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Concept: Opportunistic infection


Pseudomonas aeruginosa is a pathogen that is prevalent in serious infections in compromised patients worldwide. A unique virulence factor of this bacterium is the redox-active molecule pyocyanin, which is a potential biomarker for the identification of P. aeruginosa infections. Here we report a direct, selective and rapid detection technique of pyocyanin.

Concepts: Pseudomonadales, Antibiotic resistance, Pseudomonas, Microbiology, Opportunistic infection, Immune system, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Bacteria


Background An interim analysis of data from the HIV Prevention Trials Network (HPTN) 052 trial showed that antiretroviral therapy (ART) prevented more than 96% of genetically linked infections caused by human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) in serodiscordant couples. ART was then offered to all patients with HIV-1 infection (index participants). The study included more than 5 years of follow-up to assess the durability of such therapy for the prevention of HIV-1 transmission. Methods We randomly assigned 1763 index participants to receive either early or delayed ART. In the early-ART group, 886 participants started therapy at enrollment (CD4+ count, 350 to 550 cells per cubic millimeter). In the delayed-ART group, 877 participants started therapy after two consecutive CD4+ counts fell below 250 cells per cubic millimeter or if an illness indicative of the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (i.e., an AIDS-defining illness) developed. The primary study end point was the diagnosis of genetically linked HIV-1 infection in the previously HIV-1-negative partner in an intention-to-treat analysis. Results Index participants were followed for 10,031 person-years; partners were followed for 8509 person-years. Among partners, 78 HIV-1 infections were observed during the trial (annual incidence, 0.9%; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.7 to 1.1). Viral-linkage status was determined for 72 (92%) of the partner infections. Of these infections, 46 were linked (3 in the early-ART group and 43 in the delayed-ART group; incidence, 0.5%; 95% CI, 0.4 to 0.7) and 26 were unlinked (14 in the early-ART group and 12 in the delayed-ART group; incidence, 0.3%; 95% CI, 0.2 to 0.4). Early ART was associated with a 93% lower risk of linked partner infection than was delayed ART (hazard ratio, 0.07; 95% CI, 0.02 to 0.22). No linked infections were observed when HIV-1 infection was stably suppressed by ART in the index participant. Conclusions The early initiation of ART led to a sustained decrease in genetically linked HIV-1 infections in sexual partners. (Funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases; HPTN 052 number, NCT00074581 .).

Concepts: Opportunistic infection, Infectious disease, Cytomegalovirus, Antiretroviral drug, Virus, Immune system, AIDS, HIV


Gut microbiomes play crucial roles in animal health, and shifts in the gut microbial community structure can have detrimental impacts on hosts. Studies with vertebrate models and human subjects suggest that antibiotic treatments greatly perturb the native gut community, thereby facilitating proliferation of pathogens. In fact, persistent infections following antibiotic treatment are a major medical issue. In apiculture, antibiotics are frequently used to prevent bacterial infections of larval bees, but the impact of antibiotic-induced dysbiosis (microbial imbalance) on bee health and susceptibility to disease has not been fully elucidated. Here, we evaluated the effects of antibiotic exposure on the size and composition of honeybee gut communities. We monitored the survivorship of bees following antibiotic treatment in order to determine if dysbiosis of the gut microbiome impacts honeybee health, and we performed experiments to determine whether antibiotic exposure increases susceptibility to infection by opportunistic pathogens. Our results show that antibiotic treatment can have persistent effects on both the size and composition of the honeybee gut microbiome. Antibiotic exposure resulted in decreased survivorship, both in the hive and in laboratory experiments in which bees were exposed to opportunistic bacterial pathogens. Together, these results suggest that dysbiosis resulting from antibiotic exposure affects bee health, in part due to increased susceptibility to ubiquitous opportunistic pathogens. Not only do our results highlight the importance of the gut microbiome in honeybee health, but they also provide insights into how antibiotic treatment affects microbial communities and host health.

Concepts: Infection, Immune system, Pathogen, Opportunistic infection, Antibiotic, Honey bee, Microbiology, Bacteria


Immunosuppression after measles is known to predispose people to opportunistic infections for a period of several weeks to months. Using population-level data, we show that measles has a more prolonged effect on host resistance, extending over 2 to 3 years. We find that nonmeasles infectious disease mortality in high-income countries is tightly coupled to measles incidence at this lag, in both the pre- and post-vaccine eras. We conclude that long-term immunologic sequelae of measles drive interannual fluctuations in nonmeasles deaths. This is consistent with recent experimental work that attributes the immunosuppressive effects of measles to depletion of B and T lymphocytes. Our data provide an explanation for the long-term benefits of measles vaccination in preventing all-cause infectious disease. By preventing measles-associated immune memory loss, vaccination protects polymicrobial herd immunity.

Concepts: Opportunistic infection, Immunity, Vaccination, Infection, Smallpox, Infectious disease, Immunology, Immune system


With an increase in cases of multidrug-resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa, alternative and adjunct treatments are needed, leading to renewed interest in bacteriophage therapy. There have been few clinically relevant studies of phage therapy against chronic lung infections. Using a novel murine model that uses a natural respiratory inhalation route of infection, we show that phage therapy is an effective treatment against chronic P. aeruginosa lung infections. We also show efficacy against P. aeruginosa in a biofilm-associated cystic fibrosis lung-like environment. These studies demonstrate the potential for phage therapy in the treatment of established and recalcitrant chronic respiratory tract infections.

Concepts: Opportunistic infection, Therapy, Bacteriophage, Immune system, Cystic fibrosis, Bacteria, Phage therapy, Pseudomonas aeruginosa


The Flint Water Crisis-due to changes of water source and treatment procedures-has revealed many unsolved social, environmental, and public health problems for US drinking water, including opportunistic premise plumbing pathogens (OPPP). The true health impact of OPPP, especially in vulnerable populations such as the elderly, is largely unknown. We explored 10(8) claims in the largest US national uniformly collected data repository to determine rates and costs of OPPP-related hospitalizations. In 1991-2006, 617,291 cases of three selected OPPP infections resulted in the elderly alone of $0.6 billion USD per year of payments. Antibiotic resistance significantly increased OPPP illness costs that are likely to be underreported. More precise estimates for OPPP burdens could be obtained if better clinical, microbiological, administrative, and environmental monitoring data were cross-linked. An urgent dialog across governmental and disciplinary divides, and studies on preventing OPPP through drinking water exposure, are warranted.

Concepts: Pathogen, Opportunistic infection, Health care, Microorganism, Drinking water, United States, Antibiotic resistance, Bacteria


The opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa uses a cell-cell communication system termed “quorum sensing” to control production of public goods, extracellular products that can be used by any community member. Not all individuals respond to quorum-sensing signals and synthesize public goods. Such social cheaters enjoy the benefits of the products secreted by cooperators. There are some P. aeruginosa cellular enzymes controlled by quorum sensing, and we show that quorum sensing-controlled expression of such private goods can put a metabolic constraint on social cheating and prevent a tragedy of the commons. Metabolic constraint of social cheating provides an explanation for private-goods regulation by a cooperative system and has general implications for population biology, infection control, and stabilization of quorum-sensing circuits in synthetic biology.

Concepts: Enzyme, Immune system, Microbiology, Opportunistic infection, Biofilm, Quorum sensing, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Bacteria


Pseudomonas aeruginosa is an opportunistic pathogen causing severe infections often characterized by robust neutrophilic infiltration. Neutrophils provide the first line of defense against P. aeruginosa. Aside from their defense conferred by phagocytic activity, neutrophils also release neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs) to immobilize bacteria. Although NET formation is an important antimicrobial process, the details of its mechanism are largely unknown. The identity of the main components of P. aeruginosa responsible for triggering NET formation is unclear. In this study, our focus was to identify the main bacterial factors mediating NET formation and to gain insight into the underlying mechanism. We found that P. aeruginosa in its exponential growth phase promoted strong NET formation in human neutrophils while its NET-inducing ability dramatically decreased at later stages of bacterial growth. We identified the flagellum as the primary component of P. aeruginosa responsible for inducing NET extrusion as flagellum-deficient bacteria remained seriously impaired in triggering NET formation. Purified P. aeruginosa flagellin, the monomeric component of the flagellum, does not stimulate NET formation in human neutrophils. P. aeruginosa-induced NET formation is independent of the flagellum-sensing receptors TLR5 and NLRC4 in both human and mouse neutrophils. Interestingly, we found that flagellar motility, not flagellum binding to neutrophils per se, mediates NET release induced by flagellated bacteria. Immotile, flagellar motor-deficient bacterial strains producing paralyzed flagella did not induce NET formation. Forced contact between immotile P. aeruginosa and neutrophils restored their NET-inducing ability. Both the motAB and motCD genetic loci encoding flagellar motor genes contribute to maximal NET release; however the motCD genes play a more important role. Phagocytosis of P. aeruginosa and superoxide production by neutrophils were also largely dependent upon a functional flagellum. Taken together, the flagellum is herein presented for the first time as the main organelle of planktonic bacteria responsible for mediating NET release. Furthermore, flagellar motility, rather than binding of the flagellum to flagellum-sensing receptors on host cells, is required for P. aeruginosa to induce NET release.

Concepts: Antibiotic resistance, Opportunistic infection, Eukaryote, Immune system, Archaea, Flagellum, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Bacteria


Proteus mirabilis is an opportunistic pathogen that is frequently associated with urinary tract infections. In the lab, P. mirabilis cells become long and multinucleate and increase their number of flagella as they colonize agar surfaces during swarming. Swarming has been implicated in pathogenesis; however, it is unclear how energetically costly changes in P. mirabilis cell morphology translate into an advantage for adapting to environmental changes. We investigated two morphological changes that occur during swarming-increases in cell length and flagella density-and discovered that an increase in the surface density of flagella enabled cells to translate rapidly through fluids of increasing viscosity; in contrast, cell length had a small effect on motility. We found that swarm cells had a surface density of flagella that was ∼5 times larger than vegetative cells and were motile in fluids with a viscosity that inhibits vegetative cell motility. To test the relationship between flagella density and velocity, we overexpressed FlhD(4)C(2)-the master regulator of the flagella operon-in vegetative cells of P. mirabilis and found that increased flagella density produced an increase in cell velocity. Our results establish a relationship between P. mirabilis flagella density and cell motility in viscous environments that may be relevant to their adaptation during the infection of mammalian urinary tracts and movement on in-dwelling catheters.

Concepts: Viscosity, Opportunistic infection, Motility, Urinary system, Animal, Blood, Proteus mirabilis, Liquid


Rothia mucilaginosa is increasingly recognized as an emerging opportunistic pathogen associated with prosthetic device infections. Infective endocarditis is one of the most common clinical presentations. We report a case of R. mucilaginosa prosthetic valve endocarditis and review the literature of prosthetic device infections caused by this organism.

Concepts: Prosthesis, Immune system, Valvular heart disease, Artificial heart valve, Bacteria, Endocarditis, Infective endocarditis, Opportunistic infection