incendios forestales y mejorar las predicciones de cuándo y cómo van a cambiar. Quality validation date: 2011-12-20
The Wall Street Journal
Supreme Court arguments over Obama's health-care overhaul will stretch over three days, beginning March 26, the court said.
British Journal of Cancer

Gene expression profiles of gliomas in formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded material

British Journal of Cancer advance online publication, December 20, 2011. doi:10.1038/bjc.2011.547

Authors: L A M Gravendeel, J J de Rooi, P H C Eilers, M J van den Bent, P A E Sillevis Smitt & P J French


BPR1J-097, a novel FLT3 kinase inhibitor, exerts potent inhibitory activity against AML

British Journal of Cancer advance online publication, December 20, 2011. doi:10.1038/bjc.2011.564

Authors: W-H Lin, W-T Jiaang, C-W Chen, K-J Yen, S-Y Hsieh, S-C Yen, C-P Chen, K-Y Chang, C-Y Chang, T-Y Chang, Y-L Huang, T-K Yeh, Y-S Chao, C-T Chen & J T-A Hsu


A pilot study to explore circulating tumour cells in pancreatic cancer as a novel biomarker

British Journal of Cancer advance online publication, December 20, 2011. doi:10.1038/bjc.2011.545

Authors: L Khoja, A Backen, R Sloane, L Menasce, D Ryder, M Krebs, R Board, G Clack, A Hughes, F Blackhall, J W Valle & C Dive


High frequency of complex TP53 mutations in CNS metastases from breast cancer

British Journal of Cancer advance online publication, December 20, 2011. doi:10.1038/bjc.2011.464

Authors: C Lo Nigro, D Vivenza, M Monteverde, L Lattanzio, O Gojis, O Garrone, A Comino, M Merlano, P R Quinlan, N Syed, C A Purdie, A Thompson, C Palmieri & T Crook


Role of micronucleus test in predicting breast cancer susceptibility: a systematic review and meta-analysis

British Journal of Cancer advance online publication, December 20, 2011. doi:10.1038/bjc.2011.567

Authors: F Cardinale, P Bruzzi & C Bolognesi


Prognonstic impact of renin-angiotensin system blockade in localised upper-tract urothelial carcinoma

British Journal of Cancer advance online publication, December 20, 2011. doi:10.1038/bjc.2011.565

Authors: N Tanaka, A Miyajima, E Kikuchi, K Matsumoto, M Hagiwara, H Ide, T Kosaka, T Masuda, S Nakamura & M Oya


EGFR alterations and response to anti-EGFR therapy: is it a matter of gene amplification or gene copy number gain?

British Journal of Cancer advance online publication, December 20, 2011. doi:10.1038/bjc.2011.570

Authors: R Sesboüé, F Le Pessot, F Di Fiore & T Frebourg


Reply: EGFR alterations and response to anti-EGFR therapy: is it a matter of gene amplification or gene copy number gain?

British Journal of Cancer advance online publication, December 20, 2011. doi:10.1038/bjc.2011.571

Authors: A Ålgars, M Lintunen, O Carpén, R Ristamäki & J Sundström


Uptake of risk-reducing salpingo-oophorectomy in women carrying a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation: evidence for lower uptake in women affected by breast cancer and older women

British Journal of Cancer advance online publication, December 20, 2011. doi:10.1038/bjc.2011.573

Authors: L Sidon, S Ingham, T Clancy, R Clayton, A Clarke, E A Jones, F Lalloo & D G R Evans


The role of EZH2 in tumour progression

British Journal of Cancer advance online publication, December 20, 2011. doi:10.1038/bjc.2011.551

Authors: C-J Chang & M-C Hung


The anticancer effects of chaetocin are independent of programmed cell death and hypoxia, and are associated with inhibition of endothelial cell proliferation

British Journal of Cancer advance online publication, December 20, 2011. doi:10.1038/bjc.2011.522

Authors: C R Isham, J D Tibodeau, A R Bossou, J R Merchan & K C Bible


Fears grow over lab-bred flu

Nature 480, 7378 (2011).

Author: Declan Butler

Scientists call for stricter biosafety measures for dangerous avian-influenza variants.


Chimp research under scrutiny

Nature 480, 7378 (2011).

Author: Meredith Wadman

US-government-funded studies to be evaluated under stricter criteria.


Rules on integrity signal tighter stance

Nature 480, 7378 (2011).

Author: Eugenie Samuel Reich

Many US agencies now have policies banning political manipulation of research — but ambiguities remain.