A prospective study was conducted on 510 respiratory specimens for the presence of M. tuberculosis detected by direct acid-fast bacilli (AFB) smear examination, culture in the Manual Mycobacteria Growth Indicator Tube (BBL MGIT, Becton-Dickinson) and culture on Lowenstein-Jensen (LJ) medium. From positive BBL MGIT tubes, Ziehl-Neelsen and Gram stains were performed and subcultures were put up on LJ medium. A total of 101 (19.8%) specimens were positive by the BBL MGIT, 60 (11.8%) by primary LJ medium culture, 31 (6.1%) by direct smear examination and 29 (5.7%) by all three methods. Using primary LJ culture as the gold standard, the sensitivity and specificity of the BBL MGIT were 90% and 89.6% respectively but the sensitivity of AFB smear microscopy was only 48.3%. About half (51.1%) of the BBL MGIT false positives were due to contamination by non-AFB bacteria. The remaining false positives comprised specimens that were AFB microscopy positive but LJ culture negative. Of the AFB isolates obtained on LJ primary and sub-cultures, almost all (93.3%) were identified as Mycobacterium tuberculosis complex. The mean time-to-detection was significantly shorter (p < 0.0001) for the BBL MGIT than for LJ culture. For the former, positive results were available within 14 days for both AFB smear-positive and AFB smear-negative specimens. On the average, positive results were obtained 1.8 days earlier for direct AFB smear-positive samples than for AFB smear-negative samples. On the other hand, positive growth on LJ medium appeared after at least 33 days of incubation. These findings suggest that the BBL MGIT system will be a suitable alternative to LJ culture for the routine diagnosis of pulmonary tuberculosis, but a combination of liquid and solid cultures is still required for the highest diagnostic accuracy.
Signal transduction pathways are constitutively expressed in leukaemic cells resulting in aberrant survival of the cells. It is postulated that in cells of chemo-sensitive patients, chemotherapy induces apoptotic signals leading to cell death while survival signals are maintained in cells of chemo-resistant patients. There is very little information currently, on the expression of these mediators in patients immediately after chemotherapy initiation. We examined the expression pattern of proinflammatory cytokines, signaling molecules of the PI3K and MAPK pathways molecules and death receptor, DR5 on paired samples at diagnosis and during chemotherapy in acute myeloid leukaemia patients treated with cytosine arabinoside and daunorubicin. The results were correlated with remission status one month after chemotherapy. We found that in chemo-sensitive patients, chemotherapy significantly increased the percentage of cases expressing TNF-alpha (p = 0.025, n = 9) and IL-6 (p = 0.002, n = 11) compared to chemo-resistant cases. We also observed an increased percentage of chemo-sensitive cases expressing DR5 and phosphorylated p38, and Jnk. Thus, expression of TNF-alpha, IL-6, DR5, phospho-p38 and phospho-Jnk may regulate cell death in chemo-sensitive cases. In contrast, a significantly higher percentage of chemo-resistant cases expressed phospho-Bad (p = 0.027, n = 9). IL-beta and IL-18 were also found to be higher in chemo-resistant cases at diagnosis and during chemotherapy. Thus, expression of various cellular molecules in leukaemic blasts during chemotherapy may be useful in predicting treatment outcome. These cellular molecules may also be potential targets for alternative therapy.
In this study, we evaluated the biological properties of human mesenchymal stem cells transfected (hMSC) with a plasmid vector expressing human cytokine interleukin-12 (IL-12). Surface markers were analysed by immunophenotyping using flow cytometry. Differentiation capability was evaluated towards adipogenesis and osteogenesis. We demonstrated that successfully transfected hMSC retained their surface immunophenotypes and differentiation potential into adipocytes and osteocytes. These results indicate that hMSC may be a suitable vehicle for gene transduction.
Dendritic cells (DC) are specialized antigen presenting cells (APC) that have important roles in host defenses and in generating anti-tumour immune response. Altered frequency and maturation of DC have been reported in malignant tumours. We studied the distribution and maturation status of DC by immunohistochemistry, on the formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded lymph node tissues of 32 histologically diagnosed lymphomas and 40 inflammatory conditions that were retrieved from the Department of Pathology, UKM Medical Centre, Kuala Lumpur. Our study showed a significant reduction in the total DC counts in the lymphoma tissues compared to the inflammatory conditions. The mature and immature DC counts were both significantly reduced (p = 0.008 and 0.001 respectively), although a greater reduction was observed in mature DC numbers. We also observed compartmentalization of DC where the immature DC were seen within the tumour tissues and the mature DC were more in peri-tumoural areas. Our findings were similar to other reports, suggesting that reduced numbers of DC appears to be a factor contributing to lack of tumour surveillance in these cases.
Sporotrichosis is a mycosis caused by a saprophytic dimorphic fungus named Sporothrix schenckii. Infections occur following traumatic inoculation of fungus from plants and infected cat bites and scratches. We report a case of a farmer who presented with a solitary subcutaneous nodule initially diagnosed as a soft tissue tumour. A history of agricultural activity and feline contact should draw the clinician's attention to sporotrichosis, as the diagnosis can be easily missed in atypical cases. The diagnosis, microbiology and management of the case are discussed.
DiGeorge syndrome is associated with microdeletion of chromosome 22q11.2. Most cases occur sporadically although vertical transmission has been documented. We report a rare case of DiGeorge syndrome in an 8-year-old girl. Blood sample of the patient was cultured and harvested following standard procedure. All of the 20 cells analysed showed a karyotype of 45, XX, -22, t (9;22) (p23; q11.2). Cytogenetic investigation done on the patient's mother revealed that she was the carrier for the translocation. Her karyotype was 46, XX, t (9;22) (p23; q11.2). Fluorescence in situ hybridisation (FISH) analysis using TUPLE1 and N25 (Vysis, USA) probes showed deletion of the 22q11.2 region in the patient, confirming the diagnosis of DiGeorge syndrome. FISH analysis showed no deletion of the region in the mother.
Idiopathic myelofibrosis occurs predominantly in older adults. It is very rarely seen in children. We describe a 3-year-old girl with Down's syndrome who presented with recurrent chest infections associated with anaemia and easy bruising. There was mild hepatosplenomegaly. Full blood picture revealed pancytopaenia with leucoerythroblastosis with absence of circulating blast cells. Repeated attempts at bone marrow aspiration and trephine biopsy were unsuccessful. A trephine biopsy from the tibia showed depressed myelopoiesis and erythropoiesis, megakaryocytes with atypical morphology and increased bone marrow reticulin fibres, findings compatible with idiopathic myelofibrosis. She was treated symptomatically as she was clinically stable. Review of the English literature online yielded 46 reported cases of childhood idiopathic myelofibrosis with variable outcome from spontaneous remission to an indolent course with shortened survival. 6 cases evolved to another malignancy. 5 cases were associated with Down's syndrome.
Juvenile myelomonocytic leukaemia (JMML), previously known as juvenile chronic myeloid leukaemia (JCML) is a rare, myelodysplastic - myeloproliferative disease typically presenting in early childhood. This disorder is difficult to distinguish from other myeloproliferative syndrome such as chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML) because of the similarities in their clinical and bone marrow findings. However, because of its unique biological characteristics such as absolute monocytosis with dysplasia, absence of Philadelphia chromosome or BCR-ABL fusion protein, hypergammaglobulinaemia and raised fetal haemoglobin level, this disorder does not satisfy the criteria for inclusion in the CML or chronic myelomonocytic leukaemia (CMML) group, as seen in adult patients. We describe a series of three patients with JMML, who had almost similar clinical and laboratory findings, and discuss the difficulty in the classification and treatment of the disease.
An outbreak of acute febrile encephalitis affecting pig-farm workers and owners was recognized in peninsular Malaysia as early as September 1998. The outbreak was initially thought to be due to Japanese encephalitis (JE) virus and thus very intensive prevention, control and communication strategies directed at JE virus were undertaken by the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Agriculture of Malaysia. There was an immediate change in the prevention, control and communication strategies with focus and strategies on infected pigs as the source of infections for humans and other animals following the discovery of Nipah virus. Information and understanding the risks of Nipah virus infections and modes of transmission strengthened the directions of prevention, control and communication strategies. A number of epidemiological surveillances and field investigations which were broadly divided into 3 groups covering human health sector, animal health sector and reservoir hosts were carried out as forms of risk assessment to determine and assess the factors and degree of risk of infections by the virus. Data showed that there was significant association between Nipah virus infection and performing activities involving close contact with pigs, such as processing of piglets, administering injection or medication to pigs, assisting in the birth of piglets, assisting in pig breeding, and handling of dead pigs in the affected farms. A complex process of anthropogenic driven deforestation, climatic changes brought on by El Niño-related drought, forest fire and severe haze, and ecological factors of mixed agro-pig farming practices and design of pig-sties led to the spillovers of the virus from its wildlife reservoir into pig population.
The outbreak of Nipah virus, affecting pigs and pig-farm workers, was first noted in September 1998 in the north-western part of peninsular Malaysia. By March 1999, the outbreak had spread to other pig-farming areas of the country, inclusive of the neighbouring country, Singapore. A total of 283 human cases of viral encephalitis with 109 deaths were recorded in Malaysia from 29 September 1998 to December 1999. During the outbreak period, a number of surveillances under three broad groups; Surveillance in Human Health Sector, Surveillance in Animal Health Sector, and Surveillance for the Reservoir Hosts, were carried out to determine the prevalence, risk of virus infections and transmission in human and swine populations as well as the source and reservoir hosts of Nipah virus. Surveillance data showed that the virus spread rapidly among pigs within infected farms and transmission was attributed to direct contact with infective excretions and secretions. The spread of the virus among pig farms within and between states of peninsular Malaysia was due to movement of pigs. The transmission of the virus to humans was through close contact with infected pigs. Human to human transmission was considered a rare event though the Nipah virus could be isolated from saliva, urine, nasal and pharyngeal secretions of patients. Field investigations identified fruitbats of the Pteropid species as the natural reservoir hosts of the viruses. The outbreak was effectively brought under control following the discovery of the virus and institution of correct control measures through a combined effort of multi-ministerial and multidisciplinary teams working in close co-operation and collaboration with other international agencies.
Klebsiella ozaenae is a Gram negative bacillus. It has been described as a colonizer of oral and nasopharyngeal mucosa and is a cause of atrophic rhinitis. Klebsiella ozaenae has seldom been isolated from serious infections. However, several reports have stated that Klebsiella ozaenae may cause invasive infections and even mortality. We report a 55-year-old man with Klebsiella ozaenae infection causing abscesses involving the right eye and left kidney and possibly also in the brain, lungs and prostate. The isolates were sensitive to ceftazidime, ciprofloxacin, chloramphenicol, gentamicin and sulfamethoxazole-trimethoprim but resistant to ampicillin. He responded well to 4 weeks of i.v. ceftazidime and i.v. amoxycillin-clavulanic acid. To our knowledge, such a multiorgan infection has not been reported previously for this organism.
Breast hamartoma is an uncommon poorly recognised benign breast neoplasm. Hamartoma displaying marked smooth muscle components known as myoid hamartoma of the breast is a much rarer entity. We present a case of myoid hamartoma of breast with chondroid differentiation in a 46-year-old woman. The painless breast lump was circumscribed and mammography showed a well-encapsulated large, dense mass with no calcification. Core needle biopsy was reported as fibroadenoma. The lesion was excised. Microscopically, it composed of many groups of mammary glandular components with dense fibrous stroma, adipose tissue and marked groups of smooth muscle fibres. Foci of chondroid differentiation were noted in the lesion. The smooth muscle cells showed strong and diffuse immunoreactivity for vimentin, myogloblin, alpha-smooth muscle actin, desmin and CD34 and failed to express pan-cytokeratin or S100 protein. The ducts lined by epithelial cells were reactive to pan-cytokeratin while the myoepithelial cells were reactive to S100 protein. The various immuno-histochemical staining as well as the cyto-histological changes encountered in myoid hamartomas are discussed with clinical, radiological and pathological correlation to differentiate it from other benign and malignant breast lesions.
Pulmonary cryptococcosis can be clinically silent in non-HIV infected patients but can also present as nodules and masses on the chest radiograph, which can be mistaken for tuberculosis or lung cancer. Common symptoms include fever and cough, and uncommonly haemoptysis. This report illustrates a non-HIV infected patient whose main complaint was haemoptysis and headache. He was diagnosed with pulmonary cryptococcosis from biopsy of an endobronchial mass found on flexible bronchoscopy. Disseminated cryptoccoccal infection should be considered as a differential diagnosis in non-HIV infected patients presenting with haemoptysis and headache. Early recognition and administration of appropriate therapy will improve clinical outcome in these patients.
Follicular dendritic cell sarcomas (FDCS) are rare neoplasms that involve lymph nodes or extranodal sites. They show varied histological features and thus can be mistaken for carcinoma or sarcoma. Correct identification is important for further management. A 43-year-old Indian female presented with a three-month history of progressive swelling at the right inguinal region. It was excised completely and was reported as lymph node with metastatic poorly differentiated carcinoma based on Haematoxylin and eosin (H&E) stain findings. Computerized tomography (CT) scans of thorax, abdomen and pelvis were normal and did not reveal a primary site. Following this, the case was referred to one of the authors. The slides were reviewed and a variety of immunocytochemical markers were done. The tumour cells were negative for epithelial, melanocytic, neural, leucocyte and soft tissue tumour markers. They were immunopositive for CD21, CD35 and negative for CD68. Based on the immunocytochemical findings, a final diagnosis of FDCS was made. This case highlights the histological and immunophenotypical profile of a rare tumour which requires a high index of suspicion for diagnosis.
We report the biochemical profiling in two siblings with mitochondrial 2-methylacetoacetyl-CoA thiolase deficiency. Organic aciduria typical of this rare inborn error metabolism was found when the elder sibling presented with an episode of severe ketoacidosis at 20 months of age, which consisted of excessive excretion of ketones, tiglylglycine, 2-methyl-3-hydroxybutyrate, and 2-methylacetoacetate. Blood acylcarnitiness profile showed elevation of C5OH-carnitine, which represents 2-methyl-3-hydroxybutyrylcarnitine. A similar biochemical profile was identified in the younger sibling during screening although he had only mild clinical symptoms. Both patients reported a favourable outcome on follow-up.
Transaminase enzymes, alanine (ALT) and aspartate transaminase (AST), have been reported to be raised and implicated to have prognostic value in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Ki67, a marker of cellular proliferative activity, has also been noted to be increased in HCC. A study was conducted at the Department of Pathology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur to determine the possible association of proliferative activity, as determined by Ki67, with the transaminase enzymes. 31 cases of histologically diagnosed HCC who underwent tumour resection were retrieved from departmental archives. The patients' ages ranged between 40 to 79 years with a mean of 58.3 years. There was a male preponderance with M:F = 2.9:1. Ethnic Chinese formed 83.9% of the cases. 4 microm sections, cut from the formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tumour tissue block of each case, were immunohistochemically stained with Ki67 (DAKO monoclonal MIB-1) using the commercial DakoCytomation EnVision+System-HRP kit. The latest ALT and AST levels, assayed within 7 days prior to tumour resection, were retrieved from the patients' case records. 24 (77.4%) HCC demonstrated elevation of either ALT and/or AST. 27 (87.1%) HCC were immunopositive for Ki67. Ki67 immunoexpression was significantly correlated with raised transaminases (p<0.05). Hypothetically, the mechanism by which this phenomenon may occur may simply be release of transaminases due to destruction of hepatocytes by the cancer. Thus rising levels of the transaminases could signal a more rapid growth of the tumour and these routinely performed tests can be of prognostic value in management of HCC patients.
The effect of water extracts of Euphorbia hirta on the histological features and expressions of matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) and tissue inhibitors of matrix metalloproteinases (TIMPs) in the rat articular cartilage was investigated. Arthritis was induced in rats using Freund's Complete Adjuvant containing heat-killed M. tuberculosis, and treated with water extracts of E. hirta. Paraffin tissue sections of the arthritic joints were evaluated. The extent of cartilage degeneration was found to be greatest in rats treated with the highest dosage of E. hirta, followed by rats in the untreated group. Rats treated with the intermediary and low dosages of Euphorbia hirta showed improved histology. MMP-13 levels were found to be decreased with decreasing dosages of E. hirta. TIMP-1 levels were found to increase with decreasing dosages of E. hirta. MMP-3 levels fluctuated without any appreciable pattern. Low dosages of E. hirta seem to be beneficial in reducing cartilage degeneration in cases of arthritis.
Dendritic cells (DC) are professional antigen presenting cells of the immune system. Through the use of DC vaccines (DC after exposure to tumour antigens), cryopreserved in single-use aliquots, an attractive and novel immunotherapeutic strategy is available as an option for treatment. In this paper we describe an in vitro attempt to scale-up production of clinical-grade DC vaccines from leukemic cells. Blast cells of two relapsed AML patients were harvested for DC generation in serum-free culture medium containing clinical-grade cytokines GM-CSF, IL-4 and TNF-alpha. Cells from patient 1 were cultured in a bag and those from patient 2 were cultured in a flask. The numbers of seeding cells were 2.24 x 10(8) and 0.8 x 10(8), respectively. DC yields were 10 x 10(6) and 29.8 x 10(6) cells, giving a conversion rate of 4.7% and 37%, respectively. These DC vaccines were then cryopreserved in approximately one million cells per vial with 20% fresh frozen group AB plasma and 10% DMSO. At 12 months and 21 months post cryopreservation, these DC vaccines were thawed, and their sterility, viability, phenotype and functionality were studied. DC vaccines remained sterile up to 21 months of storage. Viability of the cryopreserved DC in the culture bag and flask was found to be 50% and 70% at 12 months post cryopreservation respectively; and 48% and 67% at 21 months post cryopreservation respectively. These DC vaccines exhibited mature DC surface phenotypic markers of CD83, CD86 and HLA-DR, and negative for haemopoietic markers. Mixed lymphocyte reaction (MLR) study showed functional DC vaccines. These experiments demonstrated that it is possible to produce clinical-grade DC vaccines in vitro from blast cells of leukemic patients, which could be cryopreserved up to 21 months for use if repeated vaccinations are required in the course of therapy.
HbA1c is used for assessing glycaemic control in patients with diabetes. It is also used for treatment goals and as a target for therapeutic intervention. The Direct Control and Complications Trial in the USA showed that HbA1c can be used to predict the risk of complications. Hence, it is important for HbA1c assays to be standardised. The National Glycohemoglobin Standardization Program (NGSP) in the USA was formed in 1996 so that HbA1c results from different laboratories would be comparable to those reported in the DCCT study. There were also HbA1c standardisation programmes in Sweden and Japan. These three standardisation programmes are, in fact, direct comparison methods (DCMs), and yield different HbA1c results. In 1994, the International Federation of Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine (IFCC) established a Working Group on Standardisation of HbA1c. This working group has developed a global HbA1c reference system with very much improved intra-assay and inter-assay coefficients of variation. Recommendations have been made to report HbA1c results as IFCC-HbA1c values in SI units (mmol HbA1c/mol Hb) and NGSP-HbA1c (%) as well as estimated average glucose (eAG), once a tight relationship has been shown to exist between eAG and HbA1c.