Concept: Wuchereria bancrofti
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).
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.
Lymphatic filariasis (LF) is a leading cause of morbidity in the tropical world. It is caused by the filarial parasites Wuchereria bancrofti, Brugia malayi and Brugia timori and transmitted by vector mosquitoes. Currently a programme for the elimination of LF, Global Lympahtic Filariasis Elimination Programme (GPELF), is underway with the strategy of mass administration of single dose of diethylcarbamazine or ivermectin, in combination with an antihelminthic drug, albendazole. However, antifilarial drugs used in the progarmme are only microfilaricidal but not or only partially macrofilaricidal. Hence, there is a need to identify new targets for developing antifilarial drugs. Filarial parasites harbour rickettsial endosymbionts, Wolbachia sp., which play an important role in their biology and hence are considered as potential targets for antifilarial chemotherapy development. In this study, one of the cell division proteins of Wolbachia of the major lymphatic filarial parasite, Wuchereria bancrofti, viz., filamentation temperature-sensitive protein Z (FtsZ), was explored as a drug target. The gene coding for FtsZ protein was amplified from the genomic DNA of W. bancrofti, cloned and sequenced. The derived amino acid sequence of the gene revealed that FtsZ protein is 396 amino acids long and contained the tubulin motif (GGGTGTG) involved in GTP binding and the GTP hydrolyzing motif (NLDFAD). The FtsZ gene of endosymbiont showed limited sequence homology, but exhibited functional homology with β-tubulin of its host, W. bancrofti, as it had both the functional motifs and conserved amino acids that are critical for enzymatic activity. β-tubulin is the target for the anti-helminthic activity of albendazole and since FtsZ shares the functional homology with it may also be sensitive to albendazole. Therefore, the effect of albendazole was tested against Wolbachia occurring in mosquitoes instead of filarial parasites as the drug has lethal effect on the latter. Third instar larvae of Culex quinquefasciatus were treated with 0.25mg/ml of albendazole (test) or tetracycline (positive control) in the rearing medium for different intervals and tested for the presence of Wolbachia by FtsZ PCR. All the treated larvae were negative for the presence of the FtsZ band, whereas all the control larvae were positive. The findings of the study thus indicated that FtsZ is sensitive to albendazole. In view of this albendazole appears to have dual targets; FtsZ in Wolbachia and β- tubulin in W. bancrofti. Further, the functional domain of the gene was assessed for polymorphism among recombinant clones representing 120W. bancrofti parasites, prevalent across wide geographic areas of India and found to be highly conserved among them. Since it is highly conserved and plays an important role in Wolbachia cell division it appears to be a potential target for anti-filarial chemotherapy development.
Lymphatic filariasis is caused by three closely related nematode parasites: Wuchereria bancrofti, Brugia malayi and Brugia timori. These species have many ecological variants that differ in several aspects of their biology such as mosquito vector species, host range, periodicity, and morphology. Although the genome of B. malayi (the first genome sequenced from a parasitic nematode) has been available for more than five years, very little is known about genetic variability among the lymphatic dwelling filariae. The genetic diversity among these worms is not only interesting from a biological perspective, but it may have important practical implications for the Global Program to Eliminate Lymphatic Filariasis, as the parasites may respond differently to diagnostic tests and/or medical interventions. Therefore, better information on their genetic variability is urgently needed. With improved methods for nucleic acid extraction and recent advances in sequencing chemistry and instrumentation, this gap can be filled relatively inexpensively. Improved information on filarial genetic diversity may increase the chances of success for lymphatic filariasis elimination programs.
Molecular xenomonitoring of filariasis is the detection of filarial DNA in mosquitoes by PCR and a useful tool for monitoring transmission. DNA extraction coupled with PCR allows rapid detection of the presence or absence of the filarial parasite in vector mosquitoes compared to traditional method of manual dissection of the mosquito and observation for parasite under a microscope. A Tris-EDTA (TE) buffer-based boiling method of DNA extraction developed earlier by us was employed and explored for its suitability in the detection of Wuchereria bancrofti DNA in pools of Culex quinquefasciatus mosquitoes in real-time PCR assay. In this preliminary study, 1,000 laboratory-reared C. quinquefasciatus were made into 40 pools, each containing 25 mosquitoes spiked with 2mf. DNA from the first 20 pools was extracted using Qiagen DNeasy blood and tissue kit as standard, and the other 20 pools were subjected to TE buffer-based boiling method of DNA extraction. When the results (Ct values) obtained for DNA samples extracted by TE buffer-based boiling method were compared with that of the DNA samples extracted by the standard Qiagen method, they were found to be highly concordant without any significant difference (P = 0.9). Besides being cost- and time-effective, this protocol was found useful in extracting filarial DNA from two other mosquito genus Aedes and Anopheles, species of which have been reported as important vectors of W. bancrofti in other endemic regions of the world. Thus, TE buffer-based boiling method of DNA extraction is useful for the high-throughput detection of W. bancrofti in vector mosquitoes.
In a placebo controlled field trial, the effects of doxycycline (200mg/day) for 23 days followed by doxycycline (200mg/day) in combination with albendazole (ABZ) (400mg/day) for 7 days on depletion of Wolbachia endobacteria from Wuchereria bancrofti and microfilaricidal activity were studied in 68 patients (34 males and 34 females) from West Bengal, India. The drugs in combination (i.e., doxycycline+ABZ) provided the best efficacy by totally eliminating the circulating microfilaria (mf) (in 42% cases) on day 365 with (99.8%, P<0.05) suppression even on day 365 post-treatment compared to both exclusive doxycycline (69%, P<0.05) and ABZ (89%, P<0.05) groups. Thus, our results have established that a 30-day course of doxycycline in combination with a 7-day course of ABZ is sufficient to ensure long-term reduction in mf level by depleting Wolbachia from worm tissues. Doxycycline combined with ABZ led to a greater reduction in mf density in blood at 4 months (post-treatment) in comparison to doxycycline or ABZ alone. There were significant differences between the three treatments after 12 months (post-treatment). Further, the impact of a 7-day regimen of ABZ was surprisingly good in reducing mf compared to doxycycline-alone group. Adverse reactions were mild. A 30-day course of doxycycline and ABZ in combination is a safe and well-tolerated treatment for lymphatic filariasis with significant activity against microfilaremia.
Lymphatic filariasis (LF) and onchocerciasis are priority neglected tropical diseases targeted for elimination. The only safe drug treatment with substantial curative activity against the filarial nematodes responsible for LF (Brugia malayi, Wuchereria bancrofti) or onchocerciasis (Onchocerca volvulus) is doxycycline. The target of doxycycline is the essential endosymbiont, Wolbachia. Four to six weeks doxycycline therapy achieves >90% depletion of Wolbachia in worm tissues leading to blockade of embryogenesis, adult sterility and premature death 18-24 months post-treatment. Long treatment length and contraindications in children and pregnancy are obstacles to implementing doxycycline as a public health strategy. Here we determine, via preclinical infection models of Brugia malayi or Onchocerca ochengi that elevated exposures of orally-administered rifampicin can lead to Wolbachia depletions from filariae more rapidly than those achieved by doxycycline. Dose escalation of rifampicin achieves >90% Wolbachia depletion in time periods of 7 days in B. malayi and 14 days in O. ochengi. Using pharmacokinetic-pharmacodynamic modelling and mouse-human bridging analysis, we conclude that clinically relevant dose elevations of rifampicin, which have recently been determined as safe in humans, could be administered as short courses to filariasis target populations with potential to reduce anti-Wolbachia curative therapy times to between one and two weeks.