Immunology of Fungal Infections

Invasive fungal infections rarely occur in healthy hosts, and a compromised immune system is one of the major predisposing factors for invasive fungal disease. Although a wide range of antifungal drugs are available to treat such infections, therapies that aim at improving the immune system are increasingly recognized as essential in improving the outcome of fungal infections. Specifically, modification of immune-cell metabolism and phagocytosis are promising strategies to augment immune cell function. 

Interferon-ɣ is a promising candidate due to its capacity to improve macrophage microbicidal activity, and clinical trials are ongoing to explore its potential to improve the outcome of candidemia. In close collaboration with the Department of Microbial Pathogenicity Mechanisms, we investigate how Candida albicans interacts with macrophages that were augmented by immunotherapy. We specifically focus on inflammasome activation and fungal escape from macrophages, which is in part mediated by the fungal toxin candidalysin.

Macrophage engulfing multiple Candida albicans yeast

Staff

Sophie Austermeier
Beatriz Cristovão
Axel Dietschmann
Mark Gresnigt
Özlem Kirav
Kira Skurk
Alexis Urtecho Valverde

Publications

Last A, Maurer M, Mosig AS, Gresnigt MS, Hube B (2021) In vitro infection models to study fungal-host interactions. FEMS Microbiol Rev 45(5), fuab005. (Review)
Pekmezovic M, Hovhannisyan H, Gresnigt MS, Iracane E, Oliveira-Pacheco J, Siscar-Lewin S, Seemann E, Qualmann B, Kalkreuter T, Müller S, Kamradt T, Mogavero S, Brunke S, Butler G, Gabaldón T, Hube B (2021) Candida pathogens induce protective mitochondria-associated type I interferon signalling and a damage-driven response in vaginal epithelial cells. Nat Microbiol 6(5), 643-657.
Austermeier S, Kasper L, Westman J, Gresnigt MS (2020) I want to break free - macrophage strategies to recognize and kill Candida albicans, and fungal counter-strategies to escape. Curr Opin Microbiol 58, 15-23. (Review)
Domínguez-Andrés J, Novakovic B, Li Y, Scicluna BP, Gresnigt MS, Arts RJW, Oosting M, Moorlag SJCFM, Groh LA, Zwaag J, Koch RM, Ter Horst R, Joosten LAB, Wijmenga C, Michelucci A, van der Poll T, Kox M, Pickkers P, Kumar V, Stunnenberg H, Netea MG (2019) The itaconate pathway is a central regulatory node linking innate immune tolerance and trained immunity. Cell Metab 29(1), 211-220.e5.
Grondman I, Arts RJW, Koch RM, Leijte GP, Gerretsen J, Bruse N, Kempkes RWM, Ter Horst R, Kox M, Pickkers P, Netea MG, Gresnigt MS (2019) Frontline science: Endotoxin-induced immunotolerance is associated with loss of monocyte metabolic plasticity and reduction of oxidative burst. J Leukoc Biol 106(1), 11-25.
Jaeger M, Matzaraki V, Aguirre-Gamboa R, Gresnigt MS, Chu X, Johnson MD, Oosting M, Smeekens SP, Withoff S, Jonkers I, Perfect JR, van de Veerdonk FL, Kullberg BJ, Joosten LAB, Li Y, Wijmenga C, Netea MG, Kumar V (2019) A genome-wide functional genomics approach identifies susceptibility pathways to fungal bloodstream infection in humans. J Infect Dis 220(5), 862-872.
Assendorp EL, Gresnigt MS, Sprenkeler EGG, Meis JF, Dors N, van der Linden JWM, Henriet SSV (2018) Adjunctive interferon-γ immunotherapy in a pediatric case of Aspergillus terreus infection. Eur J Clin Microbiol Infect Dis 37(10), 1915-1922.
Kasper L, König A, Koenig PA, Gresnigt MS, Westman J, Drummond RA, Lionakis MS, Groß O, Ruland J, Naglik JR, Hube B (2018) The fungal peptide toxin Candidalysin activates the NLRP3 inflammasome and causes cytolysis in mononuclear phagocytes. Nat Commun 9(1), 4260.

Funding