Many of the risk factors for developing severe coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) are also risk factors for eye diseases such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD). During the past decades, macrophages and the complement pathway (as a part of the innate immune system) have been identified as important contributors to the development of AMD, and we suggest that these mechanisms are of similar importance for the clinical course of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infections. Based on the experience with AMD, we discuss how behavioral factors such as diet, smoking and higher body mass index, as well as genetic determinants such as the complement and immune pathway genes may lead to the overactive inflammatory phenotypes seen in some patients with COVID-19, and may in part explain the heterogeneity of disease manifestations and outcomes. Based on this experience, we discuss potential genetic research projects and elaborate on preventive and treatment approaches related to COVID-19.
Stevens-Johnson syndrome (SJS) is an acute blistering disease of the skin and mucous membranes. Acute SJS leads to the acute inflammation of the ocular surface and chronic conjunctivitis. If not properly treated, it causes chronic cicatricial conjunctivitis and cicatricial lid margin abnormalities. Persistent inflammation and ulceration of the ocular surface with cicatricial complications of the lids leads to chronic ocular sequelae, ocular surface damage, and corneal scarring. The destruction of the glands that secrete the tear film leads to a severe form of dry eye that makes the management of chronic SJS difficult. The option that is routinely used for corneal visual rehabilitation, keratoplasty, is best avoided in such cases. We describe the management strategies that are most effective during the acute and chronic stages of SJS. Although treatments for acute SJS involve immunosuppressive and immunomodulatory therapies, amniotic membrane transplantation is also useful. The options for visual rehabilitation in patients with chronic SJS are undergoing radical change. We describe the existing literature regarding the management of SJS and highlight recent advances in the management of this disorder.
The emergence of Staphylococcus aureus strains resistant to 'last resort' antibiotics compels the development of new antimicrobials against this important human pathogen. We found that propyl 5-hydroxy-3-methyl-1-phenyl-1H-pyrazole-4-carbodithioate (HMPC) shows bacteriostatic activity against S. aureus (MIC = 4 μg/ml) and rescues Caenorhabditis elegans from S. aureus infection. Whole-genome sequencing of S. aureus mutants resistant to the compound, along with screening of a S. aureus promoter-lux reporter array, were used to explore possible mechanisms of action. All mutants resistant to HMPC acquired missense mutations at distinct codon positions in the global transcriptional regulator mgrA, followed by secondary mutations in the phosphatidylglycerol lysyltransferase fmtC/mprF. The S. aureus promoter-lux array treated with HMPC displayed a luminescence profile that was unique but showed similarity to DNA-damaging agents and/or DNA replication inhibitors. Overall, HMPC is a new anti-staphylococcal compound that appears to act via an unknown mechanism linked to the global transcriptional regulator MgrA.
Known to occur in widespread outbreaks, epidemic keratoconjunctivitis (EKC) is a severe ocular surface infection with a strong historical association with human adenovirus (HAdV). While the conjunctival manifestations can vary from mild follicular conjunctivitis to hyper-acute, exudative conjunctivitis with formation of conjunctival membranes, EKC is distinct as the only form of adenovirus conjunctivitis in which the cornea is also involved, likely due to specific corneal epithelial tropism of its causative viral agents. The initial development of a punctate or geographic epithelial keratitis may herald the later formation of stromal keratitis, and manifest as subepithelial infiltrates which often persist or recur for months to years after the acute infection has resolved. The chronic keratitis in EKC is associated with foreign body sensation, photophobia, glare, and reduced vision. However, over a century since the first clinical descriptions of EKC, and over 60 years since the first causative agent, human adenovirus type 8, was identified, our understanding of this disorder remains limited. This is underscored by a current lack of effective diagnostic tools and treatments. In part, stasis in our knowledge base has been encouraged by the continued acceptance, and indeed propagation of, inaccurate paradigms pertaining to disease etiology and pathogenesis, particularly with regard to mechanisms of innate and adaptive immunity within the cornea. Owing to its often persistent and medically refractory visual sequelae, reconsideration of key aspects of EKC disease biology is warranted to identify new treatment targets to curb its worldwide socioeconomic burden.
OBJECTIVE: To examine the efficacy of various disinfection methods for reusable tonometer prisms in eye care and to highlight how disinfectants can damage tonometer tips and cause subsequent patient harm. METHODS: Literature searches were conducted last in October 2016 in the PubMed and the Cochrane Library databases for original research investigations. Reviews, non-English language articles, nonophthalmology articles, surveys, and case reports were excluded. RESULTS: The searches initially yielded 64 unique citations. After exclusion criteria were applied, 10 laboratory studies remained for this review. Nine of the 10 studies used tonometer prisms and 1 used steel discs. The infectious agents covered in this assessment include adenovirus 8 and 19, herpes simplex virus (HSV) 1 and 2, human immunodeficiency virus 1, hepatitis C virus, enterovirus 70, and variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. All 4 studies of adenovirus 8 concluded that after sodium hypochlorite (dilute bleach) disinfection, the virus was undetectable, but only 2 of the 4 studies found that 70% isopropyl alcohol (e.g., alcohol wipes or soaks) eradicated all viable virus. All 3 HSV studies concluded that both sodium hypochlorite and 70% isopropyl alcohol eliminated HSV. Ethanol, 70% isopropyl alcohol, dilute bleach, and mechanical cleaning all lack the ability to remove cellular debris completely, which is necessary to prevent prion transmission. Therefore, single-use tonometer tips or disposable tonometer covers should be considered when treating patients with suspected prion disease. Damage to tonometer prisms can be caused by sodium hypochlorite, 70% isopropyl alcohol, 3% hydrogen peroxide, ethyl alcohol, water immersion, ultraviolet light, and heat exposure. Disinfectants can cause tonometer tips to swell and crack by dissolving the glue that holds the hollow tip together. The tonometer tip cracks can irritate the cornea, harbor microbes, or allow disinfectants to enter the interior of the tonometer tip. CONCLUSIONS: Sodium hypochlorite (dilute bleach) offers effective disinfection against adenovirus and HSV, the viruses commonly associated with nosocomial outbreaks in eye care. Tonometer prisms should be examined regularly for signs of damage.
Defining factors that govern CD8+ T cell immunodominance is critical for the rational design of vaccines for viral pathogens. Here, we assess the contribution of human leukocyte antigen (HLA) class-I-peptide stability for 186 optimal HIV epitopes across 18 HLA alleles using transporter associated with antigen processing (TAP)-deficient mono-allelic HLA-expressing cell lines. We find that immunodominant HIV epitopes increase surface stabilization of HLA class-I molecules in comparison to subdominant epitopes. HLA class-I-peptide stability is also strongly correlated with overall immunodominance hierarchies, particularly for epitopes from high-abundance proteins (e.g., Gag). Moreover, HLA alleles associated with HIV protection are preferentially stabilized by epitopes derived from topologically important viral regions at a greater frequency than neutral and risk alleles. These findings indicate that relative stabilization of HLA class-I is a key factor for CD8+ T cell epitope immunodominance hierarchies, with implications for HIV control and the design of T-cell-based vaccines.
The alternative sigma factor σ54 has been shown to regulate the expression of a wide array of virulence-associated genes, as well as central metabolism, in bacterial pathogens. In Gram-positive organisms, the σ54 is commonly associated with carbon metabolism. In this study, we show that the Enterococcus faecalis alternative sigma factor σ54 (RpoN) and its cognate enhancer binding protein MptR are essential for mannose utilization and are primary contributors to glucose uptake through the Mpt phosphotransferase system. To gain further insight into how RpoN contributes to global transcriptional changes, we performed microarray transcriptional analysis of strain V583 and an isogenic rpoN mutant grown in a chemically defined medium with glucose as the sole carbon source. Transcripts of 340 genes were differentially affected in the rpoN mutant; the predicted functions of these genes mainly related to nutrient acquisition. These differentially expressed genes included those with predicted catabolite-responsive element (cre) sites, consistent with loss of repression by the major carbon catabolite repressor CcpA. To determine if the inability to efficiently metabolize glucose/mannose affected infection outcome, we utilized two distinct infection models. We found that the rpoN mutant is significantly attenuated in both rabbit endocarditis and murine catheter-associated urinary tract infection (CAUTI). Here, we examined a ccpA mutant in the CAUTI model and showed that the absence of carbon catabolite control also significantly attenuates bacterial tissue burden in this model. Our data highlight the contribution of central carbon metabolism to growth of E. faecalis at various sites of infection.IMPORTANCE Hospital-acquired infections account for 2 billion dollars annually in increased health care expenses and cause more than 100,000 deaths in the United States alone. Enterococci are the second leading cause of hospital-acquired infections. They form biofilms at surgical sites and are often associated with infections of the urinary tract following catheterization. Nutrient uptake and growth are key factors that influence their ability to cause disease. Our research identified a large set of genes that illuminate nutrient uptake pathways in enterococci. Perturbation of the metabolic circuit reduces virulence in a rabbit endocarditis model, as well as in catheter-associated urinary tract infection in mice. Targeting metabolic pathways that are important in infection may lead to new treatments against multidrug-resistant enterococcal infections.
Objective: To describe and evaluate a secure video call system combined with a suite of iPad vision testing apps to improve access to vision rehabilitation assessment for inpatients. Design: Retrospective. Setting: Two acute care inpatient rehabilitation hospitals and 1 long-term acute care (LTAC) hospital. Participants: Records of inpatients seen by the vision service. Interventions: Records from a 1-year telemedicine pilot performed at acute rehabilitation (AR) hospital 1 and then expanded to AR hospital 2 and LTAC hospital during coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) were reviewed. In the virtual visits, an occupational therapist measured the patients' vision with the iPad applications and forwarded results to the off-site Doctor of Optometry (OD) for review prior to a video visit. The OD provided diagnosis and education, press-on prism application supervision, strategies and modifications, and follow-up recommendations. Providers completed the telehealth usability questionnaire (10-point scale). Main Outcome Measures: Vision examinations per month at AR hospital 1 before and with telemedicine. Results: With telemedicine at AR hospital 1, mean visits per month significantly increased from 10.7±5 to 14.9±5 (=.002). Prism was trialed in 40% of cases of which 83% were successful, similar to previously reported in-person success rates. COVID-19 caused only a marginal decrease in visits per month (=.08) at AR1, whereas the site without an established program (AR hospital 2) had a 3-4 week gap in care while the program was initiated. Cases at the LTAC hospital tended to be more complex and difficult to manage virtually. The telehealth usability questionnaire median category scores were 7 for , 8 for , 6 for , and 9 for . Conclusions: The virtual vision clinic process improved inpatient access to eye and visual neurorehabilitation assessment before and during the COVID-19 quarantine and was well accepted by providers and patients.
Kempen JH, Abashawl A, Suga HK, Nigussie Difabachew M, Kempen CJ, Tesfaye Debele M, Menkir AA, Assefa MT, Asfaw EH, Habtegabriel LB, Sitotaw Addisie Y, Nilles EJ, Longenecker JC. SARS-CoV-2 Serosurvey in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Am J Trop Med Hyg 2020;103(5):2022-2023.Abstract
In a serosurvey of asymptomatic people from the general population recruited from a clinical laboratory in May 2020 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, three of 99 persons tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 IgG (3.0%, 95% binomial exact confidence interval: 0.6-8.6%). Taking into account pretest probability and the sampling scheme, the range of plausible population prevalence values was approximately 1.0-8.4%. These results suggest that a larger number of people have been infected than the counts detected by surveillance to date; nevertheless, the results suggest the large majority of the general population in Addis Ababa currently is susceptible to COVID-19.
PURPOSE: To assess the hypothesis that fluorometholone 0.1% eye drops are safe and effective as adjunctive therapy for trachomatous trichiasis (TT) surgery; determining the most promising dose. DESIGN: Randomized, placebo-controlled, double-masked parallel dose-ranging clinical trial. METHODS: Patients undergoing upper lid TT surgery at a rural Ethiopian hospital were randomized to fluorometholone 0.1% twice daily for 4 weeks, 4 times daily for 4 weeks, 4 times daily for 8 weeks, or matching frequency placebo in a 3:1:3:1:3:1 ratio for 1 eye. Randomization was stratified by TT severity (1-4 vs ≥5 lashes touching the globe). Safety outcomes (intraocular pressure [IOP] elevation, cataract, and other dose-limiting toxicities) and postoperative TT incidence were assessed over 1 year. RESULTS: Subjects randomized were 39:13:39:13:38:13 in the respective groups, and 1 subject in the 8-weeks fluorometholone group was withdrawn. Of 154 subjects, 148 (96.1%) completed 1 year's follow-up. Among 76 eyes receiving fluorometholone 4 times daily, 1 developed IOP elevation ≥ 30 mm Hg (to 37 mm Hg) and 1 had an allergic reaction attributed to the study drug; each resolved upon drug cessation without sequelae. No cataract or other dose-limiting toxicity events occurred. Postoperative TT within 1 year occurred in 29.3% of placebo eyes vs 17.7%, 19.6%, and 23.2% among the respective fluorometholone groups (P = .29 comparing placebo vs all active treatments combined). CONCLUSIONS: The results suggest fluorometholone 0.1% is likely to be safe and efficacious to reduce postoperative TT following TT surgery, and 1 drop twice daily for 4 weeks is the most promising dose. Confirmation in a full-scale clinical trial is needed before programmatic implementation.
A challenge in the treatment of Staphylococcus aureus infections is the high prevalence of methicillin-resistant S. aureus (MRSA) strains and the formation of non-growing, dormant 'persister' subpopulations that exhibit high levels of tolerance to antibiotics and have a role in chronic or recurrent infections. As conventional antibiotics are not effective in the treatment of infections caused by such bacteria, novel antibacterial therapeutics are urgently required. Here we used a Caenorhabditis elegans-MRSA infection screen to identify two synthetic retinoids, CD437 and CD1530, which kill both growing and persister MRSA cells by disrupting lipid bilayers. CD437 and CD1530 exhibit high killing rates, synergism with gentamicin, and a low probability of resistance selection. All-atom molecular dynamics simulations demonstrated that the ability of retinoids to penetrate and embed in lipid bilayers correlates with their bactericidal ability. An analogue of CD437 was found to retain anti-persister activity and show an improved cytotoxicity profile. Both CD437 and this analogue, alone or in combination with gentamicin, exhibit considerable efficacy in a mouse model of chronic MRSA infection. With further development and optimization, synthetic retinoids have the potential to become a new class of antimicrobials for the treatment of Gram-positive bacterial infections that are currently difficult to cure.
KL P, van W S, RJL W, MS G. Enterococcal Genomics. In: Enterococci: From Commensals to Leading Causes of Drug Resistant Infection [Internet]. Boston: Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary; 2014-. . 2014Abstract
Assessment of patients with infectious endophthalmitis is frequently limited by media opacities, and ocular ultrasonography is routinely performed in this setting. We examined the literature to assess the level of evidence for the utility of ocular ultrasonography in these patients. Common ultrasonographic findings reported include low amplitude mobile echoes, vitreous membranes, and thickening of the retina and choroid. Based on the available evidence, we conclude that ocular ultrasound may be a useful adjunct in guiding treatment and minimizing complications. While positive findings may be confirmatory in cases in which the clinical suspicion is high, ocular ultrasound alone cannot be used to prove or to exclude the diagnosis of infectious endophthalmitis.
UNLABELLED: Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) strains are leading causes of hospital-acquired infections in the United States, and clonal cluster 5 (CC5) is the predominant lineage responsible for these infections. Since 2002, there have been 12 cases of vancomycin-resistant S. aureus (VRSA) infection in the United States-all CC5 strains. To understand this genetic background and what distinguishes it from other lineages, we generated and analyzed high-quality draft genome sequences for all available VRSA strains. Sequence comparisons show unambiguously that each strain independently acquired Tn1546 and that all VRSA strains last shared a common ancestor over 50 years ago, well before the occurrence of vancomycin resistance in this species. In contrast to existing hypotheses on what predisposes this lineage to acquire Tn1546, the barrier posed by restriction systems appears to be intact in most VRSA strains. However, VRSA (and other CC5) strains were found to possess a constellation of traits that appears to be optimized for proliferation in precisely the types of polymicrobic infection where transfer could occur. They lack a bacteriocin operon that would be predicted to limit the occurrence of non-CC5 strains in mixed infection and harbor a cluster of unique superantigens and lipoproteins to confound host immunity. A frameshift in dprA, which in other microbes influences uptake of foreign DNA, may also make this lineage conducive to foreign DNA acquisition. IMPORTANCE: Invasive methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infection now ranks among the leading causes of death in the United States. Vancomycin is a key last-line bactericidal drug for treating these infections. However, since 2002, vancomycin resistance has entered this species. Of the now 12 cases of vancomycin-resistant S. aureus (VRSA), each was believed to represent a new acquisition of the vancomycin-resistant transposon Tn1546 from enterococcal donors. All acquisitions of Tn1546 so far have occurred in MRSA strains of the clonal cluster 5 genetic background, the most common hospital lineage causing hospital-acquired MRSA infection. To understand the nature of these strains, we determined and examined the nucleotide sequences of the genomes of all available VRSA. Genome comparison identified candidate features that position strains of this lineage well for acquiring resistance to antibiotics in mixed infection.
In the present study, the commensal and pathogenic host-microbe interaction of Enterococcus faecalis was explored using a Caenorhabditis elegans model system. The virulence of 28 E. faecalis isolates representing 24 multilocus sequence types (MLSTs), including human commensal and clinical isolates as well as isolates from animals and of insect origin, was investigated using C. elegans strain glp-4 (bn2ts); sek-1 (km4). This revealed that 6 E. faecalis isolates behaved in a commensal manner with no nematocidal effect, while the remaining strains showed a time to 50% lethality ranging from 47 to 120 h. Principal component analysis showed that the difference in nematocidal activity explained 94% of the variance in the data. Assessment of known virulence traits revealed that gelatinase and cytolysin production accounted for 40.8% and 36.5% of the observed pathogenicity, respectively. However, coproduction of gelatinase and cytolysin did not increase virulence additively, accounting for 50.6% of the pathogenicity and therefore indicating a significant (26.7%) saturation effect. We employed a comparative genomic analysis approach using the 28 isolates comprising a collection of 82,356 annotated coding sequences (CDS) to identify 2,325 patterns of presence or absence among the investigated strains. Univariate statistical analysis of variance (ANOVA) established that individual patterns positively correlated (n = 61) with virulence. The patterns were investigated to identify potential new virulence traits, among which we found five patterns consisting of the phage03-like gene clusters. Strains harboring phage03 showed, on average, 17% higher killing of C. elegans (P = 4.4e(-6)). The phage03 gene cluster was also present in gelatinase-and-cytolysin-negative strain E. faecalis JH2-2. Deletion of this phage element from the JH2-2 clinical strain rendered the mutant apathogenic in C. elegans, and a similar mutant of the nosocomial V583 isolate showed significantly attenuated virulence. Bioinformatics investigation indicated that, unlike other E. faecalis virulence traits, phage03-like elements were found at a higher frequency among nosocomial isolates. In conclusion, our report provides a valuable virulence map that explains enhancement in E. faecalis virulence and contributes to a deeper comprehension of the genetic mechanism leading to the transition from commensalism to a pathogenic lifestyle.
UNLABELLED: Enterococcus faecium, natively a gut commensal organism, emerged as a leading cause of multidrug-resistant hospital-acquired infection in the 1980s. As the living record of its adaptation to changes in habitat, we sequenced the genomes of 51 strains, isolated from various ecological environments, to understand how E. faecium emerged as a leading hospital pathogen. Because of the scale and diversity of the sampled strains, we were able to resolve the lineage responsible for epidemic, multidrug-resistant human infection from other strains and to measure the evolutionary distances between groups. We found that the epidemic hospital-adapted lineage is rapidly evolving and emerged approximately 75 years ago, concomitant with the introduction of antibiotics, from a population that included the majority of animal strains, and not from human commensal lines. We further found that the lineage that included most strains of animal origin diverged from the main human commensal line approximately 3,000 years ago, a time that corresponds to increasing urbanization of humans, development of hygienic practices, and domestication of animals, which we speculate contributed to their ecological separation. Each bifurcation was accompanied by the acquisition of new metabolic capabilities and colonization traits on mobile elements and the loss of function and genome remodeling associated with mobile element insertion and movement. As a result, diversity within the species, in terms of sequence divergence as well as gene content, spans a range usually associated with speciation. IMPORTANCE: Enterococci, in particular vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus faecium, recently emerged as a leading cause of hospital-acquired infection worldwide. In this study, we examined genome sequence data to understand the bacterial adaptations that accompanied this transformation from microbes that existed for eons as members of host microbiota. We observed changes in the genomes that paralleled changes in human behavior. An initial bifurcation within the species appears to have occurred at a time that corresponds to the urbanization of humans and domestication of animals, and a more recent bifurcation parallels the introduction of antibiotics in medicine and agriculture. In response to the opportunity to fill niches associated with changes in human activity, a rapidly evolving lineage emerged, a lineage responsible for the vast majority of multidrug-resistant E. faecium infections.
We examined the evolutionary history of leading multidrug resistant hospital pathogens, the enterococci, to their origin hundreds of millions of years ago. Our goal was to understand why, among the vast diversity of gut flora, enterococci are so well adapted to the modern hospital environment. Molecular clock estimation, together with analysis of their environmental distribution, phenotypic diversity, and concordance with host fossil records, place the origins of the enterococci around the time of animal terrestrialization, 425-500 mya. Speciation appears to parallel the diversification of hosts, including the rapid emergence of new enterococcal species following the End Permian Extinction. Major drivers of speciation include changing carbohydrate availability in the host gut. Life on land would have selected for the precise traits that now allow pathogenic enterococci to survive desiccation, starvation, and disinfection in the modern hospital, foreordaining their emergence as leading hospital pathogens.
Objectives: Vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus faecium is a leading cause of MDR hospital infection. Two genetically definable populations of E. faecium have been identified: hospital-adapted MDR isolates (clade A) and vancomycin-susceptible commensal strains (clade B). VanN-type vancomycin resistance was identified in two isolates of E. faecium recovered from blood and faeces of an immunocompromised patient. To understand the genomic context in which VanN occurred in the hospitalized patient, the risk it posed for transmission in the hospital and its origins, it was of interest to determine where these strains placed within the E. faecium population structure.
Methods: We obtained the genome sequence of the VanN isolates and performed comparative and functional genomics of the chromosome and plasmid content.
Results: We show that, in these strains, VanN occurs in a genetic background that clusters with clade B E. faecium, which is highly unusual. We characterized the chromosome and the conjugative plasmid that carries VanN resistance in these strains, pUV24. This plasmid exhibits signatures of in-host selection on the vanN operon regulatory system, which are associated with a constitutive expression of vancomycin resistance. VanN resistance in clade B strains may go undetected by current methods.
Conclusions: We report a case of vancomycin resistance in a commensal lineage of E. faecium responsible for an atypical bacteraemia in an immunocompromised patient. A reservoir of transferable glycopeptide resistance in the community could pose a concern for public health.
The large GTPase dynamin 2 controls both endosomal fission and microtubule acetylation. Here we report that dynamin 2 alters microtubules and regulates the trafficking of human adenovirus type 37. Dynamin 2 knockdown by siRNA in infected cells resulted in accumulation of acetylated tubulin, repositioning of microtubule organizing centers (MTOCs) closer to cell nuclei, increased virus in the cytosol (with a compensatory decrease in endosomal virus), reduced proinflammatory cytokine induction, and increased binding of virus to the nucleoporin, Nup358. These events led to increased viral DNA nuclear entry and viral replication. Overexpression of dynamin 2 generated opposite effects. Therefore, dynamin 2 inhibits adenovirus replication and promotes innate immune responses by the infected cell. MTOC transposition in dynamin 2 knockdown promotes a closer association with nuclear pore complexes to facilitate viral DNA delivery. Dynamin 2 plays a key role in adenoviral trafficking and influences host responses to infection.