Wolbachia endosymbionts carried by filarial nematodes give rise to the neglected diseases African river blindness and lymphatic filariasis afflicting millions worldwide. Here we identify new Wolbachia-disrupting compounds by conducting high-throughput cell-based chemical screens using a Wolbachia-infected, fluorescently labeled Drosophila cell line. This screen yielded several Wolbachia-disrupting compounds including three that resembled Albendazole, a widely used anthelmintic drug that targets nematode microtubules. Follow-up studies demonstrate that a common Albendazole metabolite, Albendazole sulfone, reduces intracellular Wolbachia titer both in Drosophila melanogaster and Brugia malayi, the nematode responsible for lymphatic filariasis. Significantly, Albendazole sulfone does not disrupt Drosophila microtubule organization, suggesting that this compound reduces titer through direct targeting of Wolbachia. Accordingly, both DNA staining and FtsZ immunofluorescence demonstrates that Albendazole sulfone treatment induces Wolbachia elongation, a phenotype indicative of binary fission defects. This suggests that the efficacy of Albendazole in treating filarial nematode-based diseases is attributable to dual targeting of nematode microtubules and their Wolbachia endosymbionts.
Lymphatic filariasis (LF) is a globally significant disease, with 1.3 billion persons in 83 countries at risk. A coordinated effort of administering annual macrofilaricidal prophylactics to the entire at-risk population has succeeded in impacting and eliminating LF transmission in multiple regions. However, some areas in the South Pacific are predicted to persist as transmission sites, due in part to the biology of the mosquito vector, which has led to a call for additional tools to augment drug treatments. Autocidal strategies against mosquitoes are resurging in the effort against invasive mosquitoes and vector borne disease, with examples that include field trials of genetically modified mosquitoes and Wolbachia population replacement. However, critical questions must be addressed in anticipation of full field trials, including assessments of field competitiveness of transfected males and the risk of unintended population replacement.
Infection with Wuchereria bancrofti can cause severe disease characterized by subcutaneous fibrosis and extracellular matrix remodeling. Matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) are a family of enzymes governing extracellular remodeling by regulating cellular homeostasis, inflammation, and tissue reorganization, while tissue-inhibitors of metalloproteinases (TIMPs) are endogenous regulators of MMPs. Homeostatic as well as inflammation-induced balance between MMPs and TIMPs is considered critical in mediating tissue pathology.
Lymphatic filariasis can be associated with development of serious pathology in the form of lymphedema, hydrocele, and elephantiasis in a subset of infected patients. Dysregulated host inflammatory responses leading to systemic immune activation are thought to play a central role in filarial disease pathogenesis. We measured the plasma levels of microbial translocation markers, acute phase proteins, and inflammatory cytokines in individuals with chronic filarial pathology with (CP Ag+) or without (CP Ag-) active infection; with clinically asymptomatic infections (INF); and in those without infection (endemic normal [EN]). Comparisons between the two actively infected groups (CP Ag+ compared to INF) and those without active infection (CP Ag- compared to EN) were used preliminarily to identify markers of pathogenesis. Thereafter, we tested for group effects among all the four groups using linear models on the log transformed responses of the markers. Our data suggest that circulating levels of microbial translocation products (lipopolysaccharide and LPS-binding protein), acute phase proteins (haptoglobin and serum amyloid protein-A), and inflammatory cytokines (IL-1β, IL-12, and TNF-α) are associated with pathogenesis of disease in lymphatic filarial infection and implicate an important role for circulating microbial products and acute phase proteins.
The current antibody tests used for monitoring in lymphatic filariasis (LF) elimination programs suffer from poor specificity because of the considerable geographical overlap with other filarial infections such as Loa loa (Ll), Onchocerca volvulus (Ov), and Mansonella perstans (Mp).
The main strategy adopted for Lymphatic Filariasis (LF) elimination globally is annual mass drug administration (MDA) for 4 to 6 rounds. At least 65% of the population at risk should be treated in each round for LF elimination to occur. In Kenya, MDA using diethylcarbamazine citrate (DEC) and albendazole data shows declining compliance (proportion of eligible populations who receive and swallow the drugs) levels (85%-62.8%). The present study’s aim was to determine the role of personal opinions and experiences in compliance with MDA.
Lymphatic filariasis (LF)-related disability affects 40 million people globally, making LF the leading cause of physical disability in the world. Despite this, there is limited research into how the impacts of LF-related disability are best measured. This article identifies the tools currently being used to measure LF-related disability and reviews their applicability against the known impacts of LF. The findings from the review show that the generic disability tools currently used by LF programs fail to measure the majority of known impacts of LF-related disability. The findings from the review support the development of an LF-specific disability measurement tool and raise doubt about the suitability of generic disability tools to assess disability related to neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) globally.
Lymphatic filariasis (LF) is a disabling and disfiguring disease resulting from a mosquito-borne parasitic infection. It is a major public health problem in many countries with a warm climate. Research and control activities have mainly focused on LF in rural areas where it also has its major impact. However, with rapid and unplanned growth of cities in the developing world, there is a need also to consider LF transmission and control in urban settings. Here, we review currently available knowledge on urban LF and the environmental and socio-economic basis for its occurrence. Among the three parasite species causing LF in humans, only Wuchereria bancrofti has been documented to have a significant potential for urban transmission. This is primarily because one of its vectors, Culex quinquefasciatus, thrives and proliferates excessively in crowded city areas with poor sanitary, sewerage and drainage facilities. For this reason, urban LF also often shows a marked focality in distribution, with most cases clustered in areas inhabited by the less privileged city populations. More knowledge on urban LF is needed, in particular on its socio-economic and human behavioural context, on the potential for transmission in regions where other LF vector species predominate, and on rapid methods for identification and mapping of risk areas, to provide a strong evidence base for its control.
Parasite host switches may trigger disease emergence, but prehistoric host ranges are often unknowable. Lymphatic filariasis and loiasis are major human diseases caused by the insect-borne filarial nematodes Brugia, Wuchereria and Loa. Here we show that the genomes of these nematodes and seven tropical bird lineages exclusively share a novel retrotransposon, AviRTE, resulting from horizontal transfer (HT). AviRTE subfamilies exhibit 83-99% nucleotide identity between genomes, and their phylogenetic distribution, paleobiogeography and invasion times suggest that HTs involved filarial nematodes. The HTs between bird and nematode genomes took place in two pantropical waves, >25-22 million years ago (Myr ago) involving the Brugia/Wuchereria lineage and >20-17 Myr ago involving the Loa lineage. Contrary to the expectation from the mammal-dominated host range of filarial nematodes, we hypothesize that these major human pathogens may have independently evolved from bird endoparasites that formerly infected the global breadth of avian biodiversity.
Together, malaria and the neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) kill more than 800,000 people annually, while creating long-term disability in millions more. International support for mass drug administration, bed nets, and other preventive measures has resulted in huge public health gains, while support for translational research is leading to the development of some new neglected disease drugs, diagnostics, and vaccines. However, funding for basic science research has not kept up, such that we are missing opportunities to create a more innovative pipeline of control tools for parasitic and related diseases. There is an urgent need to expand basic science approaches for neglected diseases, especially in the areas of systems biology and immunology; ecology, evolution, and mathematical biology; functional and comparative OMICs; gene editing; expanded use of model organisms; and a new single-cell combinatorial indexing RNA sequencing approach. The world’s poor deserve access to innovation for neglected diseases. It should be considered a fundamental human right.