• Hematological Alterations in Patients Recovered from SARS-CoV-2 Infection in Havana, Cuba Original Research

    Pereira-Roche, Nayade; Roblejo-Balbuena, Hilda; Marín-Padrón, Lilia C.; Izaguirre-Rodríguez, Rodolfo; Sotomayor-Lugo, Francisco; Zúñiga-Rosales, Yaima; González-Torres, María de los Ángeles; Pérez-Rodríguez, Jacqueline; Álvarez-Gavilán, Yudelmis; Torres-Rives, Bárbara; Bravo-Ramírez, Maidalys; Benítez-Codero, Yudelkis; Monzón-Benítez, Giselle; Silva-Ayçaguer, Luis C.; Marcheco-Teruel, Beatriz

    Abstract in English:

    Abstract INTRODUCTION COVID-19 sequelae, or the short-, medium-, and long-term manifestations of the disease are under continuous study. There are currently few reports on the evolution of hematological variables following a demonstrated absence of SARS-CoV-2 after infection. OBJECTIVE Identify hematological alterations in Cuban adults recovered from SARS-CoV-2 infection, and their relation with disease severity. METHODS We selected 348 persons recovered from COVID-19 residing in Havana, Cuba with an RT-PCR study negative for SARS-CoV-2 performed two weeks after hospital discharge; a structured survey was administered to obtain clinical–epidemiological data. Three groups were established according to COVID-19 clinical criteria: asymptomatic, mild/moderately symptomatic, and severely symptomatic, which, in turn, were divided according to hospital discharge date and blood sample collection date. We performed hemograms with differential leukocyte counts and compared results among groups. We then measured the associations between hematological variables, personal medical history, and relevant lifestyle habits (smoking). RESULTS All hematological variables were within normal reference limits, although men from the group of severely ill patients had increased total leukocytes, neutrophils and lymphocytes, and decreased hemoglobin and eosinophils, which was also evident in those with a recovery time of 31–90 days. CONCLUSIONS The relation between hematological variables and degree of clinical severity offers evidence as to persistence of systemic alterations (possibly inflammatory) associated with viral infection. Their identification and characterization can facilitate personalized patient followup and rehabilitation.
  • Evaluation of SARS-CoV-2 Rapid Antigen Tests in Use on the Isle of Youth, Cuba Original Research

    González-Fiallo, Saylí; Mena-Rodríguez, Idorka; Castro-Batista, Percy; Doeste-Hernández, Víctor M.; Louit-Laborit, Viviana

    Abstract in English:

    Abstract INTRODUCTION The use of various diagnostic techniques is increasingly common in pandemic scenarios. It is important to update evaluations of their metric properties in different times and settings. OBJECTIVE Evaluate metric properties of a SARS-CoV-2 rapid antigen test relative to a reference standard. METHODS We carried out a prospective evaluation study of the SARS-CoV-2 rapid antigen test as compared to the RT-PCR test, which is considered the reference standard. Our sample was comprised of 778 individuals, and we calculated sensitiv- ity, specificity, predictive values, prevalence and validity indices. RESULTS Of the total 778 samples, 70 were true positives, 658 were true negatives, and 27 were false negatives when compared to RT-PCR test results. We obtained a sensitivity of 75.3% (95% CI = 65.96–84.50); a specificity of 96.1% (95% CI = 94.53–97.59); 72.2% for positive predictive value, and 96.6% for negative predictive value. The estimated preva- lence was 11.9% and the validity index was 93.6%. CONCLUSIONS The index values validate use of the SARS- CoV-2 rapid antigen test until prevalence falls below 2.5%, since as SARS-CoV-2 infection prevalence decreases, so does the predictive value of the PCR result. The use of the SARS-CoV-2 rapid antigen test on the Isle of Youth, Cuba, was decisive in the pandemic’s clinical– epidemiological management.
  • Methanol Toxicity Outbreaks in the Americas: Strengthening National Prevention and Response Measures Viewpoint

    Veras-Estévez, Bienvenido A.; Chapman, Helena J.
  • Community-Acquired Uropathogenic Escherichia coli, Antimicrobial Susceptibility, and Extended-Spectrum Beta-Lactamase Detection Original Research

    Carmona-Cartaya, Yenisel; Hidalgo-Benito, Mercedes; Borges-Mateus, Luisa M.; Pereda-Novales, Niurka; González-Molina, María K.; Quiñones-Pérez, Dianelys

    Abstract in English:

    Abstract INTRODUCTION Urinary tract infection is the second-leading reason for consults in primary health care. Bacterial urinary tract infections are the most common, of which Escherichia coli is the main etiologic agent. Antimicrobial resistance and multidrug resistance complicate effective community treatment, especially if resistance is caused by extended-spectrum beta-lactamase production. WHO recommends that antimicrobial susceptibility be evaluated in different regions of the world at different times. Community-acquired E. coli’s susceptibility to colistin has not yet been studied in Cuba, and mcr-1 gene screening is necessary. OBJECTIVE Evaluate community-acquired uropathogenic E. coli isolates’ susceptibility to antibiotics, including colistin, and identify extended-spectrum beta-lactamase–producing bacteria. METHODS We conducted a descriptive cross-sectional study that included 281 community-acquired uropathogenic E. coli isolates (153 from the Isle of Youth Special Municipality’s Hygiene, Epidemiology, and Microbiology Center and 128 from Microbiology Laboratories of 7 institutions in Havana) from June 2016 through July 2018. We used the disk diffusion method to determine susceptibility to ampicillin, ampicillin/sulbactam, cefazolin, trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole, ciprofloxacin, nitrofurantoin and fosfomycin. The disk elution method was used to determine susceptibility to colistin. The combined disk method was used to identify extended-spectrum beta-lactamases. Estimates were made regarding the frequency and percentages of antimicrobial susceptibility and resistance, as well as multidrug-resistance patterns. RESULTS Of the 281 isolates, 68.3% (192/281) were resistant to ampicillin, 54.8% (154/281) were resistant to ciprofloxacin, and 49.5% (139/281) were resistant to trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole. Resistance to colistin was not detected. On the other hand, 14.2% (40/281) were susceptible to the 8 antibiotics we evaluated, 22.1% (62/281) showed resistance to only 1 antibiotic, and 63.7% (179/281) were resistant to 2 or more antibiotics. In the extended-spectrum beta-lactamase determination, 34.5% (97/281) had inhibition zones ≤14 mm with cefazolin. Of those with inhibition zones, 64.9% (63/97) were positive in the phenotype test, and 35.1% (34/97) were negative. In extended-spectrum beta-lactamase–producing bacteria, 1.6% (1/63) were resistant to fosfomycin, and 3.2% (2/63) were resistant to nitrofurantoin. The most common multidrug-resistance pattern (22.9%; 30/131) was to ampicillin/sulbactam, ampicillin, cefazolin, ciprofloxacin, and trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole. CONCLUSIONS Uropathogenic E. coli resistance to the antibiotics most frequently used in community medical practice is quite common, and extended-spectrum beta-lactamase–producing bacteria is the mechanism for beta-lactam antibiotic resistance. Multidrug-resistance patterns include resistance to the antibiotics most used in community-acquired infections. Fosfomycin and nitrofurantoin are the most active in extended-spectrum beta-lactamase producing bacteria. All the isolates were susceptible to colistin.
  • Politics, Profits & Pandemics: Earth’s Worst-Case Scenario Editorial

  • Lymphocyte Subsets in Defense Against New Pathogens in Patients With Cancer Original Research

    Arango-Prado, María del Carmen; Villegas-Valverde, Carlos A.; Torres-López, Griselda; Soto-Pardeiro, Pilar; Suárez-Reyes, Anamary; Faxas-García, María E.; Diéguez-Rodríguez, Vivian; Gracia-Medina, Elías; Esperón-Noa, Roberto; del Castillo-Bahi, Ramón; Méndez-Rosabal, Ariadna; Curbelo-Alfonso, Luis

    Abstract in English:

    Abstract INTRODUCTION Immunity in cancer patients is modified both by the cancer itself and by oncospecific treatments. Whether a patient’s adaptive immunity is impaired depends on their levels of naive lymphocytes and other cell populations. During the COVID-19 pandemic, cancer patients are at greater risk of progressing to severe forms of the disease and have higher mortality rates than individuals without cancer, particularly while they are receiving cancer-specific therapies. An individual’s protection against infection, their response to vaccines, and even the tests that determine the humoral immune response to SARS-CoV-2, depend on lymphocyte populations, meriting their study. OBJECTIVE Estimate blood concentrations of lymphocytes involved in the immune response to new pathogens in cancer patients. METHODS We carried out an analytical study of 218 cancer patients; 124 women and 94 men, 26–93 years of age, who were treated at the National Oncology and Radiobiology Institute in Havana, Cuba, March–June, 2020. Patients were divided into five groups: (1) those with controlled disease who were not undergoing cancer-specific treatment; (2) those undergoing debulking surgery; (3) patients undergoing chemotherapy; (4) patients undergoing radiation therapy and (5) patients currently battling infection. We evaluated the following peripheral blood lymphocyte subsets via flow cytometry: B lymphocytes (total, naive, transitional, memory, plasmablasts and plasma cells); T lymphocytes (total, helper, cytotoxic and their respective naive, activated, central memory and effector memory subsets); and total, secretory and cytotoxic natural killer cells and T natural killer cells. We also estimated neutrophil/lymphocyte ratios. Lymphocyte concentrations were associated with controlled disease and standard cancer therapy. For variables that did not fall within a normal distribution, ranges were set by medians and 2.5–97.5 percentiles. The two-tailed Mann–Whitney U test was used to measure the effect of sex and to compare lymphocyte populations. We calculated odds ratios to estimate lymphopenia risk. RESULTS All cancer patients had lower values of naive helper and cytotoxic T lymphocyte populations, naive B lymphocytes, and natural killer cells than normal reference medians. Naive helper T cells were the most affected subpopulation. Memory B cells, plasmablasts, plasma cells, activated T helper cells, and cytotoxic central memory T cells were increased. Patients undergoing treatment had lower levels of naive lymphocytes than untreated patients, particularly during radiation therapy. The risk of B lymphopenia was higher in patients in treatment. The odds ratio for B lymphopenia was 8.0 in patients who underwent surgery, 12.9 in those undergoing chemotherapy, and 13.9 in patients in radiotherapy. CONCLUSIONS Cancer and conventional cancer therapies significantly affect peripheral blood B lymphocyte levels, particularly transitional T helper lymphocytes, reducing the immune system’s ability to trigger primary immune responses against new antigens.
  • Genome-Wide mRNA Expression Analysis of Acute Psychological Stress Responses Original Research

    Logan, Jeongok G.; Yun, Sijung; Teachman, Bethany A.; Bao, Yongde; Farber, Emily; Farber, Charles R.

    Abstract in English:

    Abstract INTRODUCTION Most previous studies have examined the effects of acute psychological stress in humans based on select gene panels. The genomic approach may help identify novel genes that underline biological mechanisms of acute psychological stress responses. OBJECTIVE This exploratory study aimed to investigate genome-wide transcriptional activity changes in response to acute psychological stress. METHODS The sample included 40 healthy women (mean age 31.4 ± 11.6 years). Twenty-two participants had a stress experience induced by the Trier Social Stress Test (experimental group) and 18 did not (control group). Psychological stress levels and hemodynamic changes were assessed before and after the Trier Social Stress Test. Peripheral blood samples obtained before and after the Trier Social Stress Test were processed for mRNA sequencing. RESULTS Psychological and hemodynamic stress parameters indicated that the Trier Social Stress Test induced moderate levels of stress in the experimental group. Six genes (HCG26, HCP5, HLA-F, HLA-F-AS1, LOC1019287, and SLC22A16) were up-regulated, and five genes (CA1, FBXO9, SNCA, STRADB, and TRMT12) were down-regulated among those who experienced stress induction, compared with the control group. Nine genes of eleven were linked to endocrine system disorders, neurological disease, and organismal injury and abnormalities. CONCLUSION Of the genes identified in this study, HCP5, SLC22A16, and SNCA genes have previously been proposed as therapeutic targets for cancer and Parkinson disease. Further studies are needed to examine pathological mechanisms through which these genes mediate effects of psychological stress on adverse health outcomes. Such studies may ultimately identify therapeutic targets that enhance biological resilience to adverse effects of psychological stress.
Medical Education Cooperation with Cuba Oakland - California - United States
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