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PLoS One. 2013;8(2):e56651. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0056651. Epub 2013 Feb 18.

Strain dependent variation of immune responses to A. fumigatus: definition of pathogenic species.

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Department of Neuroscience, Pharmacology and Child's Health (NEUROFARBA), University of Florence, Florence, Italy.


For over a century microbiologists and immunologist have categorized microorganisms as pathogenic or non-pathogenic species or genera. This definition, clearly relevant at the strain and species level for most bacteria, where differences in virulence between strains of a particular species are well known, has never been probed at the strain level in fungal species. Here, we tested the immune reactivity and the pathogenic potential of a collection of strains from Aspergillus spp, a fungus that is generally considered pathogenic in immuno-compromised hosts. Our results show a wide strain-dependent variation of the immune response elicited indicating that different isolates possess diverse virulence and infectivity. Thus, the definition of markers of inflammation or pathogenicity cannot be generalized. The profound understanding of the molecular mechanisms subtending the different immune responses will result solely from the comparative study of strains with extremely diverse properties.

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