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Curr Opin Microbiol. 2013 Jun;16(3):366-73. doi: 10.1016/j.mib.2013.05.004. Epub 2013 Jun 4.

Striking a balance: fungal commensalism versus pathogenesis.

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F. Widjaja Foundation Inflammatory Bowel and Immunobiology Research Institute, Department of Biomedical Sciences, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, CA 90048, USA.


The environment is suffused with nearly countless types of fungi, and our immune systems must be tuned to cope with constant exposure to them. In addition, it is becoming increasingly clear that many surfaces of our bodies are colonized with complex populations of fungi (the mycobiome) in the same way that they are colonized with complex populations of bacteria. The immune system must tolerate colonization with commensal fungi but defend against fungal invasion. Truly life-threatening fungal infections are common only when this balance is disrupted through, for example, profound immunosuppression or genetic mutation. Recent studies have begun to shed light on how this balance is established and maintained, and suggest future studies on the role of fungi in homeostatic conditions.

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