Conference Reports

Update on Streptococcus suis Research and Prevention in the Era of Antimicrobial Restriction: 4th International Workshop on S. suis

Pathogens 2020, 9(5), 374;

Streptococcus suis is a swine pathogen and a zoonotic agent afflicting people in close contact with infected pigs or pork meat. Sporadic cases of human infections have been reported worldwide. In addition, S. suis outbreaks emerged in Asia, making this bacterium a primary health concern in this part of the globe. In pigs, S. suis disease results in decreased performance and increased mortality, which have a significant economic impact on swine production worldwide. Facing the new regulations in preventive use of antimicrobials in livestock and lack of effective vaccines, control of S. suis infections is worrisome. Increasing and sharing of knowledge on this pathogen is of utmost importance. As such, the pathogenesis and epidemiology of the infection, antimicrobial resistance, progress on diagnosis, prevention, and control were among the topics discussed during the 4th International Workshop on Streptococcus suis (held in Montreal, Canada, June 2019). This review gathers together recent findings on this important pathogen from lectures performed by lead researchers from several countries including Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Spain, Thailand, The Netherlands, UK, and USA. Finally, policies and recommendations for the manufacture, quality control, and use of inactivated autogenous vaccines are addressed to advance this important field in veterinary medicine.
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Empowering Women: Moving from Awareness to Action at the Immunology of Fungal Infections Gordon Research Conference

Pathogens 2019, 8(3), 103;

Despite the high prevalence of women in graduate degree programs and equal or more women earning PhDs, MDs, and MD/PhDs, and despite efforts at individual and institutional levels to promote women in STEM fields, there remains a disparity in pay and academic advancement of women. Likewise, there is a paucity of women in top scientific and academic leadership positions. The causes of this gender disparity are complex and multi-factorial and to date no “magic bullet” approach has been successful in changing the landscape for women in academic and scientific fields. In this report we detail our experiences with a novel mechanism for promoting discussion and raising awareness of the challenges of gender disparity in the sciences. The Gordon Research Conferences (GRC) launched the Power Hour at its meetings in 2016: a dedicated, scheduled session held during the scientific meeting to facilitate discussion of challenges specific to women in science. Here we share our experience with hosting the second Power Hour at the 2019 GRC Immunology of Fungal Infections (IFI) meeting held in Galveston, TX. We will discuss the overall structure, key discussion points, and feedback from participants with the aim of supporting future efforts to empower women and underrepresented minority groups in science.
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The Paradigm Shift to Non-Treatment of Asymptomatic Bacteriuria

Pathogens 2016, 5(2), 38;

Asymptomatic bacteriuria, also called asymptomatic urinary infection, is a common finding in healthy women, and in women and men with abnormalities of the genitourinary tract. The characterization and introduction of the quantitative urine culture in the 1950s first allowed the reliable recognition of asymptomatic bacteriuria. The observations that a substantial proportion of patients with chronic pyelonephritis at autopsy had no history of symptomatic urinary infection, and the high frequency of pyelonephritis observed in pregnant women with untreated asymptomatic bacteriuria, supported a conclusion that asymptomatic bacteriuria was harmful. Subsequent screening and long term follow-up programs for asymptomatic bacteriuria in schoolgirls and women reported an increased frequency of symptomatic urinary tract infection for subjects with asymptomatic bacteriuria, but no increased morbidity from renal failure or hypertension, or increased mortality. Treatment of asymptomatic bacteriuria did not decrease the frequency of symptomatic infection. Prospective, randomized, comparative trials enrolling premenopausal women, children, elderly populations, patients with long term catheters, and diabetic patients consistently report no benefits with antimicrobial treatment of asymptomatic bacteriuria, and some evidence of harm. Several studies have also reported that antimicrobial treatment of asymptomatic bacteriuria increases the short term risk of pyelonephritis. Current investigations are exploring the potential therapeutic intervention of establishing asymptomatic bacteriuria with an avirulent Escherichia coli strain to prevent symptomatic urinary tract infection for selected patients.
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Cytoprotective Effect of Lactobacillus crispatus CTV-05 against Uropathogenic E. coli

Pathogens 2016, 5(1), 27;

The vaginal flora consists of a subset of different lactic acid producing bacteria, typically creating a hostile environment for infecting pathogens. However, the flora can easily be disrupted, creating a favorable milieu for uropathogenic Escherichia coli (UPEC), making it possible to further infect the urinary system via the urethra. Probiotic use of different lactobacilli to restore the normal flora of the vagina has been proposed as a potential prophylactic treatment against urinary tract infections. This project evaluated the protective- and anti-inflammatory roles of the probiotic Lactobacillus crispatus strain CTV-05 in an in vitro system. The inflammatory response and the cytotoxic effect were studied by Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays and by trypan blue exclusion of cells inoculated with L. crispatus CTV-05 and comparing it to non-infected controls and UPEC infected cells. L. crispatus CTV-05 showed no cytotoxicity to vaginal epithelial cells compared to non-infected controls and provided significant protection against UPEC infection (p < 0.05). Further more, L. crispatus CTV-05 did not create a pro-inflammatory response in vitro, with no significant increase of IL-1β or IL-6. These results demonstrate the protective effect of using L. crispatus CTV-05 as a probiotic treatment to reduce the risk of recurrent urinary tract infections.
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A Comparative Analysis of the Mechanism of Toll-Like Receptor-Disruption by TIR-Containing Protein C from Uropathogenic Escherichia coli

Pathogens 2016, 5(1), 25;

The TIR-containing protein C (TcpC) of uropathogenic Escherichia coli strains is a powerful virulence factor by impairing the signaling cascade of Toll-like receptors (TLRs). Several other bacterial pathogens like Salmonella, Yersinia, Staphylococcus aureus but also non-pathogens express similar proteins. We discuss here the pathogenic potential of TcpC and its interaction with TLRs and TLR-adapter proteins on the molecular level and compare its activity with the activity of other bacterial TIR-containing proteins. Finally, we analyze and compare the structure of bacterial TIR-domains with the TIR-domains of TLRs and TLR-adapters.
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Measuring Escherichia coli Gene Expression during Human Urinary Tract Infections

Pathogens 2016, 5(1), 7;

Extraintestinal Escherichia coli (E. coli) evolved by acquisition of pathogenicity islands, phage, plasmids, and DNA segments by horizontal gene transfer. Strains are heterogeneous but virulent uropathogenic isolates more often have specific fimbriae, toxins, and iron receptors than commensal strains. One may ask whether it is the virulence factors alone that are required to establish infection. While these virulence factors clearly contribute strongly to pathogenesis, bacteria must survive by metabolizing nutrients available to them. By constructing mutants in all major metabolic pathways and co-challenging mice transurethrally with each mutant and the wild type strain, we identified which major metabolic pathways are required to infect the urinary tract. We must also ask what else is E. coli doing in vivo? To answer this question, we examined the transcriptome of E. coli CFT073 in the murine model of urinary tract infection (UTI) as well as for E. coli strains collected and analyzed directly from the urine of patients attending either a urology clinic or a university health clinic for symptoms of UTI. Using microarrays and RNA-seq, we measured in vivo gene expression for these uropathogenic E. coli strains, identifying genes upregulated during murine and human UTI. Our findings allow us to propose a new definition of bacterial virulence.
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Asymptomatic Bacteriuria in Clinical Urological Practice: Preoperative Control of Bacteriuria and Management of Recurrent UTI

Pathogens 2016, 5(1), 4;

Asymptomatic bacteriuria (ABU) is a common clinical condition that often leads to unnecessary antimicrobial use. The reduction of antibiotic overuse for ABU is consequently an important issue for antimicrobial stewardship and to reduce the emergence of multidrug resistant strains. There are two issues in everyday urological practice that require special attention: the role of ABU in pre-operative prophylaxis and in women affected by recurrent urinary tract infections (rUTIs). Nowadays, this is the time to think over our practice and change our way of thinking. Here, we aimed to summarize the current literature knowledge in terms of ABU management in patients undergoing urological surgery and in patients with rUTIs. In the last years, the approach to patient with ABU has changed totally. Prior to all surgical procedures that do not enter the urinary tract, ABU is generally not considered as a risk factor, and screening and treatment are not considered necessary. On the other hand, in the case of all procedures entering the urinary tract, ABU should be treated in line with the results of a urine culture obtained before the procedure. In patients affected by rUTIs, ABU can even have a protective role in preventing symptomatic recurrence, particularly when Enterococcus faecalis (E. faecalis) has been isolated.
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Brighter Fluorescent Derivatives of UTI89 Utilizing a Monomeric vGFP

Pathogens 2016, 5(1), 3;

Fluorescent proteins, especially green fluorescent protein (GFP), have been instrumental in understanding urinary tract infection pathogenesis by uropathogenic Escherichia coli (UPEC). We have used a recently developed GFP variant, vsfGFP-9, to create new plasmid- and chromosome-based GFP derivatives of the UPEC strain UTI89. The vsfGFP-9 strains are nearly 10× brighter with no in vitro growth or in vivo virulence defects compared to previously reported GFP-expressing UTI89 strains. The chromosomal vsfGFP-9 strain is equivalent to the wild type UTI89 during in vivo UTI, while both plasmid GFP constructs have an equivalent virulence defect compared to non-plasmid carrying UTI89. These new vsfGFP-9 expressing strains should be useful for further studies of the pathogenesis of UTI89, and similar strategies can be used to create improved fluorescent derivatives of other UPEC strains.
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Development of a Vaccine against Escherichia coli Urinary Tract Infections

Pathogens 2016, 5(1), 1;

Urinary tract infection (UTI) is the second most common infection in humans after those involving the respiratory tract. This results not only in huge annual economic costs, but in decreased workforce productivity and high patient morbidity. Most infections are caused by uropathogenic Escherichia coli (UPEC). Antibiotic treatment is generally effective for eradication of the infecting strain; however, documentation of increasing antibiotic resistance, allergic reaction to certain pharmaceuticals, alteration of normal gut flora, and failure to prevent recurrent infections represent significant barriers to treatment. As a result, approaches to prevent UTI such as vaccination represent a gap that must be addressed. Our laboratory has made progress toward development of a preventive vaccine against UPEC. The long-term research goal is to prevent UTIs in women with recurrent UTIs. Our objective has been to identify the optimal combination of protective antigens for inclusion in an effective UTI vaccine, optimal adjuvant, optimal dose, and optimal route of delivery. We hypothesized that a multi-subunit vaccine elicits antibody that protects against experimental challenge with UPEC strains. We have systematically identified four antigens that can individually protect experimentally infected mice from colonization of the bladder and/or kidneys by UPEC when administered intranasally with cholera toxin (CT) as an adjuvant. To advance the vaccine for utility in humans, we will group the individual antigens, all associated with iron acquisition (IreA, Hma, IutA, FyuA), into an effective combination to establish a multi-subunit vaccine. We demonstrated for all four vaccine antigens that antigen-specific serum IgG represents a strong correlate of protection in vaccinated mice. High antibody titers correlate with low colony forming units (CFUs) of UPEC following transurethral challenge of vaccinated mice. However, the contribution of cell-mediated immunity cannot be ruled out and must be investigated experimentally. We have demonstrated that antibodies bind to the surface of UPEC expressing the antigens. Sera from women with and without histories of UTI have been tested for antibody levels to vaccine antigens. Our results validate iron acquisition as a target for vaccination against UTI.
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