Abstract: Influenza virus infections are a significant cause of morbidity and mortality in the human population. Depending on the virulence of the influenza virus strain, as well as the immunological status of the infected individual, the severity of the respiratory disease may range from sub-clinical or mild symptoms to severe pneumonia that can sometimes lead to death. Vaccines remain the primary public health measure in reducing the influenza burden. Though the first influenza vaccine preparation was licensed more than 60 years ago, current research efforts seek to develop novel vaccination strategies with improved immunogenicity, effectiveness, and breadth of protection. Animal models of influenza have been essential in facilitating studies aimed at understanding viral factors that affect pathogenesis and contribute to disease or transmission. Among others, mice, ferrets, pigs, and nonhuman primates have been used to study influenza virus infection in vivo, as well as to do pre-clinical testing of novel vaccine approaches. Here we discuss and compare the unique advantages and limitations of each model.
Abstract: Campylobacter spp. is one of the most prevalent bacterial pathogens in retail meat, particularly poultry, and is a leading cause of diarrhea in humans. Studies related to Campylobacter large plasmids are limited in the literature possibly due to difficulty in isolating them using available alkaline lysis methods. The objectives of this study were to determine the prevalence of plasmids, particularly large ones, in Campylobacter spp. isolated from various Oklahoma retail meats, and to explore PFGE (Pulsed Field Gel Electrophoresis) as a tool in facilitating the detection of these plasmids. One hundred and eighty nine strains (94 Campylobacterjejuni and 95 Campylobacter coli) were screened for the presence of plasmids using both alkaline lysis and PFGE. Plasmids were detected in 119/189 (63%) using both methods. Most of the plasmids detected by alkaline lysis were smaller than 90 kb and only three were larger than 90 kb. Plasmids over 70 kb in size were detected in 33 more strains by PFGE of which 11 strains contained larger than 90 kb plasmids. Plasmids were more prevalent in Campylobacter coli (73.5%) than in Campylobacter jejuni (52%). BglII restriction analysis of plasmids isolated from 102 isolates revealed 42 different restriction patterns. In conclusion, PFGE was able to detect large plasmids up to 180 Kb in Campylobacter spp. which might have been missed if the alkaline lysis method was solely used. Campylobacter spp. isolated from retail meats harbor a diverse population of plasmids with variable sizes. To our knowledge, this is the first study to use PFGE to detect large plasmids in Campylobacter.
Abstract: Virulence of the human pathogen, V. vulnificus,is associated with encapsulation, serum complement resistance, and genotype. The C-genotype of this bacterium is correlated (>90%) with virulence and with isolation source (clinical settings). E-genotype strains are highly correlated with environmental isolation (93%) but appear less virulent. In this study, we characterized the importance of genotype, encapsulation, serum complement, and in situ exposure to estuarine water on the survival of the two genotypes in human serum. Results confirmed the superior ability of C-genotype strains to survive exposure to human serum, as well as the significance of complement, and revealed that lack of capsule allowed serum killing of both C- and E-genotypes. Cells incubated in situ responded similarly to cells incubated in vitro with the exception of E-environmental strains. Interestingly, our studies found that those cells of the E-genotype, typically considered non-pathogenic, which were isolated from wound infections demonstrated serum survival similar to that of virulent, C-genotype, strains.
Abstract: Biomaterial-related infections are a persistent burden on patient health, recovery, mortality and healthcare budgets. Self-assembled antimicrobial peptides have evolved from the area of antimicrobial peptides. Peptides serve as important weapons in nature, and increasingly medicine, for combating microbial infection and biofilms. Self-assembled peptides harness a “bottom-up” approach, whereby the primary peptide sequence may be modified with natural and unnatural amino acids to produce an inherently antimicrobial hydrogel. Gelation may be tailored to occur in the presence of physiological and infective indicators (e.g. pH, enzymes) and therefore allow local, targeted antimicrobial therapy at the site of infection. Peptides demonstrate inherent biocompatibility, antimicrobial activity, biodegradability and numerous functional groups. They are therefore prime candidates for the production of polymeric molecules that have the potential to be conjugated to biomaterials with precision. Non-native chemistries and functional groups are easily incorporated into the peptide backbone allowing peptide hydrogels to be tailored to specific functional requirements. This article reviews an area of increasing interest, namely self-assembled peptides and their potential therapeutic applications as innovative hydrogels and biomaterials in the prevention of biofilm-related infection.
Abstract: In recent years, the increase in human microbiome research brought about by the rapidly evolving “omic” technologies has established that the balance among the microbial groups present in the human gut, and their multipronged interactions with the host, are crucial for health. On the other hand, epidemiological and experimental support has also grown for the ‘early programming hypothesis’, according to which factors that act in utero and early in life program the risks for adverse health outcomes later on. The microbiota of the gut develops during infancy, in close interaction with immune development, and with extensive variability across individuals. It follows that the specific process of gut colonization and the microbe-host interactions established in an individual during this period have the potential to represent main determinants of life-long propensity to immune disease. Although much remains to be learnt on the progression of events by which the gut microbiota becomes established and initiates its intimate relationships with the host, and on the long-term repercussions of this process, recent works have advanced significatively in this direction.
Abstract: We have recently demonstrated that antibiotic pressure can induce the viable but non-culturable (VBNC) state in Staphylococcus aureus biofilms. Since dormant bacterial cells can undermine anti-infective therapy, a greater understanding of the role of antibiotics of last resort, including daptomycin, is crucial.Methicillin-resistant S. aureus 10850 biofilms were maintained on non-nutrient (NN) agar in the presence or absence of the MIC of daptomycin until loss of culturability. Viable cells were monitored by epifluorescence microscopy and flow cytometry for 150 days. All biofilms reached non-culturability at 40 days and showed a similar amount of viable cells; however, in biofilms exposed to daptomycin, their number remained unchanged throughout the experiment, whereas in those maintained on NN agar alone, no viable cells were detected after 150 days. Gene expression assays showed that after achievement of non-culturability, 16S rDNA and mecA were expressed by all biofilms, whereas glt expression was found only in daptomycin-exposed biofilms. Our findings suggest that low daptomycin concentrations, such as those that are likely to obtain within biofilms, can influence the viability and gene expression of non-culturable S. aureus cells. Resuscitation experiments are needed to establish the VBNC state of daptomycin-exposed biofilms.