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Glycobiology. 1996 Sep;6(6):627-34.

Chitinase levels in guinea pig blood are increased after systemic infection with Aspergillus fumigatus.

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Department of Medical Chemistry, Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


The presence of chitinase activity in human serum has recently been described by us. On that occasion we speculated on the possible role of mammalian chitinases as a defense mechanism against chitin-containing pathogens. The results of the present study substantiate our hypothesis. We demonstrate and partially characterize the chitinase activities that are present in plasma of guinea pigs and in homogenates of A.fumigatus with the aid of the substrates MU-[GlcNAc]2,3 and also with glycol [3H]chitin. Upon infection with A.fumigatus the serum chitinase activity levels in the circulation of pathogen-free guinea pigs increased in a time-dependent manner. The increase was also dependent on the size of the infecting fungal inoculum. Antifungal treatment diminished the increases. The increased chitinase activity was of guinea pig origin. The activity of beta-hexosaminidase showed a very slight increase subsequent to the infection. The activities of three other enzymes of lysosomal origin (alpha-mannosidase, beta-galactosidase and beta-glucosidase) did not increase.

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