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Clin Microbiol Rev. 1996 Jan;9(1):34-46.

Activation of the complement system by pathogenic fungi.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology and Cell and Molecular Biology Program, University of Nevada, Reno 89557, USA.


Fungi have been studied as prototype activators of the complement cascade since the early 1900s. More recently, attention has focused on the role of the complement system in the pathogenesis of fungal infections. The interactions of Cryptococcus neoformans and Candida albicans with the complement system are the most widely characterized; however, all pathogenic fungi examined to date have the ability to initiate the complement cascade. The molecular mechanisms for initiation and regulation of the complement cascade differ from one fungus to another, most likely reflecting differences in the structure of the outer layers of the cell wall. The molecular bases for such differences remain to be identified. Studies of mycoses in experimental animals with induced or congenital deficiencies in the complement system demonstrate that complement is an important innate system for control of fungal infection. Contributions to host resistance include opsonization and generation of inflammatory mediators. Inflammation induced by chemotactic products of the complement system may contribute to the pathogenesis of some fungal infections.

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