Wednesday March 20, 2019

Fatal Fungal Infection Weakens the Immune System- Study

Researchers have now discovered how the fungus knocks out the immune defences.

0
//
Fungus, Immune System
Fungus knocks out the immune defences, enabling a potentially fatal fungal infection to develop. Pixabay

While, healthy people usually have no problem if microorganisms find their way into their bodies as their immune defence system will put the spores out of action, a specific type of fungus can threaten lives with a compromised immune system, such as AIDS patients or who are immunosuppressed following an organ transplantation, says a new study.

Researchers have now discovered how the fungus — Aspergillus fumigatus — knocks out the immune defences, enabling a potentially fatal fungal infection to develop.

Fungus, Immune System
A specific type of fungus can threaten lives with a compromised immune system, such as AIDS patients. Pixabay

Among other factors, it is gliotoxin — a potent mycotoxin — that is responsible for the pathogenicity of Aspergillus fumigatus.

Pathogenicity refers to the ability of an organism to cause disease.

“It was known that this substance has an immunosuppressive effect, which means that it weakens the activity of cells of the immune defence system. However, it had not been clear previously how exactly this happens,” said Oliver Werz, Professor at the University of Jena in Germany.

To achieve this, they brought immune cells into contact with synthetically produced gliotoxin. These cells — neutrophilic granulocytes — represent the first line of the immune defence system.

Fungus, Immune System
Fungus can impair the immune system. Pixabay

Their task is to detect pathogens and eliminate them. As soon as such a cell comes into contact with a pathogen, for example a fungus, it releases specific messenger substances (leukotrienes) into the blood, which attract other immune cells. Once a sufficiently large number of immune cells has gathered, they can render the intruder harmless, findings showed, published in the journal, Cell Chemical Biology.

This does not happen if the pathogen Aspergillus fumigatus is involved. Gliotoxin ensures that production of the messenger substance leukotrieneB4 in the neutrophilic granulocytes is inhibited, so that they are unable to send a signal to other immune cells. This is caused by a specific enzyme (LTA4 hydrolase) being switched off by the mycotoxin.

ALSO READ: Edible Marijuana May Affect Heart Health in Elderly, Says Study

“This interrupts communication between the immune cells and destroys the defence mechanism. As a result, it is easy for spores – in this case the fungus – that enter the organism to infiltrate tissues or organs,” said Werz. (IANS)

Next Story

Israeli Researchers Find an Unusual Cure to Fungal Infections

The researchers hope that in the future it will be possible to use the new model to treat a variety of diseases.

0
World Health Organization representation of Ebola virus.

An Israeli study said on Sunday that fungal infections could be cured using bacteria found in the soil.

The researchers tried using bacillus subtilis bacteria, which naturally secrete substances that inhibit candida growth, according to the study published by the Israel Institute of Technology “Technion,” Xinhua reported.

The researchers developed a new model for drug therapy, which is a tiny “factory” where the bacteria inside it begin to produce the active substance.

Infections at the site of surgery, Fungal infections
Infections at the site of surgery are the most common complications after operations. Wikimedia Commons

The prevalence of fungal infections is on the rise due to the aging of the population, global warming and the increasing use of antibiotics.

The effectiveness of pills currently available for fungal infections is low due to side effects such as headaches and rash, and in some cases, life-threatening toxicity in the liver and kidneys.

Also Read: Surgical Infection More Common in Low-income Countries, Study Finds

The researchers hope that in the future it will be possible to use the new model to treat a variety of diseases including psoriasis, acne, inflammation and even cancer. (IANS)