Imperial College London

DrVictoriaWright

Faculty of MedicineDepartment of Infectious Disease

Research Fellow
 
 
 
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Contact

 

+44 (0)20 7594 3577v.wright

 
 
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Location

 

PaediatricsMedical SchoolSt Mary's Campus

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Summary

 

Publications

Publication Type
Year
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66 results found

Li HK, Kaforou M, Rodriguez-Manzano J, Channon-Wells S, Monir A, Habgood-Coote D, Gupta RK, Mills EA, Lin J, Chiu Y-H, Pennisi I, Miglietta L, Mehta R, Obaray N, Herberg JA, Wright VJ, Georgiou P, Shallcross LJ, Mentzer AJ, Levin M, Cooke GS, Noursadeghi M, Sriskandan Set al., 2021, Discovery and validation of a 3-gene signature to distinguish COVID-19 and other viral infections in emergency infectious disease presentations; a case-control then observational cohort study, The Lancet Microbe, Vol: 2, Pages: 594-603, ISSN: 2666-5247

Background: Emergency admissions for infection often lack initial diagnostic certainty. COVID-19 has highlighted a need for novel diagnostic approaches to indicate likelihood of viral infection in a pandemic setting. We sought to derive and validate a blood transcriptional signature to detect viral infections including COVID-19 among adults with suspected infection presenting to the Emergency Department (ED).Methods: Blood RNA sequencing was performed on a discovery cohort of adults attending the ED with suspected infection who had subsequently-confirmed viral, bacterial, or no infection diagnoses. Differentially expressed host genes were subjected to feature selection to derive the most parsimonious discriminating signature. RT-qPCR validation of the signature was then performed in a prospective cohort of ED patients presenting with undifferentiated fever, and a second case-control cohort of ED patients with COVID-19 or bacterial infection. Signature performance was assessed by calculating area under receiver-operating characteristic curves (AUC-ROCs), sensitivities, and specificities.Findings: A 3-gene transcript signature was derived from the discovery cohort of 56 bacterial and 27 viral infection cases. In the validation cohort of 200 cases, the signature differentiated bacterial from viral infections with an AUC-ROC of 0.976 (95% CI: 0.919-1.000), sensitivity 97.3% and specificity of 100%. The AUC-ROC for C-reactive protein (CRP) and leucocyte count (WCC) was 0.833 (95% CI: 0.694-0.944) and 0.938 (95% CI: 0.840-0.986) respectively. The signature achieved higher net benefit in decision curve analysis than either CRP or WCC for discriminating viral infections from all other cases. In the second validation analysis the signature discriminated 35 bacterial infections from 34 SARS-CoV-2 positive COVID-19 infections with AUC-ROC of 0.953 (95% CI: 0.893-0.992), sensitivity 88.6% and specificity of 94.1%.Interpretation: This novel 3-gene signature discriminates viral i

Journal article

Nijman R, Oostenbrink R, Moll HA, Casals-Pascual C, von Both U, Cunnington A, De T, Eleftheriou I, Emonts M, Fink C, Van Der Flier M, de Groot R, Kaforou M, Kohlmaier B, Kuijpers TW, Lim E, Maconochie I, Paulus S, Martinon-Torres F, Pokorn M, Romaine S, Rivero Calle I, Schlapbach L, Smit FJ, Tsolia M, Usuf E, Wright V, Yeung S, Zavadska D, Zenz W, Levin M, Herberg J, Carrol EDet al., 2021, A novel framework for phenotyping children with suspected or confirmed infection for future biomarker studies, Frontiers in Pediatrics, Vol: 9, Pages: 1-18, ISSN: 2296-2360

Background: The limited diagnostic accuracy of biomarkers in children at risk of a serious bacterial infection (SBI) might be due to the imperfect reference standard of SBI. We aimed to evaluate the diagnostic performance of a new classification algorithm for biomarker discovery in children at risk of SBI.Methods: We used data from five previously published, prospective observational biomarker discovery studies, which included patients aged 0– <16 years: the Alder Hey emergency department (n = 1,120), Alder Hey pediatric intensive care unit (n = 355), Erasmus emergency department (n = 1,993), Maasstad emergency department (n = 714) and St. Mary's hospital (n = 200) cohorts. Biomarkers including procalcitonin (PCT) (4 cohorts), neutrophil gelatinase-associated lipocalin-2 (NGAL) (3 cohorts) and resistin (2 cohorts) were compared for their ability to classify patients according to current standards (dichotomous classification of SBI vs. non-SBI), vs. a proposed PERFORM classification algorithm that assign patients to one of eleven categories. These categories were based on clinical phenotype, test outcomes and C-reactive protein level and accounted for the uncertainty of final diagnosis in many febrile children. The success of the biomarkers was measured by the Area under the receiver operating Curves (AUCs) when they were used individually or in combination.Results: Using the new PERFORM classification system, patients with clinically confident bacterial diagnosis (“definite bacterial” category) had significantly higher levels of PCT, NGAL and resistin compared with those with a clinically confident viral diagnosis (“definite viral” category). Patients with diagnostic uncertainty had biomarker concentrations that varied across the spectrum. AUCs were higher for classification of “definite bacterial” vs. “definite viral” following the PERFORM algorithm than using the “SBI” vs. “non-SBI” c

Journal article

Jackson H, Menikou S, Hamilton M, McArdle A, Shimizu C, Galassini R, Huang H, Kim J, Tremoulet A, de Jonge M, Kuijpers T, Wright V, Burns J, Casals-Pascual C, Herberg J, Levin M, Kaforou Met al., 2021, Kawasaki Disease patient stratification and pathway analysis based on host transcriptomic and proteomic profiles, International Journal of Molecular Sciences, Vol: 11, Pages: 1-24, ISSN: 1422-0067

The aetiology of Kawasaki Disease (KD), an acute inflammatory disorder of childhood, remains unknown despite various triggers of KD having been proposed. Host ‘omic profiles offer insights into the host response to infection and inflammation, with the interrogation of multiple ‘omic levels in parallel providing a more comprehensive picture. We used differential abundance analysis, pathway analysis, clustering and classification techniques to explore whether the host response in KD is more similar to the response to bacterial or viral infection at the transcriptomic and proteomic levels through comparison of ‘omic profiles from children with KD to those with bacterial and viral infections. Pathways activated in patients with KD included those involved in anti-viral and anti-bacterial responses. Unsupervised clustering showed that the majority of KD patients clustered with bacterial patients on both ‘omic levels, whilst application of diagnostic signatures specific for bacterial and viral infections revealed that many transcriptomic KD samples had low probabilities of having bacterial or viral infections, suggesting that KD may be triggered by a different process not typical of either common bacterial or viral infections. Clustering based on the transcriptomic and proteomic responses during KD revealed three clusters of KD patients on both ‘omic levels, suggesting heterogeneity within the inflammatory response during KD. The observed heterogeneity may reflect differences in the host response to a common trigger, or variation dependent on different triggers of the condition.

Journal article

Hoggart C, Shimizu C, Galassini R, Wright VJ, Shailes H, Bellos E, Herberg JA, Pollard AJ, O'Connor D, Choi SW, Seaby EG, Menikou S, Hibberd M, Sallah N, Burgner D, Brogan P, Patel H, Kim J, Tremoulet AH, Salo E, van Stijn D, Kuijpers T, Burns JC, Levin Met al., 2021, Identification of novel locus associated with coronary artery aneurysms and validation of loci for susceptibility to Kawasaki disease, European Journal of Human Genetics, ISSN: 1018-4813

Kawasaki disease (KD) is a paediatric vasculitis associated with coronary artery aneurysms (CAA). Genetic variants influencing susceptibility to KD have been previously identified, but no risk alleles have been validated that influence CAA formation. We conducted a genome-wide association study (GWAS) for CAA in KD patients of European descent with 200 cases and 276 controls. A second GWAS for susceptibility pooled KD cases with healthy paediatric controls from vaccine trials in the UK (n = 1609). Logistic regression mixed models were used for both GWASs. The susceptibility GWAS was meta-analysed with 400 KD cases and 6101 controls from a previous European GWAS, these results were further meta-analysed with Japanese GWASs at two putative loci. The CAA GWAS identified an intergenic region of chromosome 20q13 with multiple SNVs showing genome-wide significance. The risk allele of the most associated SNV (rs6017006) was present in 13% of cases and 4% of controls; in East Asian 1000 Genomes data, the allele was absent or rare. Susceptibility GWAS with meta-analysis with previously published European data identified two previously associated loci (ITPKC and FCGR2A). Further meta-analysis with Japanese GWAS summary data from the CASP3 and FAM167A genomic regions validated these loci in Europeans showing consistent effects of the top SNVs in both populations. We identified a novel locus for CAA in KD patients of European descent. The results suggest that different genes determine susceptibility to KD and development of CAA and future work should focus on the function of the intergenic region on chromosome 20q13.

Journal article

Gliddon H, Kaforou M, Alikian M, Coote D, Zhou C, Oni T, Anderson ST, Brent AJ, Crampin AC, Eley B, Heyderman R, Langford PR, Kern F, Ottenhoff THM, Hibberd ML, French N, Wright V, Dockrell HM, Coin L, Wilkinson R, Levin Met al., 2021, Identification of reduced host transcriptomic signatures for tuberculosis disease and digital PCR-based validation and quantification, Frontiers in Immunology, Vol: 12, ISSN: 1664-3224

Recently, host whole blood gene expression signatures have been identified for diagnosis of tuberculosis (TB). Absolute quantification of the concentrations of signature transcripts in blood have not been reported, but would facilitate diagnostic test development. To identify minimal transcript signatures, we applied a transcript selection procedure to microarray data from African adults comprising 536 patients with TB, other diseases (OD) and latent TB (LTBI), divided into training and test sets. Signatures were further investigated using reverse transcriptase (RT)—digital PCR (dPCR). A four-transcript signature (GBP6, TMCC1, PRDM1, and ARG1) measured using RT-dPCR distinguished TB patients from those with OD (area under the curve (AUC) 93.8% (CI95% 82.2–100%). A three-transcript signature (FCGR1A, ZNF296, and C1QB) differentiated TB from LTBI (AUC 97.3%, CI95%: 93.3–100%), regardless of HIV. These signatures have been validated across platforms and across samples offering strong, quantitative support for their use as diagnostic biomarkers for TB.

Journal article

Borghesi A, Trück J, Asgari S, Sancho-Shimizu V, Agyeman PKA, Bellos E, Giannoni E, Stocker M, Posfay-Barbe KM, Heininger U, Bernhard-Stirnemann S, Niederer-Loher A, Kahlert CR, Natalucci G, Relly C, Riedel T, Kuehni CE, Thorball CW, Chaturvedi N, Martinon-Torres F, Kuijpers TW, Coin L, Wright V, Herberg J, Levin M, Aebi C, Berger C, Fellay J, Schlapbach LJ, EUCLIDS consortium and the Swiss Paediatric Sepsis Studyet al., 2020, Whole-exome sequencing for the identification of rare variants in primary immunodeficiency genes in children with sepsis - a prospective population-based cohort study., Clinical Infectious Diseases, Vol: 71, Pages: e614-e623, ISSN: 1058-4838

BACKGROUND: The role of primary immunodeficiencies (PID) in susceptibility to sepsis remains unknown. It is unclear whether children with sepsis benefit from genetic investigations. We hypothesized that sepsis may represent the first manifestation of underlying PID. We applied whole-exome sequencing (WES) to a national cohort of children with sepsis to identify rare, predicted pathogenic variants in PID genes. METHODS: Multicenter population-based prospective study including previously healthy children ≥28 days and <17 years admitted with blood culture-proven sepsis. Using a stringent variant filtering procedure, analysis of WES data was restricted to rare, predicted pathogenic variants in 240 PID genes for which increased susceptibility to bacterial infection has been reported. RESULTS: 176 children presenting with 185 sepsis episodes underwent WES (median age 52 months, IQR 15.4-126.4). 41 unique predicted pathogenic PID variants (1 homozygous, 5 hemizygous, and 35 heterozygous) were found in 35/176 (20%) patients, including 3/176 (2%) patients carrying variants which were previously reported to lead to PID. The variants occurred in PID genes across all 8 PID categories as defined by the International Union of Immunological Societies. We did not observe a significant correlation between clinical or laboratory characteristics of patients and the presence or absence of PID variants. CONCLUSIONS: Applying WES to a population-based cohort of previously healthy children with bacterial sepsis detected Variants of Uncertain Significance in PID genes in one out of five children. Future studies need to investigate the functional relevance of these variants to determine whether variants in PID genes contribute to pediatric sepsis susceptibility.

Journal article

Zandstra J, van de Geer A, Tanck MWT, Dimitriades DVS-B, Aarts CEM, Dietz SM, van Bruggen R, Schweintzger NA, Zenz W, Emonts M, Zavadska D, Pokorn M, Usuf E, Moll HA, Schlapbach LJ, Carrol ED, Paulus S, Tsolia M, Fink C, Yeung S, Shimizu C, Tremoulet A, Galassini R, Wright VJ, Martinon-Torres F, Herberg J, Burns J, Levin M, Kuijpers TWet al., 2020, Biomarkers for the discrimination of acute kawasaki disease from infections in childhood, Frontiers in Pediatrics, Vol: 8, ISSN: 2296-2360

Background: Kawasaki disease (KD) is a vasculitis of early childhood mimicking several infectious diseases. Differentiation between KD and infectious diseases is essential as KD's most important complication—the development of coronary artery aneurysms (CAA)—can be largely avoided by timely treatment with intravenous immunoglobulins (IVIG). Currently, KD diagnosis is only based on clinical criteria. The aim of this study was to evaluate whether routine C-reactive protein (CRP) and additional inflammatory parameters myeloid-related protein 8/14 (MRP8/14 or S100A8/9) and human neutrophil-derived elastase (HNE) could distinguish KD from infectious diseases.Methods and Results: The cross-sectional study included KD patients and children with proven infections as well as febrile controls. Patients were recruited between July 2006 and December 2018 in Europe and USA. MRP8/14, CRP, and HNE were assessed for their discriminatory ability by multiple logistic regression analysis with backward selection and receiver operator characteristic (ROC) curves. In the discovery cohort, the combination of MRP8/14+CRP discriminated KD patients (n = 48) from patients with infection (n = 105), with area under the ROC curve (AUC) of 0.88. The HNE values did not improve discrimination. The first validation cohort confirmed the predictive value of MRP8/14+CRP to discriminate acute KD patients (n = 26) from those with infections (n = 150), with an AUC of 0.78. The second validation cohort of acute KD patients (n = 25) and febrile controls (n = 50) showed an AUC of 0.72, which improved to 0.84 when HNE was included.Conclusion: When used in combination, the plasma markers MRP8/14, CRP, and HNE may assist in the discrimination of KD from both proven and suspected infection.

Journal article

Mashbat B, Bellos E, Hodeib S, Bidmos F, Thwaites RS, Lu Y, Wright VJ, Herberg JA, Klobassa DS, Zenz W, Hansel TT, Nadel S, Langford PR, Schlapbach LJ, Li M-S, Redinbo MR, Di YP, Levin M, Sancho-Shimizu Vet al., 2020, A rare mutation in SPLUNC1 underlies meningococcal disease affecting bacterial adherence and invasion, Clinical Infectious Diseases, Vol: 70, Pages: 2045-2053, ISSN: 1058-4838

BackgroundNeisseriameningitidis (Nm) is a nasopharyngeal commensal carried by healthy individuals. However, invasive infections occurs in a minority of individuals, with devastating consequences. There is evidence that common polymorphisms are associated with invasive meningococcal disease (IMD) but the contribution of rare variants other than complement has not been determined.MethodsWe identified familial cases of IMD in the UK meningococcal disease study and the European Union Life-threatening Infectious Disease Study. Candidate genetic variants were identified by whole exome sequencing of two patients with familial IMD. Candidate variants were further validated by in vitro assays.ResultsExomes of two siblings with IMD identified a novel heterozygous missense mutation in BPIFA1/SPLUNC1. Sequencing of 186 other non-familial cases identified another unrelated IMD patient with the same mutation. SPLUNC1 is an innate immune defence protein expressed in the nasopharyngeal epithelia, however, its role in invasive infections is unknown. In vitro assays demonstrated that recombinant SPLUNC1 inhibits biofilm formation by Nm, and impedes Nm adhesion and invasion of human airway cells. The dominant negative mutant rSPLUNC1 (p.G22E) showed reduced anti-biofilm activity, increased meningococcal adhesion and invasion of cells compared with wild type SPLUNC1.ConclusionsA mutation in SPLUNC1 affecting mucosal attachment, biofilm formation and invasion of mucosal epithelial cells is a new genetic cause of meningococcal disease.

Journal article

Wang X, Nijman R, Camuzeaux S, Sands C, Jackson H, Kaforou M, Emonts M, Herberg J, Maconochie I, Carrol E, Paulus S, Zenz W, Coin L, Flier MVD, Groot RD, Martinon-Torres F, Schlapbach LJ, Pollard A, Fink C, Kuijpers TT, Anderson S, Lewis M, Levin M, McClure M, EUCLIDS consortiumet al., 2019, Plasma lipid profiles discriminate bacterial from viral infection in febrile children, Scientific Reports, Vol: 9, ISSN: 2045-2322

Fever is the most common reason that children present to Emergency Departments. Clinical signs and symptoms suggestive of bacterial infection are often non-specific, and there is no definitive test for the accurate diagnosis of infection. The ‘omics’ approaches to identifying biomarkers from the host-response to bacterial infection are promising. In this study, lipidomic analysis was carried out with plasma samples obtained from febrile children with confirmed bacterial infection (n=20) and confirmed viral infection (n=20). We show for the first time that bacterial and viral infection produces distinct profile in the host lipidome. Some species of glycerophosphoinositol, sphingomyelin, lysophosphatidylcholine and cholesterol sulfate were higher in the confirmed virus infected group, while some species of fatty acids, glycerophosphocholine, glycerophosphoserine, lactosylceramide and bilirubin were lower in the confirmed virus infected group when compared with confirmed bacterial infected group..A combination of three lipids achieved an area under the receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve of 0.911 (95% CI 0.81 to 0.98). This pilot study demonstrates the potential of metabolic biomarkers to assist clinicians in distinguishing bacterial from viral infection in febrile children, to facilitate effective clinical management and to the limit inappropriate use of antibiotics.

Journal article

Shimizu C, Kim J, Eleftherohorinou H, Wright VJ, Hoang LT, Tremoulet AH, Franco A, Hibberd ML, Takahashi A, Kubo M, Ito K, Tanaka T, Onouchi Y, Coin LJM, Levin M, Burns JC, Shike H, International Kawasaki Disease Genetic Consortiumet al., 2019, HLA-C variants associated with amino acid substitutions in the peptide binding groove influence susceptibility to Kawasaki disease, Human Immunology, Vol: 80, Pages: 731-738, ISSN: 0198-8859

Kawasaki disease (KD) is a pediatric vasculitis caused by an unknown trigger in genetically susceptible children. The incidence varies widely across genetically diverse populations. Several associations with HLA Class I alleles have been reported in single cohort studies. Using a genetic approach, from the nine single nucleotide variants (SNVs) associated with KD susceptibility in children of European descent, we identified SNVs near the HLA-C (rs6906846) and HLA-B genes (rs2254556) whose association was replicated in a Japanese descent cohort (rs6906846 p = 0.01, rs2254556 p = 0.005). The risk allele (A at rs6906846) was also associated with HLA-C*07:02 and HLA-C*04:01 in both US multi-ethnic and Japanese cohorts and HLA-C*12:02 only in the Japanese cohort. The risk A-allele was associated with eight non-conservative amino acid substitutions (amino acid positions); Asp or Ser (9), Arg (14), Ala (49), Ala (73), Ala (90), Arg (97), Phe or Ser (99), and Phe or Ser (116) in the HLA-C peptide binding groove that binds peptides for presentation to cytotoxic T cells (CTL). This raises the possibility of increased affinity to a "KD peptide" that contributes to the vasculitis of KD in genetically susceptible children.

Journal article

Willems E, Alkema W, Keizer-Garritsen J, Suppers A, van der Flier M, Philipsen RHLA, van den Heuvel LP, Volokhina E, van der Molen RG, Herberg JA, Levin M, Wright VJ, Ahout IML, Ferwerda G, Emonts M, Boeddha NP, Rivero-Calle I, Torres FM, Wessels HJCT, de Groot R, van Gool AJ, Gloerich J, de Jonge MIet al., 2019, Biosynthetic homeostasis and resilience of the complement system in health and infectious disease, EBioMedicine, Vol: 45, Pages: 303-313, ISSN: 2352-3964

BACKGROUND: The complement system is a central component of the innate immune system. Constitutive biosynthesis of complement proteins is essential for homeostasis. Dysregulation as a consequence of genetic or environmental cues can lead to inflammatory syndromes or increased susceptibility to infection. However, very little is known about steady state levels in children or its kinetics during infection. METHODS: With a newly developed multiplex mass spectrometry-based method we analyzed the levels of 32 complement proteins in healthy individuals and in a group of pediatric patients infected with bacterial or viral pathogens. FINDINGS: In plasma from young infants we found reduced levels of C4BP, ficolin-3, factor B, classical pathway components C1QA, C1QB, C1QC, C1R, and terminal pathway components C5, C8, C9, as compared to healthy adults; whereas the majority of complement regulating (inhibitory) proteins reach adult levels at very young age. Both viral and bacterial infections in children generally lead to a slight overall increase in complement levels, with some exceptions. The kinetics of complement levels during invasive bacterial infections only showed minor changes, except for a significant increase and decrease of CRP and clusterin, respectively. INTERPRETATION: The combination of lower levels of activating and higher levels of regulating complement proteins, would potentially raise the threshold of activation, which might lead to suppressed complement activation in the first phase of life. There is hardly any measurable complement consumption during bacterial or viral infection. Altogether, expression of the complement proteins appears surprisingly stable, which suggests that the system is continuously replenished. FUND: European Union's Horizon 2020, project PERFORM, grant agreement No. 668303.

Journal article

Borghini L, Png E, Binder A, Wright VJ, Pinnock E, de Groot R, Hazelzet J, Emonts M, Van der Flier M, Schlapbach LJ, Anderson S, Secka F, Salas A, Fink C, Carrol ED, Pollard AJ, Coin LJ, Kuijpers TW, Martinon-Torres F, Zenz W, Levin M, Hibberd ML, Davila S, Gormley S, Hamilton S, Herberg J, Hourmat B, Hoggart C, Kaforou M, Sancho-Shimizu V, Abdulla A, Agapow P, Bartlett M, Bellos E, Eleftherohorinou H, Galassini R, Inwald D, Mashbat M, Menikou S, Mustafa S, Nadel S, Rahman R, Thakker C, Bokhandi S, Power S, Barham H, Pathan N, Ridout J, White D, Thurston S, Faust S, Patel S, McCorkell J, Davies P, Cratev L, Navarra H, Carter S, Ramaiah R, Patel R, Tuffrey C, Gribbin A, McCready S, Peters M, Hardy K, Standing F, O'Neill L, Abelake E, Deep A, Nsirim E, Willis L, Young Z, Royad C, White S, Fortune PM, Hudnott P, Alvez Gonzalez F, Barral-Arca R, Cebey-Lopez M, Jose Curras-Tuala M, Garcia N, Garcia Vicente L, Gomez-Carballa A, Gomez Rial J, Grela Beiroa A, Justicia Grande A, Leborans Iglesias P, Martinez Santos AE, Martinon-Torres N, Martinon Sanchez JM, Mosquera Perez B, Obando Pacheco P, Pardo-Seco J, Pischedda S, Rivero Calle I, Rodriguez-Tenreiro C, Redondo-Collazo L, Seren Fernandez S, Porto Silva MDS, Vega A, Beatriz Reyes S, Leon Leon MC, Navarro Mingorance A, Gabaldo Barrios X, Onate Vergara E, Concha Torre A, Vivanco A, Fernandez R, Gimenez Sanchez F, Sanchez Forte M, Rojo P, Ruiz Contreras J, Palacios A, Navarro M, Alvarez Alvarez C, Jose Lozano M, Carreras E, Brio Sanagustin S, Neth O, Martinez Padilla MDC, Prieto Tato LM, Guillen S, Fernandez Silveira L, Moreno D, van Furth AMT, van der Flier M, Boeddha NP, Driessen GJA, Pajkrt D, Sanders EAM, van de Beek D, van der Ende A, Philipsen HLA, Adeel AOA, Breukels MA, Brinkman DMC, de Korte CCMM, de Vries E, de Waal WJ, Dekkers R, Dings-Lammertink A, Doedens RA, Donker AE, Dousma M, Faber TE, Gerrits GPJM, Gerver JAM, Heidema J, Homan-van der Veen J, Jacobs MAM, Jansen NJG, Kawczynski P, Klucovska K, Kneyber MCJ Ket al., 2019, Identification of regulatory variants associated with genetic susceptibility to meningococcal disease, Scientific Reports, Vol: 9, ISSN: 2045-2322

Non-coding genetic variants play an important role in driving susceptibility to complex diseases but their characterization remains challenging. Here, we employed a novel approach to interrogate the genetic risk of such polymorphisms in a more systematic way by targeting specific regulatory regions relevant for the phenotype studied. We applied this method to meningococcal disease susceptibility, using the DNA binding pattern of RELA – a NF-kB subunit, master regulator of the response to infection – under bacterial stimuli in nasopharyngeal epithelial cells. We designed a custom panel to cover these RELA binding sites and used it for targeted sequencing in cases and controls. Variant calling and association analysis were performed followed by validation of candidate polymorphisms by genotyping in three independent cohorts. We identified two new polymorphisms, rs4823231 and rs11913168, showing signs of association with meningococcal disease susceptibility. In addition, using our genomic data as well as publicly available resources, we found evidences for these SNPs to have potential regulatory effects on ATXN10 and LIF genes respectively. The variants and related candidate genes are relevant for infectious diseases and may have important contribution for meningococcal disease pathology. Finally, we described a novel genetic association approach that could be applied to other phenotypes.

Journal article

Menikou S, McArdle A, Kaforou M, Shimizu C, Wright VJ, Herberg JA, Kanegaye JT, Tremoulet A, Burns JC, Levin Met al., 2019, Characterisation of immune complexes in Kawasaki Disease and other infectious diseases by protein sequencing, 103rd Annual Meeting of the American-Association-of-Immunologists, Publisher: AMER ASSOC IMMUNOLOGISTS, ISSN: 0022-1767

Conference paper

Nagelkerke SQ, Tacke CE, Breunis WB, Tanck MWT, Geissler J, Png E, Hoang LT, van der Heijden J, Naim ANM, Yeung RSM, Levin ML, Wright VJ, Burgner DP, Ponsonby A-L, Ellis JA, Cimaz R, Shimizu C, Burns JC, Fijnyandraat K, van der Schoot CE, van den Berg TK, de Boer M, Davila S, Hibberd ML, Kuijpers TW, Dahdah N, Kone-Paut Iet al., 2019, Extensive ethnic variation and linkage disequilibrium at the FCGR2/3 locus: Different genetic associations revealed in Kawasaki Disease, Frontiers in Immunology, Vol: 10, ISSN: 1664-3224

The human Fc-gamma receptors (FcγRs) link adaptive and innate immunity by binding immunoglobulin G (IgG). All human low-affinity FcγRs are encoded by the FCGR2/3 locus containing functional single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and gene copy number variants. This locus is notoriously difficult to genotype and high-throughput methods commonly used focus on only a few SNPs. We performed multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification for all relevant genetic variations at the FCGR2/3 locus in >4,000 individuals to define linkage disequilibrium (LD) and allele frequencies in different populations. Strong LD and extensive ethnic variation in allele frequencies was found across the locus. LD was strongest for the FCGR2C-ORF haplotype (rs759550223+rs76277413), which leads to expression of FcγRIIc. In Europeans, the FCGR2C-ORF haplotype showed strong LD with, among others, rs201218628 (FCGR2A-Q27W, r2 = 0.63). LD between these two variants was weaker (r2 = 0.17) in Africans, whereas the FCGR2C-ORF haplotype was nearly absent in Asians (minor allele frequency <0.005%). The FCGR2C-ORF haplotype and rs1801274 (FCGR2A-H131R) were in weak LD (r2 = 0.08) in Europeans. We evaluated the importance of ethnic variation and LD in Kawasaki Disease (KD), an acute vasculitis in children with increased incidence in Asians. An association of rs1801274 with KD was previously shown in ethnically diverse genome-wide association studies. Now, we show in 1,028 European KD patients that the FCGR2C-ORF haplotype, although nearly absent in Asians, was more strongly associated with susceptibility to KD than rs1801274 in Europeans. Our data illustrate the importance of interpreting findings of association studies concerning the FCGR2/3 locus with knowledge of LD and ethnic variation.

Journal article

Feinstein Y, Walker JC, Peters MJ, Nadel S, Pathan N, Edmonds N, Herberg J, Kaforou M, Wright V, Levin M, Ramnarayan Pet al., 2018, Cohort profile of the Biomarkers of Acute Serious Illness in Children (BASIC) study: a prospective multicentre cohort study in critically ill children, BMJ Open, Vol: 8, ISSN: 2044-6055

Purpose Despite significant progress, challenges remain in the management of critically ill children, including early identification of infection and organ failure and robust early risk stratification to predict poor outcome. The Biomarkers of Acute Serious Illness in Children study aims to identify genetic and biological pathways underlying the development of critical illness in infections and organ failure and those leading to poor outcome (death or severe disability) in children requiring emergency intensive care.Participants We recruited a prospective cohort of critically ill children undergoing emergency transport to four paediatric intensive care units (PICUs) in Southeast England between April 2014 and December 2016.Findings to date During the study period, 1017 patients were recruited by the regional PICU transport team, and blood and urine samples were obtained at/around first contact with the patient by the transport team. Consent for participation in the study was deferred until after PICU admission and 674 parents/carers were consented. Further samples (blood, urine, stool and throat swabs) were collected after consent. Samples were processed and stored for genomic, transcriptomic, proteomic and metabolomic analyses. Demographic, clinical and laboratory data at first contact, during PICU stay and at discharge, were collected, as were detailed data regarding infectious or non-infectious aetiology. In addition, 115 families have completed 12-month validated follow-up questionnaires to assess quality of life and child behaviour.The first phase of sample analyses (transcriptomic profiling) is currently in progress.Future plans Stored samples will be analysed using genomic, proteomic and metabolic profiling. Advanced bioinformatics techniques will be used to identify biomarkers for early diagnosis of infection, identification of organ failure and risk stratification to predict poor outcome (death/severe disability).Trial registration number NCT03238040.

Journal article

Wright V, Herberg J, Kaforou M, Shimizu C, Eleftherohorinou H, Shailes H, Barendregt A, Menikou S, Gormley S, Berk M, Hoang L, Tremoulet A, Kanegaye J, Coin L, Glode M, Hibberd M, Kuijpers T, Hoggart C, Burns J, Levin Met al., 2018, Diagnosis of Kawasaki disease using a minimal whole blood gene expression signature, JAMA Pediatrics, Vol: 172, Pages: 1-10, ISSN: 2168-6203

Importance There is no diagnostic test for Kawasaki disease (KD). Diagnosis is based on clinical features shared with other febrile conditions, frequently resulting in delayed or missed treatment and an increased risk of coronary artery aneurysms. Objective To identify a whole blood gene expression signature that distinguishes children with KD in the first week of illness from other febrile conditions.Design Case-control discovery study groups comprising training, test, and validation groups of children with KD or comparator febrile illness. Setting Hospitals in the UK, Spain, Netherlands and USA.Participants The training and test discovery group comprised 404 children with infectious and inflammatory conditions (78 KD, 84 other inflammatory diseases, 242 bacterial or viral infections) and 55 healthy controls. The independent validation group included 130 febrile children and 102 KD patients, including 72 in the first 7 days of illness.Exposures Whole blood gene expression was evaluated using microarrays, and minimal transcript sets distinguishing KD were identified using a novel variable selection method (Parallel Deterministic Model Search).Main outcomes and measures The ability of transcript signatures - implemented as Disease Risk Scores - to discriminate KD cases from controls, was assessed by Area Under the Curve (AUC), sensitivity, and specificity at the optimal cut-point according to Youden’s index. Results A 13-transcript signature identified in the discovery training set distinguished KD from other infectious and inflammatory conditions in the discovery test set with AUC, sensitivity, and specificity (95% confidence intervals (CI)) of 96.2% (92.5-99.9), 81.7% (60.0-94.8), and 92.1% (84.0-97.0), respectively. In the validation set, the signature distinguished KD from febrile controls with AUC, sensitivity, and specificity (95% CI) of 94.6% (91.3-98.0), 85.9% (76.8-92.6), and 89.1% (83.0-93.7) respectively. The signature was applied to clinically defin

Journal article

Martinón-Torres F, Salas A, Rivero-Calle I, Cebey-López M, Pardo-Seco J, Herberg JA, Boeddha NP, Klobassa DS, Secka F, Paulus S, de Groot R, Schlapbach LJ, Driessen GJ, Anderson ST, Emonts M, Zenz W, Carrol ED, Van der Flier M, Levin M, Levin M, Coin L, Gormley S, Hamilton S, Herberg J, Hourmat B, Hoggart C, Kaforou M, Sancho-Shimizu V, Wright V, Abdulla A, Agapow P, Bartlett M, Bellos E, Eleftherohorinou H, Galassini R, Inwald D, Mashbat M, Menikou S, Mustafa S, Nadel S, Rahman R, Thakker C, Bokhandi S, Power S, Barham H, Pathan N, Ridout J, White D, Thurston S, Faust S, Patel S, McCorkell J, Davies P, Crate L, Navarra H, Carter S, Ramaiah R, Patel R, Tuffrey C, Gribbin A, McCready S, Peters M, Hardy K, Standing F, O'Neill L, Abelake E, Deep A, Nsirim E, Pollard A, Willis L, Young Z, Royad C, White S, Fortune PM, Hudnott P, Martinón-Torres F, Salas Ellacuriaga A, Álvez González F, Barral-Arca R, Cebey-López M, Curras-Tuala MJ, García N, García Vicente L, Gómez-Carballa A, Gómez Rial J, Grela Beiroa A, Justicia Grande A, Leboráns Iglesias P, Martínez Santos AE, Martinón-Torres N, Martinón Sánchez JM, Morillo Gutiérrez Bet al., 2018, Life-threatening infections in children in Europe (the EUCLIDS Project): a prospective cohort study, Lancet Child and Adolescent Health, Vol: 2, Pages: 404-414, ISSN: 2352-4642

Background: Sepsis and severe focal infections represent a substantial disease burden in children admitted to hospital. We aimed to understand the burden of disease and outcomes in children with life-threatening bacterial infections in Europe. Methods: The European Union Childhood Life-threatening Infectious Disease Study (EUCLIDS) was a prospective, multicentre, cohort study done in six countries in Europe. Patients aged 1 month to 18 years with sepsis (or suspected sepsis) or severe focal infections, admitted to 98 participating hospitals in the UK, Austria, Germany, Lithuania, Spain, and the Netherlands were prospectively recruited between July 1, 2012, and Dec 31, 2015. To assess disease burden and outcomes, we collected demographic and clinical data using a secured web-based platform and obtained microbiological data using locally available clinical diagnostic procedures. Findings: 2844 patients were recruited and included in the analysis. 1512 (53·2%) of 2841 patients were male and median age was 39·1 months (IQR 12·4–93·9). 1229 (43·2%) patients had sepsis and 1615 (56·8%) had severe focal infections. Patients diagnosed with sepsis had a median age of 27·6 months (IQR 9·0–80·2), whereas those diagnosed with severe focal infections had a median age of 46·5 months (15·8–100·4; p < 0·0001). Of 2844 patients in the entire cohort, the main clinical syndromes were pneumonia (511 [18·0%] patients), CNS infection (469 [16·5%] ), and skin and soft tissue infection (247 [8·7%]). The causal microorganism was identified in 1359 (47·8%) children, with the most prevalent ones being Neisseria meningitidis (in 259 [9·1%] patients), followed by Staphylococcus aureus (in 222 [7·8%]), Streptococcus pneumoniae (in 219 [7·7%] ), and group A streptococcus (in 162 [5·7%]). 1070 (37·6%) patients required admis

Journal article

Bellos E, Herberg J, Wright V, Klobassa D, Mashbat M, Rahman R, Schlapbach L, Pouw R, Kuijpers T, Levin M, Sancho-Shimizu Vet al., 2018, The genetic basis of invasive meningococcal disease revealed thorough whole exome sequencing, Human Genome Meeting 2018, Publisher: BioMed Central, ISSN: 1479-7364

BackgroundInvasive meningococcal disease (IMD) is a rare condition affectingchildren and young adults due to infection with Neisseria meningitidis, resulting in meningitis or sepsis. Although the majority of thegeneral population is colonized by N. meningitidis, only a small minority go on to develop IMD, suggesting that those that succumb toinvasive disease may possess an underlying genetic susceptibility.The notion of a genetic contribution to disease manifestation is supported by the finding that patients with congenital complement deficiencies are susceptible to recurrent IMD, yet these conditions arerare. With the aim of identifying other genetic factors underlying IMD, we carried out whole exome sequencing (WES) of approximately 300 IMD patients from an extensive and well characterizedcohort of >2,000 childhood IMD patients.Materials and MethodsThe WES analysis focused on rare variants (MAF<0.01) predicted tohave a detrimental effect on protein function. We undertook analysisof seven multiplex families identifying IBD variants. The rest of theindex cases were analysed as a cohort and put through gene andpathway burden tests to identify any genes/pathways that wereenriched in the collection of patients.ResultsThese analyses revealed a number of patients harbouring mutationsin known primary immunodeficiency genes (approx. 10%) as well asa novel configuration of mutations underlying the complementgenes. Furthermore, novel mutations in the coagulation pathway andmucosal immunity genes were identified and functionally confirmed.ConclusionsThe identification of genes involved in IMD through WES has demonstrated the complex genetic architecture of meningococcal immunityrevealed some novel and unexpected genes/pathways that modulatedisease susceptibility and severity. The results from this studyprovide us with a more comprehensive understanding of IMDpathogenesis.

Conference paper

Mashbat B, Bellos E, Bidmos F, Tarran R, Lu Y, Wright V, Herberg J, Langford P, Schlapbach L, Li M-S, Di P, Levin M, Sancho-Shimizu Vet al., 2018, Whole exome sequencing identifies BPIFA1 mutation underlying invasive meningococcal disease, Human Genome Meeting 2018, Publisher: BIOMED CENTRAL LTD, ISSN: 1473-9542

Conference paper

von Both U, Berk M, Agapow P-M, Wright J, Git A, Hamilton MS, Goldgof G, Siddiqui N, Bellos E, Wright V, Coin L, Newton S, Levin Met al., 2018, Mycobacterium tuberculosis Exploits a Molecular Off Switch of the Immune System for Intracellular Survival, Scientific Reports, Vol: 8, ISSN: 2045-2322

Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M. tuberculosis) survives and multiplies inside human macrophages by subversion of immune mechanisms. Although these immune evasion strategies are well characterised functionally, the underlying molecular mechanisms are poorly understood. Here we show that during infection of human whole blood with M. tuberculosis, host gene transcriptional suppression, rather than activation, is the predominant response. Spatial, temporal and functional characterisation of repressed genes revealed their involvement in pathogen sensing and phagocytosis, degradation within the phagolysosome and antigen processing and presentation. To identify mechanisms underlying suppression of multiple immune genes we undertook epigenetic analyses. We identified significantly differentially expressed microRNAs with known targets in suppressed genes. In addition, after searching regions upstream of the start of transcription of suppressed genes for common sequence motifs, we discovered novel enriched composite sequence patterns, which corresponded to Alu repeat elements, transposable elements known to have wide ranging influences on gene expression. Our findings suggest that to survive within infected cells, mycobacteria exploit a complex immune “molecular off switch” controlled by both microRNAs and Alu regulatory elements.

Journal article

Hemingway C, Berk M, Anderson ST, Wright VJ, Hamilton S, Eleftherohorinou H, Kaforou M, Goldgof GM, Hickman K, Kampmann B, Schoeman J, Eley B, Beatty D, Pienaar S, Nicol MP, Griffiths MJ, Waddell SJ, Newton SM, Coin LJ, Relman DA, Montana G, Levin Met al., 2017, Childhood tuberculosis is associated with decreased abundance of T cell gene transcripts and impaired T cell function., PLoS ONE, Vol: 12, ISSN: 1932-6203

The WHO estimates around a million children contract tuberculosis (TB) annually with over 80 000 deaths from dissemination of infection outside of the lungs. The insidious onset and association with skin test anergy suggests failure of the immune system to both recognise and respond to infection. To understand the immune mechanisms, we studied genome-wide whole blood RNA expression in children with TB meningitis (TBM). Findings were validated in a second cohort of children with TBM and pulmonary TB (PTB), and functional T-cell responses studied in a third cohort of children with TBM, other extrapulmonary TB (EPTB) and PTB. The predominant RNA transcriptional response in children with TBM was decreased abundance of multiple genes, with 140/204 (68%) of all differentially regulated genes showing reduced abundance compared to healthy controls. Findings were validated in a second cohort with concordance of the direction of differential expression in both TBM (r2 = 0.78 p = 2x10-16) and PTB patients (r2 = 0.71 p = 2x10-16) when compared to a second group of healthy controls. Although the direction of expression of these significant genes was similar in the PTB patients, the magnitude of differential transcript abundance was less in PTB than in TBM. The majority of genes were involved in activation of leucocytes (p = 2.67E-11) and T-cell receptor signalling (p = 6.56E-07). Less abundant gene expression in immune cells was associated with a functional defect in T-cell proliferation that recovered after full TB treatment (p<0.0003). Multiple genes involved in T-cell activation show decreased abundance in children with acute TB, who also have impaired functional T-cell responses. Our data suggest that childhood TB is associated with an acquired immune defect, potentially resulting in failure to contain the pathogen. Elucidation of the mechanism causing the immune paresis may identify new treatment and prevention strategies.

Journal article

Shimizu C, Kim J, Eleftherohorinou H, Wright V, Hoang L, Tremoulet A, Franco A, Hibberd M, Takahashi A, Kubo M, Ito K, Tanaka T, Onouchi Y, Coin L, Levin M, Burns J, Shike Het al., 2017, Genetic Variants in HLA-C and Class I Pathway Genes Influence Susceptibility to Kawasaki Disease, 2017 ACR/ARHP Annual Meeting, Publisher: Wiley, ISSN: 2326-5205

Conference paper

de Pablo P, Romaguera D, Fisk H, Calder P, Quirke A-M, Cartwright A, Panico S, Mattiello A, Gavrila D, Navarro C, Sacerdote C, Vineis P, Tumino R, Ollier W, Michaud D, Riboli E, Venables P, Fisher Bet al., 2017, High Erythrocyte Levels of the n-6 Polyunsaturated Fatty Acid Linoleic Acid Are Associated with Lower Risk of Subsequent Rheumatoid Arthritis in a Southern European Nested Case-Control Study, 2017 ACR/ARHP Annual Meeting, Publisher: WILEY, ISSN: 2326-5191

Conference paper

Kaforou M, Herberg JA, Wright VJ, Coin LJM, Levin Met al., 2017, Diagnosis of bacterial infection using a 2-transcript host RNA signature in febrile infants 60 days or younger, JAMA: Journal of the American Medical Association, Vol: 317, Pages: 1577-1578, ISSN: 0098-7484

Journal article

Herberg JA, Kaforou M, Wright VJ, 2017, Correction: Diagnostic Test Accuracy of a 2-Transcript Host RNA Signature for Discriminating Bacterial vs Viral Infection in Febrile Children (vol 316, pg 835, 2016), JAMA: Journal of the American Medical Association, Vol: 317, Pages: 538-538, ISSN: 0098-7484

Journal article

Chen F, Wang S, Jiang X, Ding S, Lu Y, Kim J, Sahinalp SC, Shimizu C, Burns JC, Wright VJ, Png E, Hibberd ML, Lloyd DD, Yang H, Telenti A, Bloss CS, Fox D, Lauter K, Ohno-Machado Let al., 2016, PRINCESS: Privacy-protecting Rare disease International Network Collaboration via Encryption through Software guard extensionS, BIOINFORMATICS, Vol: 33, Pages: 871-878, ISSN: 1367-4803

Motivation: We introduce PRINCESS, a privacy-preserving international collaboration framework for analyzing rare disease genetic data that are distributed across different continents. PRINCESS leverages Software Guard Extensions (SGX) and hardware for trustworthy computation. Unlike a traditional international collaboration model, where individual-level patient DNA are physically centralized at a single site, PRINCESS performs a secure and distributed computation over encrypted data, fulfilling institutional policies and regulations for protected health information.Results: To demonstrate PRINCESS’ performance and feasibility, we conducted a family-based allelic association study for Kawasaki Disease, with data hosted in three different continents. The experimental results show that PRINCESS provides secure and accurate analyses much faster than alternative solutions, such as homomorphic encryption and garbled circuits (over 40 000× faster).

Journal article

Shimizu C, Eleftherohorinou H, Wright VJ, Kim J, Alphonse MP, Perry JC, Cimaz R, Burgner D, Dahdah N, Hoang LT, Khor CC, Salgado A, Tremoulet AH, Davila S, Kuijpers TW, Hibberd ML, Johnson TA, Takahashi A, Tsunoda T, Kubo M, Tanaka T, Onouchi Y, Yeung RS, Coin LJ, Levin M, Burns JCet al., 2016, Genetic variation in the SLC8A1 calcium signaling pathway is associated with susceptibility to Kawasaki disease and coronary artery abnormalities, Circulation. Cardiovascular Genetics, Vol: 9, Pages: 559-568, ISSN: 1942-3268

BACKGROUND: -Kawasaki disease (KD) is an acute pediatric vasculitis in which host genetics influence both susceptibility to KD and the formation of coronary artery aneurysms. Variants discovered by genome-wide association studies (GWAS) and linkage studies only partially explain the influence of genetics on KD susceptibility. METHODS AND RESULTS: -To search for additional functional genetic variation, we performed pathway and gene stability analysis on a GWAS dataset. Pathway analysis using European GWAS data identified 100 significantly associated pathways (p< 5 ×10(-4)). Gene stability selection identified 116 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 26 genes that were responsible for driving the pathway associations and gene ontology analysis demonstrated enrichment for calcium transport (p=1.05 ×10(-4)). Three SNPs in solute carrier family 8 member 1 (SLC8A1), a sodium/calcium exchanger encoding NCX1, were validated in an independent Japanese GWAS dataset (metaanalysis p=0.0001). Patients homozygous for the A (risk) allele of rs13017968 had higher rates of coronary artery abnormalities (p=0.029). NCX1, the protein encoded by SLC8A1, was expressed in spindle-shaped and inflammatory cells in the aneurysm wall. Increased intracellular calcium mobilization was observed in B cell lines from healthy controls carrying the risk allele. CONCLUSIONS: -Pathway-based association analysis followed by gene stability selection proved to be a valuable tool for identifying risk alleles in a rare disease with complex genetics. The role of SLC8A1 polymorphisms in altering calcium flux in cells that mediate coronary artery damage in KD suggests that this pathway may be a therapeutic target and supports the study of calcineurin inhibitors in acute KD.

Journal article

Martinón-Torres F, Png E, Khor CC, Davila S, Wright VJ, Sim KS, Vega A, Fachal L, Inwald D, Nadel S, Carrol ED, Martinón-Torres N, Alonso SM, Carracedo A, Morteruel E, López-Bayón J, Torre AC, Monge CC, de Aguilar PA, Torné EE, Martínez-Padilla MD, Martinón-Sánchez JM, Levin M, Hibberd ML, Salas A, ESIGEM network, ESPID meningococcal consortium UK, EUCLIDS consortium members - Imperial College London wwweuclids-projecteuet al., 2016, Natural resistance to Meningococcal Disease related to CFH loci: Meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies, Scientific Reports, Vol: 6, ISSN: 2045-2322

Meningococcal disease (MD) remains an important infectious cause of life threatening infection in both industrialized and resource poor countries. Genetic factors influence both occurrence and severity of presentation, but the genes responsible are largely unknown. We performed a genome-wide association study (GWAS) examining 5,440,063 SNPs in 422 Spanish MD patients and 910 controls. We then performed a meta-analysis of the Spanish GWAS with GWAS data from the United Kingdom (combined cohorts: 897 cases and 5,613 controls; 4,898,259 SNPs). The meta-analysis identified strong evidence of association (P-value ≤ 5 × 10(-8)) in 20 variants located at the CFH gene. SNP rs193053835 showed the most significant protective effect (Odds Ratio (OR) = 0.62, 95% confidence interval (C.I.) = 0.52-0.73; P-value = 9.62 × 10(-9)). Five other variants had been previously reported to be associated with susceptibility to MD, including the missense SNP rs1065489 (OR = 0.64, 95% C.I.) = 0.55-0.76, P-value = 3.25 × 10(-8)). Theoretical predictions point to a functional effect of rs1065489, which may be directly responsible for protection against MD. Our study confirms the association of CFH with susceptibility to MD and strengthens the importance of this link in understanding pathogenesis of the disease.

Journal article

Herberg JA, Kaforou M, Wright VJ, Shailes H, Eleftherohorinou H, Hoggart CJ, Cebey-López M, Carter MJ, Janes VA, Gormley S, Shimizu C, Tremoulet AH, Barendregt AM, Salas A, Kanegaye J, Pollard AJ, Faust SN, Patel S, Kuijpers T, Martinón-Torres F, Burns JC, Coin LJ, Levin Met al., 2016, Diagnostic Test Accuracy of a 2-Transcript Host RNA Signature for Discriminating Bacterial vs Viral Infection in Febrile Children, Journal of the American Medical Association, Vol: 316, Pages: 835-845, ISSN: 0002-9955

IMPORTANCE: Because clinical features do not reliably distinguish bacterial from viral infection, many children worldwide receive unnecessary antibiotic treatment, while bacterial infection is missed in others. OBJECTIVE: To identify a blood RNA expression signature that distinguishes bacterial from viral infection in febrile children. DESIGN, SETTING, AND PARTICIPANTS: Febrile children presenting to participating hospitals in the United Kingdom, Spain, the Netherlands, and the United States between 2009-2013 were prospectively recruited, comprising a discovery group and validation group. Each group was classified after microbiological investigation as having definite bacterial infection, definite viral infection, or indeterminate infection. RNA expression signatures distinguishing definite bacterial from viral infection were identified in the discovery group and diagnostic performance assessed in the validation group. Additional validation was undertaken in separate studies of children with meningococcal disease (n = 24) and inflammatory diseases (n = 48) and on published gene expression datasets. EXPOSURES: A 2-transcript RNA expression signature distinguishing bacterial infection from viral infection was evaluated against clinical and microbiological diagnosis. MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES: Definite bacterial and viral infection was confirmed by culture or molecular detection of the pathogens. Performance of the RNA signature was evaluated in the definite bacterial and viral group and in the indeterminate infection group. RESULTS: The discovery group of 240 children (median age, 19 months; 62% male) included 52 with definite bacterial infection, of whom 36 (69%) required intensive care, and 92 with definite viral infection, of whom 32 (35%) required intensive care. Ninety-six children had indeterminate infection. Analysis of RNA expression data identified a 38-transcript signature distinguishing bacterial from viral infection. A smaller

Journal article

Battersby AJ, Kampmann B, Levy O, Khara J, Wright Vet al., 2016, Antimicrobial proteins and peptides in early life: ontogeny and translational opportunities, Frontiers in Immunology, Vol: 7, ISSN: 1664-3224

Whilst developing adaptive immune responses, young infants are especially vulnerable to serious infections including sepsis, meningitis and pneumonia. Antimicrobial proteins and peptides (APPs) are key effectors that function as broad-spectrum anti-infectives. This review seeks to summarise the clinically relevant functional qualities of APPs and the increasing clinical trial evidence for their use to combat serious infections in infancy. Levels of APPs are relatively low in early life, especially in infants born preterm or with low birth weight (LBW). There are several rationales for the potential clinical utility of APPs in the prevention and treatment of infections in infants: (a) APPs may be most helpful in those with reduced levels; (b) during sepsis microbial products signal via pattern recognition receptors (PRRs) causing potentially harmful inflammation which APPs may counteract; and (c) in the era of antibiotic resistance, development of new anti-infective strategies is essential. Evidence supports the potential clinical utility of exogenous APPs to reduce infection-related morbidity in infancy. Further studies should characterize the ontogeny of antimicrobial activity in mucosal and systemic compartments, and examine the efficacy of exogenous-APP formulations to inform translational development of APPs for infant groups.

Journal article

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