Edinburgh Infectious Diseases
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Research focus: from AMR resistance in seals to genetic mutations helping humans and animals survive against antibiotics

A collection of publication highlights from the Edinburgh Infectious Diseases network over the past month.

Seals

Variations in antimicrobial resistance genes present in the rectal faeces of seals in Scottish and Liverpool Bay coastal waters

Summary: Researchers from the Moredun Research Institute have been looking into antibiotic resistance genes originating from human activity which are harmful to the environment. In this study, they have been using technology to investigate how widespread these genes are within seal populations living near human populations.

Researchers found that resistance genes were present in all sites with the highest numbers from grey seals on the Isle of May.

Citation: Watson E, Hamilton S, Silva N, Moss S, Watkins C, Baily J, Forster T, Hall AJ, Dagleish MP. Environ Pollut. 2024 May 15;349:123936. doi: 10.1016/j.envpol.2024.123936. Epub 2024 Apr 6. PMID: 38588972.

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No correlative evidence of costs of infection or immunity on leucocyte telomere length in a wild population of Soay sheep

Summary: Researchers from the Institute of Ecology and Evolution and the Moredun Research Institute have been looking at telomere length (TL) - a biomarker used to capture evolutionary and ecologically important physiological costs of reproduction, infection and immunity.

Researchers used data from free-living Soay sheep and tested whether TL could be predicted by infection with nematode parasites and antibody levels against those parasites. Their results suggest that while variation in TL could reflect short-term variation in resource investment or environmental conditions, it does not capture costs of infection and immunity.

Citation: Ravindran S, Underwood SL, Dorrens J, Seeker LA, Watt K, Wilbourn RV, Sparks AM, Sinclair R, Chen Z, Pilkington JG, McNeilly TN, Harrington L, Pemberton JM, Nussey DH, Froy H. Proc Biol Sci. 2024 Apr 10;291(2020):20232946. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2023.2946. Epub 2024 Apr 3. PMID: 38565156; PMCID: PMC10987235.

Differentiation granules, a dynamic regulator of T. brucei development

Summary: Researchers from the Institute for Immunology and Infection Research have been looking into the African Trypanosoma brucei which is is equisitely sensitive to well-defined environmental stimuli that trigger cellular adaptations.

They have explored the composition and positional dynamics of membraneless granules formed in response to starvation stress and during differentiation in the mammalian host.

They found that T. brucei differentiation does not reflect default response to environmental stress. Instead, the developmental response of the parasites involves a specific and programmed hierarchy of membraneless granule assembly.

Citation: Cayla M, Spanos C, McWilliam K, Waskett E, Rappsilber J, Matthews KR. Nat Commun. 2024 Apr 6;15(1):2972. doi: 10.1038/s41467-024-47309-1. PMID: 38582942; PMCID: PMC10998879.

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Global disease burden of and risk factors for acute lower respiratory infections caused by respiratory syncytial virus in preterm infants and young children in 2019: a systematic review and meta-analysis of aggregated and individual participant data

Summary: Researchers from the Centre for Global Health within the Usher Institute conducted a review and meta-analysis of data from studies published between Jan 1, 1995 and Dec 31, 2021. In doing so, they aimed to assess the global disease burden of and risk factors for RSV-associated acute lower respiratory infections (ALRI) in infants and young children born before 37 weeks of gestation.

They included 47 studies from the literature and 17 studies with individual participant-level data contributed by the participating investigators.

The factors identified to be associated with RSV-associated ALRI incidence were mainly perinatal and sociodemographic characteristics, and factors associated with severe outcomes from infection were mainly underlying medical conditions.

Citation: Wang X, Li Y, Shi T, Bont LJ, Chu HY, Zar HJ, Wahi-Singh B, Ma Y, Cong B, Sharland E, Riley RD, Deng J, Figueras-Aloy J, Heikkinen T, Jones MH, Liese JG, Markić J, Mejias A, Nunes MC, Resch B, Satav A, Yeo KT, Simões EAF, Nair H. Lancet. 2024 Mar 30;403(10433):1241-1253. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(24)00138-7. Epub 2024 Feb 14. PMID: 38367641.

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Characterisation of protective vaccine antigens from the thiol-containing components of excretory/secretory material of Ostertagia ostertagi

Summary: Researchers from the Moredun Research Institute and Biomathematics and Statistics Scotland have been looking at previous vaccianation trials demonstarting that thiol proteins purified from Ostertagia ostertagi - a common roundworm that causes parasitic gastroenteristis in cattle - are protective against homologous challenge.

Researchers show that protection induced by this vaccine was consistent across four independent vaccine-challenge experiments. Protection is associated with reduced cumulative faecal egg counts across the duration of the trials, relative to control animals.

Citation: Price DRG, Steele P, Frew D, McLean K, Androscuk D, Geldhof P, Borloo J, Albaladejo JP, Nisbet AJ, McNeilly TN. Vet Parasitol. 2024 Mar 1;328:110154. doi: 10.1016/j.vetpar.2024.110154. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 38490160.

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Methicillin resistance in Staphylococcus pseudintermedius encoded within novel staphylococcal cassette chromosome mec (SCCmec) variants

Summary: Staphylococcus pseudintermedius is a common pathogen of companion dogs and an occasional human pathogen. Treatment is difficult due to antimicrobial resistance.

Researchers from the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Medicine and the Roslin Institute aimed to charactersies the mobile genetic element (SCCmec) found in four canine clinical isolates of S. pseudintermedius.

They concluded that S. pseudintermedius is a reservoir of novel SSCmec elements that has implications for understanding antimicrobial resistant in veterinary and human medicine.

Citation: MacFadyen AC, Paterson GK. J Antimicrob Chemother. 2024 Apr 2:dkae096. doi: 10.1093/jac/dkae096. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 38564255.

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Evaluation of a FlpA Glycoconjugate Vaccine with Ten N-Heptasaccharide Glycan Moieties to reduce Campylobacter jejuni Colonisation in Chickens

Summary: Campylobacter is a major cause of gastroenteritis in humans which is primarily caused by the handling or consumption of poultry meat.

Researchers from the Roslin Institute and the Institute for Immunology and Infection Research evaluated a glycoconjugate vaccine and found a slight but significant antibody response to the N-glycan detected after vaccination - their data indicates that vaccine-mediated immunity may be sensitive to host- or study-specific variables.

Citation: Corona-Torres R, Vohra P, Chintoan-Uta C, Bremner A, Terra VS, Mauri M, Cuccui J, Vervelde L, Wren BW, Stevens MP; Glycoengineering of Veterinary Vaccines Consortium. Vaccines (Basel). 2024 Apr 9;12(4):395. doi: 10.3390/vaccines12040395. PMID: 38675777; PMCID: PMC11054393.

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Experimental evolution of Staphylococcus aureus in macrophages: dissection of a conditional adaptive trait promoting intracellular survival

Summary: Researchers from the Roslin Institute have been analyising the evolution of Staphylococcus aureus which is a major pathogen associated with important diseases in humans and animals. Macrophages are a key component of the immune response to this pathogen.

Researchers developed an experimental infection assay to investigate the adaptive evolution of S. aureus in response to macrophages. They report an experimental evolutionary approach for investigating bacterial innate immune cell interactions, revealing an adaptation that promotes S. aureus survival in macrophages.

Citation: Alves J, Vrieling M, Ring N, Yebra G, Pickering A, Prajsnar TK, Renshaw SA, Fitzgerald JR. mBio. 2024 Apr 29:e0034624. doi: 10.1128/mbio.00346-24. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 38682911.

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