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Successful awake proning is associated with improved clinical outcomes in patients with COVID-19: single-centre high-dependency unit experience.
The SARS-CoV-2 can lead to severe illness with COVID-19. Outcomes of patients requiring mechanical ventilation are poor. Awake proning in COVID-19 improves oxygenation, but on data clinical outcomes is limited. This single-centre retrospective study aimed to assess whether successful awake proning of patients with COVID-19, requiring respiratory support (continuous positive airways pressure (CPAP) or high-flow nasal oxygen (HFNO)) on a respiratory high-dependency unit (HDU), is associated with improved outcomes. HDU care included awake proning by respiratory physiotherapists. Of 565 patients admitted with COVID-19, 71 (12.6%) were managed on the respiratory HDU, with 48 of these (67.6%) requiring respiratory support. Patients managed with CPAP alone 22/48 (45.8%) were significantly less likely to die than patients who required transfer onto HFNO 26/48 (54.2%): CPAP mortality 36.4%; HFNO mortality 69.2%, (p=0.023); however, multivariate analysis demonstrated that increasing age and the inability to awake prone were the only independent predictors of COVID-19 mortality. The mortality of patients with COVID-19 requiring respiratory support is considerable. Data from our cohort managed on HDU show that CPAP and awake proning are possible in a selected population of COVID-19, and may be useful. Further prospective studies are required.
Artificial intelligence-based morphological fingerprinting of megakaryocytes: a new tool for assessing disease in MPN patients.
Accurate diagnosis and classification of myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs) requires integration of clinical, morphological, and genetic findings. Despite major advances in our understanding of the molecular and genetic basis of MPNs, the morphological assessment of bone marrow trephines (BMT) is critical in differentiating MPN subtypes and their reactive mimics. However, morphological assessment is heavily constrained by a reliance on subjective, qualitative, and poorly reproducible criteria. To improve the morphological assessment of MPNs, we have developed a machine learning approach for the automated identification, quantitative analysis, and abstract representation of megakaryocyte features using reactive/nonneoplastic BMT samples (n = 43) and those from patients with established diagnoses of essential thrombocythemia (n = 45), polycythemia vera (n = 18), or myelofibrosis (n = 25). We describe the application of an automated workflow for the identification and delineation of relevant histological features from routinely prepared BMTs. Subsequent analysis enabled the tissue diagnosis of MPN with a high predictive accuracy (area under the curve = 0.95) and revealed clear evidence of the potential to discriminate between important MPN subtypes. Our method of visually representing abstracted megakaryocyte features in the context of analyzed patient cohorts facilitates the interpretation and monitoring of samples in a manner that is beyond conventional approaches. The automated BMT phenotyping approach described here has significant potential as an adjunct to standard genetic and molecular testing in established or suspected MPN patients, either as part of the routine diagnostic pathway or in the assessment of disease progression/response to treatment.
Efficacy and safety of once-daily single-inhaler triple therapy (FF/UMEC/VI) versus FF/VI in patients with inadequately controlled asthma (CAPTAIN): a double-blind, randomised, phase 3A trial.
BACKGROUND:Despite inhaled corticosteroid plus long-acting β2-agonist (ICS/LABA) therapy, 30-50% of patients with moderate or severe asthma remain inadequately controlled. We investigated the safety and efficacy of single-inhaler fluticasone furoate plus umeclidinium plus vilanterol (FF/UMEC/VI) compared with FF/VI. METHODS:In this double-blind, randomised, parallel-group, phase 3A study (Clinical Study in Asthma Patients Receiving Triple Therapy in a Single Inhaler [CAPTAIN]), participants were recruited from 416 hospitals and primary care centres across 15 countries. Participants were eligible if they were aged 18 years or older, with inadequately controlled asthma (Asthma Control Questionnaire [ACQ]-6 score of ≥1·5) despite ICS/LABA, a documented health-care contact or a documented temporary change in asthma therapy for treatment of acute asthma symptoms in the year before screening, pre-bronchodilator FEV1 between 30% and less than 85% of predicted normal value, and reversibility (defined as an increase in FEV1 of ≥12% and ≥200 mL in the 20-60 min after four inhalations of albuterol or salbutamol) at screening. Participants were randomly assigned (1:1:1:1:1:1), via central based randomisation stratified by pre-study ICS dose at study entry, to once-daily FF/VI (100/25 μg or 200/25 μg) or FF/UMEC/VI (100/31·25/25 μg, 100/62·5/25 μg, 200/31·25/25 μg, or 200/62·5/25 μg) administered via Ellipta dry powder inhaler (Glaxo Operations UK, Hertfordshire, UK). Patients, investigators, and the funder were masked to treatment allocation. Endpoints assessed in the intention-to-treat population were change from baseline in clinic trough FEV1 at week 24 (primary) and annualised moderate and/or severe asthma exacerbation rate (key secondary). Other secondary endpoints were change from baseline in clinic FEV1 at 3 h post-dose, St George's Respiratory Questionnaire (SGRQ) total score, and ACQ-7 total score, all at week 24. Change from baseline in Evaluating Respiratory Symptoms in Asthma total score at weeks 21-24 was also a secondary endpoint but is not reported here. Exploratory analyses of biomarkers of type 2 airway inflammation on treatment response were also done. This study is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT02924688, and is now complete. FINDINGS:Between Dec 16, 2016, and Aug 31, 2018, 5185 patients were screened and 2439 were recruited and randomly assigned to FF/VI (100/25 μg n=407; 200/25 μg n=406) or FF/UMEC/VI (100/31·25/25 μg n=405; 100/62·5/25 μg n=406; 200/31·25/25 μg n=404; 200/62·5/25 μg n=408), with three patients randomly assigned in error and not included in analyses. In the intention-to-treat population, 922 (38%) patients were men, the mean age was 53·2 years (SD 13·1) and body-mass index was 29·4 (6·6). Baseline demographics were generally similar across all treatment groups. The least squares mean improvement in FEV1 change from baseline for FF/UMEC/VI 100/62·5/25 μg versus FF/VI 100/25 μg was 110 mL (95% CI 66-153; p<0·0001) and for 200/62·5/25 μg versus 200/25 μg was 92 mL (49-135; p<0·0001). Adding UMEC 31·25 μg to FF/VI produced similar improvements (FF/UMEC/VI 100/31·25/25 μg vs FF/VI 100/25 μg: 96 mL [52-139; p<0·0001]; and 200/31·25/25 μg vs 200/25 μg: 82 mL [39-125; p=0·0002]). These results were supported by the analysis of clinic FEV1 at 3 h post-dose. Non-significant reductions in moderate and/or severe exacerbation rates were observed for FF/UMEC 62·5 μg/VI versus FF/VI (pooled analysis), with rates lower in FF 200 μg-containing versus FF 100 μg-containing treatment groups. All pooled treatment groups demonstrated mean improvements (decreases) in SGRQ total score at week 24 compared with baseline in excess of the minimal clinically important difference of 4 points; however, there were no differences between treatment groups. For mean change from baseline to week 24 in asthma control questionnaire-7 score, improvements (decreases) exceeding the minimal clinically important difference of 0·5 points were observed in all pooled treatment groups. Adding UMEC to FF/VI resulted in small, dose-related improvements compared with FF/VI (pooled analysis: FF/UMEC 31·25 μg/VI versus FF/VI, -0·06 (95% CI -0·12 to 0·01; p=0·094) FF/UMEC 62·5 μg/VI versus FF/VI, -0·09 (-0·16 to -0·02, p=0·0084). By contrast with adding UMEC, the effects of higher dose FF on clinic trough FEV1 and annualised moderate and/or severe exacerbation rate were increased in patients with higher baseline blood eosinophil count and exhaled nitric oxide. Occurrence of adverse events was similar across treatment groups (patients with at least one event ranged from 210 [52%] to 258 [63%]), with the most commonly reported adverse events being nasopharyngitis (51 [13%]-63 [15%]), headache (19 [5%]-36 [9%]), and upper respiratory tract infection (13 [3%]-24 [6%]). The incidence of serious adverse events was similar across all groups (range 18 [4%]-25 [6%)). Three deaths occurred, of which one was considered to be related to study drug (pulmonary embolism in a patient in the FF/UMEC/VI 100/31·25/25 μg group). INTERPRETATION:In patients with uncontrolled moderate or severe asthma on ICS/LABA, adding UMEC improved lung function but did not lead to a significant reduction in moderate and/or severe exacerbations. For such patients, single-inhaler FF/UMEC/VI is an effective treatment option with a favourable risk-benefit profile. Higher dose FF primarily reduced the rate of exacerbations, particularly in patients with raised biomarkers of type 2 airway inflammation. Further confirmatory studies into the differentiating effect of type 2 inflammatory biomarkers on treatment outcomes in asthma are required to build on these exploratory findings and further guide clinical practice. FUNDING:GSK.
Despite efficient virological suppression on antiretroviral therapy (ART), people living with HIV (PLWH), experience an increased burden of premature co-morbidities, such as cancer and end-organ disease. With remaining challenges in terms of access to therapy, adherence and potential long-term drug toxicity, improving their long-term healthcare outcome, including new strategies for HIV clearance, remains a global priority. There is, therefore, an ongoing need to better characterize and harness the immune response in order to develop new strategies and supplement current therapeutic approaches for a "functional" cure. Current efforts toward HIV eradication to enhance immune recognition and elimination of persistently infected cells have highlighted the need for an optimized "kill" approach. Natural killer (NK) cells play an important role in antiviral defense and by virtue of their innate and adaptive features hold great promise as a focus of "kill" efforts. Galvanized by advances in the cancer field, NK cell exploitation, represents a transformative approach to augment HIV therapeutic modalities, circumventing many of the limitations inherent to T cell approaches. In this review we will discuss recent advances in our understanding of the development of NK cell adaptive/memory responses in HIV infection and highlight new and exciting opportunities to exploit the beneficial attributes of NK cells for HIV immunotherapy.
<jats:p>Fibrotic diseases remain a major cause of morbidity and mortality, yet there are few effective therapies. The underlying pathology of all fibrotic conditions is the activity of myofibroblasts. Using cells from freshly excised disease tissue from patients with Dupuytren’s disease (DD), a localized fibrotic disorder of the palm, we sought to identify new therapeutic targets for fibrotic disease. We hypothesized that the persistent activity of myofibroblasts in fibrotic diseases might involve epigenetic modifications. Using a validated genetics-led target prioritization algorithm (Pi) of genome wide association studies (GWAS) data and a broad screen of epigenetic inhibitors, we found that the acetyltransferase CREBBP/EP300 is a major regulator of contractility and extracellular matrix production via control of H3K27 acetylation at the profibrotic genes, <jats:italic>ACTA2</jats:italic> and <jats:italic>COL1A1</jats:italic>. Genomic analysis revealed that EP300 is highly enriched at enhancers associated with genes involved in multiple profibrotic pathways, and broad transcriptomic and proteomic profiling of CREBBP/EP300 inhibition by the chemical probe SGC-CBP30 identified collagen VI (Col VI) as a prominent downstream regulator of myofibroblast activity. Targeted Col VI knockdown results in significant decrease in profibrotic functions, including myofibroblast contractile force, extracellular matrix (ECM) production, chemotaxis, and wound healing. Further evidence for Col VI as a major determinant of fibrosis is its abundant expression within Dupuytren’s nodules and also in the fibrotic foci of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF). Thus, Col VI may represent a tractable therapeutic target across a range of fibrotic disorders.</jats:p>
Living off the land: Terrestrial-based diet and dairying in the farming communities of the Neolithic Balkans.
The application of biomolecular techniques to archaeological materials from the Balkans is providing valuable new information on the prehistory of the region. This is especially relevant for the study of the neolithisation process in SE Europe, which gradually affected the rest of the continent. Here, to answer questions regarding diet and subsistence practices in early farming societies in the central Balkans, we combine organic residue analyses of archaeological pottery, taxonomic and isotopic study of domestic animal remains and biomolecular analyses of human dental calculus. The results from the analyses of the lipid residues from pottery suggest that milk was processed in ceramic vessels. Dairy products were shown to be part of the subsistence strategies of the earliest Neolithic communities in the region but were of varying importance in different areas of the Balkan. Conversely, milk proteins were not detected within the dental calculus. The molecular and isotopic identification of meat, dairy, plants and beeswax in the pottery lipids also provided insights into the diversity of diet in these early Neolithic communities, mainly based on terrestrial resources. We also present the first compound-specific radiocarbon dates for the region, obtained directly from absorbed organic residues extracted from pottery, identified as dairy lipids.
MHC class II invariant chain-adjuvanted viral vectored vaccines enhances T cell responses in humans.
Strategies to enhance the induction of high magnitude T cell responses through vaccination are urgently needed. Major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class II-associated invariant chain (Ii) plays a critical role in antigen presentation, forming MHC class II peptide complexes for the generation of CD4+ T cell responses. Preclinical studies evaluating the fusion of Ii to antigens encoded in vector delivery systems have shown that this strategy may enhance T cell immune responses to the encoded antigen. We now assess this strategy in humans, using chimpanzee adenovirus 3 and modified vaccinia Ankara vectors encoding human Ii fused to the nonstructural (NS) antigens of hepatitis C virus (HCV) in a heterologous prime/boost regimen. Vaccination was well tolerated and enhanced the peak magnitude, breadth, and proliferative capacity of anti-HCV T cell responses compared to non-Ii vaccines in humans. Very high frequencies of HCV-specific T cells were elicited in humans. Polyfunctional HCV-specific CD8+ and CD4+ responses were induced with up to 30% of CD3+CD8+ cells targeting single HCV epitopes; these were mostly effector memory cells with a high proportion expressing T cell activation and cytolytic markers. No volunteers developed anti-Ii T cell or antibody responses. Using a mouse model and in vitro experiments, we show that Ii fused to NS increases HCV immune responses through enhanced ubiquitination and proteasomal degradation. This strategy could be used to develop more potent HCV vaccines that may contribute to the HCV elimination targets and paves the way for developing class II Ii vaccines against cancer and other infections.
Broad and strong memory CD4+ and CD8+ T cells induced by SARS-CoV-2 in UK convalescent individuals following COVID-19.
The development of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) vaccines and therapeutics will depend on understanding viral immunity. We studied T cell memory in 42 patients following recovery from COVID-19 (28 with mild disease and 14 with severe disease) and 16 unexposed donors, using interferon-γ-based assays with peptides spanning SARS-CoV-2 except ORF1. The breadth and magnitude of T cell responses were significantly higher in severe as compared with mild cases. Total and spike-specific T cell responses correlated with spike-specific antibody responses. We identified 41 peptides containing CD4+ and/or CD8+ epitopes, including six immunodominant regions. Six optimized CD8+ epitopes were defined, with peptide-MHC pentamer-positive cells displaying the central and effector memory phenotype. In mild cases, higher proportions of SARS-CoV-2-specific CD8+ T cells were observed. The identification of T cell responses associated with milder disease will support an understanding of protective immunity and highlights the potential of including non-spike proteins within future COVID-19 vaccine design.
Deliberately Losing Control of C-H Activation Processes in the Design of Small Molecule Fragment Arrays Targeting Peroxisomal Metabolism.
Combined photochemical arylation, "nuisance effect" (S N Ar) reaction sequences have been employed in the design of small arrays for immediate deployment in medium throughput X-ray protein-ligand structure determination. Reactions have been deliberately let "out of control," in terms of selectivity; for example the ortho-arylation of 2-phenylpyridine gave five products resulting from mono-, bis- arylations combined with S N Ar processes. As a result, a number of crystallographic hits against NUDT7, a key peroxisomal CoA ester hydrolase, have been identified.
The Krebs cycle-derived metabolite itaconate is highly upregulated in inflammatory macrophages and exerts immunomodulatory effects through cysteine modifications on target proteins. The NLRP3 inflammasome, which cleaves IL-1β, IL-18, and gasdermin D, must be tightly regulated to avoid excessive inflammation. Here we provide evidence that itaconate modifies NLRP3 and inhibits inflammasome activation. Itaconate and its derivative, 4-octyl itaconate (4-OI), inhibited NLRP3 inflammasome activation, but not AIM2 or NLRC4. Conversely, NLRP3 activation was increased in itaconate-depleted Irg1-/- macrophages. 4-OI inhibited the interaction between NLRP3 and NEK7, a key step in the activation process, and "dicarboxypropylated" C548 on NLRP3. Furthermore, 4-OI inhibited NLRP3-dependent IL-1β release from PBMCs isolated from cryopyrin-associated periodic syndrome (CAPS) patients, and reduced inflammation in an in vivo model of urate-induced peritonitis. Our results identify itaconate as an endogenous metabolic regulator of the NLRP3 inflammasome and describe a process that may be exploited therapeutically to alleviate inflammation in NLRP3-driven disorders.
The subventricular zone of the mammalian brain is the major source of adult born neurons. These neuroblasts normally migrate long distances to the olfactory bulbs but can be re-routed to locations of injury and promote neuroregeneration. Mechanistic understanding and pharmacological targets regulating neuroblast migration is sparse. Furthermore, lack of migration assays limits development of pharmaceutical interventions targeting neuroblast recruitment. We therefore developed a physiologically relevant 3D neuroblast spheroid migration assay that permits the investigation of large numbers of interventions. To verify the assay, 1,012 kinase inhibitors were screened for their effects on migration. Several induced significant increases or decreases in migration. MuSK and PIK3CB were selected as putative targets and their knockdown validated increased neuroblast migration. Thus, compounds identified through this assay system could be explored for their potential in augmenting neuroblast recruitment to sites of injury for neuroregeneration, or for decreasing malignant invasion.
Hypoxic gene expression in chronic hepatitis B virus infected patients is not observed in state-of-the-art in vitro and mouse infection models.
Hepatitis B virus (HBV) is the leading cause of hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) worldwide. The prolyl hydroxylase domain (PHD)-hypoxia inducible factor (HIF) pathway is a key mammalian oxygen sensing pathway and is frequently perturbed by pathological states including infection and inflammation. We discovered a significant upregulation of hypoxia regulated gene transcripts in patients with chronic hepatitis B (CHB) in the absence of liver cirrhosis. We used state-of-the-art in vitro and in vivo HBV infection models to evaluate a role for HBV infection and the viral regulatory protein HBx to drive HIF-signalling. HBx had no significant impact on HIF expression or associated transcriptional activity under normoxic or hypoxic conditions. Furthermore, we found no evidence of hypoxia gene expression in HBV de novo infection, HBV infected human liver chimeric mice or transgenic mice with integrated HBV genome. Collectively, our data show clear evidence of hypoxia gene induction in CHB that is not recapitulated in existing models for acute HBV infection, suggesting a role for inflammatory mediators in promoting hypoxia gene expression.
Chronic comorbidities in children and adolescents with perinatally acquired HIV infection in sub-Saharan Africa in the era of antiretroviral therapy.
Globally, 1·7 million children are living with HIV, of which 90% are in sub-Saharan Africa. The remarkable scale-up of combination antiretroviral therapy has resulted in increasing numbers of children with HIV surviving to adolescence. Unfortunately, in sub-Saharan Africa, HIV diagnosis is often delayed with children starting antiretroviral therapy late in childhood. There have been increasing reports from low-income settings of children with HIV who have multisystem chronic comorbidities despite antiretroviral therapy. Many of these chronic conditions show clinical phenotypes distinct from those in adults with HIV, and result in disability and reduced quality of life. In this Review, we discuss the spectrum and pathogenesis of comorbidities in children with HIV in sub-Saharan Africa. Prompt diagnosis and treatment of perinatally acquired HIV infection is a priority. Additionally, there is a need for increased awareness of the burden of chronic comorbidities. Diagnostic and therapeutic strategies need to be collectively developed if children with HIV are to achieve their full potential.
Effect of antiretroviral therapy on longitudinal lung function trends in older children and adolescents with HIV-infection.
INTRODUCTION:Chronic respiratory disease is a common cause of morbidity in children with HIV infection. We investigated longitudinal lung function trends among HIV-infected children, to describe the evolution of lung disease and assess the effect of anti-retroviral therapy (ART). METHODS:Prospective follow-up of two cohorts of HIV-infected children, aged 6 to 16 years, in Harare, Zimbabwe; one group were ART-naïve at enrolment, the other established on ART for a median of 4.7-years. Standardised spirometric assessments were repeated over a 2-year follow-up period. Forced expiratory volume (FEV1) and forced vital capacity (FVC) were expressed as Global Lung Initiative defined z-scores (FEV1z and FVCz). Linear mixed-effects regression modelling of lung function was performed, with co-variate parameters evaluated by likelihood ratio comparison. RESULTS:We included 271 ART-naïve and 197 ART-established children (median age 11 years in both groups) incorporating 1144 spirometric assessments. Changes in FEV1 and FVC were associated with age at ART initiation and body mass index for both cohorts. Our models estimate that ART initiation earlier in life could prevent a deterioration of 0.04 FVCz/year. In the ART-naïve cohort, likelihood ratio comparison suggested an improvement in 0.09 FVCz/year during the two years following treatment initiation, but no evidence for this among participants established on ART. CONCLUSION:Early ART initiation and improved nutrition are positively associated with lung function and are important modifiable factors. An initial improvement in lung growth was seen in the first 2-years following ART initiation, although this did not appear to be sustained beyond this timeframe.
Sex-Differential Impact of Human Cytomegalovirus Infection on In Vitro Reactivity to Toll-Like Receptor 2, 4 and 7/8 Stimulation in Gambian Infants.
Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) infection rates approach 100% by the first year of life in low-income countries. It is not known if this drives changes to innate immunity in early life and thereby altered immune reactivity to infections and vaccines. Given the panoply of sex differences in immunity, it is feasible that any immunological effects of HCMV would differ in males and females. We analysed ex vivo innate cytokine responses to a panel of toll-like receptor (TLR) ligands in 108 nine-month-old Gambian males and females participating in a vaccine trial. We found evidence that HCMV suppressed reactivity to TLR2 and TLR7/8 stimulation in females but not males. This is likely to contribute to sex differences in responses to infections and vaccines in early life and has implications for the development of TLR ligands as vaccine adjuvants. Development of an effective HCMV vaccine would be able to circumvent some of these potentially negative effects of HCMV infection in childhood.