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Med Mycol. 2011 Apr;49 Suppl 1:S96-S100. doi: 10.3109/13693786.2010.502190. Epub 2011 Jan 24.

Aspergillus fumigatus biofilms in the clinical setting.

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Department of Paediatrics, Neonatology, and Paediatric Intensive Care Medicine Academic Hospital, Robert-Koch-Strasse 2D, Itzehoe, Germany.


We discuss in this work the role of Aspergillus biofilms in the clinical setting by reviewing the most recent findings on this topic. Aspergillus fumigatus can produce in vitro an extracellular hydrophobic matrix with typical biofilm characteristics under all static conditions tested, i.e., agar media, polystyrene and bronchial epithelial cells. Under static conditions the mycelial growth is greater than in shaken, submerged conditions. The extracellular matrix (ECM) is composed of galactomannan, α-1,3-glucans, monosaccharides and polyols, melanin and proteins including major antigens and hydrophobins. Typical biofilm structures were observed in the aspergillomas from two patients and in a murine model of invasive pulmonary aspergillosis. The results indicate that α-1,3-glucans plays a predominant role in the agglutination of the hyphae together in aerial conditions, and that nutrient starvation was responsible for mycelial death in aspergilloma. Melanin was produced during the infection, suggesting that this pigment is necessary for lung tissue invasion. All antifungal drugs are significantly less effective when A. fumigatus is grown under biofilm vs. planktonic conditions. Chronic persistence of a unique genotype of A. fumigatus in the respiratory tract of CF-patients and the presence of an ECM in vivo may have some therapeutical application for aspergillosis. The most appropriate antifungal drug should not be selected only on the basis of its efficiency to kill in vitro grown fungal cells, but also on its ability to penetrate the ECM.

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