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PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2018 Feb 26;12(2):e0006237. doi: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0006237. eCollection 2018 Feb.

Transformation of Fonsecaea pedrosoi into sclerotic cells links to the refractoriness of experimental chromoblastomycosis in BALB/c mice via a mechanism involving a chitin-induced impairment of IFN-γ production.

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Center for Infectious Skin Diseases, Department of Dermatology, No. 1 Hospital of Wuhan, Wuhan, China.
Research Center for Medical Mycology, Peking University, Beijing, China.
Center for Infectious Diseases and Microbiology, Laboratory Services, ICPMR, Westmead Hospital, University of Sydney, Westmead, Australia.
Medical Research Center of Wuhan University, Wuhan, China.
Institute of Hydrobiology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Wuhan, China.


Fonsecaea pedrosoi (F. pedrosoi) is the most common agent of chromoblastomycosis. Transformation of this fungus from its saprophytic phase into pathogenic sclerotic cells in tissue is an essential link to the refractoriness of this infection. Experimental studies in murine models have shown that the absence of CD4+ T cells impairs host defense against F. pedrosoi infection. Clinical research has also suggested that a relatively low level of the Th1 cytokine INF-γ and inefficient T cell proliferation are simultaneously present in patients with severe chromoblastomycosis upon in vitro stimulation with ChromoAg, an antigen prepared from F. pedrosoi. In the present study, we show that in mice intraperitoneally infected with F. pedrosoi-spores, -hyphae or in vitro-induced sclerotic cells respectively, the transformation of this causative agent into sclerotic cells contributes to a compromised Th1 cytokine production in the earlier stage of infection with impaired generation of neutrophil reactive oxygen species (ROS) and pan-inhibition of Th1/Th2/Th17 cytokine production with disseminated infection in the later stage by using a CBA murine Th1/Th2/Th17 cytokine kit. In addition, we have further demonstrated that intraperitoneal administration of recombinant mouse IFN-γ (rmIFN-γ) effectively reduces the fungal load in the infected mouse spleen, and dampens the peritoneal dissemination of F. pedrosoi-sclerotic cells. Meanwhile, exogeneous rmIFN-γ contributes to the formation and maintenance of micro-abscess and restores the decrease in neutrophil ROS generation in the mouse spleen infected with F. pedrosoi-sclerotic cells. Of note, we have once again demonstrated that it is a chitin-like component, but not β-glucans or mannose moiety, that exclusively accumulates on the outer cell wall of F. pedrosoi-sclerotic cells which were induced in vitro or isolated from the spleens of intraperitoneally infected BALB/c mice. In addition, our results indicate that decreased accumulation of chitin on the surface of live F. pedrosoi-sclerotic cells after chitinase treatment can be self-compensated in a time-dependent manner. Importantly, we have for the first time demonstrated that exclusive accumulation of chitin on the transformed sclerotic cells of F. pedrosoi is involved in an impaired murine Th1 cytokine profile, therefore promoting the refractoriness of experimental murine chromoblastomycosis.

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