Dr Pruksa Nawtaisong

Research Area: Microbiology
Scientific Themes: Tropical Medicine & Global Health and Immunology & Infectious Disease
Keywords: Molecular Microbiology,Molecular Diagnostics,Wildlife, Tropical Medicine, Infectious Diseases
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Pruksa is a Molecular Microbiologist at LOMWRU. Her main interest is molecular diagnostics of bacterial and viral pathogens of public health importance in clinical, insect, and wildlife samples. She is part of the LACANET One Health programme that aims to investigate and monitor zoonotic disease transmission in traded wildlife. She occasionally instructs training courses in molecular detection methods to LOMWRU and Laos research institution staff as part of the One Heath Network project.

Name Department Institution Country
Professor Paul Newton Tropical Medicine Oxford University, Vientiane Laos
Professor Daniel H Paris Tropical Medicine Oxford University, Bangkok Thailand
Dr Matthew Robinson Tropical Medicine Oxford University, Vientiane Laos
Dr Ivo Elliott Tropical Medicine Oxford University, Vientiane Laos
Dr David AB Dance Tropical Medicine Oxford University, Vientiane Laos
James SL, Blacksell SD, Nawtaisong P, Tanganuchitcharnchai A, Smith DJ, Day NP, Paris DH. 2016. Antigenic Relationships among Human Pathogenic Orientia tsutsugamushi Isolates from Thailand. PLoS Negl Trop Dis, 10 (6), pp. e0004723. | Show Abstract

BACKGROUND: Scrub typhus is a common cause of undiagnosed febrile illness in certain tropical regions, but can be easily treated with antibiotics. The causative agent, Orientia tsutsugamushi, is antigenically variable which complicates diagnosis and efforts towards vaccine development. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: This study aimed to dissect the antigenic and genetic relatedness of O. tsutsugamushi strains and investigate sero-diagnostic reactivities by titrating individual patient sera against their O. tsutsugamushi isolates (whole-cell antigen preparation), in homologous and heterologous serum-isolate pairs from the same endemic region in NE Thailand. The indirect immunofluorescence assay was used to titrate Orientia tsutsugamushi isolates and human sera, and a mathematical technique, antigenic cartography, was applied to these data to visualise the antigenic differences and cross-reactivity between strains and sera. No functional or antigen-specific analyses were performed. The antigenic variation found in clinical isolates was much less pronounced than the genetic differences found in the 56kDa type-specific antigen genes. The Karp-like sera were more broadly reactive than the Gilliam-like sera. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: Antigenic cartography worked well with scrub typhus indirect immunofluorescence titres. The data from humoral responses suggest that a Karp-like strain would provide broader antibody cross-reactivity than a Gilliam-like strain. Although previous exposure to O. tsutsugamushi could not be ruled out, scrub typhus patient serum antibody responses were characterised by strong homologous, but weak heterologous antibody titres, with little evidence for cross-reactivity by Gilliam-like sera, but a broader response from some Karp-like sera. This work highlights the importance of antigenic variation in O. tsutsugamushi diagnosis and determination of new serotypes.

Blacksell SD, Tanganuchitcharnchai A, Nawtaisong P, Kantipong P, Laongnualpanich A, Day NP, Paris DH. 2015. Diagnostic Accuracy of the InBios Scrub Typhus Detect Enzyme-Linked Immunoassay for the Detection of IgM Antibodies in Northern Thailand. Clin. Vaccine Immunol., 23 (2), pp. 148-54. | Show Abstract

In this study, we examined the diagnostic accuracy of the InBios Scrub Typhus Detect IgM enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and determined the optimal diagnostic optical density (OD) cutoffs for screening and diagnostic applications based on prospectively collected, characterized samples from undifferentiated febrile illness patients in northern Thailand. Direct comparisons with the serological gold standard, indirect immunofluorescence assay (IFA), revealed strong statistical correlation of ELISA OD values and IFA IgM titers. Determination of the optimal ELISA cutoff for seroepidemiology or screening purposes compared to the corresponding IFA reciprocal titer of 400 as previously described for Thailand was 0.60 OD, which corresponded to a sensitivity (Sn) of 84% and a specificity (Sp) of 98%. The diagnostic performance against the improved and more-stringent scrub typhus infection criteria (STIC), correcting for low false-positive IFA titers, resulted in an Sn of 93% and an Sp of 91% at an ELISA cutoff of 0.5 OD. This diagnostic ELISA cutoff corresponds to IFA reciprocal titers of 1,600 to 3,200, which greatly reduces the false-positive rates associated with low-positive IFA titers. These data are in congruence with the recently improved serodiagnostic positivity criteria using the Bayesian latent class modeling approach. In summary, the InBios Scrub Typhus Detect IgM ELISA is affordable and easy-to-use, with adequate diagnostic accuracy for screening and diagnostic purposes, and should be considered an improved alternative to the gold standard IFA for acute diagnosis. For broader application, regional cutoff validation and antigenic composition for consistent diagnostic accuracy should be considered.

Paris DH, Chattopadhyay S, Jiang J, Nawtaisong P, Lee JS, Tan E, Dela Cruz E, Burgos J, Abalos R, Blacksell SD et al. 2015. A nonhuman primate scrub typhus model: protective immune responses induced by pKarp47 DNA vaccination in cynomolgus macaques. J. Immunol., 194 (4), pp. 1702-16. | Show Abstract

We developed an intradermal (ID) challenge cynomolgus macaque (Macaca fascicularis) model of scrub typhus, the leading cause of treatable undifferentiated febrile illness in tropical Asia, caused by the obligate intracellular bacterium, Orientia tsutsugamushi. A well-characterized animal model is required for the development of clinically relevant diagnostic assays and evaluation of therapeutic agents and candidate vaccines. We investigated scrub typhus disease pathophysiology and evaluated two O. tsutsugamushi 47-kDa, Ag-based candidate vaccines, a DNA plasmid vaccine (pKarp47), and a virus-vectored vaccine (Kp47/47-Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus replicon particle) for safety, immunogenicity, and efficacy against homologous ID challenge with O. tsutsugamushi Karp. Control cynomolgus macaques developed fever, classic eschars, lymphadenopathy, bacteremia, altered liver function, increased WBC counts, pathogen-specific Ab (IgM and IgG), and cell-mediated immune responses. Vaccinated macaques receiving the DNA plasmid pKarp47 vaccine had significantly increased O. tsutsugamushi-specific, IFN-γ-producing PBMCs (p = 0.04), reduced eschar frequency and bacteremia duration (p ≤ 0.01), delayed bacteremia onset (p < 0.05), reduced circulating bacterial biomass (p = 0.01), and greater reduction of liver transaminase levels (p < 0.03) than controls. This study demonstrates a vaccine-induced immune response capable of conferring sterile immunity against high-dose homologous ID challenge of O. tsutsugamushi in a nonhuman primate model, and it provides insight into cell-mediated immune control of O. tsutsugamushi and dissemination dynamics, highlights the importance of bacteremia indices for evaluation of both natural and vaccine-induced immune responses, and importantly, to our knowledge, has determined the first phenotypic correlates of immune protection in scrub typhus. We conclude that this model is suitable for detailed investigations into vaccine-induced immune responses and correlates of immunity for scrub typhus.

Paris DH, Chansamouth V, Nawtaisong P, Löwenberg EC, Phetsouvanh R, Blacksell SD, Lee SJ, Dondorp AM, van der Poll T, Newton PN et al. 2012. Coagulation and inflammation in scrub typhus and murine typhus--a prospective comparative study from Laos. Clin. Microbiol. Infect., 18 (12), pp. 1221-8. | Show Abstract

Scrub typhus (caused by Orientia tsutsugamushi) and murine typhus (caused by Rickettsia typhi) cause up to 28% of febrile episodes in Thailand and Laos. The current understanding of coagulation and inflammation in the pathogenesis of these clinically very similar vasculotropic diseases is limited. This study compared human in vivo changes in 15 coagulation, inflammation and endothelial activation markers in prospectively collected admission and follow-up samples of 121 patients (55 scrub typhus, 55 murine typhus, and 11 typhus-like illness) and 51 healthy controls from Laos. As compared with controls, all but one of the markers assessed were significantly affected in typhus patients; however, the activation patterns differed significantly between scrub and murine typhus patients. The levels of markers of coagulation activation and all inflammatory cytokines, except for interleukin-12, were significantly higher in patients with scrub typhus than in those with murine typhus. In patients with murine typhus, however, the levels of endothelium-derived markers were significantly higher. Anticoagulant factors were inhibited in both typhus patient groups. This is the first study demonstrating that, in scrub typhus, in vivo coagulation activation is prominent and is related to a strong proinflammatory response, whereas in murine typhus, changes in coagulant and fibrinolytic pathways are suggestive of endothelial cell perturbation. These data suggest that, although late-stage endothelial infection is common in both diseases, the in vivo pathogenic mechanisms of R. typhi and O. tsutsugamushi could differ in the early phase of infection and may contribute to disease differentiation.

Paris DH, Blacksell SD, Nawtaisong P, Jenjaroen K, Teeraratkul A, Chierakul W, Wuthiekanun V, Kantipong P, Day NP. 2011. Diagnostic accuracy of a loop-mediated isothermal PCR assay for detection of Orientia tsutsugamushi during acute Scrub Typhus infection. PLoS Negl Trop Dis, 5 (9), pp. e1307. | Show Abstract

BACKGROUND: There is an urgent need to develop rapid and accurate point-of-care (POC) technologies for acute scrub typhus diagnosis in low-resource, primary health care settings to guide clinical therapy. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: In this study we present the clinical evaluation of loop-mediated isothermal PCR assay (LAMP) in the context of a prospective fever study, including 161 patients from scrub typhus-endemic Chiang Rai, northern Thailand. A robust reference comparator set comprising following 'scrub typhus infection criteria' (STIC) was used: a) positive cell culture isolate and/or b) an admission IgM titer ≥1∶12,800 using the 'gold standard' indirect immunofluorescence assay (IFA) and/or c) a 4-fold rising IFA IgM titer and/or d) a positive result in at least two out of three PCR assays. Compared to the STIC criteria, all PCR assays (including LAMP) demonstrated high specificity ranging from 96-99%, with sensitivities varying from 40% to 56%, similar to the antibody based rapid test, which had a sensitivity of 47% and a specificity of 95%. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: The diagnostic accuracy of the LAMP assay was similar to realtime and nested conventional PCR assays, but superior to the antibody-based rapid test in the early disease course. The combination of DNA- and antibody-based detection methods increased sensitivity with minimal reduction of specificity, and expanded the timeframe of adequate diagnostic coverage throughout the acute phase of scrub typhus.

James SL, Blacksell SD, Nawtaisong P, Tanganuchitcharnchai A, Smith DJ, Day NP, Paris DH. 2016. Antigenic Relationships among Human Pathogenic Orientia tsutsugamushi Isolates from Thailand. PLoS Negl Trop Dis, 10 (6), pp. e0004723. | Show Abstract

BACKGROUND: Scrub typhus is a common cause of undiagnosed febrile illness in certain tropical regions, but can be easily treated with antibiotics. The causative agent, Orientia tsutsugamushi, is antigenically variable which complicates diagnosis and efforts towards vaccine development. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: This study aimed to dissect the antigenic and genetic relatedness of O. tsutsugamushi strains and investigate sero-diagnostic reactivities by titrating individual patient sera against their O. tsutsugamushi isolates (whole-cell antigen preparation), in homologous and heterologous serum-isolate pairs from the same endemic region in NE Thailand. The indirect immunofluorescence assay was used to titrate Orientia tsutsugamushi isolates and human sera, and a mathematical technique, antigenic cartography, was applied to these data to visualise the antigenic differences and cross-reactivity between strains and sera. No functional or antigen-specific analyses were performed. The antigenic variation found in clinical isolates was much less pronounced than the genetic differences found in the 56kDa type-specific antigen genes. The Karp-like sera were more broadly reactive than the Gilliam-like sera. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: Antigenic cartography worked well with scrub typhus indirect immunofluorescence titres. The data from humoral responses suggest that a Karp-like strain would provide broader antibody cross-reactivity than a Gilliam-like strain. Although previous exposure to O. tsutsugamushi could not be ruled out, scrub typhus patient serum antibody responses were characterised by strong homologous, but weak heterologous antibody titres, with little evidence for cross-reactivity by Gilliam-like sera, but a broader response from some Karp-like sera. This work highlights the importance of antigenic variation in O. tsutsugamushi diagnosis and determination of new serotypes.

Blacksell SD, Tanganuchitcharnchai A, Nawtaisong P, Kantipong P, Laongnualpanich A, Day NP, Paris DH. 2015. Diagnostic Accuracy of the InBios Scrub Typhus Detect Enzyme-Linked Immunoassay for the Detection of IgM Antibodies in Northern Thailand. Clin. Vaccine Immunol., 23 (2), pp. 148-54. | Show Abstract

In this study, we examined the diagnostic accuracy of the InBios Scrub Typhus Detect IgM enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and determined the optimal diagnostic optical density (OD) cutoffs for screening and diagnostic applications based on prospectively collected, characterized samples from undifferentiated febrile illness patients in northern Thailand. Direct comparisons with the serological gold standard, indirect immunofluorescence assay (IFA), revealed strong statistical correlation of ELISA OD values and IFA IgM titers. Determination of the optimal ELISA cutoff for seroepidemiology or screening purposes compared to the corresponding IFA reciprocal titer of 400 as previously described for Thailand was 0.60 OD, which corresponded to a sensitivity (Sn) of 84% and a specificity (Sp) of 98%. The diagnostic performance against the improved and more-stringent scrub typhus infection criteria (STIC), correcting for low false-positive IFA titers, resulted in an Sn of 93% and an Sp of 91% at an ELISA cutoff of 0.5 OD. This diagnostic ELISA cutoff corresponds to IFA reciprocal titers of 1,600 to 3,200, which greatly reduces the false-positive rates associated with low-positive IFA titers. These data are in congruence with the recently improved serodiagnostic positivity criteria using the Bayesian latent class modeling approach. In summary, the InBios Scrub Typhus Detect IgM ELISA is affordable and easy-to-use, with adequate diagnostic accuracy for screening and diagnostic purposes, and should be considered an improved alternative to the gold standard IFA for acute diagnosis. For broader application, regional cutoff validation and antigenic composition for consistent diagnostic accuracy should be considered.

Paris DH, Chattopadhyay S, Jiang J, Nawtaisong P, Lee JS, Tan E, Dela Cruz E, Burgos J, Abalos R, Blacksell SD et al. 2015. A nonhuman primate scrub typhus model: protective immune responses induced by pKarp47 DNA vaccination in cynomolgus macaques. J. Immunol., 194 (4), pp. 1702-16. | Show Abstract

We developed an intradermal (ID) challenge cynomolgus macaque (Macaca fascicularis) model of scrub typhus, the leading cause of treatable undifferentiated febrile illness in tropical Asia, caused by the obligate intracellular bacterium, Orientia tsutsugamushi. A well-characterized animal model is required for the development of clinically relevant diagnostic assays and evaluation of therapeutic agents and candidate vaccines. We investigated scrub typhus disease pathophysiology and evaluated two O. tsutsugamushi 47-kDa, Ag-based candidate vaccines, a DNA plasmid vaccine (pKarp47), and a virus-vectored vaccine (Kp47/47-Venezuelan equine encephalitis virus replicon particle) for safety, immunogenicity, and efficacy against homologous ID challenge with O. tsutsugamushi Karp. Control cynomolgus macaques developed fever, classic eschars, lymphadenopathy, bacteremia, altered liver function, increased WBC counts, pathogen-specific Ab (IgM and IgG), and cell-mediated immune responses. Vaccinated macaques receiving the DNA plasmid pKarp47 vaccine had significantly increased O. tsutsugamushi-specific, IFN-γ-producing PBMCs (p = 0.04), reduced eschar frequency and bacteremia duration (p ≤ 0.01), delayed bacteremia onset (p < 0.05), reduced circulating bacterial biomass (p = 0.01), and greater reduction of liver transaminase levels (p < 0.03) than controls. This study demonstrates a vaccine-induced immune response capable of conferring sterile immunity against high-dose homologous ID challenge of O. tsutsugamushi in a nonhuman primate model, and it provides insight into cell-mediated immune control of O. tsutsugamushi and dissemination dynamics, highlights the importance of bacteremia indices for evaluation of both natural and vaccine-induced immune responses, and importantly, to our knowledge, has determined the first phenotypic correlates of immune protection in scrub typhus. We conclude that this model is suitable for detailed investigations into vaccine-induced immune responses and correlates of immunity for scrub typhus.

Paris DH, Chansamouth V, Nawtaisong P, Löwenberg EC, Phetsouvanh R, Blacksell SD, Lee SJ, Dondorp AM, van der Poll T, Newton PN et al. 2012. Coagulation and inflammation in scrub typhus and murine typhus--a prospective comparative study from Laos. Clin. Microbiol. Infect., 18 (12), pp. 1221-8. | Show Abstract

Scrub typhus (caused by Orientia tsutsugamushi) and murine typhus (caused by Rickettsia typhi) cause up to 28% of febrile episodes in Thailand and Laos. The current understanding of coagulation and inflammation in the pathogenesis of these clinically very similar vasculotropic diseases is limited. This study compared human in vivo changes in 15 coagulation, inflammation and endothelial activation markers in prospectively collected admission and follow-up samples of 121 patients (55 scrub typhus, 55 murine typhus, and 11 typhus-like illness) and 51 healthy controls from Laos. As compared with controls, all but one of the markers assessed were significantly affected in typhus patients; however, the activation patterns differed significantly between scrub and murine typhus patients. The levels of markers of coagulation activation and all inflammatory cytokines, except for interleukin-12, were significantly higher in patients with scrub typhus than in those with murine typhus. In patients with murine typhus, however, the levels of endothelium-derived markers were significantly higher. Anticoagulant factors were inhibited in both typhus patient groups. This is the first study demonstrating that, in scrub typhus, in vivo coagulation activation is prominent and is related to a strong proinflammatory response, whereas in murine typhus, changes in coagulant and fibrinolytic pathways are suggestive of endothelial cell perturbation. These data suggest that, although late-stage endothelial infection is common in both diseases, the in vivo pathogenic mechanisms of R. typhi and O. tsutsugamushi could differ in the early phase of infection and may contribute to disease differentiation.

Paris DH, Blacksell SD, Nawtaisong P, Jenjaroen K, Teeraratkul A, Chierakul W, Wuthiekanun V, Kantipong P, Day NP. 2011. Diagnostic accuracy of a loop-mediated isothermal PCR assay for detection of Orientia tsutsugamushi during acute Scrub Typhus infection. PLoS Negl Trop Dis, 5 (9), pp. e1307. | Show Abstract

BACKGROUND: There is an urgent need to develop rapid and accurate point-of-care (POC) technologies for acute scrub typhus diagnosis in low-resource, primary health care settings to guide clinical therapy. METHODOLOGY/PRINCIPAL FINDINGS: In this study we present the clinical evaluation of loop-mediated isothermal PCR assay (LAMP) in the context of a prospective fever study, including 161 patients from scrub typhus-endemic Chiang Rai, northern Thailand. A robust reference comparator set comprising following 'scrub typhus infection criteria' (STIC) was used: a) positive cell culture isolate and/or b) an admission IgM titer ≥1∶12,800 using the 'gold standard' indirect immunofluorescence assay (IFA) and/or c) a 4-fold rising IFA IgM titer and/or d) a positive result in at least two out of three PCR assays. Compared to the STIC criteria, all PCR assays (including LAMP) demonstrated high specificity ranging from 96-99%, with sensitivities varying from 40% to 56%, similar to the antibody based rapid test, which had a sensitivity of 47% and a specificity of 95%. CONCLUSIONS/SIGNIFICANCE: The diagnostic accuracy of the LAMP assay was similar to realtime and nested conventional PCR assays, but superior to the antibody-based rapid test in the early disease course. The combination of DNA- and antibody-based detection methods increased sensitivity with minimal reduction of specificity, and expanded the timeframe of adequate diagnostic coverage throughout the acute phase of scrub typhus.

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