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Eur J Clin Microbiol Infect Dis. 2001 Aug;20(8):535-43.

Evidence of microevolution in a clinical case of recurrent Cryptococcus neoformans meningoencephalitis.

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Dipartimento di Scienze Igienistiche, Microbiologiche e Biostatistiche, Università di Modena e Reggio Emilia, Italy.


The aim of this study was to examine three serial isolates of Cryptococcus neoformans from a patient with AIDS for genotypical and phenotypical characteristics. The isolates were obtained during a first episode of cryptococcosis (simultaneous sampling of blood and cerebrospinal fluid) and after a relapse 3 years later (sampling of cerebrospinal fluid). Pulsed-field gel electrophoresis and random amplification of polymorphic DNA revealed that the blood isolate 1525 (first episode) was different from the two cerebrospinal fluid isolates (1526, first episode; 1782, relapse), yet the cerebrospinal fluid isolates were indistinguishable from each other regardless of the analysis performed. Phenotypical studies showed that isolate 1782 had significantly improved resistance to phagocytosis and killing by monocytes and polymorphonuclear cells and an altered efficacy in evoking cytokine response (augmentation of tumour necrosis factor-alpha, interleukin [IL]-1beta, IL-10, and interferon-gamma, decrease of IL-12). Interestingly, capsule size and antifungal drug resistance remained unchanged, while production of phospholipase and protease was consistently enhanced in the 1782 isolate with respect to the 1525 and 1526 isolates. In conclusion, in serial Cryptococcus neoformans isolates from a patient with AIDS, phenotypical changes but not molecular changes were documented, thus supporting the role of microevolution as a pathogenetic mechanism(s) for persistence/reactivation of fungal organisms.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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