BackgroundThe analytical validation of sensitive, accurate and standardized Real-Time PCR methods for Trypanosoma cruzi quantification is crucial to provide a reliable laboratory tool for diagnosis of recent infections as well as for monitoring treatment efficacy.Methods/Principal FindingsWe have standardized and validated a multiplex Real-Time quantitative PCR assay (qPCR) based on TaqMan technology, aiming to quantify T. cruzi satellite DNA as well as an internal amplification control (IAC) in a single-tube reaction. IAC amplification allows rule out false negative PCR results due to inhibitory substances or loss of DNA during sample processing. The assay has a limit of detection (LOD) of 0.70 parasite equivalents/mL and a limit of quantification (LOQ) of 1.53 parasite equivalents/mL starting from non-boiled Guanidine EDTA blood spiked with T. cruzi CL-Brener stock. The method was evaluated with blood samples collected from Chagas disease patients experiencing different clinical stages and epidemiological scenarios: 1- Sixteen Venezuelan patients from an outbreak of oral transmission, 2- Sixty three Bolivian patients suffering chronic Chagas disease, 3- Thirty four Argentinean cases with chronic Chagas disease, 4- Twenty seven newborns to seropositive mothers, 5- A seronegative receptor who got infected after transplantation with a cadaveric kidney explanted from an infected subject.Conclusions/SignificanceThe performing parameters of this assay encourage its application to early assessment of T. cruzi infection in cases in which serological methods are not informative, such as recent infections by oral contamination or congenital transmission or after transplantation with organs from seropositive donors, as well as for monitoring Chagas disease patients under etiological treatment.
PCR-restriction fragment length polymorphism analysis of heat shock protein 70 genes discriminates most neotropical Leishmania species, as well as Trypanosoma cruzi. The assay, combined with capillary electrophoresis in a microchip device, may be applied directly on clinical samples with a high sensitivity, hence supporting clinical and epidemiological monitoring of leishmaniasis
Cutaneous and mucosal leishmaniasis, caused in South America by Leishmania braziliensis, is difficult to cure by chemotherapy (primarily pentavalent antimonials [Sb(V)]). Treatment failure does not correlate well with resistance in vitro, and the factors responsible for treatment failure in patients are not well understood. Many isolates of L. braziliensis (>25%) contain a double-stranded RNA virus named Leishmaniavirus 1 (LRV1), which has also been reported in Leishmania guyanensis, for which an association with increased pathology, metastasis, and parasite replication was found in murine models. Here we probed the relationship of LRV1 to drug treatment success and disease in 97 L. braziliensis-infected patients from Peru and Bolivia. In vitro cultures were established, parasites were typed as L. braziliensis, and the presence of LRV1 was determined by reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction, followed by sequence analysis. LRV1 was associated significantly with an increased risk of treatment failure (odds ratio, 3.99; P = .04). There was no significant association with intrinsic Sb(V) resistance among parasites, suggesting that treatment failure arises from LRV1-mediated effects on host metabolism and/or parasite survival. The association of LRV1 with clinical drug treatment failure could serve to guide more-effective treatment of tegumentary disease caused by L. braziliensis.
Background Current treatment for Chagas disease with the only available drugs, benznidazole or nifurtimox, has substantial limitations, including long treatment duration and safety and tolerability concerns. We aimed to evaluate the efficacy and safety of new benznidazole monotherapy regimens and combinations with fosravuconazole, in the treatment of Chagas disease.
MethodsWe did a double-blind, double-dummy, phase 2, multicentre, randomised trial in three outpatient units in Bolivia. Adults aged 18-50 years with chronic indeterminate Chagas disease, confirmed by serological testing and positive qualitative PCR results, were randomly assigned (1:1:1:1:1:1:1) to one of seven treatment groups using a balanced block randomisation scheme with an interactive response system. Participants were assigned to benznidazole 300 mg daily for 8 weeks, 4 weeks, or 2 weeks, benznidazole 150 mg daily for 4 weeks, benznidazole 150 mg daily for 4 weeks plus fosravuconazole, benznidazole 300 mg once per week for 8 weeks plus fosravuconazole, or placebo, with a 12-month follow-up period. The primary endpoints were sustained parasitological clearance at 6 months, defined as persistent negative qualitative PCR results from end of treatment, and incidence and severity of treatment-emergent adverse events, serious adverse events, and adverse events leading to treatment discontinuation. Primary efficacy analysis was based on the intention-to-treat and per-protocol populations and secondary efficacy analyses on the perprotocol population. Safety analyses were based on the as-treated population. Recruitment is now closed. This trial is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT03378661.
The tropical Andes are an important natural laboratory to understand speciation in many taxa. Here we examined the evolutionary history of parasites of the Leishmania braziliensis species complex based on whole-genome sequencing of 67 isolates from 47 localities in Peru. We first show the origin of Andean Leishmania as a clade of near-clonal lineages that diverged from admixed Amazonian ancestors, accompanied by a significant reduction in genome diversity and large structural variations implicated in host–parasite interactions. Within the Andean species, patterns of population structure were strongly associated with biogeographical origin. Molecular clock and ecological niche modeling suggested that the history of diversification of the Andean lineages is limited to the Late Pleistocene and intimately associated with habitat contractions driven by climate change. These results suggest that changes in forestation over the past 150,000 y have influenced speciation and diversity of these Neotropical parasites. Second, genome-scale analyses provided evidence of meiotic-like recombination between Andean and Amazonian Leishmania species, resulting in full-genome hybrids. The mitochondrial genome of these hybrids consisted of homogeneous uniparental maxicircles, but minicircles originated from both parental species. We further show that mitochondrial minicircles—but not maxicircles—show a similar evolutionary pattern to the nuclear genome, suggesting that compatibility between nuclear-encoded mitochondrial genes and minicircle-encoded guide RNA genes is essential to maintain efficient respiration. By comparing full nuclear and mitochondrial genome ancestries, our data expand our appreciation on the genetic consequences of diversification and hybridization in parasitic protozoa.
BackgroundChagas disease, caused by infection with the protozoan Trypanosoma cruzi, remains a serious public health issue in Latin America. Genetically diverse, the species is sub-divided into six lineages, known as TcI–TcVI, which have disparate geographical and ecological distributions. TcII, TcV, and TcVI are associated with severe human disease in the Southern Cone countries, whereas TcI is associated with cardiomyopathy north of the Amazon. T. cruzi persists as a chronic infection, with cardiac and/or gastrointestinal symptoms developing years or decades after initial infection. Identifying an individual's history of T. cruzi lineage infection directly by genotyping of the parasite is complicated by the low parasitaemia and sequestration in the host tissues.Methodology/Principal FindingsWe have applied here serology against lineage-specific epitopes of the T. cruzi surface antigen TSSA, as an indirect approach to allow identification of infecting lineage. Chagasic sera from chronic patients from a range of endemic countries were tested by ELISA against synthetic peptides representing lineage-specific TSSA epitopes bound to avidin-coated ELISA plates via a biotin labelled polyethylene glycol-glycine spacer to increase rotation and ensure each amino acid side chain could freely interact with their antibodies. 79/113 (70%) of samples from Brazil, Bolivia, and Argentina recognised the TSSA epitope common to lineages TcII/TcV/TcVI. Comparison with clinical information showed that a higher proportion of Brazilian TSSApep-II/V/VI responders had ECG abnormalities than non-responders (38% vs 17%; p<0.0001). Among northern chagasic sera 4/20 (20%) from Ecuador reacted with this peptide; 1/12 Venezuelan and 1/34 Colombian samples reacted with TSSApep-IV. In addition, a proposed TcI-specific epitope, described elsewhere, was demonstrated here to be highly conserved across lineages and therefore not applicable to lineage-specific serology.Conclusions/SignificanceThese results demonstrate the considerable potential for synthetic peptide serology to investigate the infection history of individuals, geographical and clinical associations of T. cruzi lineages.
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