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Pathogenetic and serological aspects of pulmonary aspergillosis.

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Institute of Medical Microbiology, University of Aarhus, Denmark.


Af is an important pathogen of the bronchopulmonary system, and the clinical spectrum encompasses aspergilloma, CNPA, IPA, ABPA, bronchial asthma, and allergic alveolitis. Bronchial carriage may, however, not always be associated with pathological effects. The polymorphism of the aspergillus-related disorders seems mostly to depend upon the different responses of the hosts. This review considers the antigenic composition of Af and specific antibody responses in man in relation to the pathogenesis and diagnosis of the various forms of pulmonary aspergillosis. More than 200 macromolecular components have been listed for Af and more than 30 antigens found to react with human sera. Serum antibodies to Af are common in healthy subjects. Schønheyder and his associates (A-L) have shown that IgG, IgA and IgM antibodies in healthy subjects are directed towards antigens to which also patients with aspergillosis strongly react. With immunofluorescent staining these antigens were found to be associated with hyphal walls, and a MW 470,000 fraction from ruptured mycelium was most reactive in ELISA. The respiratory tract appears to be the major route for exposure since the humoral responses include IgA class antibodies, and sIgA antibodies are found in bronchial secretions. Moreover, IgG antibody levels to the MW 470,000 fraction correlate with occupational exposure and smoking habits. In patients with cystic fibrosis high IgG antibody levels to MW 470,000 and MW 25,000-50,000 antigen fractions were associated with the carriage of Af in the sputum. An individual patient's level of IgA antibodies to the MW 470,000 fraction was inversely related to the Af carrier rate, and this was also true for IgE dependent reactivity to Af antigens. These observations indicate that IgG antibodies to some antigens mirror the extent of antigenic exposure, whereas some IgA and IgE antibodies may play a protective role against bronchial colonization with Af. IgG antibody determinations by ELISA were found to provide a higher diagnostic efficacy in pulmonary aspergillosis than IgA antibody assays. With IgG antibodies there were statistically significant differences between patients and the controls and there was little overlap of ELISA values between the groups. The fractions of MW 250,000 with catalase activity and MW 25,000-50,000 with protease activity, were most suitable for serological diagnosis. A gel immunoelectrophoretic assay proved Af catalase to be a major diagnostic antigen in patients with aspergilloma or with an apical aspergillus lung infiltrate.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS).

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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