Rinda Ubuzima

Kigali, Rwanda

Rinda Ubuzima

Kigali, Rwanda
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Schurmans C.,Institute of Tropical Medicine | De Baetselier I.,Institute of Tropical Medicine | Kestelyn E.,Rinda Ubuzima | Kestelyn E.,University of Liverpool | And 7 more authors.
BMC Public Health | Year: 2015

Background: Research is ongoing to develop multipurpose vaginal rings to be used continuously for contraception and to prevent Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) infection. Contraceptive vaginal rings (CVRs) are available in a number of countries and are most of the time used intermittently i.e. three weeks out of a 4-week cycle. Efficacy trials with a dapivirine-containing vaginal ring for HIV prevention are ongoing and plans to develop multi-purpose vaginal rings for prevention of both HIV and pregnancy have been elaborated. In contrast with the CVRs, multi-purpose vaginal rings will have to be used continuously. Women who continuously use a CVR will no longer have menses. Furthermore, some safety aspects of CVR use have never been studied in-depth in the past, such as the impact of the vaginal ring on the vaginal microbiota, biofilm formation and induction of inflammation. We studied acceptability and these novel aspects of safety in Rwandan women. Although significant progress has been made over the past decade, Rwanda still has a high unmet need for contraception (with 47% unplanned births) and a generalized HIV epidemic, and CVRs are not yet available. Methods: We will conduct an open label, single centre, randomized controlled trial. A total of 120 HIV-negative women will be randomized to intermittent CVR use (to allow menstruation) or continuous CVR use. Women will be followed for a maximum of 14 weeks. In parallel, we will conduct a qualitative study using in-depth interview and focus group discussion methodology. Discussion: In addition to evaluating the safety and acceptability of intermittent and continuous CVR use in Rwandan women, we hope that our findings will inform the development of future multipurpose vaginal rings, will prepare Rwandan study populations for future clinical trials of multipurpose vaginal rings, and will pave the way for introduction of CVRs on African markets. Trial registration: Clinicaltrials.gov NCT01796613. Registered 14 February 2013. © 2015 Schurmans et al.; licensee BioMed Central.


Borgdorff H.,Amsterdam Institute For Global Health and Development AIGHD | Tsivtsivadze E.,TNO | Verhelst R.,Ghent University | Marzorati M.,Ghent University | And 4 more authors.
ISME Journal | Year: 2014

Cervicovaginal microbiota not dominated by lactobacilli may facilitate transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs), as well as miscarriages, preterm births and sepsis in pregnant women. However, little is known about the exact nature of the microbiological changes that cause these adverse outcomes. In this study, cervical samples of 174 Rwandan female sex workers were analyzed cross-sectionally using a phylogenetic microarray. Furthermore, HIV-1 RNA concentrations were measured in cervicovaginal lavages of 58 HIV-positive women among them. We identified six microbiome clusters, representing a gradient from low semi-quantitative abundance and diversity dominated by Lactobacillus crispatus (cluster R-I, with R denoting 'Rwanda') and L. iners (R-II) to intermediate (R-V) and high abundance and diversity (R-III, R-IV and R-VI) dominated by a mixture of anaerobes, including Gardnerella, Atopobium and Prevotella species. Women in cluster R-I were less likely to have HIV (P=0.03), herpes simplex virus type 2 (HSV-2; P<0.01), and high-risk human papillomavirus (HPV; P<0.01) and had no bacterial STIs (P=0.15). Statistically significant trends in prevalence of viral STIs were found from low prevalence in cluster R-I, to higher prevalence in clusters R-II and R-V, and highest prevalence in clusters R-III/R-IV/R-VI. Furthermore, only 10% of HIV-positive women in clusters R-I/R-II, compared with 40% in cluster R-V, and 42% in clusters R-III/R-IV/R-VI had detectable cervicovaginal HIV-1 RNA (P trend =0.03). We conclude that L. crispatus-dominated, and to a lesser extent L. iners-dominated, cervicovaginal microbiota are associated with a lower prevalence of HIV/STIs and a lower likelihood of genital HIV-1 RNA shedding.


PubMed | Rinda Ubuzima and University of Liverpool
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Mucosal immunology | Year: 2016

Vaginal microbiome (VMB) dysbiosis is associated with increased acquisition of HIV. Cervicovaginal inflammation and other changes to the mucosal barrier are thought to have important roles but human data are scarce. We compared the human cervicovaginal proteome by mass spectrometry of 50 Rwandan female sex workers who had previously been clustered into four VMB groups using a 16S phylogenetic microarray; in order of increasing bacterial diversity: Lactobacillus crispatus-dominated VMB (group 1), Lactobacillus iners-dominated VMB (group 2), moderate dysbiosis (group 3), and severe dysbiosis (group 4). We compared relative protein abundances among these VMB groups using targeted (abundance of pre-defined mucosal barrier proteins) and untargeted (differentially abundant proteins among all human proteins identified) approaches. With increasing bacterial diversity, we found: mucus alterations (increasing mucin 5B and 5AC), cytoskeleton alterations (increasing actin-organizing proteins; decreasing keratins and cornified envelope proteins), increasing lactate dehydrogenase A/B as markers of cell death, increasing proteolytic activity (increasing proteasome core complex proteins/proteases; decreasing antiproteases), altered antimicrobial peptide balance (increasing psoriasin, calprotectin, and histones; decreasing lysozyme and ubiquitin), increasing pro-inflammatory cytokines, and decreasing immunoglobulins immunoglobulin G1/2. Although temporal relationships cannot be derived, our findings support the hypothesis that dysbiosis causes cervicovaginal inflammation and other detrimental changes to the mucosal barrier.


PubMed | University of Witwatersrand, University of Liverpool, Rinda Ubuzima, Ghent University and 5 more.
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Clinical and vaccine immunology : CVI | Year: 2015

Data on immune mediators in the genital tract and the factors that modulate them in sub-Saharan women are limited. Cervicovaginal lavage (CVL) samples from 430 sexually active women from Kenya, South Africa, and Rwanda were analyzed for 12 soluble immune mediators using Bio-Plex and Meso Scale Discovery multiplex platforms, as well as single enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays. Ten bacterial species were quantified in vaginal swab samples. Bacterial vaginosis (BV) was defined by Nugent scoring. CVL samples from HIV-infected women showed a clear-cut proinflammatory profile. Pregnant women, adolescents, and women engaging in traditional vaginal practices differed in specific soluble markers compared to reference groups of adult HIV-negative women. Cervical mucus, cervical ectopy, abnormal vaginal discharge, and having multiple sex partners were each associated with an increase in inflammatory mediators. The levels of interleukin-1 (IL-1), IL-1, IL-6, IL-12(p70), and IL-8 were elevated, whereas the IL-1RA/IL-1(+) ratio decreased in women with BV. The level of gamma interferon-induced protein 10 was lower in BV-positive than in BV-negative women, suggesting its suppression as a potential immune evasion mechanism by BV-associated bacteria. Lactobacillus crispatus and Lactobacillus vaginalis were associated with decreased proinflammatory cytokines and each BV-associated species with increased proinflammatory cytokines. Remarkably, the in vitro anti-HIV activity of CVL samples from BV-positive women was stronger than that of BV-negative women. In conclusion, we found significant associations of factors, including vaginal microbiota, which can influence immune mediators in the vaginal environment in sexually active women. These factors need to be considered when establishing normative levels or pathogenic cutoffs of biomarkers of inflammation and associated risks in African women.


Jespers V.,Institute of Tropical Medicine | van de Wijgert J.,University of Liverpool | Cools P.,Ghent University | Verhelst R.,Ghent University | And 8 more authors.
BMC Infectious Diseases | Year: 2015

Background: Women in sub-Saharan Africa are vulnerable to acquiring HIV infection and reproductive tract infections. Bacterial vaginosis (BV), a disruption of the vaginal microbiota, has been shown to be strongly associated with HIV infection. Risk factors related to potentially protective or harmful microbiota species are not known. Methods: We present cross-sectional quantitative polymerase chain reaction data of the Lactobacillus genus, five Lactobacillus species, and three BV-related bacteria (Gardnerella vaginalis, Atopobium vaginae, and Prevotella bivia) together with Escherichia coli and Candida albicans in 426 African women across different groups at risk for HIV. We selected a reference group of adult HIV-negative women at average risk for HIV acquisition and compared species variations in subgroups of adolescents, HIV-negative pregnant women, women engaging in traditional vaginal practices, sex workers and a group of HIV-positive women on combination antiretroviral therapy. We explored the associations between presence and quantity of the bacteria with BV by Nugent score, in relation to several factors of known or theoretical importance. Results: The presence of species across Kenyan, South African and Rwandan women was remarkably similar and few differences were seen between the two groups of reference women in Kenya and South Africa. The Rwandan sex workers and HIV-positive women had the highest G. vaginalis presence (p = 0.006). Pregnant women had a higher Lactobacillus genus mean log (7.01 genome equivalents (geq)/ml) compared to the reference women (6.08 geq/ml). L. vaginalis (43%) was second to L. iners (81.9%) highly present in women with a normal Nugent score. Recent sexual exposure negatively affected the presence of L. crispatus (<0.001), L. vaginalis (p = 0.001), and Lactobacillus genus (p < 0.001). Having more than one sexual partner in the last three months was associated with an increased prevalence of G. vaginalis (p = 0.044) and L. iners (p = 0.001). Conclusions: Although the composition of species across the studied African countries was similar, the presence of protective species i.e. L. crispatus and L. vaginalis in women with a normal Nugent score appeared lower compared to non-African studies. Furthermore, Lactobacillus species were negatively affected by sexual behavioural. Strategies to support protective Lactobacillus species are urgently needed. Trial registration: The study is registered at the Trial Registration at the National Health Research Ethics Council South Africa with the number DOH2709103223. © 2015 Jespers et al. licensee BioMed Central.


PubMed | University of Witwatersrand, University of Liverpool, Rinda Ubuzima, Ghent University and 2 more.
Type: Journal Article | Journal: PloS one | Year: 2016

One million neonates die each year in low- and middle-income countries because of neonatal sepsis; group B Streptococcus (GBS) and Escherichia coli are the leading causes. In sub-Saharan Africa, epidemiological data on vaginal GBS and E. coli carriage, a prerequisite for GBS and E. coli neonatal sepsis, respectively, are scarce but necessary to design and implement prevention strategies. Therefore, we assessed vaginal GBS and E. coli carriage rates and risk factors and the GBS serotype distribution in three sub-Saharan countries.A total of 430 women from Kenya, Rwanda and South Africa were studied cross-sectionally. Vaginal carriage of GBS and E. coli, and GBS serotype were assessed using molecular techniques. Risk factors for carriage were identified using multivariable logistic regression analysis.Vaginal carriage rates in reference groups from Kenya and South Africa were 20.2% (95% CI, 13.7-28.7%) and 23.1% (95% CI, 16.2-31.9%), respectively for GBS; and 25.0% (95% CI, 17.8-33.9%) and 27.1% (95% CI, 19.6-36.2%), respectively for E. coli. GBS serotypes Ia (36.8%), V (26.3%) and III (14.0%) were most prevalent. Factors independently associated with GBS and E. coli carriage were Candida albicans, an intermediate vaginal microbiome, bacterial vaginosis, recent vaginal intercourse, vaginal washing, cervical ectopy and working as a sex worker. GBS and E. coli carriage were positively associated.Reduced vaginal GBS carriage rates might be accomplished by advocating behavioral changes such as abstinence from sexual intercourse and by avoidance of vaginal washing during late pregnancy. It might be advisable to explore the inclusion of vaginal carriage of C. albicans, GBS, E. coli and of the presence of cervical ectopy in a risk- and/or screening-based administration of antibiotic prophylaxis. Current phase II GBS vaccines (a trivalent vaccine targeting serotypes Ia, Ib, and III, and a conjugate vaccine targeting serotype III) would not protect the majority of women against carriage in our study population.


PubMed | University of Witwatersrand, University of Liverpool, Rinda Ubuzima, Ghent University and 2 more.
Type: Evaluation Studies | Journal: Research in microbiology | Year: 2016

A next-generation diagnostic tool for bacterial vaginosis, consisting of quantitative and/or qualitative molecular criteria, has not yet been identified. The optimal diagnostic tool should not only diagnose bacterial vaginosis in diverse populations, but should also detect early signs of transition to dysbiosis. We evaluated a tool based on log10-transformed qPCR data for Lactobacillus crispatus, Lactobacillus iners, Lactobacillus jensenii, Lactobacillus gasseri, Lactobacillus vaginalis, Lactobacillus genus, Atopobium vaginae and Gardnerella vaginalis in vaginal specimens of 426 African women to detect dysbiosis and predict transition to dysbiosis. G. vaginalis (p = 0.204) and A. vaginae (p = 0.001) were more commonly present in women who evolved to an intermediate (Nugent 4-6) or bacterial vaginosis score (Nugent 7-10) compared to women who continued to have a normal Nugent score. The combination of G. vaginalis, A. vaginae and Lactobacillus genus counts performed best for diagnostic accuracy for bacterial vaginosis--sensitivity 93.4% and specificity 83.6%; and for predictive accuracy for bacterial vaginosis--sensitivity 79% and specificity 52%. L. crispatus combinations did not perform well. We conclude that a triple-G. vaginalis-A. vaginae-Lactobacillus genus-qPCR tool holds promise for research in sub-Saharan Africa or when developed as a next-generation clinical diagnostic modality for bacterial vaginosis, ideally engineered as a rapid assay.


Borgdorff H.,Amsterdam Institute for Global Health and Development | Verwijs M.C.,Amsterdam Institute for Global Health and Development | Verwijs M.C.,University of Liverpool | Wit F.W.N.M.,Amsterdam Institute for Global Health and Development | And 6 more authors.
Sexually Transmitted Diseases | Year: 2015

Background The observed association between Depo-Provera injectable use and increased HIV acquisition may be caused by hormone-induced increased susceptibility to other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or changes in the cervicovaginal microbiota (VMB), accompanied by genital immune activation and/or mucosal remodeling. Methods Rwandan female sex workers (n = 800) were interviewed about contraceptive use and sexual behavior and were tested for STIs, bacterial vaginosis by Nugent score and pregnancy, at baseline. A subset of 397 HIV-negative, nonpregnant women were interviewed and tested again at regular intervals for 2 years. The VMB of a subset of 174 women was characterized by phylogenetic microarray. Outcomes of STI and VMB were compared between women with hormonal exposures (reporting oral contraceptive or injectable use, or testing positive for pregnancy) and controls (not reporting hormonal contraception and not pregnant). Results Oral contraceptive use was associated with increased human papillomavirus prevalence (adjusted odds ratio [aOR], 3.10; 1.21-7.94) and Chlamydia trachomatis incidence (aOR, 6.13; 1.58-23.80), injectable use with increased herpes simplex virus-2 prevalence (aOR, 2.13; 1.26-3.59) and pregnancy with lower HIV prevalence (aOR, 0.45; 0.22-0.92) but higher candidiasis incidence (aOR, 2.14; 1.12-4.09). Hormonal status was not associated with Nugent score category or phylogenetic VMB clustering, but oral contraceptive users had lower semiquantitative vaginal abundance of Prevotella, Sneathia/Leptotrichia amnionii, and Mycoplasma species. Conclusions Oral contraceptive and injectable use were associated with several STIs but not with VMB composition. The increased herpes simplex virus-2 prevalence among injectable users might explain the potentially higher HIV risk in these women, but more research is needed to confirm these results and elucidate biological mechanisms. © 2015 by the American Sexually Transmitted Diseases Association.


PubMed | Rinda Ubuzima, Institute of Tropical Medicine, Ghent University and Antwerp Institute of Tropical Medicine
Type: Journal Article | Journal: PloS one | Year: 2015

Bacterial vaginosis (BV), a condition defined by increased vaginal discharge without significant inflammation, is characterized by a change in the bacterial composition of the vagina. Lactobacillus spp., associated with a healthy vaginal microbiome, are outnumbered by BV-associated organisms. These bacteria could form a polymicrobial biofilm which allows them to persist in spite of antibiotic treatment. In this study, we examined the presence of Gardnerella vaginalis and Atopobium vaginae in vaginal biofilms using Peptide Nucleic Acid (PNA) probes targeting these bacteria. For this purpose, we developed three new PNA probes for A. vaginae. The most specific A. vaginae probe, AtoITM1, was selected and then used in an assay with two existing probes, Gard162 and BacUni-1, to evaluate multiplex FISH on clinical samples. Using quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) as the gold standard, we demonstrated a sensitivity of 66.7% (95% confidence interval: 54.5% - 77.1%) and a specificity of 89.4% (95% confidence interval: 76.1% - 96%) of the new AtoITM1 probe. FISH enabled us to show the presence of a polymicrobial biofilm in bacterial vaginosis, in which Atopobium vaginae is part of a Gardnerella vaginalis-dominated biofilm. We showed that the presence of this biofilm is associated with high bacterial loads of A. vaginae and G. vaginalis.


PubMed | Rinda Ubuzima, Institute of Tropical Medicine and University of Kigali
Type: Journal Article | Journal: Sexually transmitted infections | Year: 2016

We evaluated the performance of an enzymatic point-of-care rapid test for Chlamydia trachomatis (CT) (the BioChekSwab CT Rapid Test, EnZtek Diagnostics, Rio Vista, California, USA), which detects CTs Peptidase 123CBV enzyme and provides a result 15min after specimen collection.Two endocervical swabs, including one BioChekSwab, per person were obtained from 137 women who participated in a reproductive health study in Rwanda. The BioChekSwab was processed according to the manufacturers instructions. A substrate was squirted over the swab by the study physician immediately after collection, and another reagent was released over the swab tip at arrival in the laboratory. The test was considered positive if a blue colour developed within 2min. The other regular flocked endocervical swab was processed at the Institute of Tropical Medicine (ITM), Belgium, using a testing algorithm: Abbott RealTime CT/Neisseria gonorrhoeae (NG) assay with the confirmation of positive results by an in-house real-time PCR assay.Of the 137 women, nine were CT positive by the testing algorithm. All nine positive results were missed by the BioChekSwab assay and four false-positive results were obtained. The sensitivity was therefore 0% (95% CI 0% to 33.6%) and the specificity was 96.9% (95% CI 92.2% to 99.1%).The BioChekSwab Rapid Test, although ISO13485 certified and Conformite Europenne (CE) labelled, lacked any sensitivity in our setting.

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