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

Journal: Memórias do Instituto Oswaldo Cruz


Despite the increasing importance of Enterococcus as opportunistic pathogens, their virulence factors are still poorly understood. This study determines the frequency of virulence factors in clinical and commensal Enterococcus isolates from inpatients in Porto Alegre, Brazil. Fifty Enterococcus isolates were analysed and the presence of the gelE, asa1 and esp genes was determined. Gelatinase activity and biofilm formation were also tested. The clonal relationships among the isolates were evaluated using pulsed-field gel electrophoresis. The asa1, gelE and esp genes were identified in 38%, 60% and 76% of all isolates, respectively. The first two genes were more prevalent in Enterococcus faecalis than in Enterococcus faecium, as was biofilm formation, which was associated with gelE and asa1 genes, but not with the esp gene. The presence of gelE and the activity of gelatinase were not fully concordant. No relationship was observed among any virulence factors and specific subclones of E. faecalis or E. faecium resistant to vancomycin. In conclusion, E. faecalis and E. faecium isolates showed significantly different patterns of virulence determinants. Neither the source of isolation nor the clonal relationship or vancomycin resistance influenced their distribution.

Concepts: Protein, Bacteria, Antibiotic resistance, Linezolid, Vancomycin, Enterococcus, Enterococcus faecium, Enterococcus faecalis


The phlebotomine sandfly Trichophoromyia adelsonsouzai sp. nov. is described and illustrated based on the male and female morphological characteristics of specimens collected at Km 27 of the Trans-Amazonian Highway, municipality of Vitória do Xingu, state of Pará, Brazilian Amazonia. This is an area subject to the direct influence of Belo Monte hydroelectric system. With the description of this new species the number of Trichophoromyia sandflies recorded in Brazil is increased to 20.

Concepts: Human, Male, Female, Amazon River, Brazil, Venezuela, Xingu River


Haematological and cytokine alterations in malaria are a broad and controversial subject in the literature. However, few studies have simultaneously evaluated various cytokines in a single patient group during the acute and convalescent phases of infection. The aim of this study was to sequentially characterise alterations in haematological patters and circulating plasma cytokine and chemokine levels in patients infected with Plasmodium vivax or Plasmodium falciparum from a Brazilian endemic area during the acute and convalescent phases of infection. During the acute phase, thrombocytopaenia, eosinopaenia, lymphopaenia and an increased number of band cells were observed in the majority of the patients. During the convalescent phase, the haematologic parameters returned to normal. During the acute phase, P. vivax and P. falciparum patients had significantly higher interleukin (IL)-6, IL-8, IL-17, interferon-γ, tumour necrosis factor (TNF)-α, macrophage inflammatory protein-1β and granulocyte-colony stimulating factor levels than controls and maintained high levels during the convalescent phase. IL-10 was detected at high concentrations during the acute phase, but returned to normal levels during the convalescent phase. Plasma IL-10 concentration was positively correlated with parasitaemia in P. vivax and P. falciparum-infected patients. The same was true for the TNF-α concentration in P. falciparum-infected patients. Finally, the haematological and cytokine profiles were similar between uncomplicated P. falciparum and P. vivax infections.

Concepts: Immune system, Inflammation, Malaria, Plasmodium falciparum, Plasmodium, Plasmodium vivax, Anopheles, Apicomplexa


Leptospirosis is the most widespread zoonosis in the world and significant efforts have been made to determine and classify pathogenic Leptospira strains. This zoonosis is maintained in nature through chronic renal infections of carrier animals, with rodents and other small mammals serving as the most important reservoirs. Additionally, domestic animals, such as livestock and dogs, are significant sources of human infection. In this study, a multiple-locus variable-number tandem repeat analysis (MLVA) was applied to genotype 22 pathogenic Leptospira strains isolated from urban and periurban rodent populations from different regions of Argentina. Three MLVA profiles were identified in strains belonging to the species Leptospira interrogans (serovars Icterohaemorrhagiae and Canicola); one profile was observed in serovar Icterohaemorrhagiae and two MLVA profiles were observed in isolates of serovars Canicola and Portlandvere. All strains belonging to Leptospira borgpetersenii serovar Castellonis exhibited the same MLVA profile. Four different genotypes were isolated from urban populations of rodents, including both mice and rats and two different genotypes were isolated from periurban populations.

Concepts: Renal failure, Biology, Mammal, Rat, Rodent, Mouse, Leptospira, Genotype-phenotype distinction


Clinical and laboratory risk factors for death from visceral leishmaniasis (VL) are relatively known, but quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) might assess the role of parasite load in determining clinical outcome. The aim of this study was to identify risk factors, including parasite load in peripheral blood, for VL poor outcome among children. This prospective cohort study evaluated children aged ≤ 12 years old with VL diagnosis at three times: pre-treatment (T0), during treatment (T1) and post-treatment (T2). Forty-eight patients were included and 16 (33.3%) met the criteria for poor outcome. Age ≤ 12 months [relative risk (RR) 3.51; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.89-6.52], tachydyspnoea (RR 3.46; 95% CI 2.19-5.47), bacterial infection (RR 3.08; 95% CI 1.27-7.48), liver enlargement (RR 3.00; 95% CI 1.44-6.23) and low serum albumin (RR 7.00; 95% CI 1.80-27.24) were identified as risk factors. qPCR was positive in all patients at T0 and the parasite DNA was undetectable in 76.1% of them at T1 and in 90.7% at T2. There was no statistical association between parasite load at T0 and poor outcome.

Concepts: DNA, Cohort study, Epidemiology, Infectious disease, Polymerase chain reaction, Relative risk, Albumin, DNA polymerase


Mycobacterium bovis is the causative agent of bovine tuberculosis (TB), a disease that affects approximately 5% of Argentinean cattle. Among the molecular methods for genotyping, the most convenient are spoligotyping and variable number of tandem repeats (VNTR). A total of 378 samples from bovines with visible lesions consistent with TB were collected at slaughterhouses in three provinces, yielding 265 M. bovis spoligotyped isolates, which were distributed into 35 spoligotypes. In addition, 197 isolates were also typed by the VNTR method and 54 combined VNTR types were detected. There were 24 clusters and 27 orphan types. When both typing methods were combined, 98 spoligotypes and VNTR types were observed with 27 clusters and 71 orphan types. By performing a meta-analysis with previous spoligotyping results, we identified regional and temporal trends in the population structure of M. bovis. For SB0140, the most predominant spoligotype in Argentina, the prevalence percentage remained high during different periods, varying from 25.5-57.8% (1994-2011). By contrast, the second and third most prevalent spoligotypes exhibited important fluctuations. This study shows that there has been an expansion in ancestral lineages as demonstrated by spoligotyping. However, exact tandem repeat typing suggests dynamic changes in the clonal population of this microorganism.

Concepts: Microbiology, Tuberculosis, Mycobacterium, Cattle, Mycobacterium bovis, Bacillus Calmette-Guérin, Variable number tandem repeat, Tuberculosis treatment


Several parasitological studies carried out in El Salvador between 2000-2012 showed a higher frequency of acute cases of Chagas disease than that in other Central American countries. There is an urgent need for improved Chagas disease surveillance and vector control programs in the provinces where acute Chagas disease occurs and throughout El Salvador as a whole.

Concepts: Guatemala, Spanish language, Caribbean, Central America, Nicaragua, Indigenous peoples of the Americas, El Salvador, San Salvador


Undernourished mice infected (UI) submitted to low and long-lasting infections by Schistosoma mansoni are unable to develop the hepatic periportal fibrosis that is equivalent to Symmers' fibrosis in humans. In this report, the effects of the host’s nutritional status on parasite (worm load, egg viability and maturation) and host (growth curves, biology, collagen synthesis and characteristics of the immunological response) were studied and these are considered as interdependent factors influencing the amount and distribution of fibrous tissue in hepatic periovular granulomas and portal spaces. The nutritional status of the host influenced the low body weight and low parasite burden detected in UI mice as well as the number, viability and maturation of released eggs. The reduced oviposition and increased number of degenerated or dead eggs were associated with low protein synthesis detected in deficient hosts, which likely induced the observed decrease in transformation growth factor (TGF)-β1 and liver collagen. Despite the reduced number of mature eggs in UI mice, the activation of TGF-β1 and hepatic stellate cells occurred regardless of the unviability of most miracidia, due to stimulation by fibrogenic proteins and eggshell glycoproteins. However, changes in the repair mechanisms influenced by the nutritional status in deficient animals may account for the decreased liver collagen detected in the present study.

Concepts: Immune system, Protein, Vitamin D, Signal transduction, Glucose, Digenea, Digestion, Hepatic stellate cell


Chagas disease, caused by Trypanosoma cruzi, represents an endemic among Latin America countries. The participation of free radicals, especially nitric oxide (NO), has been demonstrated in the pathophysiology of seropositive individuals with T. cruzi. In Chagas disease, increased NO contributes to the development of cardiomyopathy and megacolon. Metallothioneins (MTs) are efficient free radicals scavengers of NO in vitro and in vivo. Here, we developed a murine model of the chronic phase of Chagas disease using endemic T. cruzi RyCH1 in BALB/c mice, which were divided into four groups: infected non-treated (Inf), infected N-monomethyl-L-arginine treated (Inf L-NAME), non-infected L-NAME treated and non-infected vehicle-treated. We determined blood parasitaemia and NO levels, the extent of parasite nests in tissues and liver MT-I expression levels. It was observed that NO levels were increasing in Inf mice in a time-dependent manner. Inf L-NAME mice had fewer T. cruzi nests in cardiac and skeletal muscle with decreased blood NO levels at day 135 post infection. This affect was negatively correlated with an increase of MT-I expression (r = -0.8462, p < 0.0001). In conclusion, we determined that in Chagas disease, an unknown inhibitory mechanism reduces MT-I expression, allowing augmented NO levels.

Concepts: Infectious disease, Infection, Chagas disease, In vitro, Nitric oxide, Trypanosoma, Trypanosoma cruzi, Carlos Chagas


Studies on human genetic variations are a useful source of knowledge about human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-1 infection. The Langerin protein, found at the surface of Langerhans cells, has an important protective role in HIV-1 infection. Differences in Langerin function due to host genetic factors could influence susceptibility to HIV-1 infection. To verify the frequency of mutations in the Langerin gene, 118 samples from HIV-1-infected women and 99 samples from HIV-1-uninfected individuals were selected for sequencing of the promoter and carbohydrate recognition domain (CRD)-encoding regions of the Langerin gene. Langerin promoter analysis revealed two single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and one mutation in both studied groups, which created new binding sites for certain transcription factors, such as NFAT5, HOXB9.01 and STAT6.01, according to MatInspector software analysis. Three SNPs were observed in the CRD-encoding region in HIV-1-infected and uninfected individuals: p.K313I, c.941C>T and c.983C>T. This study shows that mutations in the Langerin gene are present in the analysed populations at different genotypic and allelic frequencies. Further studies should be conducted to verify the role of these mutations in HIV-1 susceptibility.

Concepts: HIV, DNA, Gene, Genetics, Evolution, Transcription, Molecular biology, RNA