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Trends Immunol. 2010 May;31(5):171-5. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2010 Feb 10.

Lessons from the inflammasome: a molecular sentry linking Candida and Crohn's disease.

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University of British Columbia, Centre for Microbial Disease & Immunity Research, 2259 Lower Mall, Vancouver, BC, Canada V6T 1Z4.


Candida albicans is a diploid fungus that colonizes the gastrointestinal tract asymptomatically in a large proportion of the human population, but can cause life-threatening conditions in immunocompromised patients. Recent immunological investigations have revealed the Nod-like receptor pyrin domain-containing protein 3 (NLRP3) to be a cytosolic surveillance mechanism against germinating Candida. These observations point to the idea of a molecular link between Candida and a spectrum of auto-inflammatory diseases. When excessive activation of NLRP3 occurs, it can confer resistance against disseminating Candida infection but might also cause NLRP3-associated periodic syndromes. Alternatively, we propose a pathophysiological model whereby a defective NLRP3-coupled inflammasome can result in enhanced mucosal colonization of granuloma-provoking microorganisms, including C. albicans, precipitating the formation of Crohn's disease-associated inflammatory lesions.

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