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Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 1998 Oct;42(10):2569-75.

Accumulation of amphotericin B in human macrophages enhances activity against Aspergillus fumigatus conidia: quantification of conidial kill at the single-cell level.

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Institute of Medical Microbiology and Hygiene, Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz, Mainz, Germany.


A cytofluorometric assay that allowed assessment of damage to phagocytosed Aspergillus fumigatus conidia at the single-cell level was developed. After ingestion by monocyte-derived macrophages (MDMs), conidia were reisolated by treatment of the cells with streptolysin O, a pore-forming toxin with lytic properties on mammalian cells but not on fungi. The counts obtained by staining of damaged conidia with propidium iodide and quantification by cytofluorometry correlated with colony counts. By the use of this method, we demonstrate that MDMs differentiated in vitro by low-dose granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor and gamma interferon have only a limited capacity to damage Aspergillus conidia in vitro. The killing rate 12 h after phagocytosis was found to be only 10 to 15%. However, intracellular loading of the phagocytes with amphotericin B (AmB) dose dependently enhanced the anticonidial activity. Preincubation of macrophages with only 1 microg of AmB per ml resulted in an uptake of 18 fg of AmB/cell, leading to killing rates of 50 to 60%. The experimental protocol provides a new tool for the rapid quantification of anticonidial activity against A. fumigatus in vitro. Intracellular accumulation of AmB may represent an important factor underlying the efficacy of this antifungal drug in the prophylaxis and treatment of Aspergillus infections.

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