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Microbiol Mol Biol Rev. 1997 Jun;61(2):170-92.

Macrophages in resistance to candidiasis.

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Department of Surgery, University of Wisconsin Medical School, Madison 53706-1532, USA.


Candida albicans, an increasingly common opportunistic pathogenic fungus, frequently causes disease in immunodeficient but not immunocompetent hosts. Clarifying the role of the phagocytic cells that participate in resistance to candidiasis not only is basic to understanding how the host copes with this dimorphic pathogen but also will expedite the development of innovative prophylactic and therapeutic approaches for treating the multiple clinical presentations that candidiasis encompasses. In this review, we present evidence that a diverse population of mononuclear phagocytes, in different states of activation and differentiation and from a variety of host species, can phagocytize C. albicans blastoconidia via an array of opsonic and nonopsonic mechanisms and can kill C. albicans blastoconidia and hyphae by means of oxygen-dependent and -independent mechanisms. Reactive nitrogen intermediates should now be added to the well-established candidacidal reactive oxygen intermediates of macrophages. Furthermore, what were thought to be two independent pathways, i.e., nitric oxide and superoxide anion, have now been shown to combine to form a potent macrophage candidacidal molecule, peroxynitrite. In contrast to monocytes and neutrophils, which are important in resistance to early stages of C. albicans infections, more differentiated macrophages activated by cytokines such as gamma interferon participate in the acquired resistance of hosts with C. albicans-specific, cell-mediated immunity. Evidence presented in this review demonstrates that mononuclear phagocytes, in some instances in the absence of other professional phagocytes such as neutrophils, play an import role in resistance to systemic and mucosal candidiasis.

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