Publications by authors named "Gavin Churchyard"

198 Publications

Monocyte metabolic transcriptional programs associate with resistance to tuberculin skin test/interferon-γ release assay conversion.

J Clin Invest 2021 Jul;131(14)

TB Research and Training Center, Department of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA.

After extensive exposure to Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb), most individuals acquire latent Mtb infection (LTBI) defined by a positive tuberculin skin test (TST) or interferon-γ release assay (IGRA). To identify mechanisms of resistance to Mtb infection, we compared transcriptional profiles from highly exposed contacts who resist TST/IGRA conversion (resisters, RSTRs) and controls with LTBI using RNAseq. Gene sets related to carbon metabolism and free fatty acid (FFA) transcriptional responses enriched across 2 independent cohorts suggesting RSTR and LTBI monocytes have distinct activation states. We compared intracellular Mtb replication in macrophages treated with FFAs and found that palmitic acid (PA), but not oleic acid (OA), enhanced Mtb intracellular growth. This PA activity correlated with its inhibition of proinflammatory cytokines in Mtb-infected cells. Mtb growth restriction in PA-treated macrophages was restored by activation of AMP kinase (AMPK), a central host metabolic regulator known to be inhibited by PA. Finally, we genotyped AMPK variants and found 7 SNPs in PRKAG2, which encodes the AMPK-γ subunit, that strongly associated with RSTR status. Taken together, RSTR and LTBI phenotypes are distinguished by FFA transcriptional programs and by genetic variation in a central metabolic regulator, which suggests immunometabolic pathways regulate TST/IGRA conversion.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1172/JCI140073DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8279582PMC
July 2021

Strengthening health systems to improve the value of tuberculosis diagnostics in South Africa: A cost and cost-effectiveness analysis.

PLoS One 2021 14;16(5):e0251547. Epub 2021 May 14.

Health Economics Unit, School of Public Health and Family Medicine, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa.

Background: In South Africa, replacing smear microscopy with Xpert-MTB/RIF (Xpert) for tuberculosis diagnosis did not reduce mortality and was cost-neutral. The unchanged mortality has been attributed to suboptimal Xpert implementation. We developed a mathematical model to explore how complementary investments may improve cost-effectiveness of the tuberculosis diagnostic algorithm.

Methods: Complementary investments in the tuberculosis diagnostic pathway were compared to the status quo. Investment scenarios following an initial Xpert test included actions to reduce pre-treatment loss-to-follow-up; supporting same-day clinical diagnosis of tuberculosis after a negative result; and improving access to further tuberculosis diagnostic tests following a negative result. We estimated costs, deaths and disability-adjusted-life-years (DALYs) averted from provider and societal perspectives. Sensitivity analyses explored the mediating influence of behavioural, disease- and organisational characteristics on investment effectiveness.

Findings: Among a cohort of symptomatic patients tested for tuberculosis, with an estimated active tuberculosis prevalence of 13%, reducing pre-treatment loss-to-follow-up from ~20% to ~0% led to a 4% (uncertainty interval [UI] 3; 4%) reduction in mortality compared to the Xpert scenario. Improving access to further tuberculosis diagnostic tests from ~4% to 90% among those with an initial negative Xpert result reduced overall mortality by 28% (UI 27; 28) at $39.70/ DALY averted. Effectiveness of investment scenarios to improve access to further diagnostic tests was dependent on a high return rate for follow-up visits.

Interpretation: Investing in direct and indirect costs to support the TB diagnostic pathway is potentially highly cost-effective.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0251547PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8121360PMC
May 2021

Performance of GeneXpert MTB/RIF for Diagnosing Tuberculosis Among Symptomatic Household Contacts of Index Patients in South Africa.

Open Forum Infect Dis 2021 Apr 19;8(4):ofab025. Epub 2021 Jan 19.

The Aurum Institute, Johannesburg, South Africa.

Background: We describe the performance of GeneXpert MTB/RIF (Xpert) for diagnosing tuberculosis (TB) among symptomatic household contacts (HHCs) of rifampicin-resistant and drug-sensitive index cases.

Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional study among HHCs of recently diagnosed (<2 weeks) smear-positive and Xpert-positive index cases in the Bojanala District, South Africa. The HHCs were screened for TB symptoms; persons with ≥1 TB symptom provided 1 sputum for smear microscopy, Xpert, and mycobacterial growth indicator tube (MGIT) culture. Diagnostic test performance of Xpert was determined using MGIT as the reference standard.

Results: From August 2013 to July 2015, 619 HHCs from 216 index cases were enrolled: 60.6% were female, median age was 22 years (interquartile range, 9-40), and 126 (20.4%) self-reported/tested human immunodeficiency virus positive. A total of 54.3% (336 of 619) of contacts had ≥1 TB symptom (cough, fever, night sweats, weight loss), 297 of 336 (88.4%) of which provided a sputum; 289 (97.3%) had complete testing and 271 were included in the analysis. In total, 42 (6.8%) of 619 HHCs had microbiologically confirmed TB. The MGIT identified 33 HHCs as positive for ; of these, 7 were positive on Xpert resulting in a sensitivity of 21.2% (95% confidence interval [CI], 9.0-38.9), specificity of 98.3% (95% CI, 95.6-99.5), positive predictive value of 63.6% (95% CI, 30.8-89.1), and negative predictive value of 90.0 (95% CI, 85.7-93.4).

Conclusions: Among symptomatic HHCs investigated for TB, Xpert performed suboptimally compared with MGIT culture. The poor performance of Xpert for diagnosing TB suggests that a more sensitive test, such a Xpert Ultra or culture, may be needed to improve yield of contact investigation, where feasible.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ofid/ofab025DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8047860PMC
April 2021

Validation of a host blood transcriptomic biomarker for pulmonary tuberculosis in people living with HIV: a prospective diagnostic and prognostic accuracy study.

Lancet Glob Health 2021 06 13;9(6):e841-e853. Epub 2021 Apr 13.

South African Tuberculosis Vaccine Initiative, Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine, Division of Immunology, Department of Pathology, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa. Electronic address:

Background: A rapid, blood-based triage test that allows targeted investigation for tuberculosis at the point of care could shorten the time to tuberculosis treatment and reduce mortality. We aimed to test the performance of a host blood transcriptomic signature (RISK11) in diagnosing tuberculosis and predicting progression to active pulmonary disease (prognosis) in people with HIV in a community setting.

Methods: In this prospective diagnostic and prognostic accuracy study, adults (aged 18-59 years) with HIV were recruited from five communities in South Africa. Individuals with a history of tuberculosis or household exposure to multidrug-resistant tuberculosis within the past 3 years, comorbid risk factors for tuberculosis, or any condition that would interfere with the study were excluded. RISK11 status was assessed at baseline by real-time PCR; participants and study staff were masked to the result. Participants underwent active surveillance for microbiologically confirmed tuberculosis by providing spontaneously expectorated sputum samples at baseline, if symptomatic during 15 months of follow-up, and at 15 months (the end of the study). The coprimary outcomes were the prevalence and cumulative incidence of tuberculosis disease confirmed by a positive Xpert MTB/RIF, Xpert Ultra, or Mycobacteria Growth Indicator Tube culture, or a combination of such, on at least two separate sputum samples collected within any 30-day period.

Findings: Between March 22, 2017, and May 15, 2018, 963 participants were assessed for eligibility and 861 were enrolled. Among 820 participants with valid RISK11 results, eight (1%) had prevalent tuberculosis at baseline: seven (2·5%; 95% CI 1·2-5·0) of 285 RISK11-positive participants and one (0·2%; 0·0-1·1) of 535 RISK11-negative participants. The relative risk (RR) of prevalent tuberculosis was 13·1 times (95% CI 2·1-81·6) greater in RISK11-positive participants than in RISK11-negative participants. RISK11 had a diagnostic area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC) of 88·2% (95% CI 77·6-96·7), and a sensitivity of 87·5% (58·3-100·0) and specificity of 65·8% (62·5-69·0) at a predefined score threshold (60%). Of those with RISK11 results, eight had primary endpoint incident tuberculosis during 15 months of follow-up. Tuberculosis incidence was 2·5 per 100 person-years (95% CI 0·7-4·4) in the RISK11-positive group and 0·2 per 100 person-years (0·0-0·5) in the RISK11-negative group. The probability of primary endpoint incident tuberculosis was greater in the RISK11-positive group than in the RISK11-negative group (cumulative incidence ratio 16·0 [95% CI 2·0-129·5]). RISK11 had a prognostic AUC of 80·0% (95% CI 70·6-86·9), and a sensitivity of 88·6% (43·5-98·7) and a specificity of 68·9% (65·3-72·3) for incident tuberculosis at the 60% threshold.

Interpretation: RISK11 identified prevalent tuberculosis and predicted risk of progression to incident tuberculosis within 15 months in ambulant people living with HIV. RISK11's performance approached, but did not meet, WHO's target product profile benchmarks for screening and prognostic tests for tuberculosis.

Funding: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the South African Medical Research Council.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S2214-109X(21)00045-0DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8131200PMC
June 2021

Meta-analysis of HIV-1 vaccine elicited mucosal antibodies in humans.

NPJ Vaccines 2021 Apr 15;6(1):56. Epub 2021 Apr 15.

Duke Human Vaccine Institute, Durham, NC, USA.

We studied mucosal immune responses in six HIV-1 vaccine trials investigating different envelope (Env)-containing immunogens. Regimens were classified into four categories: DNA/vector, DNA/vector plus protein, protein alone, and vector alone. We measured HIV-1-specific IgG and IgA in secretions from cervical (n = 111) and rectal swabs (n = 154), saliva (n = 141), and seminal plasma (n = 124) and compared to corresponding blood levels. Protein-containing regimens had up to 100% response rates and the highest Env-specific IgG response rates. DNA/vector groups elicited mucosal Env-specific IgG response rates of up to 67% that varied across specimen types. Little to no mucosal IgA responses were observed. Overall, gp41- and gp140-specific antibodies dominated gp120 mucosal responses. In one trial, prior vaccination with a protein-containing immunogen maintained durability of cervical and rectal IgG for up to 17 years. Mucosal IgG responses were boosted after revaccination. These findings highlight a role for protein immunization in eliciting HIV-1-specific mucosal antibodies and the ability of HIV-1 vaccines to elicit durable HIV-1-specific mucosal IgG.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41541-021-00305-8DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8050318PMC
April 2021

Resistance to Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection among household contacts: a multinational study.

Clin Infect Dis 2021 Mar 27. Epub 2021 Mar 27.

Emory Rollins School of Public Health, Atlanta, GA, USA.

Background: Some contacts of patients with tuberculosis remain negative on tests for tuberculosis infection, despite prolonged exposure, suggesting they might be resistant to Mycobacterium tuberculosis infection. The objective of this multinational study was to estimate the proportion of household contacts resistant to Mycobacterium tuberculosis (resisters).

Methods: We conducted a longitudinal study enrolling index patients enrolled in treatment for pulmonary multidrug- or rifampin-resistant tuberculosis and their household contacts. Contacts were tested for tuberculosis infection with a tuberculin skin test (TST) and interferon-gamma release assay (IGRA) at baseline and after 1 year. Exposure was quantified based on index patients' infectiousness, index patient and household contact interaction, and age. We explored multiple definitions of resistance to tuberculosis infection by varying TST negativity cut-offs (0 vs. <5 mm), classification of missing test results, and exposure level.

Results: 1016 contacts were evaluated from 284 households; 572 contacts aged ≥5 years had TST and longitudinal IGRA results available. 77 (13%) or 71 (12%) contacts were classified as resisters with a <5 mm or 0 mm TST threshold, respectively. Among 263 highly-exposed contacts, 29 (11%) or 26 (10%) were classified as resisters using TST cut-offs of <5 mm and 0 mm, respectively. The prevalence of resisters did not differ substantially by sex, age, HIV co-infection or co-morbid conditions.

Conclusion: At least 10% of household contacts can be classified as resistant to tuberculosis infection, depending on the definition used, including those with high exposure. Further studies to understand genetic or immunologic mechanisms underlying the resister phenotype may inform novel strategies for therapeutics and vaccines.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/cid/ciab269DOI Listing
March 2021

Adjunctive host-directed therapies for pulmonary tuberculosis: a prospective, open-label, phase 2, randomised controlled trial.

Lancet Respir Med 2021 Mar 16. Epub 2021 Mar 16.

The Aurum Institute, Johannesburg, South Africa; Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, London, UK.

Background: Current tuberculosis treatments leave patients with clinically significant lung injury and increased all-cause mortality post-cure. Adjunctive host-directed therapies could protect the lungs, improve long-term survival, and shorten treatment duration; however, few have been tested clinically. Therefore, we aimed to assess the safety and preliminary efficacy of four host-directed therapies for tuberculosis.

Methods: In this prospective, open-label, phase 2, randomised controlled trial, patients with pulmonary tuberculosis were recruited at three clinical sites in South Africa. Eligible patients were aged 18-65 years, HIV-1-negative, and had rifampicin-susceptible Mycobacterium tuberculosis, a sputum Xpert cycle threshold of less than 20, and moderately advanced or far advanced disease on chest radiography. By use of numbers generated in blocks of ten and stratification by site, eligible patients were randomly assigned (1:1:1:1:1) to receive one of the four oral host-directed treatments plus standard tuberculosis treatment or standard treatment alone (the control group). Host-directed treatments were: CC-11050 (200 mg twice daily, taken with food; day 1-112); everolimus (0·5 mg/day; day 1-112); auranofin (3 mg/day for seven doses, then 6 mg/day; day 1-112); and ergocalciferol (5 mg on day 1, then 2·5 mg on day 28 and day 56). All study participants received oral rifabutin-substituted standard tuberculosis treatment for 180 days. Patients and clinicians were not masked to treatment assignment. Spirometry and sputum culture with solid and liquid media were done at baseline and up to 180 days at specified intervals throughout treatment. The primary endpoint was safety and tolerability up to day 210. Secondary preliminary efficacy endpoints were treatment effects on sputum microbiology (culture status at day 56 and the hazard ratio for stable culture conversion up to day 180) and lung function (FEV and forced vital capacity [FVC]) measured by spirometry at day 56, day 180, and day 540. Safety was analysed in the intention-to-treat population and preliminary efficacy primarily in the per-protocol population. The trial is registered at ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT02968927. Post-treatment follow-up was completed in 2020.

Findings: Between Nov 18, 2016, and Sept 27, 2018, 200 patients were screened and randomly assigned to different treatment groups (n=40 per group, apart from n=39 in the everolimus group after one patient withdrew consent). 11 treatment-emergent serious adverse events occurred either during treatment or within 30 days after treatment discontinuation, of which three were attributable to a host-directed treatment. Life-threatening thrombocytopenia occurred in an auranofin recipient; apparent intra-abdominal sepsis leading to death occurred in another auranofin recipient and was classified as a suspected unexpected serious adverse reaction. Tuberculous spondylitis occurred as an apparent paradoxical reaction in a patient receiving ergocalciferol. Two patients in the control group had life-threatening, treatment-attributable liver injury. No treatment-emergent, treatment-attributable serious adverse events occurred in patients receiving CC-11050 or everolimus. Mean FEV in the control group was 61·7% of predicted (95% CI 56·3-67·1) at baseline and 69·1% (62·3-75·8) at day 180. Patients treated with CC-11050 and everolimus had increased recovery of FEV at day 180 relative to the control group (mean difference from control group 6·30%, 95% CI 0·06-12·54; p=0·048; and 6·56%, 0·18-12·95; p=0·044, respectively), whereas auranofin and ergocalciferol recipients did not. None of the treatments had an effect on FVC during 180 days of follow-up or on measures of sputum culture status over the course of the study.

Interpretation: CC-11050 and everolimus were safe and reasonably well tolerated as adjunctive therapies for tuberculosis, and analysis of preliminary efficacy suggests they might also enhance the recovery of FEV, a key measure of lung function and predictor of all-cause mortality. Further studies of these candidates are warranted.

Funding: The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the South African Medical Research Council.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S2213-2600(20)30448-3DOI Listing
March 2021

Drug susceptibility patterns of Mycobacterium tuberculosis from adults with multidrug-resistant tuberculosis and implications for a household contact preventive therapy trial.

BMC Infect Dis 2021 Feb 24;21(1):205. Epub 2021 Feb 24.

Department of Internal Medicine, Section of Infectious Diseases, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, NE, 68198-8106, USA.

Background: Drug susceptibility testing (DST) patterns of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB) from patients with rifampicin-resistant tuberculosis (RR-TB) or multidrug-resistant TB (MDR-TB; or resistant to rifampicin and isoniazid (INH)), are important to guide preventive therapy for their household contacts (HHCs).

Methods: As part of a feasibility study done in preparation for an MDR-TB preventive therapy trial in HHCs, smear, Xpert MTB/RIF, Hain MTBDRplus, culture and DST results of index MDR-TB patients were obtained from routine TB programs. A sputum sample was collected at study entry and evaluated by the same tests. Not all tests were performed on all specimens due to variations in test availability.

Results: Three hundred eight adults with reported RR/MDR-TB were enrolled from 16 participating sites in 8 countries. Their median age was 36 years, and 36% were HIV-infected. Routine testing on all 308 were confirmed as having RR-TB, but only 75% were documented as having MDR-TB. The majority of those not classified as having MDR-TB were because only rifampicin resistance was tested. At study entry (median 59 days after MDR-TB treatment initiation), 280 participants (91%) were able to produce sputum for the study, of whom 147 (53%) still had detectable MTB. All but 2 of these 147 had rifampicin DST done, with resistance detected in 89%. Almost half (47%) of the 147 specimens had INH DST done, with 83% resistance. Therefore, 20% of the 280 study specimens had MDR-TB confirmed. Overall, DST for second-line drugs were available in only 35% of the 308 routine specimens and 15% of 280 study specimens.

Conclusions: RR-TB was detected in all routine specimens but only 75% had documented MDR-TB, illustrating the need for expanded DST beyond Xpert MTB/RIF to target preventive therapy for HHC.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12879-021-05884-4DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7903693PMC
February 2021

Cost-effectiveness of scaling up short course preventive therapy for tuberculosis among children across 12 countries.

EClinicalMedicine 2021 Jan 7;31:100707. Epub 2021 Jan 7.

Department of Epidemiology, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD, USA.

Background: While household contact investigation is widely recommended as a means to reduce the burden of tuberculosis (TB) among children, only 27% of eligible pediatric household contacts globally received preventive treatment in 2018. We assessed the cost-effectiveness of household contact investigation for TB treatment and short-course preventive therapy provision for children under 15 years old across 12 high TB burden countries.

Methods: We used decision analysis to compare the costs and estimated effectiveness of three intervention scenarios: (a) status quo (existing levels of coverage with isoniazid preventive therapy), (b) contact investigation with treatment of active TB but no additional preventive therapy, and (c) contact investigation with TB treatment and provision of short-course preventive therapy. Using country-specific demographic, epidemiological and cost data from the literature, we estimated annual costs (in 2018 USD) and the number of TB cases and deaths averted across 12 countries. Incremental cost effectiveness ratios were assessed as cost per death and per disability-adjusted life year [DALY] averted.

Findings: Our model estimates that contact investigation with treatment of active TB and provision of preventive therapy could be highly cost-effective compared to the status quo (ranging from $100 per DALY averted in Malawi to $1,600 in Brazil; weighted average $383 per DALY averted [uncertainty range: $248 - $1,130]) and preferred to contact investigation without preventive therapy (weighted average $751 per DALY averted [uncertainty range: $250 - $1,306]). Key drivers of cost-effectiveness were TB prevalence, sensitivity of TB diagnosis, case fatality for untreated TB, and cost of household screening.

Interpretation: Based on this modeling analysis of available published data, household contact investigation with provision of short-course preventive therapy for TB has a value-for-money profile that compares favorably with other interventions.

Funding: Unitaid (2017-20-IMPAACT4TB).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.eclinm.2020.100707DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7846666PMC
January 2021

Biomarker-guided tuberculosis preventive therapy (CORTIS): a randomised controlled trial.

Lancet Infect Dis 2021 03 25;21(3):354-365. Epub 2021 Jan 25.

South African Tuberculosis Vaccine Initiative, Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine, Division of Immunology, Department of Pathology, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa. Electronic address:

Background: Targeted preventive therapy for individuals at highest risk of incident tuberculosis might impact the epidemic by interrupting transmission. We tested performance of a transcriptomic signature of tuberculosis (RISK11) and efficacy of signature-guided preventive therapy in parallel, using a hybrid three-group study design.

Methods: Adult volunteers aged 18-59 years were recruited at five geographically distinct communities in South Africa. Whole blood was sampled for RISK11 by quantitative RT-PCR assay from eligible volunteers without HIV, recent previous tuberculosis (ie, <3 years before screening), or comorbidities at screening. RISK11-positive participants were block randomised (1:2; block size 15) to once-weekly, directly-observed, open-label isoniazid and rifapentine for 12 weeks (ie, RISK11 positive and 3HP positive), or no treatment (ie, RISK11 positive and 3HP negative). A subset of eligible RISK11-negative volunteers were randomly assigned to no treatment (ie, RISK11 negative and 3HP negative). Diagnostic discrimination of prevalent tuberculosis was tested in all participants at baseline. Thereafter, prognostic discrimination of incident tuberculosis was tested in the untreated RISK11-positive versus RISK11-negative groups, and treatment efficacy in the 3HP-treated versus untreated RISK11-positive groups, during active surveillance through 15 months. The primary endpoint was microbiologically confirmed pulmonary tuberculosis. The primary outcome measures were risk ratio [RR] for tuberculosis of RISK11-positive to RISK11-negative participants, and treatment efficacy. This trial is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT02735590.

Findings: 20 207 volunteers were screened, and 2923 participants were enrolled, including RISK11-positive participants randomly assigned to 3HP (n=375) or no 3HP (n=764), and 1784 RISK11-negative participants. Cumulative probability of prevalent or incident tuberculosis disease was 0·066 (95% CI 0·049 to 0·084) in RISK11-positive (3HP negative) participants and 0·018 (0·011 to 0·025) in RISK11-negative participants (RR 3·69, 95% CI 2·25-6·05) over 15 months. Tuberculosis prevalence was 47 (4·1%) of 1139 versus 14 (0·78%) of 1984 in RISK11-positive compared with RISK11-negative participants, respectively (diagnostic RR 5·13, 95% CI 2·93 to 9·43). Tuberculosis incidence over 15 months was 2·09 (95% CI 0·97 to 3·19) vs 0·80 (0·30 to 1·30) per 100 person years in RISK11-positive (3HP-negative) participants compared with RISK11-negative participants (cumulative incidence ratio 2·6, 95% CI 1·2 to 5·9). Serious adverse events related to 3HP included one hospitalisation for seizures (unintentional isoniazid overdose) and one death of unknown cause (possibly temporally related). Tuberculosis incidence over 15 months was 1·94 (95% CI 0·35 to 3·50) versus 2·09 (95% CI 0·97 to 3·19) per 100 person-years in 3HP-treated RISK11-positive participants compared with untreated RISK11-positive participants (efficacy 7·0%, 95% CI -145 to 65).

Interpretation: The RISK11 signature discriminated between individuals with prevalent tuberculosis, or progression to incident tuberculosis, and individuals who remained healthy, but provision of 3HP to signature-positive individuals after exclusion of baseline disease did not reduce progression to tuberculosis over 15 months.

Funding: Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, South African Medical Research Council.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S1473-3099(20)30914-2DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7907670PMC
March 2021

Benign ethnic neutropenia in a South African population, and its association with HIV acquisition and adverse event reporting in an HIV vaccine clinical trial.

PLoS One 2021 22;16(1):e0241708. Epub 2021 Jan 22.

Faculty of Health Sciences, Perinatal HIV Research Unit, University of Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa.

Benign ethnic neutropenia (BEN) is defined as a neutrophil count of <1.5×109 cells/L in healthy individuals and is more common in populations of certain ethnicities, e.g. African or Middle Eastern ethnicity. Neutrophil values are commonly included in eligibility criteria for research participation, but little is known about the relationship between BEN, HIV acquisition, and the occurrence of adverse events during clinical trials. We investigated these relationships using data from an HIV vaccine efficacy trial of healthy adults from 5 South African sites. We analysed data from the double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized trial HVTN 503, and its follow-on study HVTN 503-S to assess the prevalence of BEN, its association with HIV infection, and adverse event reporting. These data were then compared with a time- and age-matched, non-pregnant cohort from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) conducted between 2007-2008 in the United States (US). The 739 South African participants had a median age of 22.0 years (interquartile range = 20-26) and 56% (n = 412) were male. Amongst the US cohort of 845 participants, the median age was 26 (IQR: 21-30) and the majority (54%, 457/745) were also male. BEN was present at enrolment in 7.0% (n = 52) of South African participants (6% in the placebo group versus 8% in the vaccine group); 81% (n = 42) of those with BEN were male. Pretoria North had the highest prevalence of BEN (11.6%, 5/43), while Cape Town had the lowest (0.7%, 1/152). Participants with BEN had a lower median neutrophil count (1.3 vs. 3.2x109 cells/L; p<0.001) and BMI (20.8 vs. 22.3 kg/m2; p<0.001) when compared to those without BEN. A greater proportion of Black South Africans had neutrophil counts <1.5×109 cells/L compared to US non-Hispanic Whites from the NHANES cohort (7% [52/739] vs. 0.6% [3/540]; p<0.001). BEN did not increase the odds for HIV infection (adjusted odds ratio [aOR]: 1.364, 95% confidence interval [95% CI]: 0.625-2.976; p = 0.4351). However, female gender (aOR: 1.947, 95% CI: 1.265-2.996; p = 0.0025) and cannabis use (aOR: 2.192, 95% CI: 1.126-4.266; p = 0.0209) increased the odds of HIV acquisition. The incidence rates of adverse events were similar between participants in the placebo group with BEN, and those without: 12.1 (95% CI: 7.3-20.1) vs. 16.5 (95% CI: 14.6-18.7; p = 0.06) events per 100 person-years (py) were noted in the infections and infestations system organ class, respectively. The vaccine group had an event incidence rate of 19.7 (95% CI: 13.3-29.2) vs. 14.8 (95% CI: 13.0-16.8; p = 0.07) events per 100py in the group with, and without BEN, respectively. BEN is more prevalent in Black South Africans compared to US Non-Hispanic Whites. Our data do not support excluding populations from HIV vaccine trials because of BEN. BEN was not associated with increased risk for HIV infection or Adverse events on a vaccine trial. Predictors of HIV infection risk were females and cannabis use, underlying the continued importance of prevention programmes in focusing on these populations.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0241708PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7822320PMC
April 2021

Pulmonary restriction predicts long-term pulmonary impairment in people with HIV and tuberculosis.

BMC Pulm Med 2021 Jan 7;21(1):19. Epub 2021 Jan 7.

Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, USA.

Background: While tuberculosis is considered a risk factor for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, a restrictive pattern of pulmonary impairment may actually be more common among tuberculosis survivors. We aimed to determine the nature of pulmonary impairment before and after treatment among people with HIV and tuberculosis and identify risk factors for long-term impairment.

Methods: In this prospective cohort study conducted in South Africa, we enrolled adults newly diagnosed with HIV and tuberculosis who were initiating antiretroviral therapy and tuberculosis treatment. We measured lung function and symptoms at baseline, 6, and 12 months. We compared participants with and without pulmonary impairment and constructed logistic regression models to identify characteristics associated with pulmonary impairment.

Results: Among 134 participants with a median CD4 count of 110 cells/μl, 112 (83%) completed baseline spirometry at which time 32 (29%) had restriction, 13 (12%) had obstruction, and 9 (7%) had a mixed pattern. Lung function was dynamic over time and 30 (33%) participants had impaired lung function at 12 months. Baseline restriction was associated with greater symptoms and with long-term pulmonary impairment (adjusted odds ratio 5.44, 95% confidence interval 1.16-25.45), while baseline obstruction was not (adjusted odds ratio 1.95, 95% confidence interval 0.28-13.78).

Conclusions: In this cohort of people with HIV and tuberculosis, restriction was the most common, symptomatic, and persistent pattern of pulmonary impairment. These data can help to raise awareness among clinicians about the heterogeneity of post-tuberculosis pulmonary impairment, and highlight the need for further research into mediators of lung injury in this vulnerable population.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12890-020-01368-4DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7791797PMC
January 2021

An ecological study to evaluate the association of Bacillus Calmette-Guerin (BCG) vaccination on cases of SARS-CoV2 infection and mortality from COVID-19.

PLoS One 2020 17;15(12):e0243707. Epub 2020 Dec 17.

The Aurum Institute, Parktown, Johannesburg, South Africa.

As the SARS-CoV2 pandemic has progressed, there have been marked geographical differences in the pace and extent of its spread. We evaluated the association of BCG vaccination on morbidity and mortality of SARS-CoV2, adjusted for country-specific responses to the epidemic, demographics and health. SARS-CoV2 cases and deaths as reported by 31 May 2020 in the World Health Organization situation reports were used. Countries with at least 28 days following the first 100 cases, and available information on BCG were included. We used log-linear regression models to explore associations of cases and deaths with the BCG vaccination policy in each country, adjusted for population size, gross domestic product, proportion aged over 65 years, stringency level measures, testing levels, smoking proportion, and the time difference from date of reporting the 100th case to 31 May 2020. We further looked at the association that might have been found if the analyses were done at earlier time points. The study included 97 countries with 73 having a policy of current BCG vaccination, 13 having previously had BCG vaccination, and 11 having never had BCG vaccination. In a log-linear regression model there was no effect of country-level BCG status on SARS-CoV2 cases or deaths. Univariable log-linear regression models showed a trend towards a weakening of the association over time. We found no statistical evidence for an association between BCG vaccination policy and either SARS-CoV2 morbidity or mortality. We urge countries to rather consider alternative tools with evidence supporting their effectiveness for controlling SARS-CoV2 morbidity and mortality.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0243707PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7746266PMC
December 2020

Cost-effectiveness of a 12 country-intervention to scale up short course TB preventive therapy among people living with HIV.

J Int AIDS Soc 2020 10;23(10):e25629

Department of Epidemiology, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD, USA.

Introduction: In 2017, the Aurum Institute, with support from Unitaid, launched an initiative to expand short-course therapy for the prevention of tuberculosis (TB) in 12 high-burden countries. This study aimed to investigate the importance of "catalytic" effects beyond the original project timeframe when estimating cost-effectiveness of such large investments.

Methods: We estimated the cost-effectiveness of the IMPAACT4TB (I4TB) initiative from a health system perspective, using a 10-year time horizon. We first conservatively estimated costs using a "top-down" approach considering only the direct health benefits of providing TB preventive therapy to people initiating antiretroviral therapy (ART) through I4TB activities. We then re-estimated the incremental cost-effectiveness of I4TB incorporating the costs and health benefits of potential catalytic effects beyond the program itself.

Results: We estimated that TB preventive therapy through the I4TB initiative alone would prevent 14 201 cases of active TB and 1562 TB deaths over 10 years with an up-front investment of $52.5 million; the estimated incremental cost-effectiveness was $1580 per disability-adjusted life year (DALY) averted. If this initiative could achieve its desired catalytic effects, an additional 375 648 cases and 41 321 deaths could be averted, at an incremental cost of $546 million and cost-effectiveness of $713 per DALY averted.

Conclusions: Our findings provide donors with reasonable evidence of value for money to support investment in short-course TB preventive therapy for people initiating ART in high-burden settings. Our study also illustrates the importance of considering long-term secondary ("catalytic") effects when evaluating the cost-effectiveness of large-scale initiatives designed to change a global policy landscape.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jia2.25629DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7588607PMC
October 2020

Cost-effectiveness of one month of daily isoniazid and rifapentine versus three months of weekly isoniazid and rifapentine for prevention of tuberculosis among people receiving antiretroviral therapy in Uganda.

J Int AIDS Soc 2020 10;23(10):e25623

Department of Epidemiology, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD, USA.

Introduction: Preventive therapy is essential for reducing tuberculosis (TB) burden among people living with HIV (PLWH) in high-burden settings. Short-course preventive therapy regimens, such as three-month weekly rifapentine and isoniazid (3HP) and one-month daily rifapentine and isoniazid (1HP), may help facilitate uptake of preventive therapy for latently infected patients, but the comparative cost-effectiveness of these regimens under different conditions is uncertain.

Methods: We used a Markov state-transition model to estimate the incremental costs and effectiveness of 1HP versus 3HP in a simulated cohort of patients attending an HIV clinic in Uganda, as an example of a low-income, high-burden setting in which TB preventive therapy might be prescribed to PLWH. Our primary outcome was the incremental cost-effectiveness ratio, expressed as 2019 US dollars per disability-adjusted life year (DALY) averted. We estimated cost-effectiveness under different conditions of treatment completion and efficacy of 1HP versus 3HP, latent TB prevalence and rifapentine price.

Results: Assuming equivalent clinical outcomes using 1HP and 3HP and a rifapentine price of $0.21 per 150 mg, 1HP would cost an additional $4.66 per patient treated. Assuming equivalent efficacy but 20% higher completion with 1HP versus 3HP, 1HP would cost $1,221 per DALY averted relative to 3HP. This could be reduced to $18 per DALY averted if 1HP had 5% greater efficacy than 3HP and the price of rifapentine were 50% lower. At a rifapentine price of $0.06 per 150 mg, 1HP would become cost-neutral relative to 3HP.

Conclusions: 1HP has the potential to be cost-effective under many realistic circumstances. Cost-effectiveness depends on rifapentine price, relative completion and efficacy, prevalence of latent TB and local willingness-to-pay.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jia2.25623DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7569168PMC
October 2020

Impact of vaccine type on HIV-1 vaccine elicited antibody durability and B cell gene signature.

Sci Rep 2020 08 3;10(1):13031. Epub 2020 Aug 3.

Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Rochester, Rochester, NY, 14620, USA.

Efficacious HIV-1 vaccination requires elicitation of long-lived antibody responses. However, our understanding of how different vaccine types elicit durable antibody responses is lacking. To assess the impact of vaccine type on antibody responses, we measured IgG isotypes against four consensus HIV antigens from 2 weeks to 10 years post HIV-1 vaccination and used mixed effects models to estimate half-life of responses in four human clinical trials. Compared to protein-boosted regimens, half-lives of gp120-specific antibodies were longer but peak magnitudes were lower in Modified Vaccinia Ankara (MVA)-boosted regimens. Furthermore, gp120-specific B cell transcriptomics from MVA-boosted and protein-boosted vaccines revealed a distinct signature at a peak (2 weeks after last vaccination) including CD19, CD40, and FCRL2-5 activation along with increased B cell receptor signaling. Additional analysis revealed contributions of RIG-I-like receptor pathway and genes such as SMAD5 and IL-32 to antibody durability. Thus, this study provides novel insights into vaccine induced antibody durability and B-cell receptor signaling.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-69007-wDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7398916PMC
August 2020

Estimating the yield of tuberculosis from key populations to inform targeted interventions in South Africa: a scoping review.

BMJ Glob Health 2020 07;5(7)

The Aurum Institute, Johannesburg, South Africa.

Introduction: Tuberculosis (TB) case finding strategies are recommended to increase yield for TB in key populations. Several key populations are identified in the literature, but techniques for estimating yield and prioritising interventions are needed.

Methods: We conducted a scoping review of existing evidence on TB burden to assess contribution of key populations to the TB epidemic in South Africa. Reports, articles and conference abstracts from January 2000 to December 2016 were reviewed to determine TB incidence, prevalence and size of key populations in South Africa. Meta-analysis summarised prevalence and incidence rates of TB in selected key populations assessed for heterogeneity. TB risk was calculated for each key population. Number needed to screen (NNS) to diagnose one case of TB disease was computed. Population attributable fraction estimated the potential impact of interventions on TB cases per population.

Results: The search yielded 140 citations, of which 49 were included in the review and a final 32 were included in the meta-analysis. A high prevalence of TB disease was observed in HIV-infected patients with an estimated effect size (ES=0.25, 95% CI 0.20 to 0.30). Heterogeneity was high in this population ( =94.8%, p value=0.000). The highest incidence rate of TB disease was observed in the HIV-infected population (ES=6.07, 95% CI 4.90 to 7.51). The risk of TB disease in South Africa was high in informal settlements (RR=5.8), HIV-infected (RR=5.4) and inmates (RR=5.0). Most cases of TB would be found in inmates (NNS=26) and household contacts of patients with TB (NNS=25). A larger impact would be observed if interventions are directed towards inmates (31%), people living with HIV (PLHIV (37%) and informal settlements (43%).

Conclusions: Our findings illustrate the of value using available epidemiological evidence to inform targeted TB interventions. This review suggests that targeting interventions towards inmates, PLHIV and informal settlements would have a bigger impact on TB burden in South Africa.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmjgh-2020-002355DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7342464PMC
July 2020

Predictors of silicosis and variation in prevalence across mines among employed gold miners in South Africa.

BMC Public Health 2020 Jun 1;20(1):829. Epub 2020 Jun 1.

School of Public Health, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa.

Background: The stated intention to eliminate silicosis from the South African goldmining industry as well as current programmes to find and compensate ex-miners with silicosis require an understanding of variation in silicosis prevalence across the industry. We aimed to identify the predictors of radiological silicosis in a large sample of working miners across gold mines in South Africa.

Methods: Routine surveillance chest radiographs were collected from 15 goldmine "clusters" in a baseline survey undertaken in preparation for a separate tuberculosis isoniazid prophylaxis trial. All images were read for silicosis by a health professional experienced in using the International Labour Organisation (ILO) classification. Profusion thresholds of > 1/0 and > 1/1 were used. Demographic and occupational information was obtained by questionnaire. Predictors of silicosis were examined in a multivariable logistic regression model, including age, gender, racial ascription, country of origin, years since starting mine employment, mine shaft, skill category, underground work status and tuberculosis.

Results: The crude silicosis prevalence at ILO > 1/1 was 3.8% [95% confidence interval (CI) 3.5-4.1%]. The range across mine shafts was 0.8-6.9%. After adjustment for covariates, the interquartile range across shafts was reduced from 2.4 to 1.2%. Black miners [adjusted odds ratio (aOR) 2.8; 95% CI 1.1-7.2] and miners in full-time underground work (aOR 2.1; 95% CI 1.3-3.4) had substantially elevated odds of silicosis, while workers from Mozambique had lower odds (aOR 0.54; 95% CI 0.38-0.77). Silicosis odds rose sharply with both age and years since starting in the industry (p for linear trend < 0.005), with 95.5% of affected miners having > 15 years since first exposure and 2.2% < 10 years.

Conclusions: In surveillance of silicosis in working gold miners time since first exposure remains a powerful predictor. Age appears to be an independent predictor, while the detection of radiological silicosis in short-service miners requires attention. Public risk reporting by mines should include factors bearing on silicosis prevalence, specifically dust concentrations, with independent verification. Studies of silicosis and tuberculosis in ex-miners are needed, supported by an accessible electronic database of the relevant medical and dust exposure records of all gold miners.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s12889-020-08876-2DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7268682PMC
June 2020

Once-weekly rifapentine and isoniazid for tuberculosis prevention in patients with HIV taking dolutegravir-based antiretroviral therapy: a phase 1/2 trial.

Lancet HIV 2020 06 30;7(6):e401-e409. Epub 2020 Mar 30.

The Aurum Institute, Johannesburg, South Africa; School of Public Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa.

Background: Short-course preventive therapy with 12 doses of once-weekly rifapentine (900 mg) plus isoniazid (900 mg) could greatly improve tuberculosis control, especially in areas with high co-endemicity with HIV. However, a small previous trial of such therapy with dolutegravir in healthy, HIV-negative adults was halted early after two of the four patients developed serious adverse events. Because of the potential use of this therapy, and variable safety outcomes of tuberculosis drugs seen in patients with and without HIV, we aimed to characterise safety, pharmacokinetics, and virological suppression in adults who are HIV positive.

Methods: DOLPHIN was a phase 1/2, single-arm trial done at The Aurum Institute (Tembisa Clinical Research Site, Tembisa, South Africa), with pharmacokinetic visits done at VxPharma (Pretoria, South Africa). Adults (≥18 years) with HIV infection and undetectable viral load (<40 copies per mL) after at least 8 weeks of efavirenz-based or dolutegravir-based regimens were recruited in three consecutive groups, subject to approval by the independent safety monitoring committee. Participants received 50 mg of daily dolutegravir in place of efavirenz for 8 weeks, then began once-weekly rifapentine (900 mg)-isoniazid (900 mg) for 12 weeks. Groups 1A (n=12) and 1B (n=18) had intensive dolutegravir pharmacokinetic sampling at week 8 (before rifapentine-isoniazid), at week 11 (after the third dose of rifapentine)-isoniazid and at week 16 after the eighth dose. Group 2 (n=30) were treated with the same schedule and had sparse dolutegravir pharmacokinetic sampling at weeks 8, 11, and 16. Participants were followed 4 weeks after completion of prophylactic tuberculosis treatment. HIV viral loads were measured at baseline and at weeks 11 and 24. Primary endpoints were adverse events (grade 3 or higher) and dolutegravir population pharmacokinetics, assessed in participants who began rifapentine-isoniazid. This trial was registered at ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT03435146.

Findings: Between Jan 24, 2018, and Nov 25, 2018, 61 participants were enrolled into three groups; one participant withdrew (from group 1A). 43 (70%) of 60 participants were women and all participants were black African. Median age was 40 years (IQR 35-48), CD4 cell count was 683 cells per μL (447-935), and body-mass index was 28·9 kg/m (24·0-32·9). Three grade 3 adverse events occurred; two elevated creatinine and one hypertension. Rifapentine-isoniazid increased dolutegravir clearance by 36% (relative standard error 13%) resulting in a 26% decrease in dolutegravir area under the curve. Overall geometric mean ratio of trough concentrations with versus without rifapentine-isoniazid was 0·53 (90% CI 0·49-0·56) though this ratio varied by day after rifapentine-isoniazid dose. All but one trough value was above the 90% maximal inhibitory concentration for dolutegravir and HIV viral loads were less than 40 copies per mL in all patients.

Interpretation: Our results suggest 12 doses of once-weekly rifapentine-isoniazid can be given for tuberculosis prophylaxis to patients with HIV taking dolutegravir-based antiretroviral therapy, without dose adjustments. Further exploration of the pharmacokinetics, safety, and efficacy in children and pharmacodynamics in individuals naive to antiretroviral therapy is needed.

Funding: UNITAID.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S2352-3018(20)30032-1DOI Listing
June 2020

Effect of HIV Envelope Vaccination on the Subsequent Antibody Response to HIV Infection.

mSphere 2020 Jan 29;5(1). Epub 2020 Jan 29.

National Institute for Communicable Diseases of the National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS), Johannesburg, South Africa

Analysis of breakthrough HIV-1 infections could elucidate whether prior vaccination primes relevant immune responses. Here, we measured HIV-specific antibody responses in 14 South African volunteers who acquired HIV infection after participating in phase 1/2 trials of envelope-containing immunogens. Serum samples were collected annually following HIV-1 infection from participants in trials HVTN 073 (subtype C, DNA/MVA, phase 1 trial,  = 1), HVTN 086 (subtype C, DNA/MVA/gp140 protein, phase 1 trial,  = 2), and HVTN 204 (multisubtype, DNA/adenovirus serotype 5 [Ad5], phase 2 trial,  = 7) and 4 placebo recipients. Binding and neutralizing antibody responses to Env proteins and peptides were determined pre- and post-HIV infection using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay and the TZM-bl cell neutralization assay, respectively. HIV-infected South African individuals served as unvaccinated controls. Binding antibodies to gp41, V3, V2, the membrane-proximal external region (MPER), and the CD4 binding site were detected from the first year of HIV-1 subtype C infection, and the levels were similar in vaccinated and placebo recipients. Neutralizing antibody responses against tier 1A viruses were detected in all participants, with the highest titers being to a subtype C virus, MW965.26. No responses were observed just prior to infection, indicating that vaccine-primed HIV-specific antibodies had waned. Sporadic neutralization activity against tier 2 isolates was observed after 2 to 3 years of HIV infection, but these responses were similar in the vaccinated and placebo groups as well as the unvaccinated controls. Our data suggest that prior vaccination with these immunogens did not alter the antibody responses to HIV-1 infection, nor did it accelerate the development of HIV neutralization breadth. There is a wealth of information on HIV-specific vaccine-induced immune responses among HIV-uninfected participants; however, data on immune responses among participants who acquire HIV after vaccination are limited. Here we show that HIV-specific binding antibody responses in individuals with breakthrough HIV infections were not affected by prior vaccination with HIV envelope-containing immunogens. We also found that these vectored vaccines did not prime tier 2 virus-neutralizing antibody responses, which are thought to be required for prevention against HIV acquisition, or accelerate the development of neutralization breadth. Although this study is limited, such studies can provide insights into whether vaccine-elicited antibody responses are boosted by HIV infection to acquire broader neutralizing activity, which may help to identify antigens relevant to the design of more effective vaccines.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1128/mSphere.00738-19DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6992371PMC
January 2020

New opportunities in tuberculosis prevention: implications for people living with HIV.

J Int AIDS Soc 2020 01;23(1):e25438

University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, NE, USA.

Introduction: Tuberculosis (TB) is a leading cause of mortality among people living with HIV (PLHIV). An invigorated global END TB Strategy seeks to increase efforts in scaling up TB preventive therapy (TPT) as a central intervention for HIV programmes in an effort to contribute to a 90% reduction in TB incidence and 95% reduction in mortality by 2035. TPT in PLHIV should be part of a comprehensive approach to reduce TB transmission, illness and death that also includes TB active case-finding and prompt, effective and timely initiation of anti-TB therapy among PLHIV. However, the use and implementation of preventive strategies has remained deplorably inadequate and today TB prevention among PLHIV has become an urgent priority globally.

Discussion: We present a summary of the current and novel TPT regimens, including current evidence of use with antiretroviral regimens (ART). We review challenges and opportunities to scale-up TB prevention within HIV programmes, including the use of differentiated care approaches and demand creation for effective TB/HIV services delivery. TB preventive vaccines and diagnostics, including optimal algorithms, while important topics, are outside of the focus of this commentary.

Conclusions: A number of new tools and strategies to make TPT a standard of care in HIV programmes have become available. The new TPT regimens are safe and effective and can be used with current ART, with attention being paid to potential drug-drug interactions between rifamycins and some classes of antiretrovirals. More research and development is needed to optimize TPT for small children, pregnant women and drug-resistant TB (DR-TB). Effective programmatic scale-up can be supported through context-adapted demand creation strategies and the inclusion of TPT in client-centred services, such as differentiated service delivery (DSD) models. Robust collaboration between the HIV and TB programmes represents a unique opportunity to ensure that TB, a preventable and curable condition, is no longer the number one cause of death in PLHIV.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jia2.25438DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6947976PMC
January 2020

A Common NLRC4 Gene Variant Associates With Inflammation and Pulmonary Function in Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Tuberculosis.

Clin Infect Dis 2020 08;71(4):924-932

Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.

Background: Inflammasomes mediate inflammation in adults living with both human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and tuberculosis (TB), but the relevance of inflammasome gene polymorphisms in TB-associated pulmonary damage is unknown. We hypothesized that functional single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in inflammasome pathway genes modify systemic and pulmonary inflammation, contributing to respiratory impairment in adults living with HIV/pulmonary TB.

Methods: This was a prospective cohort study set in South Africa following individuals living with HIV/TB up to 48 weeks post-antiretroviral therapy (ART) initiation. Ten functional SNPs in 5 inflammasome pathway genes were related to circulating inflammatory biomarkers and lung function assessed by spirometry pre- and post-ART initiation. Analyses used 2-sided t tests, Wilcoxon rank sum tests, Spearman correlation coefficients, linear regression, and generalized estimating equation models.

Results: Among 102 patients with baseline samples, the minor allele (T) in NLRC4 rs385076 was independently associated with lower levels of interleukin (IL)-18 and IL-6 before and up to 12 weeks post-ART initiation (Benjamini-Hochberg corrected P values < .02). Patients with the CT/TT genotypes also had improved lung function vs CC patients up to 48 weeks post-ART initiation (forced vital capacity, 206 mL higher; 95% confidence interval [CI], 67-345 mL; P = .004 and forced expiratory volume in 1 second, 143 mL higher; 95% CI, 11-274 mL; P = .034).

Conclusions: A common SNP in the NLRC4 inflammasome may modify TB-associated inflammation in clinically relevant ways. This SNP may identify high-risk groups for lung damage in TB. Inhibition of NLRC4 activity may be an important approach for TB host-directed therapy.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/cid/ciz898DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7428399PMC
August 2020

Algorithm-guided empirical tuberculosis treatment for people with advanced HIV (TB Fast Track): an open-label, cluster-randomised trial.

Lancet HIV 2020 01 11;7(1):e27-e37. Epub 2019 Nov 11.

TB Centre, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, London, UK; School of Public Health, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa.

Background: Tuberculosis, which is often undiagnosed, is the major cause of death among HIV-positive people. We aimed to test whether the use of a clinical algorithm enabling the initiation of empirical tuberculosis treatment by nurses in primary health-care clinics would reduce mortality compared with standard of care for adults with advanced HIV disease.

Methods: In this open-label cluster-randomised controlled trial, we recruited individuals from 24 primary health-care clinics in South Africa. The clinics were randomly assigned (1:1) to either deliver an intervention or routine care (control) using computer-generated random numbers. Eligible participants were HIV-positive adults (aged ≥18 years) with CD4 counts of 150 cells per μL or less, who had not had antiretroviral therapy (ART) in the past 6 months or tuberculosis treatment in the past 3 months, and did not require urgent hospital referral. In intervention clinics, study nurses assessed participants on the basis of tuberculosis symptoms, body-mass index, point-of-care haemoglobin concentrations, and urine lipoarabinomannan assay results. Participants classified by a study algorithm as having high probability of tuberculosis (positive urine lipoarabinomannan assay, body-mass index <18·5 kg/m, or haemoglobin concentration <100 g/L) were recommended to start tuberculosis treatment immediately followed by ART 2 weeks later; participants classified as medium probability (tuberculosis symptoms, no high probability criteria) were recommended to have symptom-guided investigation; and participants classified as low probability (no tuberculosis symptoms or high probability criteria) were recommended to start ART immediately. In standard-of-care clinics, participants received treatment in accordance with South African guidelines. Investigators and participants were aware of treatment allocation. The primary outcome was all-cause mortality at 6 months, assessed in the intention-to-treat population. Safety was also analysed in the intention-to treat population. This trial is registered with the ISRCTN registry, ISRCTN35344604, and the South African National Clinical Trials Register, DOH-27-0812-3902.

Findings: Between Dec 19, 2012, and Dec 18, 2014, 3091 individuals were screened for eligibility, of whom 3053 were recruited, and 3022 (1507 participants in the intervention group and 1515 participants in the control group) were analysed for the primary outcome. 930 (61·7%) of 1507 participants in the intervention group versus 172 (11·4%) of 1515 participants in the control group had started tuberculosis treatment by 2 months. At 6 months, the mortality rate was 19·0 deaths per 100 person-years for the intervention group versus 21·6 deaths per 100 person-years in the control group (unadjusted hazard ratio [HR] 0·92, 95% CI 0·67-1·26, p=0·58; adjusted HR 0·87, 0·61-1·24, p=0·41). 28 (1·9%) of 1507 participants in the intervention group and ten (0·7%) of 1515 participants in the control group reported serious or severe adverse events. Grade 3 or 4 nausea and vomiting was the most common adverse event (ten participants in the intervention group and four participants in the control group). Among participants with adverse events, eight participants (six participants in the intervention group and two participants in the control group) died; none of the six deaths in the intervention group were attributed to the study intervention.

Interpretation: Our intervention substantially increased coverage of tuberculosis treatment in this high-risk population, but did not reduce mortality.

Funding: Joint Global Health Trials (Medical Research Council, Department for International Development, Wellcome Trust).
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S2352-3018(19)30266-8DOI Listing
January 2020

Guidance for Studies Evaluating the Accuracy of Sputum-Based Tests to Diagnose Tuberculosis.

J Infect Dis 2019 10;220(220 Suppl 3):S99-S107

World Health Organization, Geneva, Switzerland.

Tests that can replace sputum smear microscopy have been identified as a top priority diagnostic need for tuberculosis by the World Health Organization. High-quality evidence on diagnostic accuracy for tests that may meet this need is an essential requirement to inform decisions about policy and scale-up. However, test accuracy studies are often of low and inconsistent quality and poorly reported, leading to uncertainty about true test performance. Here we provide guidance for the design of diagnostic test accuracy studies of sputum smear-replacement tests. Such studies should have a cross-sectional or cohort design, enrolling either a consecutive series or a random sample of patients who require evaluation for tuberculosis. Adults with respiratory symptoms are the target population. The reference standard should at a minimum be a single, automated, liquid culture, but additional cultures, follow-up, clinical case definition, and specific measures to understand discordant results should also be included. Inclusion of smear microscopy and Xpert MTB/RIF (or MTB/RIF Ultra) as comparators is critical to allow broader comparability and generalizability of results, because disease spectrum can vary between studies and affects relative test performance. Given the complex nature of sputum (the primary specimen type used for pulmonary TB), careful design and reporting of the specimen flow is essential. Test characteristics other than accuracy (such as feasibility, implementation considerations, and data on impact on patient, population and health systems outcomes) are also important aspects.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/infdis/jiz258DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6782025PMC
October 2019

Declines in Lung Function After Antiretroviral Therapy Initiation in Adults With Human Immunodeficiency Virus and Tuberculosis: A Potential Manifestation of Respiratory Immune Reconstitution Inflammatory Syndrome.

Clin Infect Dis 2020 04;70(8):1750-1753

Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.

End-organ impairment has received relatively little research attention as a possible manifestation of tuberculosis immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome (TB-IRIS). In this prospective cohort study, one-half of adults with human immunodeficiency virus and pulmonary tuberculosis experienced meaningful declines in lung function on antiretroviral therapy, suggesting a role for lung function in TB-IRIS definitions.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/cid/ciz733DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7146005PMC
April 2020

Lung Injury on Antiretroviral Therapy in Adults With Human Immunodeficiency Virus/Tuberculosis.

Clin Infect Dis 2020 04;70(9):1845-1854

Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.

Background: Immune restoration on antiretroviral therapy (ART) can drive inflammation in people living with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) who have pulmonary tuberculosis (TB), but its effects on the lungs have not been assessed. We evaluated associations between pulmonary inflammation, recovery of pathogen-specific CD4 T-cell function, and lung injury prior to and after ART initiation in adults with HIV and pulmonary TB.

Methods: This was a prospective cohort study in South Africa, following adults with HIV and pulmonary TB prior to and up to 48 weeks after ART initiation. Pulmonary-specific inflammation was defined as total glycolytic activity (TGA) on [18]F-fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) positron emission tomography-computed tomography (PET-CT) at baseline and 4 weeks after ART initiation. Spirometry, respiratory symptom tests, and flow cytometry were performed at the same times to assess lung involvement and the frequency of mycobacteria-specific CD4 T-cells. In addition, we evaluated lung function longitudinally up to 48 weeks after ART initiation.

Results: Greater lung TGA on FDG PET-CT was associated with worse lung function and respiratory symptoms prior to ART initiation, and nearly half of subjects experienced worsening lung inflammation and lung function at Week 4 of ART. Worsening Week 4 lung inflammation and pulmonary function were both associated with greater increases in pathogen-specific functional CD4 T-cell responses on ART, and early decreases in lung function were independently associated with persistently lower lung function months after TB treatment completion.

Conclusions: Increases in pulmonary inflammation and decreases in lung function are common on ART, relate to greater ART-mediated CD4 T-cell restoration, and are associated with the persistent impairment of lung function in individuals with HIV/TB.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/cid/ciz560DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7156779PMC
April 2020

Controlling latent TB tuberculosis infection in high-burden countries: A neglected strategy to end TB.

PLoS Med 2019 04 23;16(4):e1002787. Epub 2019 Apr 23.

University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, Nebraska, United States of America.

In a Perspective, Gavin Churchyard and Sue Swindells discuss the importance of strategies to target latent tuberculosis infection in high risk populations and thus disrupt a reservoir for new infections in high burden countries.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1002787DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6478264PMC
April 2019

Feasibility of Identifying Household Contacts of Rifampin-and Multidrug-resistant Tuberculosis Cases at High Risk of Progression to Tuberculosis Disease.

Clin Infect Dis 2020 01;70(3):425-435

Aurum Institute, Parktown, South Africa.

Background: We assessed multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) cases and their household contacts (HHCs) to inform the development of an interventional clinical trial.

Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional study of adult MDR-TB cases and their HHCs in 8 countries with high TB burdens. HHCs underwent symptom screenings, chest radiographies, sputum TB bacteriologies, TB infection (TBI) testing (tuberculin skin test [TST] and interferon gamma release assay [IGRA]), and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) testing.

Results: From October 2015 to April 2016, 1016 HHCs from 284 MDR-TB cases were enrolled. At diagnosis, 69% of MDR-TB cases were positive for acid-fast bacilli sputum smears and 43% had cavitary disease; at study entry, 35% remained smear positive after a median MDR-TB treatment duration of 8.8 weeks. There were 9 HHCs that were diagnosed with TB prior to entry and excluded. Of the remaining 1007 HHCs, 41% were male and the median age was 25 years. There were 121 (12%) HHCs that had new cases of TB identified: 17 (2%) were confirmed, 33 (3%) probable, and 71 (7%) possible TB cases. The TBI prevalence (defined as either TST or IGRA positivity) was 72% and varied by age, test used, and country. Of 1007 HHCs, 775 (77%) were considered high-risk per these mutually exclusive groups: 102 (10%) were aged <5 years; 63 (6%) were aged ≥5 and were infected with HIV; and 610 (61%) were aged ≥5 years, were negative for HIV or had an unknown HIV status, and were TBI positive. Only 21 (2%) HHCs were on preventive therapy.

Conclusions: The majority of HHCs in these high-burden countries were at high risk of TB disease and infection, yet few were receiving routine preventive therapy. Trials of novel, preventive therapies are urgently needed to inform treatment policy and practice.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/cid/ciz235DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7188224PMC
January 2020

Willingness to Take Multidrug-resistant Tuberculosis (MDR-TB) Preventive Therapy Among Adult and Adolescent Household Contacts of MDR-TB Index Cases: An International Multisite Cross-sectional Study.

Clin Infect Dis 2020 01;70(3):436-445

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia.

Background: Household contacts (HHCs) of individuals with multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (MDR-TB) are at high risk of infection and subsequent disease. There is limited evidence on the willingness of MDR-TB HHCs to take MDR-TB preventive therapy (MDR TPT) to decrease their risk of TB disease.

Methods: In this cross-sectional study of HHCs of MDR-TB and rifampicin-resistant tuberculosis (RR-TB) index cases from 16 clinical research sites in 8 countries, enrollees were interviewed to assess willingness to take a hypothetical, newly developed MDR TPT if offered. To identify factors associated with willingness to take MDR TPT, a marginal logistic model was fitted using generalized estimating equations to account for household-level clustering.

Results: From 278 MDR-TB/RR-TB index case households, 743 HHCs were enrolled; the median age of HHCs was 33 (interquartile range, 22-49) years, and 62% were women. HHC willingness to take hypothetical MDR TPT was high (79%) and remained high even with the potential for mild side effects (70%). Increased willingness was significantly associated with current employment or schooling (adjusted odds ratio [aOR], 1.83 [95% confidence interval {CI}, 1.07-3.13]), appropriate TB-related knowledge (aOR, 2.22 [95% CI, 1.23-3.99]), confidence in taking MDR TPT (aOR, 7.16 [95% CI, 3.33-15.42]), and being comfortable telling others about taking MDR TPT (aOR, 2.29 [95% CI, 1.29-4.06]).

Conclusions: The high percentage of HHCs of MDR-TB/RR-TB index cases willing to take hypothetical MDR TPT provides important evidence for the potential uptake of effective MDR TPT when implemented. Identified HHC-level variables associated with willingness may inform education and counseling efforts to increase HHC confidence in and uptake of MDR TPT.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/cid/ciz254DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7188234PMC
January 2020
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