Publications by authors named "Martin Schou Pedersen"

12 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Molecular epidemiology of the SARS-CoV-2 variant Omicron BA.2 sub-lineage in Denmark, 29 November 2021 to 2 January 2022.

Euro Surveill 2022 03;27(10)

Department for Congenital Disorders, Statens Serum Institut, Copenhagen, Denmark.

Following emergence of the SARS-CoV-2 variant Omicron in November 2021, the dominant BA.1 sub-lineage was replaced by the BA.2 sub-lineage in Denmark. We analysed the first 2,623 BA.2 cases from 29 November 2021 to 2 January 2022. No epidemiological or clinical differences were found between individuals infected with BA.1 versus BA.2. Phylogenetic analyses showed a geographic east-to-west transmission of BA.2 from the Capital Region with clusters expanding after the Christmas holidays. Mutational analysis shows distinct differences between BA.1 and BA.2.
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March 2022

A major outbreak of COVID-19 at aresidential care home.

Dan Med J 2021 Sep 23;68(10). Epub 2021 Sep 23.

Introduction SARS-CoV-2 outbreaks at care homes are associated with a high morbidity and mortality. We aimed to study the molecular epidemiology of a major care home outbreak in Denmark. Methods After a staff member had been tested positive on 16 November 2020, a bundle approach programme was initiated including frequent surveillance screenings of residents and staff, isolation and cohorting procedures. This approach also involved limiting the number of visitors and enhancing the use of personal protective equipment, hand hygiene, and environmental cleaning. Naso/oropharyngeal swabs were tested for SARS-CoV-2 by polymerase chain reaction. Available positive samples were sequenced and phylogenetic relationships between the outbreak and local circulating strains were reconstructed. Results In all, 50% (56/114) of residents and 26% (49/190) of staff members became infected during the 46-day outbreak period. Altogether 16% of the infected residents died within 30 days after becoming infected. A total of 44% (46/105) of the samples with SARS-CoV-2 were sequenced. and phylogenetic analysis demonstrated a dominant outbreak lineage belonging to Global Lineage B.1.1.29 containing the mutation I233V in the S gene. The outbreak lineage was detected in the community 28 days before its introduction into the care home. Conclusions Introduction of SARS-CoV-2 to care homes is associated with severe outbreaks. Initiation of a bundle approach infection control programme in addition to measures ensuring enhanced herd immunity were successful in controlling the outbreak. Genome sequencing proved to be a powerful tool to describe the relatedness of the various clones and may help focusing outbreak interventions. Funding The study was funded in part by The Poul Due Jensen Foundation and The Danish Ministry of Higher Education and Science. The authors have no conflicts of interest to report. Trial registration not relevant.
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September 2021

HCV genome-wide analysis for development of efficient culture systems and unravelling of antiviral resistance in genotype 4.

Gut 2022 03 8;71(3):627-642. Epub 2021 Apr 8.

Copenhagen Hepatitis C Program (CO-HEP), Department of Infectious Diseases, Hvidovre Hospital and Department of Immunology and Microbiology, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark

Objective: HCV-genotype 4 infections are a major cause of liver diseases in the Middle East/Africa with certain subtypes associated with increased risk of direct-acting antiviral (DAA) treatment failures. We aimed at developing infectious genotype 4 cell culture systems to understand the evolutionary genetic landscapes of antiviral resistance, which can help preserve the future efficacy of DAA-based therapy.

Design: HCV recombinants were tested in liver-derived cells. Long-term coculture with DAAs served to induce antiviral-resistance phenotypes. Next-generation sequencing (NGS) of the entire HCV-coding sequence identified mutation networks. Resistance-associated substitutions (RAS) were studied using reverse-genetics.

Result: The in-vivo infectious ED43(4a) clone was adapted in Huh7.5 cells, using substitutions identified in ED43(Core-NS5A)/JFH1-chimeric viruses combined with selected NS5B-changes. NGS, and linkage analysis, permitted identification of multiple genetic branches emerging during culture adaptation, one of which had 31 substitutions leading to robust replication/propagation. Treatment of culture-adapted ED43 with nine clinically relevant protease-DAA, NS5A-DAA and NS5B-DAA led to complex dynamics of drug-target-specific RAS with coselection of genome-wide substitutions. Approved DAA combinations were efficient against the original virus, but not against variants with RAS in corresponding drug targets. However, retreatment with glecaprevir/pibrentasvir remained efficient against NS5A inhibitor and sofosbuvir resistant variants. Recombinants with specific RAS at NS3-156, NS5A-28, 30, 31 and 93 and NS5B-282 were viable, but NS3-A156M and NS5A-L30Δ (deletion) led to attenuated phenotypes.

Conclusion: Rapidly emerging complex evolutionary landscapes of mutations define the persistence of HCV-RASs conferring resistance levels leading to treatment failure in genotype 4. The high barrier to resistance of glecaprevir/pibrentasvir could prevent persistence and propagation of antiviral resistance.
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March 2022

An in-well direct lysis method for rapid detection of SARS-CoV-2 by real time RT-PCR in eSwab specimens.

J Virol Methods 2021 03 8;289:114062. Epub 2021 Jan 8.

Department of Clinical Microbiology 445, Hvidovre Hospital, Hvidovre, Denmark; Department of Clinical Microbiology, Copenhagen University Hospital, Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen, Denmark. Electronic address:

Background: Diagnostic real time reverse transcription PCR (rRT-PCR) is usually done using nucleic acid (NA) purified from the sample. In the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic reagents and utensils for NA purification has been in short supply. This has generated interest in methods that eliminate the need for NA purification.

Objectives: To investigate if addition of detergent to rRT-PCR master mix (MM) enabled in-well direct lysis and detection of SARS-CoV-2 in clinical eSwab specimens.

Study Design: IGEPAL-CA-630 (IGEPAL) was added to SARS-CoV-2 MM to 0.3 % final concentration and crude sample was added directly to the PCR well containing MM. Cycle of positivity (Cp) and categorical agreement was compared in samples tested in standard rRT-PCR after NA purification and in in-well lysis, direct rRT-PCR.

Results: In-well lysis direct rRT-PCR detected SARS-CoV-2 in 27/30 previously SARS-CoV-2+ samples with an average bias of 3.26 cycles (95 %CI: 0.08-6.43 cycles). All 30 previously test negative samples remained negative when tested in in-well lysis, direct PCR.

Conclusions: Supplementation of detergent to MM was shown to be useful for the detection of SARS CoV-2 in eSwab specimens (COPAN) by direct rRT-PCR without prior NA purification.
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March 2021

Association between vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus faecium colonization and subsequent infection: a retrospective WGS study.

J Antimicrob Chemother 2020 07;75(7):1712-1715

Department of Clinical Microbiology, Hvidovre Hospital, Hvidovre, Denmark.

Background: Since 2012, the incidence of vancomycin-resistant Enterococcus faecium (VREfm) has increased dramatically in Copenhagen and vanA E. faecium has become endemic and polyclonal.

Objectives: To examine whether a patient with a positive VRE clinical sample had the same VREfm in a preceding screening sample (within 60 days).

Methods: We performed a 30 month retrospective study. From our laboratory information system (LIS), we identified all patients with an invasive VREfm isolate and a VREfm rectal screening isolate within 60 days before infection. VREfm pairs (screening isolate and invasive isolate) were whole-genome sequenced. All isolates were analysed using SeqSphere and core-genome MLST (cgMLST) types were determined. We examined all isolates for the presence of the three most dominant vanA plasmids in the Capital Region of Denmark. Two novel vanA plasmids were closed by Nanopore/Illumina sequencing.

Results: We found a total of 19 VREfm pairs. Of these, 13 patients had pairs with matching cgMLST types and vanA plasmids and a median number of 6 days from identification of carriage to clinical infection. One patient had a pair with non-matching cgMLST types but matching vanA plasmids and 24 days between identification of carriage to clinical infection. Five patients had pairs with non-matching cgMLST types and non-matching vanA plasmids and a median number of 18 days from identification of carriage to clinical infection.

Conclusions: Of our 19 pairs, 13 were a match regarding cgMLST types (68%) and 1 more (5%) had matching vanA plasmids. Infection was thus preceded by colonization with the same isolates in 13 out of 19 patients. The five mismatches (26%) could be explained by the longer interval between colonization and infection.
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July 2020

Genome Sequence of an Unknown Subtype of Hepatitis C Virus Genotype 6: Another Piece for the Taxonomic Puzzle.

Microbiol Resour Announc 2019 Oct 17;8(42). Epub 2019 Oct 17.

Department of Clinical Microbiology, Copenhagen University Hospital, Hvidovre, Denmark

The surveillance and correct subtyping of hepatitis C virus strains require available and up-to-date publicly available reference genomes. Here, we present the complete open reading frame sequence of a hepatitis C virus genotype 6 strain of an unknown subtype that was discovered during routine subtyping of patients in the clinic.
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October 2019

Resistance to piperacillin/tazobactam in Escherichia coli resulting from extensive IS26-associated gene amplification of blaTEM-1.

J Antimicrob Chemother 2019 11;74(11):3179-3183

Department of Clinical Microbiology 445, Hvidovre University Hospital, Hvidovre, Denmark.

Background: bla TEM-1 encodes a narrow-spectrum β-lactamase that is inhibited by β-lactamase inhibitors and commonly present in Escherichia coli. Hyperproduction of blaTEM-1 may cause resistance to penicillin/β-lactamase inhibitor (P/BLI) combinations.

Objectives: To characterize EC78, an E. coli bloodstream isolate, resistant to P/BLI combinations, which contains extensive amplification of blaTEM-1 within the chromosome.

Methods: EC78 was sequenced using Illumina and Oxford Nanopore Technology (ONT) methodology. Configuration of blaTEM-1 amplification was probed using PCR. Expression of blaTEM-1 mRNA was determined using quantitative PCR and β-lactamase activity was determined spectrophotometrically in a nitrocefin conversion assay. Growth rate was assessed to determine fitness and stability of the gene amplification was assessed by passage in the absence of antibiotics.

Results: Illumina sequencing of EC78 identified blaTEM-1B as the only acquired β-lactamase preceded by the WT P3 promoter and present at a copy number of 182.6 with blaTEM-1B bracketed by IS26 elements. The chromosomal location of the IS26-blaTEM-1B amplification was confirmed by ONT sequencing. Hyperproduction of blaTEM-1 was confirmed by increased transcription of blaTEM-1 and β-lactamase activity and associated with a significant fitness cost; however, the array was maintained at a relatively high copy number for 150 generations. PCR screening for blaTEM amplification of isolates resistant to P/BLI combinations identified an additional strain containing an IS26-associated amplification of a blaTEM gene.

Conclusions: IS26-associated amplification of blaTEM can cause resistance to P/BLI combinations. This adaptive mechanism of resistance may be overlooked if simple methods of genotypic prediction (e.g. gene presence/absence) are used to predict antimicrobial susceptibility from sequencing data.
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November 2019

Ceftriaxone-resistant serotype Typhi in a pregnant traveller returning from Karachi, Pakistan to Denmark, 2019.

Euro Surveill 2019 May;24(21)

Department of Clinical Microbiology, Copenhagen University Hospital Hvidovre, Hvidovre, Denmark.

We describe a ceftriaxone-resistant Typhi bacteraemia in a pregnant woman returning from a family visit in Pakistan. Whole genome sequencing confirmed similarity to a Pakistani outbreak clone. Pregnancy and unawareness of this outbreak delayed appropriate antibiotic therapy. Concurrently, we detected faecal carriage of a carbapenemase-producing Awareness of the ongoing outbreak should affect empiric treatment of typhoid fever and hygiene precautions in travellers returning from Pakistan. Meropenem may be warranted in severe cases.
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May 2019

Evolutionary Pathways to Persistence of Highly Fit and Resistant Hepatitis C Virus Protease Inhibitor Escape Variants.

Hepatology 2019 09 5;70(3):771-787. Epub 2019 Jun 5.

Copenhagen Hepatitis C Program (CO-HEP), Department of Infectious Diseases, Copenhagen University Hospital, Hvidovre, and Department of Immunology and Microbiology, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark.

Protease inhibitors (PIs) are important components of treatment regimens for patients with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. However, emergence and persistence of antiviral resistance could reduce their efficacy. Thus, defining resistance determinants is highly relevant for efforts to control HCV. Here, we investigated patterns of PI resistance-associated substitutions (RASs) for the major HCV genotypes and viral determinants for persistence of key RASs. We identified protease position 156 as a RAS hotspot for genotype 1-4, but not 5 and 6, escape variants by resistance profiling using PIs grazoprevir and paritaprevir in infectious cell culture systems. However, except for genotype 3, engineered 156-RASs were not maintained. For genotypes 1 and 2, persistence of 156-RASs depended on genome-wide substitution networks, co-selected under continued PI treatment and identified by next-generation sequencing with substitution linkage and haplotype reconstruction. Persistence of A156T for genotype 1 relied on compensatory substitutions increasing replication and assembly. For genotype 2, initial selection of A156V facilitated transition to 156L, persisting without compensatory substitutions. The developed genotype 1, 2, and 3 variants with persistent 156-RASs had exceptionally high fitness and resistance to grazoprevir, paritaprevir, glecaprevir, and voxilaprevir. A156T dominated in genotype 1 glecaprevir and voxilaprevir escape variants, and pre-existing A156T facilitated genotype 1 escape from clinically relevant combination treatments with grazoprevir/elbasvir and glecaprevir/pibrentasvir. In genotype 1 infected patients with treatment failure and 156-RASs, we observed genome-wide selection of substitutions under treatment. Conclusion: Comprehensive PI resistance profiling for HCV genotypes 1-6 revealed 156-RASs as key determinants of high-level resistance across clinically relevant PIs. We obtained in vitro proof of concept for persistence of highly fit genotype 1-3 156-variants, which might pose a threat to clinically relevant combination treatments.
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September 2019

HCV genotype 1-6 NS3 residue 80 substitutions impact protease inhibitor activity and promote viral escape.

J Hepatol 2019 03 3;70(3):388-397. Epub 2018 Nov 3.

Copenhagen Hepatitis C Program (CO-HEP), Department of Infectious Diseases, Copenhagen University Hospital, Hvidovre and Department of Immunology and Microbiology, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Denmark. Electronic address:

Background & Aims: Protease inhibitors (PIs) are of central importance in the treatment of patients with chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. HCV NS3 protease (NS3P) position 80 displays polymorphisms associated with resistance to the PI simeprevir for HCV genotype 1a. We investigated the effects of position-80-substitutions on fitness and PI-resistance for HCV genotypes 1-6, and analyzed evolutionary mechanisms underlying viral escape mediated by pre-existing Q80K.

Methods: The fitness of infectious NS3P recombinants of HCV genotypes 1-6, with engineered position-80-substitutions, was studied by comparison of viral spread kinetics in Huh-7.5 cells in culture. Median effective concentration (EC50) and fold resistance for PIs simeprevir, asunaprevir, paritaprevir, grazoprevir, glecaprevir and voxilaprevir were determined in short-term treatment assays. Viral escape was studied by long-term treatment of genotype 1a recombinants with simeprevir, grazoprevir, glecaprevir and voxilaprevir and of genotype 3a recombinants with glecaprevir and voxilaprevir, next generation sequencing, NS3P substitution linkage and haplotype analysis.

Results: Among tested PIs, only glecaprevir and voxilaprevir showed pan-genotypic activity against the original genotype 1-6 culture viruses. Variants with position-80-substitutions were all viable, but fitness depended on the specific substitution and the HCV isolate. Q80K conferred resistance to simeprevir across genotypes but had only minor effects on the activity of the remaining PIs. For genotype 1a, pre-existing Q80K mediated accelerated escape from simeprevir, grazoprevir and to a lesser extent glecaprevir, but not voxilaprevir. For genotype 3a, Q80K mediated accelerated escape from glecaprevir and voxilaprevir. Escape was mediated by rapid and genotype-, PI- and PI-concentration-dependent co-selection of clinically relevant resistance associated substitutions.

Conclusions: Position-80-substitutions had relatively low fitness cost and the potential to promote HCV escape from clinically relevant PIs in vitro, despite having a minor impact on results in classical short-term resistance assays.

Lay Summary: Among all clinically relevant hepatitis C virus protease inhibitors, voxilaprevir and glecaprevir showed the highest and most uniform activity against cell culture infectious hepatitis C virus with genotype 1-6 proteases. Naturally occurring amino acid changes at protease position 80 had low fitness cost and influenced sensitivity to simeprevir, but not to other protease inhibitors in short-term treatment assays. Nevertheless, the pre-existing change Q80K had the potential to promote viral escape from protease inhibitors during long-term treatment by rapid co-selection of additional resistance changes, detected by next generation sequencing.
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March 2019

Emergence of a vancomycin-variable Enterococcus faecium ST1421 strain containing a deletion in vanX.

J Antimicrob Chemother 2018 11;73(11):2936-2940

Department of Clinical Microbiology 445, Hvidovre Hospital, Kettegård Allé 30, Hvidovre, Denmark.

Background: Primary screening for VRE with PCR directed against vanA allowed identification of vanA+ samples from which VRE could not be isolated when selective culture methods were used. From such a sample a vancomycin-susceptible, vanA+ Enterococcus faecium, Efm-V1511, was isolated, when vancomycin selection was not used during culture. Similar isolates with variable susceptibility to vancomycin were obtained in the following months.

Objectives: To characterize Efm-V1511 and investigate the causes of variable susceptibility to vancomycin.

Methods: All strains were sequenced using Illumina technology. Plasmids containing vanA were reconstructed by scaffolding to known plasmids or plasmids were sequenced using Oxford Nanopore MinION. Derived structures were verified by PCR and sequencing. Furthermore, selected vanA+ vancomycin-susceptible isolates were passaged in the presence of vancomycin and vancomycin-resistant variants obtained were sequenced.

Results: Efm-V1511 belonged to ST1421 and contained a 49 696 bp plasmid pHVH-V1511 carrying a Tn1546-derived genetic element. Within this element vanX was truncated by a 252 bp 3' deletion explaining the susceptibility of Efm-V1511. Between March 2016 and April 2017, 48 isolates containing pHVH-V1511 were identified. All were ST1421. In isolates resistant to vancomycin, resistance could be attributed to changes in ddl disrupting gene function sometimes accompanied by changes in vanS, increased pHVH-V1511 copy number or the existence of an additional vanA-containing plasmid encoding a functional vanX.

Conclusions: E. faecium carrying pHVH-V1511 is capable of nosocomial transmission and may develop clinical resistance to vancomycin. Strains may not be detected using standard culture methods for VRE.
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November 2018

Analytical and clinical performance of the Hologic Aptima HCV Quant Dx Assay for the quantification of HCV RNA in plasma samples.

J Virol Methods 2017 10 19;248:159-165. Epub 2017 Jul 19.

Department of Clinical Microbiology, Copenhagen University Hospital, Hvidovre, Denmark; Department of Clinical Medicine, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Denmark.

Background: Chronic hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection can be effectively treated with directly acting antiviral (DAA) therapy. Measurement of HCV RNA is used to evaluate patient compliance and virological response during and after treatment.

Objectives: To compare the analytical performance of the Aptima HCV Quant Dx Assay (Aptima) and the COBAS Ampliprep/COBAS TaqMan HCV Test v2.0 (CAPCTMv2) for the quantification of HCV RNA in plasma samples, and compare the clinical utility of the two tests in patients undergoing treatment with DAA therapy.

Study Design: Analytical performance was evaluated on two sets of plasma samples: 125 genotyped samples and 172 samples referred for quantification of HCV RNA. Furthermore, performance was evaluated using dilutions series of four samples containing HCV genotype 1a, 2b, 3a, and 4a, respectively. Clinical utility was evaluated on 118 plasma samples obtained from 13 patients undergoing treatment with DAAs.

Results: Deming regression of results from 187 plasma samples with HCV RNA >2 Log IU/mL indicated that the Aptima assay quantified higher than the CAPCTMv2 test for HCV RNA >4.9 Log IU/mL. The linearity of the Aptima assay was excellent across dilution series of four HCV genotypes (slope of the regression line: 1.00-1.02). The Aptima assay detected significantly more replicates below targeted 2 Log IU/mL than the CAPCTMv2 test, and yielded clearly interpretable results when used to analyze samples from patients treated with DAAs.

Conclusions: The analytical performance of the Aptima assay makes it well suited for monitoring patients with chronic HCV infection undergoing antiviral treatment.
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October 2017