Fungus delays immune response

Signalling pathway of extracellular vesicles revealed in immune response to fungal infection

Extracellular vesicles - small, membrane-enclosed particles secreted by cells - are important components of cell communication and interaction. For example, they transport messenger substances from cell to cell. What role they play in the interaction of the pathogenic yeast fungus Candida albicans with the human immune system has now been described for the first time by scientists from the Leibniz Institute for Natural Product Research and Infection Biology together with colleagues from the Friedrich Schiller University of Jena, the Medical University of Innsbruck and the Julius-Maximilians-University of Würzburg.

Infections with the yeast Candida albicans are associated with a high mortality rate. Thus, new therapeutic approaches are needed, which require a profound understanding of the interaction between the pathogenic fungus and the human immune system. The scientists therefore investigated the reaction of monocytes - white blood cells that are part of the immune system - to contact with Candida albicans. Binding to a specific receptor on the monocytes, which is part of the innate immune system, the yeast fungus induces the release of extracellular vesicles that transport a messenger substance to other immune cells. These vesicles reduce the inflammatory response of macrophages. This delays the inflammatory response, the body can only start fighting the dangerous microorganism later and the fungal infection progresses. The discovery of this new mechanism, where Candida albicans affects the human immune response, reveals new possible approaches for a therapy of the fungal infection.

Luke Donald Halder

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Emeraldo Jo

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Olaf Kniemeyer

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