Interaction with immune cells

Phagocytes such as macrophages and neutrophils are key players of the innate immune system and represent a crucial line of defense against pathogenic Candida species such as C. albicans and C. glabrata. This is particularly illustrated by the fact that invasive Candida infections rarely occur in healthy hosts, and a compromised immune system is one of the major predisposing factors for disease.

Recognition of Candida cells by phagocytes leads to cytokine production, phagocytosis, and the activation of antimicrobial effector functions to induce killing of the fungus. On the other hand, pathogenic Candida spp. are well adapted to their host and have developed mechanisms to evade or counteract the anti-microbial activities of phagocytes. One of these mechanisms is the adaptation of fungal metabolism to cope with nutrient limitation inside the phagosome. This and other strategies allow C. albicans and C. glabrata to not only survive phagocytosis by macrophages, but even proliferate intracellularly and escape. C. albicans escapes by rapid hyphal growth and host cell damage. In contrast, C. glabrata replicates as yeast cells inside macrophages and persists for days, before macrophages burst and fungal cells are released.

We want to characterize the interaction of C. albicans, C. glabrata, and C. auris with phagocytes. We are especially interested in the fungal factors and activities that help Candida to cope with these immune cells, survive and escape. Moreover, in close collaboration with the Junior Research Group Adaptive Pathogenicity Strategies we investigate how immunotherapy impacts on the interactions between C. albicans and macrophages and mitigates escape of C. albicans from macrophages. Therapies that aim at improving the innate immune system are increasingly recognized as essential in improving the outcome of fungal infections. Particularly interferon-γ is a promising candidate due to its potential of improving macrophage microbicidal activity.


Sophie Austermeier
Mark Gresnigt
Lydia Kasper
Annika König


Akoumianaki T, Vaporidi K, Diamantaki E, Pène F, Beau R, Gresnigt MS, Gkountzinopulou M, Venichaki M, Drakos E, El-Benna J, Samonis G, Le KTT, Kumar V, Georgopoulos D, van de Veerdonk FL, Netea MG, Latge JP, Chamilos G (2021) Uncoupling of IL-6 signaling and LC3-associated phagocytosis drives immunoparalysis during sepsis. Cell Host Microbe 29(8), 1277-1293.
Bruno M, Horst R, Pekmezovic M, Kumar V, Li Y, Netea MG, Latgé JP, Gresnigt MS, van de Veerdonk FL (2021) Data of common and species-specific transcriptional host responses to pathogenic fungi. Data Brief 35, 106928.
d'Enfert C, Kaune AK, Alaban LR, Chakraborty S, Cole N, Delavy M, Kosmala D, Marsaux B, Fróis-Martins R, Morelli M, Rosati D, Valentine M, Xie Z, Emritloll Y, Warn PA, Bequet F, Bougnoux ME, Bornes S, Gresnigt MS, Hube B, Jacobsen ID, Legrand M, Leibundgut-Landmann S, Manichanh C, Munro CA, Netea MG, Queiroz K, Roget K, Thomas V, Thoral C, Van den Abbeele P, Walker AW, Brown AJP (2021) The impact of the Fungus-Host-Microbiota interplay upon Candida albicans infections: current knowledge and new perspectives. FEMS Microbiol Rev 45(3), fuaa060. (Review)
Dewi IMW, Cunha C, Jaeger M, Gresnigt MS, Gkountzinopoulou ME, Garishah FM, Duarte-Oliveira C, Campos CF, Vanderbeke L, Sharpe AR, Brüggemann RJ, Verweij PE, Lagrou K, Vande Velde G, de Mast Q, Joosten LAB, Netea MG, van der Ven AJAM, Wauters J, Carvalho A, van de Veerdonk FL (2021) Neuraminidase and SIGLEC15 modulate the host defense against pulmonary aspergillosis. Cell Rep Med 2(5), 100289.
Fischer J, Gresnigt MS, Werz O, Hube B, Garscha U (2021) Candida albicans-induced leukotriene biosynthesis in neutrophils is restricted to the hyphal morphology. FASEB J 35(10), e21820.
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)
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)
König A, Hube B, Kasper L (2020) The dual Function of the fungal toxin candidalysin during Candida albicans-macrophage interaction and virulence. Toxins 12(8), 469. (Review)
König A, Müller R, Mogavero S, Hube B (2020) Fungal factors involved in host immune evasion, modulation and exploitation during infection. Cell Microbiol 23(1), e13272. (Review)
Sprenger M, Hartung TS, Allert S, Wisgott S, Niemiec MJ, Graf K, Jacobsen ID, Kasper L, Hube B (2020) Fungal biotin homeostasis is essential for immune evasion after macrophage phagocytosis and virulence. Cell Microbiol 22(7), e13197.