Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Journal: Frontiers in cellular and infection microbiology


The interactions between intestinal microbiota, immune system, and pathogens describe the human gut as a complex ecosystem, where all components play a relevant role in modulating each other and in the maintenance of homeostasis. The balance among the gut microbiota and the human body appear to be crucial for health maintenance. Intestinal parasites, both protozoans and helminths, interact with the microbial community modifying the balance between host and commensal microbiota. On the other hand, gut microbiota represents a relevant factor that may strongly interfere with the pathophysiology of the infections. In addition to the function that gut commensal microbiota may have in the processes that determine the survival and the outcome of many parasitic infections, including the production of nutritive macromolecules, also probiotics can play an important role in reducing the pathogenicity of many parasites. On these bases, there is a growing interest in explaining the rationale on the possible interactions between the microbiota, immune response, inflammatory processes, and intestinal parasites.

Concepts: Immune system, Inflammation, Bacteria, Gut flora, Microbiology, Intestinal parasite, Parasitism, Commensalism


Vaccination has had a major impact on the control of infectious diseases. However, there are still many infectious diseases for which the development of an effective vaccine has been elusive. In many cases the failure to devise vaccines is a consequence of the inability of vaccine candidates to evoke appropriate immune responses. This is especially true where cellular immunity is required for protective immunity and this problem is compounded by the move toward devising sub-unit vaccines. Over the past decade nanoscale size (<1000 nm) materials such as virus-like particles, liposomes, ISCOMs, polymeric, and non-degradable nanospheres have received attention as potential delivery vehicles for vaccine antigens which can both stabilize vaccine antigens and act as adjuvants. Importantly, some of these nanoparticles (NPs) are able to enter antigen-presenting cells by different pathways, thereby modulating the immune response to the antigen. This may be critical for the induction of protective Th1-type immune responses to intracellular pathogens. Their properties also make them suitable for the delivery of antigens at mucosal surfaces and for intradermal administration. In this review we compare the utilities of different NP systems for the delivery of sub-unit vaccines and evaluate the potential of these delivery systems for the development of new vaccines against a range of pathogens.

Concepts: Immune system, Antibody, Malaria, Vaccine, Vaccination, Immunology, Antigen, Smallpox


The Gram-negative bacterium Burkholderia pseudomallei is a serious environmental pathogen and the causative agent of the often fatal melioidosis. Disease occurs following exposure to contaminated water or soil, usually through cuts in the skin or via inhalation. However, the underlying mechanisms of pathogenicity remain poorly understood. B. pseudomallei is endemic to South East Asia and Northern Australia where infections are associated with antibiotic resistance and high mortality rates. Categorization of the pathogen as a potential biowarfare agent has also made research into vaccine development a high priority. Recent genome-scale screening has produced a large number of putative gene candidates from B. pseudomallei with the potential for development into vaccines. This mini-review will discuss the advantages and limitations of this novel approach, how these new techniques can complement existing strategies, and outline aims for future research.

Concepts: Immune system, Bacteria, Microbiology, Burkholderia mallei, Burkholderia, Burkholderia pseudomallei, Chloramphenicol, Melioidosis


The genus Burkholderia consists of diverse species which includes both “friends” and “foes.” Some of the “friendly” Burkholderia spp. are extensively used in the biotechnological and agricultural industry for bioremediation and biocontrol. However, several members of the genus including B. pseudomallei, B. mallei, and B. cepacia, are known to cause fatal disease in both humans and animals. B. pseudomallei and B. mallei are the causative agents of melioidosis and glanders, respectively, while B. cepacia infection is lethal to cystic fibrosis (CF) patients. Due to the high rate of infectivity and intrinsic resistance to many commonly used antibiotics, together with high mortality rate, B. mallei and B. pseudomallei are considered to be potential biological warfare agents. Treatments of the infections caused by these bacteria are often unsuccessful with frequent relapse of the infection. Thus, we are at a crucial stage of the need for Burkholderia vaccines. Although the search for a prophylactic therapy candidate continues, to date development of vaccines has not advanced beyond research to human clinical trials. In this article, we review the current research on development of safe vaccines with high efficacy against B. pseudomallei, B. mallei, and B. cepacia. It can be concluded that further research will enable elucidation of the potential benefits and risks of Burkholderia vaccines.

Concepts: Immune system, Bacteria, Biological warfare, Burkholderia mallei, Burkholderia, Burkholderia pseudomallei, Melioidosis, Glanders


Ligand-mediated activation of toll-like receptors (TLRs) not only induces inflammation but also immune suppression, which is an emerging area of investigation. Multiple negative feedback intracellular mechanisms have been described that are brought into play to prevent uncontrolled TLR activation. However, the identification of TLR-induced regulatory myeloid cells is a relatively recent development that has ramifications in pathogen-induced disease state as well as in cancer. Our efforts to understand how a high dose of lipopolysaccharide (LPS), a ligand of TLR4, suppresses allergic airway inflammation led to the identification of myeloid cells that are CD11b(+)Gri(int)(Ly6G(int))F4/80(+) and are phenotypically and morphologically similar to myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs) which are best studied in the context of cancer. MDSCs have been also detected during infection by various bacteria, parasites and viruses, which can engage different TLRs. These TLR-induced myeloid cells produce different types of mediators to influence immune response and inflammation that can be either beneficial or detrimental to the host. One beneficial function of TLR4/MyD88-triggered MDSCs in the lung is to efferocytose apoptotic neutrophils to help resolve inflammation elicited during bacterial pneumonia. A better understanding of the generation and function of these regulatory cells would be helpful to harness their potential or suppress their function for disease-specific immune regulation.

Concepts: Immune system, Bacteria, Pneumonia, Innate immune system, Infection, Chemotherapy, Immunology, Receptor


African trypanosomes are unicellular flagellated parasites causing trypanosomiases in Africa, a group of severe diseases also known as sleeping sickness in human and nagana in cattle. These parasites are almost exclusively transmitted by the bite of the tsetse fly. In this review, we describe and compare the three developmental programs of the main trypanosome species impacting human and animal health, with focus on the most recent observations. From here, some reflections are made on research issues concerning trypanosome developmental biology in the tsetse fly that are to be addressed in the future.

Concepts: Human, Africa, Species, African trypanosomiasis, Tsetse fly, Sleeping sickness, Trypanosomiasis, Animal trypanosomiasis


Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever virus (CCHFV) is one of the most geographically widespread arboviruses and causes a severe hemorrhagic syndrome in humans. The virus circulates in nature in a vertebrate-tick cycle and ticks of the genus Hyalomma are the main vectors and reservoirs. Although the tick vector plays a central role in the maintenance and transmission of CCHFV in nature, comparatively little is known of CCHFV-tick interactions. This is mostly due to the fact that establishing tick colonies is laborious, and working with CCHFV requires a biosafety level 4 laboratory (BSL4) in many countries. Nonetheless, an in vivo transmission model is essential to understand the epidemiology of the transmission cycle of CCHFV. In addition, important parameters such as vectorial capacity of tick species, levels of infection in the host necessary to infect the tick, and aspects of virus transmission by tick bite including the influence of tick saliva, cannot be investigated any other way. Here, we evaluate the influence of different laboratory animal species as hosts supporting the life cycle of Hyalomma marginatum, a two-host tick. Rabbits were considered the host of choice for the maintenance of the uninfected colonies due to high larval attachment rates, shorter larval-nymphal feeding times, higher nymphal molting rates, high egg hatching rates, and higher conversion efficiency index (CEI). Furthermore, we describe the successful establishment of an in vivo transmission model for CCHFV in a BSL4 biocontainment setting using interferon knockout mice. This will give us a new tool to study the transmission and interaction of CCHFV with its tick vector.

Concepts: Biology, Virus, Infection, Fever, Tick, Viral hemorrhagic fever, Vector graphics, Biosafety level


The urinary microbiome of healthy individuals and the way it alters with ageing have not been characterized and may influence disease processes. Conventional microbiological methods have limited scope to capture the full spectrum of urinary bacterial species. We studied the urinary microbiota from a population of healthy individuals, ranging from 26 to 90 years of age, by amplification of the 16S rRNA gene, with resulting amplicons analyzed by 454 pyrosequencing. Mid-stream urine (MSU) was collected by the “clean-catch” method. Quantitative PCR of 16S rRNA genes in urine samples, allowed relative enumeration of the bacterial loads. Analysis of the samples indicates that females had a more heterogeneous mix of bacterial genera compared to the male samples and generally had representative members of the phyla Actinobacteria and Bacteroidetes. Analysis of the data leads us to conclude that a “core” urinary microbiome could potentially exist, when samples are grouped by age with fluctuation in abundance between age groups. The study also revealed age-specific genera Jonquetella, Parvimonas, Proteiniphilum, and Saccharofermentans. In conclusion, conventional microbiological methods are inadequate to fully identify around two-thirds of the bacteria identified in this study. Whilst this proof-of-principle study has limitations due to the sample size, the discoveries evident in this sample data are strongly suggestive that a larger study on the urinary microbiome should be encouraged and that the identification of specific genera at particular ages may be relevant to pathogenesis of clinical conditions.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Archaea, Bacteria, Molecular biology, Biology, Ribosomal RNA, 16S ribosomal RNA


Ticks are hematophagous arachnids transmitting a wide variety of pathogens including viruses, bacteria, and protozoans to their vertebrate hosts. The tick vector competence has to be intimately linked to the ability of transmitted pathogens to evade tick defense mechanisms encountered on their route through the tick body comprising midgut, hemolymph, salivary glands or ovaries. Tick innate immunity is, like in other invertebrates, based on an orchestrated action of humoral and cellular immune responses. The direct antimicrobial defense in ticks is accomplished by a variety of small molecules such as defensins, lysozymes or by tick-specific antimicrobial compounds such as microplusin/hebraein or 5.3-kDa family proteins. Phagocytosis of the invading microbes by tick hemocytes is likely mediated by the primordial complement-like system composed of thioester-containing proteins, fibrinogen-related lectins and convertase-like factors. Moreover, an important role in survival of the ingested microbes seems to be played by host proteins and redox balance maintenance in the tick midgut. Here, we summarize recent knowledge about the major components of tick immune system and focus on their interaction with the relevant tick-transmitted pathogens, represented by spirochetes (Borrelia), rickettsiae (Anaplasma), and protozoans (Babesia). Availability of the tick genomic database and feasibility of functional genomics based on RNA interference greatly contribute to the understanding of molecular and cellular interplay at the tick-pathogen interface and may provide new targets for blocking the transmission of tick pathogens.

Concepts: Immune system, Antibody, Bacteria, Virus, Innate immune system, Immunology, Humoral immunity, Immunity


Lyme disease is the most common tickborne illness in the world today. A recent study describes for the first time an enzyme produced by the spirochetal agent of Lyme disease, Borrelia burgdorferi, that cleaves aggrecan, a proteoglycan found in joints and connective tissue. Discovery of the spirochetal aggrecanase raises many questions about the pathogenesis of Lyme arthritis and lends support to the concept of persistent B. burgdorferi infection in patients with chronic Lyme disease symptoms.

Concepts: Bacteria, Lyme disease, Borrelia burgdorferi, Borrelia, Spirochaetes, Spirochaete, Allen Steere, Tick-borne disease