John Lusingu

National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR), Dār es Salām, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

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Publications (57)452.34 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: The PfEMP1 family of surface proteins is central for Plasmodium falciparum virulence and must retain the ability to bind to host receptors while also diversifying to aid immune evasion. The interaction between CIDRα1 domains of PfEMP1 and endothelial protein C receptor (EPCR) is associated with severe childhood malaria. We combine crystal structures of CIDRα1:EPCR complexes with analysis of 885 CIDRα1 sequences, showing that the EPCR-binding surfaces of CIDRα1 domains are conserved in shape and bonding potential, despite dramatic sequence diversity. Additionally, these domains mimic features of the natural EPCR ligand and can block this ligand interaction. Using peptides corresponding to the EPCR-binding region, antibodies can be purified from individuals in malaria-endemic regions that block EPCR binding of diverse CIDRα1 variants. This highlights the extent to which such a surface protein family can diversify while maintaining ligand-binding capacity and identifies features that should be mimicked in immunogens to prevent EPCR binding. Copyright © 2015 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
    Cell host & microbe. 12/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: Super-resistant Plasmodium falciparum threatens the effectiveness of sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine in intermittent preventive treatment for malaria during pregnancy. It is characterized by the A581G Pfdhps mutation on a background of the double-mutant Pfdhps and the triple-mutant Pfdhfr. Using samples collected during 2004-2008, we investigated the evolutionary origin of the A581G mutation by characterizing microsatellite diversity flanking Pfdhps triple-mutant (437G+540E+581G) alleles from 3 locations in eastern Africa and comparing it with double-mutant (437G+540E) alleles from the same area. In Ethiopia, both alleles derived from 1 lineage that was distinct from those in Uganda and Tanzania. Uganda and Tanzania triple mutants derived from the previously characterized southeastern Africa double-mutant lineage. The A581G mutation has occurred multiple times on local Pfdhps double-mutant backgrounds; however, a novel microsatellite allele incorporated into the Tanzania lineage since 2004 illustrates the local expansion of emergent triple-mutant lineages.
    Emerging infectious diseases. 08/2014; 20(8):1280-6.
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    ABSTRACT: Background The RTS,S malaria vaccine is currently undergoing phase 3 trials. High vaccine-induced antibody titres to the circumsporozoite protein (CSP) antigen have been associated with protection from infection and episodes of clinical malaria.Methods Using data from 5,144 participants in nine phase 2 trials, we explore predictors of vaccine immunogenicity (anti-CSP antibody titres), decay in antibody titres, and the association between antibody titres and clinical outcomes. We use empirically-observed relationships between these factors to predict vaccine efficacy in a range of scenarios.ResultsVaccine-induced anti-CSP antibody titres were significantly associated with age (P¿=¿0.04), adjuvant (P <0.001), pre-vaccination anti-hepatitis B surface antigen titres (P¿=¿0.005) and pre-vaccination anti-CSP titres (P <0.001). Co-administration with other vaccines reduced anti-CSP antibody titres although not significantly (P¿=¿0.095). Antibody titres showed a bi-phasic decay over time with an initial rapid decay in the first three months and a second slower decay over the next three to four years. Antibody titres were significantly associated with protection, with a titre of 51 (95% Credible Interval (CrI): 29 to 85) ELISA units/ml (EU/mL) predicted to prevent 50% of infections in children. Vaccine efficacy was predicted to decline to zero over four years in a setting with entomological inoculation rate (EIR)¿=¿20 infectious bites per year (ibpy). Over a five-year follow-up period at an EIR¿=¿20 ibpy, we predict RTS,S will avert 1,782 cases per 1,000 vaccinated children, 1,452 cases per 1,000 vaccinated infants, and 887 cases per 1,000 infants when co-administered with expanded programme on immunisation (EPI) vaccines. Our main study limitations include an absence of vaccine-induced cellular immune responses and short duration of follow-up in some individuals.Conclusions Vaccine-induced anti-CSP antibody titres and transmission intensity can explain variations in observed vaccine efficacy.
    BMC Medicine 07/2014; 12(1):117. · 7.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The circumsporozoite protein (CS protein) on the malaria parasites in mosquitoes plays an important role in sporogony in mosquitoes. The RTS,S/AS01 malaria vaccine candidate, which has shown significant efficacy against clinical malaria in a large Phase 3 trial, targets the Plasmodium falciparum CS protein, but the ability of serum from vaccinated individuals to inhibit sporogony in mosquitoes has not been evaluated.
    Malaria Journal 07/2014; 13(1):263. · 3.49 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Community perception in biomedical research remains critical in Africa with many participants being driven by different motives. The objective of this study was to explore the perceived motives for women or females guardians to volunteer for their children to participate in biomedical research and to explore experiences and challenges faced by Community Owned Resource Persons (CORPs) when mobilizing community members to participate in biomedical research. This cross sectional study was conducted in Korogwe district, in north-eastern Tanzania. Qualitative methods combining random and purposive sampling techniques were used for data collection. A randomly selected sample using random table method from the existing list of households in the ward office was used to select participants for Focus Group Discussions (FGDs). A purposive sampling technique was used for In-Depth Interviews (IDIs) with CORPs. Thematic framework analysis was used to analyze the data. Need for better health services, availability of qualified clinicians, and better access to services provided at the research points were reported as main motives for community members to participate in biomedical research. With regard to experience and challenges faced by CORPs, the main reasons for mothers and guardians not participating in biomedical research were linked to misconception of the malariometric surveys, negative perception of the validity and sensitivity of rapid diagnostic tests, fear of knowing Human Immunodeficiency Virus Infection (HIV) /Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (HIV/AIDS) sero status, and lack of trust for the medical information provided by the CORPs. Challenges reported by CORPs included lack ofawareness of malariometric surveys among participants, time consumption in mobilization of the community, difficulties in identifying individual results, and family responsibilities. This study has shown that majority of community members had positive perceptions of the about malariometric surveys services provided. The availability of free health services was the major determining factor for community members' participation in malariometric surveys. CORPs are instrumental in mobilizing community members participation during malariometric surveys, despite their experiences and the challenges they face.
    BMC Public Health 04/2014; 14(1):385. · 2.08 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Although the burden of malaria in many parts of Tanzania has declined, the proportion of children with fever has not changed. This situation underscores the need to explore the possible causes of febrile episodes in patients presenting with symptoms at the Korogwe District Hospital (KDH).
    PLoS ONE 01/2014; 9(8):e104197. · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Intermittent preventive treatment during pregnancy with sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine (IPTp-SP) is a key strategy in the control of pregnancy-associated malaria. However, this strategy is compromised by widespread drug resistance from single-nucleotide polymorphisms in the Plasmodium falciparum dihydrofolate reductase and dihydropteroate synthetase genes. During September 2008-October 2010, we monitored a cohort of 924 pregnant women in an area of Tanzania with declining malaria transmission. P. falciparum parasites were genotyped, and the effect of infecting haplotypes on birthweight was assessed. Of the genotyped parasites, 9.3%, 46.3%, and 44.4% had quadruple or less, quintuple, and sextuple mutated haplotypes, respectively. Mutant haplotypes were unrelated to SP doses. Compared with infections with the less-mutated haplotypes, infections with the sextuple haplotype mutation were associated with lower (359 g) birthweights. Continued use of the suboptimal IPTp-SP regimen should be reevaluated, and alternative strategies (e.g., intermittent screening and treatment or intermittent treatment with safe and effective alternative drugs) should be evaluated.
    Emerging Infectious Diseases 09/2013; 19(9). · 6.79 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: National estimates for the numbers of babies born small for gestational age and the comorbidity with preterm birth are unavailable. We aimed to estimate the prevalence of term and preterm babies born small for gestational age (term-SGA and preterm-SGA), and the relation to low birthweight (<2500 g), in 138 countries of low and middle income in 2010.
    The lancet global health. 07/2013; 1(1):e26-e36.
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    ABSTRACT: Sequestration of Plasmodium falciparum-infected erythrocytes in host blood vessels is a key triggering event in the pathogenesis of severe childhood malaria, which is responsible for about one million deaths every year. Sequestration is mediated by specific interactions between members of the P. falciparum erythrocyte membrane protein 1 (PfEMP1) family and receptors on the endothelial lining. Severe childhood malaria is associated with expression of specific PfEMP1 subtypes containing domain cassettes (DCs) 8 and 13 (ref. 3), but the endothelial receptor for parasites expressing these proteins was unknown. Here we identify endothelial protein C receptor (EPCR), which mediates the cytoprotective effects of activated protein C, as the endothelial receptor for DC8 and DC13 PfEMP1. We show that EPCR binding is mediated through the amino-terminal cysteine-rich interdomain region (CIDRα1) of DC8 and group A PfEMP1 subfamilies, and that CIDRα1 interferes with protein C binding to EPCR. This PfEMP1 adhesive property links P. falciparum cytoadhesion to a host receptor involved in anticoagulation and endothelial cytoprotective pathways, and has implications for understanding malaria pathology and the development of new malaria interventions.
    Nature 06/2013; · 38.60 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Studies conducted thus far have demonstrated that the malaria vaccine (RTS,S) has a promising safety profile. Within the context of planning for future vaccine trials and for the purpose of building on previous research that has been undertaken in sub-Saharan Africa with regard to community perceptions about clinical studies, this research aimed to explore the community perceptions on the secondary health benefits established by the malaria vaccine trials (RTS,S Phase 2 and Phase 3) at the Korogwe site in Tanzania. METHODS: An exploratory qualitative study design was used. Participants were recruited from the Korogwe site. Sampling techniques were purposive and random. A total of five focus group discussions and six in-depth interviews were conducted. Interview guides with open-ended questions were employed to collect data. Male and female parents whose infants participated and those whose infants did not participate in the trials, health workers and community leaders were interviewed. Thematic analysis framework was used to analyse the data. RESULTS: The activities of a malaria vaccine project appeared to be well known to the community. Respondents had largely positive views towards the secondary health benefits which have been established by malaria vaccine trials. The project has led to a massive investment in health care infrastructure and an improvement in health care services across the study areas. The project was perceived by the community to have established major secondary health benefits. Misconceptions amongst respondents, especially with regard to blood samples, were also observed in this study. CONCLUSION: Despite some misconceptions with regard to the conduct of malaria vaccine trials, especially on blood sampling, generally this study observed that most participants were positive about the secondary health benefits brought about by the malaria vaccine trials in Korogwe.
    Malaria Journal 05/2013; 12(1):157. · 3.49 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: The efficacy of RTS,S/AS01 as a vaccine for malaria is being tested in a phase 3 clinical trial. Early results show significant, albeit partial, protection against clinical malaria and severe malaria. To ascertain variations in vaccine efficacy according to covariates such as transmission intensity, choice of adjuvant, age at vaccination, and bednet use, we did an individual-participant pooled analysis of phase 2 clinical data. METHODS: We analysed data from 11 different sites in Africa, including 4453 participants. We measured heterogeneity in vaccine efficacy by estimating the interactions between covariates and vaccination in pooled multivariable Cox regression and Poisson regression analyses. Endpoints for measurement of vaccine efficacy were infection, clinical malaria, severe malaria, and death. We defined transmission intensity levels according to the estimated local parasite prevalence in children aged 2-10 years (PrP2-10), ranging from 5% to 80%. Choice of adjuvant was either AS01 or AS02. FINDINGS: Vaccine efficacy against all episodes of clinical malaria varied by transmission intensity (p=0·001). At low transmission (PrP2-10 10%) vaccine efficacy was 60% (95% CI 54 to 67), at moderate transmission (PrP2-10 20%) it was 41% (21 to 57), and at high transmission (PrP2-10 70%) the efficacy was 4% (-10 to 22). Vaccine efficacy also varied by adjuvant choice (p<0·0001)-eg, at low transmission (PrP2-10 10%), efficacy varied from 60% (95% CI 54 to 67) for AS01 to 47% (14 to 75) for AS02. Variations in efficacy by age at vaccination were of borderline significance (p=0·038), and bednet use and sex were not significant covariates. Vaccine efficacy (pooled across adjuvant choice and transmission intensity) varied significantly (p<0·0001) according to time since vaccination, from 36% efficacy (95% CI 24 to 45) at time of vaccination to 0% (-38 to 38) after 3 years. INTERPRETATION: Vaccine efficacy against clinical disease was of limited duration and was not detectable 3 years after vaccination. Furthermore, efficacy fell with increasing transmission intensity. Outcomes after vaccination cannot be gauged accurately on the basis of one pooled efficacy figure. However, predictions of public-health outcomes of vaccination will need to take account of variations in efficacy by transmission intensity and by time since vaccination. FUNDING: Medical Research Council (UK); Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Vaccine Modelling Initiative; Wellcome Trust.
    The Lancet Infectious Diseases 02/2013; · 19.97 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Pregnancy associated malaria is associated with decreased birth weight, but in-utero evaluation of fetal growth alterations is rarely performed. The objective of this study was to investigate malaria induced changes in fetal growth during the 3(rd) trimester using trans-abdominal ultrasound. An observational study of 876 pregnant women (398 primi- and secundigravidae and 478 multigravidae) was conducted in Tanzania. Fetal growth was monitored with ultrasound and screening for malaria was performed regularly. Birth weight and fetal weight were converted to z-scores, and fetal growth evaluated as fetal weight gain from the 26th week of pregnancy. Malaria infection only affected birth weight and fetal growth among primi- and secundigravid women. Forty-eight of the 398 primi- and secundigravid women had malaria during pregnancy causing a reduction in the newborns z-score of -0.50 (95% CI: -0.86, -0.13, P = 0.008, multiple linear regression). Fifty-eight percent (28/48) of the primi- and secundigravidae had malaria in the first half of pregnancy, but an effect on fetal growth was observed in the 3(rd) trimester with an OR of 4.89 for the fetal growth rate belonging to the lowest 25% in the population (95%CI: 2.03-11.79, P<0.001, multiple logistic regression). At an individual level, among the primi- and secundigravidae, 27% experienced alterations of fetal growth immediately after exposure but only for a short interval, 27% only late in pregnancy, 16.2% persistently from exposure until the end of pregnancy, and 29.7% had no alterations of fetal growth. The effect of malaria infections was observed during the 3(rd) trimester, despite infections occurring much earlier in pregnancy, and different mechanisms might operate leading to different patterns of growth alterations. This study highlights the need for protection against malaria throughout pregnancy and the recognition that observed changes in fetal growth might be a consequence of an infection much earlier in pregnancy.
    PLoS ONE 01/2013; 8(1):e53794. · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: The ability of Plasmodium falciparum to undergo antigenic variation, by switching expression among protein variants encoded by multigene families, such as var, rif and stevor, is key to the survival of this parasite in the human host. The RIFIN protein family can be divided into A and B types based on the presence or absence of a 25 amino acid motif in the semi-conserved domain. A particular type B RIFIN, PF13_0006, has previously been shown to be strongly transcribed in the asexual and sexual stages of P. falciparum in vitro. METHODS: Antibodies to recombinant PF13_0006 RIFIN were used in immunofluorescence and confocal imaging of 3D7 parasites throughout the asexual reproduction and sexual development to examine the expression of PF13_0006. Furthermore, reactivity to recombinant PF13_0006 was measured in plasma samples collected from individuals from both East and West African endemic areas. RESULTS: The PF13_0006 RIFIN variant appeared expressed by both released merozoites and gametes after emergence. 7.4% and 12.1% of individuals from East and West African endemic areas, respectively, carry plasma antibodies that recognize recombinant PF13_0006, where the antibody responses were more common among older children. CONCLUSIONS: The stage specificity of PF13_0006 suggests that the diversity of RIFIN variants has evolved to provide multiple specialized functions in different stages of the parasite life cycle. These data also suggest that RIFIN variants antigenically similar to PF13_0006 occur in African parasite populations.
    Malaria Journal 12/2012; 11(1):429. · 3.49 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Background The candidate malaria vaccine RTS,S/AS01 reduced episodes of both clinical and severe malaria in children 5 to 17 months of age by approximately 50% in an ongoing phase 3 trial. We studied infants 6 to 12 weeks of age recruited for the same trial. Methods We administered RTS,S/AS01 or a comparator vaccine to 6537 infants who were 6 to 12 weeks of age at the time of the first vaccination in conjunction with Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI) vaccines in a three-dose monthly schedule. Vaccine efficacy against the first or only episode of clinical malaria during the 12 months after vaccination, a coprimary end point, was analyzed with the use of Cox regression. Vaccine efficacy against all malaria episodes, vaccine efficacy against severe malaria, safety, and immunogenicity were also assessed. Results The incidence of the first or only episode of clinical malaria in the intention-to-treat population during the 14 months after the first dose of vaccine was 0.31 per person-year in the RTS,S/AS01 group and 0.40 per person-year in the control group, for a vaccine efficacy of 30.1% (95% confidence interval [CI], 23.6 to 36.1). Vaccine efficacy in the per-protocol population was 31.3% (97.5% CI, 23.6 to 38.3). Vaccine efficacy against severe malaria was 26.0% (95% CI, −7.4 to 48.6) in the intention-to-treat population and 36.6% (95% CI, 4.6 to 57.7) in the per-protocol population. Serious adverse events occurred with a similar frequency in the two study groups. One month after administration of the third dose of RTS,S/AS01, 99.7% of children were positive for anti-circumsporozoite antibodies, with a geometric mean titer of 209 EU per milliliter (95% CI, 197 to 222). Conclusions The RTS,S/AS01 vaccine coadministered with EPI vaccines provided modest protection against both clinical and severe malaria in young infants. (Funded by GlaxoSmithKline Biologicals and the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative; RTS,S ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT00866619.)
    New England Journal of Medicine 12/2012; 367(367):2284-2295. · 54.42 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Low birth weight and prematurity are amongst the strongest predictors of neonatal death. However, the extent to which they act independently is poorly understood. Our objective was to estimate the neonatal mortality risk associated with preterm birth when stratified by weight for gestational age in the high mortality setting of East Africa. Members and collaborators of the Malaria and the MARCH Centers, at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, were contacted and protocols reviewed for East African studies that measured (1) birth weight, (2) gestational age at birth using antenatal ultrasound or neonatal assessment, and (3) neonatal mortality. Ten datasets were identified and four met the inclusion criteria. The four datasets (from Uganda, Kenya, and two from Tanzania) contained 5,727 births recorded between 1999-2010. 4,843 births had complete outcome data and were included in an individual participant level meta-analysis. 99% of 445 low birth weight (< 2,500 g) babies were either preterm (< 37 weeks gestation) or small for gestational age (below tenth percentile of weight for gestational age). 52% of 87 neonatal deaths occurred in preterm or small for gestational age babies. Babies born < 34 weeks gestation had the highest odds of death compared to term babies (odds ratio [OR] 58.7 [95% CI 28.4-121.4]), with little difference when stratified by weight for gestational age. Babies born 34-36 weeks gestation with appropriate weight for gestational age had just three times the likelihood of neonatal death compared to babies born term, (OR 3.2 [95% CI 1.0-10.7]), but the likelihood for babies born 34-36 weeks who were also small for gestational age was 20 times higher (OR 19.8 [95% CI 8.3-47.4]). Only 1% of babies were born moderately premature and small for gestational age, but this group suffered 8% of deaths. Individual level data on newborns are scarce in East Africa; potential biases arising due to the non-systematic selection of the individual studies, or due to the methods applied for estimating gestational age, are discussed. Moderately preterm babies who are also small for gestational age experience a considerably increased likelihood of neonatal death in East Africa.
    PLoS Medicine 08/2012; 9(8):e1001292. · 15.25 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Accurate diagnosis and prompt treatment of pregnancy-associated malaria (PAM) are key aspects in averting adverse pregnancy outcomes. Microscopy is the gold standard in malaria diagnosis, but it has limited detection and availability. When used appropriately, rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) could be an ideal diagnostic complement to microscopy, due to their ease of use and adequate sensitivity in detecting even sub-microscopic infections. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is even more sensitive, but it is mainly used for research purposes. The accuracy and reliability of RDTs in diagnosing PAM was evaluated using microscopy and PCR. A cohort of pregnant women in north-eastern Tanzania was followed throughout pregnancy for detection of plasmodial infection using venous and placental blood samples evaluated by histidine rich protein 2 (HRP-2) and parasite lactate dehydrogenase (pLDH) based RDTs (Parascreen™) or HRP-2 only (Paracheck Pf® and ParaHIT®f), microscopy and nested Plasmodium species diagnostic PCR. From a cohort of 924 pregnant women who completed the follow up, complete RDT and microscopy data was available for 5,555 blood samples and of these 442 samples were analysed by PCR. Of the 5,555 blood samples, 49 ((proportion and 95% confidence interval) 0.9% [0.7 -1.1]) samples were positive by microscopy and 91 (1.6% [1.3-2.0]) by RDT. Forty-six (50.5% [40.5 - 60.6]) and 45 (49.5% [39.4 - 59.5]) of the RDT positive samples were positive and negative by microscopy, respectively, whereas nineteen (42.2% [29.0 - 56.7]) of the microscopy negative, but RDT positive, samples were positive by PCR. Three (0.05% [0.02 - 0.2]) samples were positive by microscopy but negative by RDT. 351 of the 5,461 samples negative by both RDT and microscopy were tested by PCR and found negative. There was no statistically significant difference between the performances of the different RDTs. Microscopy underestimated the real burden of malaria during pregnancy and RDTs performed better than microscopy in diagnosing PAM. In areas where intermittent preventive treatment during pregnancy may be abandoned due to low and decreasing malaria risk and instead replaced with active case management, screening with RDT is likely to identify most infections in pregnant women and out-performs microscopy as a diagnostic tool.
    Malaria Journal 06/2012; 11:211. · 3.49 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: To identify factors associated with perinatal mortality in northeastern Tanzania. Prospective cohort study. Northeastern Tanzania. Population. 872 mothers and their newborns. Pregnant women were screened for factors possibly associated with perinatal mortality, including preeclampsia, small-for-gestational age, preterm delivery, anemia, and health-seeking behavior. Fetal growth was monitored using ultrasound. Finally, the specific causes of the perinatal deaths were evaluated. Perinatal mortality. Forty-six deaths occurred. Key factors associated with perinatal mortality were preterm delivery (adjusted odds ratio (OR) 14.47, 95% confidence interval (CI) 3.23-64.86, p < 0.001), small-for-gestational age (adjusted OR 3.54, 95%CI 1.18-10.61, p = 0.02), and maternal anemia (adjusted OR 10.34, 95%CI 1.89-56.52, p = 0.007). Adherence to the antenatal care program (adjusted OR 0.027, 95%CI 0.003-0.26, p = 0.002) protected against perinatal mortality. The cause of death in 43% of cases was attributed to complications related to labor and specifically to intrapartum asphyxia (30%) and neonatal infection (13%). Among the remaining deaths, 27% (7/26) were attributed to preeclampsia and 23% (6/26) to small-for-gestational age. Of these, 54% (14/26) were preterm. Preeclampsia, small-for-gestational age and preterm delivery were key risk factors and causes of perinatal mortality in this area of Tanzania. Maternal anemia was also strongly associated with perinatal mortality. Furthermore, asphyxia accounted for a large proportion of the perinatal deaths. Interventions should target the prevention and handling of these conditions in order to reduce perinatal mortality.
    Acta Obstetricia Et Gynecologica Scandinavica 06/2012; 91(9):1061-8. · 1.85 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The clinical outcome of Plasmodium falciparum infections ranges from asymptomatic parasitemia to severe malaria syndromes associated with high mortality. The virulence of P. falciparum infections is associated with the type of P. falciparum erythrocyte membrane protein 1 (PfEMP1) expressed on the surface of infected erythrocytes to anchor these to the vascular lining. Although var2csa, the var gene encoding the PfEMP1 associated with placental malaria, was discovered in 2003, the identification of the var/PfEMP1 variants associated with severe malaria in children has remained elusive. To identify var/PfEMP1 variants associated with severe disease outcome, we compared var transcript levels in parasites from 88 children with severe malaria and 40 children admitted to the hospital with uncomplicated malaria. Transcript analysis was performed by RT-quantitative PCR using a set of 42 primer pairs amplifying var subtype-specific loci covering most var/PfEMP1 subtypes. In addition, we characterized the near-full-length sequence of the most prominently expressed var genes in three patients diagnosed with severe anemia and/or cerebral malaria. The combined analysis showed that severe malaria syndromes, including severe anemia and cerebral malaria, are associated with high transcript levels of PfEMP1 domain cassette 8-encoding var genes. Transcript levels of group A var genes, including genes encoding domain cassette 13, were also significantly higher in patients with severe syndromes compared with those with uncomplicated malaria. This study specifies the var/PfEMP1 types expressed in severe malaria in children, and thereby provides unique targets for future efforts to prevent and treat severe malaria infections.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 05/2012; 109(26):E1791-800. · 9.81 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Members of the Plasmodium falciparum erythrocyte membrane protein 1 (PfEMP1) adhesion antigen family are major contributors to the pathogenesis of P. falciparum malaria infections. The PfEMP1-encoding var genes are among the most diverse sequences in nature, but three genes, var1, var2csa and var3 are found conserved in most parasite genomes. The most severe forms of malaria disease are caused by parasites expressing a subset of antigenically conserved PfEMP1 variants. Thus the ubiquitous and conserved VAR3 PfEMP1 is of particular interest to the research field. Evidence of VAR3 expression on the infected erythrocyte surface has never been presented, and var3 genes have been proposed to be transcribed and expressed differently from the rest of the var gene family members. In this study, parasites expressing VAR3 PfEMP1 were generated using anti-VAR3 antibodies and the var transcript and PfEMP1 expression profiles of the generated parasites were investigated. The IgG reactivity by plasma from children living in malaria-endemic Tanzania was tested to parasites and recombinant VAR3 protein. Parasites from hospitalized children were isolated and the transcript level of var3 was investigated. Var3 is transcribed and its protein product expressed on the surface of infected erythrocytes. The VAR3-expressing parasites were better recognized by children´s IgG than a parasite line expressing a Group B var gene. Two in 130 children showed increased recognition of parasites expressing VAR3 and to the recombinant VAR3 protein after a malaria episode and the isolated parasites showed high levels of var3 transcripts. Collectively, the presented data suggest that var3 is transcribed and its protein product expressed on the surface of infected erythrocytes in the same manner as seen for other var genes both in vitro and in vivo. Only very few children exhibit seroconversion to VAR3 following a malaria episode requiring hospitalization, supporting the previous conclusion drawn from var3 transcript analysis of parasites collected from children hospitalized with malaria, that VAR3 is not associated with severe anaemia or cerebral malaria syndromes in children.
    Malaria Journal 04/2012; 11:129. · 3.49 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: RTS,S/AS01, a vaccine targeting pre-erythrocytic stages of Plasmodium falciparum, is undergoing clinical trials. We report an analysis of cellular immune response to component Ags of RTS,S-hepatitis B surface Ag (HBs) and P. falciparum circumsporozoite (CS) protein-among Tanzanian children in a phase IIb RTS,S/AS01(E) trial. RTS,S/AS01 (E) vaccinees make stronger T cell IFN-γ, CD69, and CD25 responses to HBs peptides than do controls, indicating that RTS,S boosts pre-existing HBs responses. T cell CD69 and CD25 responses to CS and CS-specific secreted IL-2 were augmented by RTS,S vaccination. Importantly, more than 50% of peptide-induced IFN-γ(+) lymphocytes were NK cells, and the magnitude of the NK cell CD69 response to HBs peptides correlated with secreted IL-2 concentration. CD69 and CD25 expression and IL-2 secretion may represent sensitive markers of RTS,S-induced, CS-specific T cells. The potential for T cell-derived IL-2 to augment NK cell activation in RTS,S-vaccinated individuals, and the relevance of this for protection, needs to be explored further.
    The Journal of Immunology 04/2012; 188(10):5054-62. · 5.52 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

1k Citations
452.34 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2004–2014
    • National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR)
      Dār es Salām, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
  • 2008–2013
    • University of Copenhagen
      • • Centre for Medical Parasitology
      • • Department of International Health, Immunology and Microbiology
      Copenhagen, Capital Region, Denmark
    • Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research
      • Department of Immunology
      Akra, Greater Accra, Ghana
  • 2009
    • Kenya Medical Research Institute
      Nairoba, Nairobi Area, Kenya