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This Week in PLOS: Jan 29, 2018

In PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases, a team from Sweden, Nepal, Vietnam, and the UK search for metabolite profiles coinciding with chronic infection with typhoid fever-causing serovars of Salmonella enterica (S. Typhi or S. Paratyphi A). The researchers used two-dimensional gas chromatography and time-of-flight mass spectrometry to assess metabolite patterns in blood plasma samples from dozens of individuals with or without chronic Salmonella carriage at a hospital in Nepal. In the process, they picked up five metabolites that appeared to differ between the 17 individuals with chronic S. Typhi or S. Paratyphi A infections and the 20 unaffected controls. Based on their findings, the authors "suggest further epidemiological investigations of these potential [metabolomic] biomarkers in alternative endemic enteric fever settings." 

Researchers from Germany, Austria, and the UK describe a whole-genome and phylogenomics-based rabies virus (RABV) clustering method for another study appearing in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases. Using an "affinity propagation clustering" (AP) algorithm, they demonstrated that they could cluster and classify 46 new and 516 available rabies virus genomes. With these data, the team uncovered four clusters — three comprised of rabies viruses resembling those in the New World, the Arctic, or Asia and a four group made up of cosmopolitan rabies virus representatives. "The application of AP clustering, phylogenetic analyses, and the combination of both approaches revealed concordant results for RABV sub-species demarcation," the authors write, arguing that the approach "offers advantages to phylogenetics in respect to transparency of grouping of RABV isolates and speed."

A German team reporting in PLOS One presents evidence for circulating, cell-free DNA (cfDNA) shifts that may act as markers for exercise load in individuals participating in intermittent sports such as football or doing repeated sprints. For their analyses, the investigators measured lactate levels and cfDNA in capillary or venous blood samples in nine sprint training participants, nearly two dozen football players during training week, and 17 football players after a professional football game. Their results point to rising cfDNA levels after intermittent exercise, both in sprinters and football players. For example, they note that cfDNA levels seemed to rise with distance an individual covered during a football game.