Publications by Year: 2024


Schami, Alyssa, Nurul Islam, Matthew Wall, Amberlee Hicks, Reagan Meredith, Barry Kreiswirth, Barun Mathema, John T Belisle, and Jordi B Torrelles. (2024) 2024. “Drug Resistant Mycobacterium Tuberculosis Strains Have Altered Cell Envelope Hydrophobicity That Influences Infection Outcomes in Human Macrophages”. BioRxiv : The Preprint Server for Biology.

Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M.tb), the causative agent of tuberculosis (TB), is considered one of the top infectious killers in the world. In recent decades, drug resistant (DR) strains of M.tb have emerged that make TB even more difficult to treat and pose a threat to public health. M.tb has a complex cell envelope that provides protection to the bacterium from chemotherapeutic agents. Although M.tb cell envelope lipids have been studied for decades, very little is known about how their levels change in relation to drug resistance. In this study, we examined changes in the cell envelope lipids [namely, phthiocerol dimycocerosates (PDIMs)], glycolipids [phosphatidyl-myo-inositol mannosides (PIMs)], and the PIM associated lipoglycans [lipomannan (LM); mannose-capped lipoarabinomannan (ManLAM)] of 11 M.tb strains that range from drug susceptible (DS) to multi-drug resistant (MDR) to pre-extensively drug resistant (pre-XDR). We show that there was an increase in the PDIMs:PIMs ratio as drug resistance increases, and provide evidence of PDIM species only present in the DR-M.tb strains studied. Overall, the LM and ManLAM cell envelope levels did not differ between DS- and DR-M.tb strains, but ManLAM surface exposure proportionally increased with drug resistance. Evaluation of host-pathogen interactions revealed that DR-M.tb strains have decreased association with human macrophages compared to DS strains. The pre-XDR M.tb strain with the largest PDIMs:PIMs ratio had decreased uptake, but increased intracellular growth rate at early time points post-infection when compared to the DS-M.tb strain H37Rv. These findings suggest that PDIMs may play an important role in drug resistance and that this observed increase in hydrophobic cell envelope lipids on the DR-M.tb strains studied may influence M.tb-host interactions.

Villar-Hernández, Raquel, Irene Latorre, Antoni Noguera-Julian, Aina Martínez-Planas, Laura Minguell, Teresa Vallmanya, María Méndez, et al. (2024) 2024. “Development and Evaluation of an NTM-IGRA to Guide Pediatric Lymphadenitis Diagnosis”. The Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal 43 (3): 278-85.

BACKGROUND: Diagnosis of nontuberculous mycobacteria (NTM) infections remains a challenge. In this study, we describe the evaluation of an immunological NTM-interferon (IFN)-γ release assay (IGRA) that we developed using glycopeptidolipids (GPLs) as NTM-specific antigens.

METHODS: We tested the NTM-IGRA in 99 samples from pediatric patients. Seventy-five were patients with lymphadenitis: 25 were NTM confirmed, 45 were of unknown etiology but compatible with mycobacterial infection and 5 had lymphadenitis caused by an etiologic agent other than NTM. The remaining 24 samples were from control individuals without lymphadenitis (latently infected with M. tuberculosis , uninfected controls and active tuberculosis patients). Peripheral blood mononuclear cells were stimulated overnight with GPLs. Detection of IFN-γ producing cells was evaluated by enzyme-linked immunospot assay.

RESULTS: NTM culture-confirmed lymphadenitis patient samples had a significantly higher response to GPLs than the patients with lymphadenitis of unknown etiology but compatible with mycobacterial infection ( P < 0.001) and lymphadenitis not caused by NTM ( P < 0.01). We analyzed the response against GPLs in samples from unknown etiology lymphadenitis but compatible with mycobacterial infection cases according to the tuberculin skin test (TST) response, and although not statistically significant, those with a TST ≥5 mm had a higher response to GPLs when compared with the TST <5 mm group.

CONCLUSIONS: Stimulation with GPLs yielded promising results in detecting NTM infection in pediatric patients with lymphadenitis. Our results indicate that the test could be useful to guide the diagnosis of pediatric lymphadenitis. This new NTM-IGRA could improve the clinical handling of NTM-infected patients and avoid unnecessary misdiagnosis and treatments.

Dwivedi, Varun, Vinay Shivanna, Shalini Gautam, Jennifer Delgado, Amberlee Hicks, Marco Argonza, Reagan Meredith, et al. (2024) 2024. “Age Associated Susceptibility to SARS-CoV-2 Infection in the K18-HACE2 Transgenic Mouse Model”. GeroScience.

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is still an ongoing global health crisis. Clinical data indicate that the case fatality rate (CFR) is age dependent, with a higher CFR percentage in the elderly population. We compared the pathogenesis of SARS-CoV-2 in young and aged K18-hACE2 transgenic mice. We evaluated morbidity, mortality, viral titers, immune responses, and histopathology in SARS-CoV-2-infected young and old K18-hACE2 transgenic mice. Within the limitation of having a low number of mice per group, our results indicate that SARS-CoV-2 infection resulted in slightly higher morbidity, mortality, and viral replication in the lungs of old mice, which was associated with an impaired IgM response and altered cytokine and chemokine profiles. Results of this study increase our understanding of SARS-CoV-2 infectivity and immuno-pathogenesis in the elderly population.

Akhter, Anwari, Juan I Moliva, Abul K Azad, Angélica Olmo-Fontánez, Andreu Garcia-Vilanova, Julia M Scordo, Mikhail A Gavrilin, et al. (2024) 2024. “HIV Infection Impairs the Host Response to Mycobacterium Tuberculosis Infection by Altering Surfactant Protein D Function in the Human Lung Alveolar Mucosa”. Mucosal Immunology.

Tuberculosis is the leading cause of death for people living with HIV (PLWH). We hypothesized that altered functions of innate immune components in the human alveolar lining fluid of PLWH (HIV-ALF) drive susceptibility to Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M.tb) infection. Our results indicate a significant increase in oxidation of innate proteins and chemokine levels and significantly lower levels and function of complement components and Th1/Th2/Th17 cytokines in HIV-ALF versus control-ALF (non-HIV-infected people). We further found a deficiency of surfactant protein D (SP-D) and reduced binding of SP-D to M.tb that had been exposed to HIV-ALF. Primary human macrophages infected with M.tb exposed to HIV-ALF were significantly less capable of controlling the infection, which was reversed by SP-D replenishment in HIV-ALF. Thus, based on the limited number of participants in this study, our data suggest that PLWH without antiretroviral therapy (ART) have declining host innate defense function in their lung mucosa, thereby favoring M.tb and potentially other pulmonary infections.

Olmo-Fontánez, Angélica M, Julia M Scordo, Alyssa Schami, Andreu Garcia-Vilanova, Paula A Pino, Amberlee Hicks, Richa Mishra, et al. (2024) 2024. “Human Alveolar Lining Fluid from the Elderly Promotes Mycobacterium Tuberculosis Intracellular Growth and Translocation into the Cytosol of Alveolar Epithelial Cells”. Mucosal Immunology.

The elderly population is highly susceptible to developing respiratory diseases, including tuberculosis, a devastating disease caused by the airborne pathogen Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M.tb) that kills one person every 18 seconds. Once M.tb reaches the alveolar space, it contacts alveolar lining fluid (ALF), which dictates host-cell interactions. We previously determined that age-associated dysfunction of soluble innate components in human ALF leads to accelerated M.tb growth within human alveolar macrophages. Here we determined the impact of human ALF on M.tb infection of alveolar epithelial type cells (ATs), another critical lung cellular determinant of infection. We observed that elderly ALF (E-ALF)-exposed M.tb had significantly increased intracellular growth with rapid replication in ATs compared to adult ALF (A-ALF)-exposed bacteria, as well as a dampened inflammatory response. A potential mechanism underlying this accelerated growth in ATs was our observation of increased bacterial translocation into the cytosol, a compartment that favors bacterial replication. These findings in the context of our previous studies highlight how the oxidative and dysfunctional status of the elderly lung mucosa determines susceptibility to M.tb infection, including dampening immune responses and favoring bacterial replication within alveolar resident cell populations, including ATs, the most abundant resident cell type within the alveoli.