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PLoS One. 2011 Apr 13;6(4):e18777. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0018777.

Role of germination in murine airway CD8+ T-cell responses to Aspergillus conidia.

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  • 1Allergy and Clinical Immunology Branch, Health Effects Laboratory Division, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Morgantown, West Virginia, United States of America. STempleton@cdc.gov

Abstract

Pulmonary exposure to Aspergillus fumigatus has been associated with morbidity and mortality, particularly in immunocompromised individuals. A. fumigatus conidia produce β-glucan, proteases, and other immunostimulatory factors upon germination. Murine models have shown that the ability of A. fumigatus to germinate at physiological temperature may be an important factor that facilitates invasive disease. We observed a significant increase in IFN-γ-producing CD8(+) T cells in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) of immunocompetent mice that repeatedly aspirated A. fumigatus conidia in contrast to mice challenged with A. versicolor, a species that is not typically associated with invasive, disseminated disease. Analysis of tissue sections indicated the presence of germinating spores in the lungs of mice challenged with A. fumigatus, but not A. versicolor. Airway IFN-γ(+)CD8(+) T-cells were decreased and lung germination was eliminated in mice that aspirated A. fumigatus conidia that were formaldehyde-fixed or heat-inactivated. Furthermore, A. fumigatus particles exhibited greater persistence in the lungs of recipient mice when compared to non-viable A. fumigatus or A. versicolor, and this correlated with increased maintenance of airway memory-phenotype CD8(+) T cells. Therefore, murine airway CD8(+) T cell-responses to aspiration of Aspergillus conidia may be mediated in part by the ability of conidia to germinate in the host lung tissue. These results provide further evidence of induction of immune responses to fungi based on their ability to invade host tissue.

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