Publications by authors named "Sara A Taleb"

5 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Level of maternal respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) F antibodies in hospitalized children and correlates of protection.

Int J Infect Dis 2021 Jun 10;109:56-62. Epub 2021 Jun 10.

Biomedical Research Center, Qatar University, Qatar; College of Health Sciences, Qatar University, Qatar. Electronic address:

Background: Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a major cause of lower respiratory infection among children and no vaccine is available. The stabilized form of the fusion (F) protein - pre-F - is a leading vaccine candidate to target different populations, including pregnant women. This study aimed to determine the magnitude and nature of RSV-directed maternal antibodies (matAbs) in hospitalized children with RSV infection.

Methods: Sixty-five paired blood samples were collected from RSV-infected children aged <6 months and their corresponding mothers. All pairs were screened for levels of pre-F and post-F antibodies using ELISA. The neutralizing antibodies (NAbs) in both groups were measured in vitro against mKate RSV-A2 using H28 cells.

Results: It was found that 14% of matAbs (log 12.8) were present in infants at hospitalization, with an average log EP titer of 10.2 directed to both F-protein conformations. Additionally, 61.4% of maternal NAbs (log EC = 9.4) were detected in infants (log EC = 8.7), which were mostly pre-F exclusive (81%). Pre-F antibodies in children showed a positive correlation with matAbs titers and negative correlations with age and bronchiolitis score.

Conclusions: The maintenance of neutralizing activity in infants relative to maternal titers was greater than the maintenance of antibody binding based on ELISA, suggesting that higher-potency antibodies may have a longer half-life than weakly neutralizing antibodies.
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June 2021

Prevalence and Phylogenetic Analysis of Parvovirus (B19V) among Blood Donors with Different Nationalities Residing in Qatar.

Viruses 2021 03 24;13(4). Epub 2021 Mar 24.

Biomedical Research Center, Member of QU Health, Qatar University, Doha, Qatar.

Human parvovirus (B19V) is the causative agent of erythema infectiosum in children and is linked to a wide range of clinical manifestations. Studies related to B19V prevalence in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region and other parts of Asia are very scarce. The objectives of this study were to estimate the seroprevalence (anti-B19V IgM and IgG), the viremia rate (B19V DNA), and the circulating genotypes of B19V among blood donors in Qatar.

Methods: Donors' blood samples ( = 5026) from different nationalities, mainly from the MENA region and South East Asia, were collected from 2014-2016. Samples were tested for the B19V DNA using RT-PCR. Furthermore, 1000 selected samples were tested to determine the seroprevalence of B19V antibodies using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Genotyping was performed on 65 DNA positive samples by sequencing of nested PCR fragments (NS1-VP1u region, 927 nt).

Results: Only 1.4% (70/5026) of the samples had detectible B19V DNA in their blood. B19V DNA prevalence statistically decreased with age ( = 0.03). Anti-B19V IgG was detected in 60.3% (561/930) of the tested samples, while only 2.1% (20/930) were IgM-positive and 1.2% (11/930) were both IgM- and IgG-positive. B19V genotyping showed a predominance of Genotype 1 (100%). Sequence analysis of the NS1-VP1u region revealed 139 mutation sites, some of which were amino acid substitutions.

Conclusion: Our results indicated a relatively high seroprevalence of B19V in Qatar. Most importantly, B19 DNA was detected among Qatari and non-Qatari blood donors. Therefore, blood banks in Qatar might need to consider screening for B19V, especially when transfusion is intended for high-risk populations, including immunocompromised patients.
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March 2021

Hepatitis B Virus Molecular Epidemiology, Host-Virus Interaction, Coinfection, and Laboratory Diagnosis in the MENA Region: An Update.

Pathogens 2019 May 11;8(2). Epub 2019 May 11.

Biomedical Research Center, Qatar University, Doha 2713, Qatar.

Hepatitis B virus (HBV) is an enveloped partial double-stranded DNA virus that can cause acute and chronic hepatitis. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 257 million people are living with HBV. Moreover, 20,900 acute hepatitis B cases were reported in 2016. Hepatitis B is highly prevalent in the African, Western Pacific, Eastern Mediterranean, South-East Asia, and European regions, respectively. Due to the high mutational rate of HBV and lack of reverse transcriptase proofreading activity, ten different genotypes with different geographical distributions have been identified. HBV pathogenesis and severity of infection depend on several host and viral factors, particularly, the genetic variability of both the host and virus. Although HBV infection is a global health concern, there is a lack of adequate studies and reports in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. Here, we provide a review on HBV epidemiology, pathogenesis, host-pathogen interactions, coinfection with selected viruses, and laboratory diagnosis, focusing on studies conducted in the MENA region to determine the current situation of the HBV infection and outline the future study areas.
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May 2019

Human respiratory syncytial virus: pathogenesis, immune responses, and current vaccine approaches.

Eur J Clin Microbiol Infect Dis 2018 Oct 6;37(10):1817-1827. Epub 2018 Jun 6.

Biomedical Research Center, Qatar University, 2713, Doha, Qatar.

Respiratory syncytial virus continues to pose a serious threat to the pediatric populations worldwide. With a genomic makeup of 15,200 nucleotides, the virus encodes for 11 proteins serving as envelope spikes, inner envelope proteins, and non-structural and ribonucleocapsid complexes. The fusion (F) and attachment (G) surface glycoproteins are the key targets for neutralizing antibodies. The highly variable G with altered glycosylations and the conformational alternations of F create challenges for vaccine development. The metastable F protein is responsible for RSV-host cell fusion and thus infectivity. Novel antigenic sites were identified on this form following its stabilization and solving its crystal structure. Importantly, site ø displays neutralizing activity exceeding those of post-F-specific and shared antigenic sites, such as site II which is the target for Palivizumab therapeutic antibody. Induction of high neutralizing antibody responses by pre-F immunization in animal models promoted it as a major vaccine candidate. Since RSV infection is more serious at age extremities and in individuals with undermining health conditions, vaccines are being developed to target these populations. Infants below three months of age have a suppressive immune system, making vaccines' immunogenicity weak. Therefore, a suggested strategy to protect newborns from RSV infection would be through passive immunity of maternal antibodies. Hence, pregnant women at their third trimester have been selected as an ideal target for vaccination with RSV pre-F vaccine. This review summarizes the different modes of RSV pathogenesis and host's immune response to the infection, and illustrates on the latest updates of vaccine development and vaccination approaches.
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October 2018

Prevalence and molecular profiling of Epstein Barr virus (EBV) among healthy blood donors from different nationalities in Qatar.

PLoS One 2017 11;12(12):e0189033. Epub 2017 Dec 11.

Biomedical Research Center, Qatar University, Doha, Qatar.

Background: The Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is the causative agent of infectious mononucleosis. EBV is highly prevalent lymphotropic herpesvirus and has been linked to several malignancies. Transmission is generally by oral secretions, but can be through blood transfusions and organ transplantations. This study aimed to determine the seroprevalence, viremia rates, and circulating genotypes of EBV in healthy blood donors in Qatar.

Methods: Blood samples from 673 blood donors of different nationalities residing in Qatar (mainly Qatar, Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Pakistan, and India) were collected and tested for anti-EBV capsid (VCA; IgG & IgM), nuclear (EBNA; IgG), and early (EA-D; IgG) antigens. Avidity testing was determined when active infection was suspected. DNA was extracted from the buffy coat and subjected to EBV-DNA quantification using qRT-PCR. Genotyping was performed using nested-PCR targeting EBV-EBNA2 gene, and phylogeny by sequence analysis of the LMP-1 gene.

Results: 97.9% (673/659) of the samples were seropositive as indicated by the presence VCA-IgG, while 52.6% (354/673) had detectible EBV-DNA. EBV seroprevalence and viremia rates increased significantly with age. Genotyping of 51 randomly selected samples showed predominance of Genotype 1 (72.5%, 37/51) as compared to genotype 2 (3.5%), and mixed infections were detected in 4% of the samples. Sub-genotyping for these samples revealed that the Mediterranean strain was predominant (65.3%), followed by B95.8 prototype and North Carolina strains (12.2% each), and China1 strain (6%).

Conclusion: As a first study to evaluate EBV infection in highly diverse population in Qatar, where expatriates represent more than 85% of the population, our results indicated high seroprevalence and viremia rate of EBV in different nationalities, with genotype 1 and Mediterranean strain being predominant. Clinical significance of these finding have not been investigated and shall be evaluated in future studies.
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January 2018