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Future Microbiol. 2012 Nov;7(11):1297-313. doi: 10.2217/fmb.12.102.

Mechanisms of infection by the human fungal pathogen Cryptococcus neoformans.

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Infection & Immunity, Clinical Sciences Division, St Georges' University of London, London SW17 0RE, UK.


Brain infection by the fungus Cryptococcus neoformans results in inflammation of the meninges and brain parenchyma, a condition known as meningoencephalitis. One million people are estimated to suffer cryptococcal meningitis globally and >60% of these cases die within 3 months of diagnosis. Humans are believed to contract infection by inhalation of spores or dried yeast cells, which subsequently colonize the lung tissue. In the lungs, cryptococci may be cleared by the lung phagocytes, stay latent, cause pulmonary infection and/or disseminate to other body parts, preferentially the brain, culminating in cryptococcal meningoencephalitis. In this review, we discuss the pathogenesis of C. neoformans from the environment to the brain, the current understanding of the mechanisms of cryptococcal transmission into the brain and cryptococcal meningitis. We also give an insight into future cryptococcosis research and the development of novel therapies.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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