Pathogenesis of fungal infections

Histoplasma capsulatum A couple of articles about fungal infections captured my attention recently. The first is a good basic review/update:

Pathogenesis of invasive fungal infections. Curr Opin Infect Dis. 27 Feb 2013
Invasive fungal infection (IFI) is increasingly being recognized as a significant cause of morbidity and mortality in immunosuppressed patients. This review focuses on the latest literature reports concerning the pathogenesis of IFI in this population. New virulence factors of Candida and Aspergillus have recently been identified. The past few months have brought significant advances in our understanding of how the immune system acts against fungal infection, especially with regard to the role of mucosa in the innate immune system, the arsenal of innate immune recognition receptors and the pathways connecting innate and adaptive immunity. Knowledge of fungal pathogenesis and host immune response can help to optimize the management of fungal infections. Greater understanding of these processes may aid physicians in developing better prophylactic measures and antifungal or immunomodulatory therapies.

 

The second article discusses the influence of temperature on invasive fungi – something that is highly significant for organisms such as Cryptococcus neoformans, Histoplasma capsulatum, and Aspergillus fumigatus which normally grow in soil but can make the transition to invade the body:

Surviving the Heat of the Moment: A Fungal Pathogens Perspective. (2013) PLoS Pathog 9(3): e1003163. doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1003163
Temperature is a critical parameter continually monitored by microorganisms. The dynamic environments inhabited by microorganisms evoke constant and effective environmental response strategies that have been elaborated over evolutionary time. For example, a significant rise or fall in ambient temperature initiates a stress response in the organism, commonly known as heat-shock or cold-shock responses, respectively. The phenomenon of temperature sensing has long been studied in microorganisms such as bacteria, but these mechanisms are only recently being translated to pathogenic fungi.

 

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