Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Fungi everywhere

Okay, well I was inspired to go away and look up some information on cues for fungal spore germination and whether, as living humans, we are not a suitable substrate for most fungi to germinate on or whether we continually fight them off.

In at least one common case it is apparently the latter. Aspergillus fumigatus is a very common saprotrophic fungus and its spores are everywhere. In fact its estimated that everyone breathes in several hundred Aspergillus fumigatus each day

We know that the immune system plays a vital role in fighting off this fungus because immunosuppressed individuals are susceptible to invasive A. fumigatus infection. This can take a variety of forms but most commonly manifests as invasive pulmonary aspergillosis. If not dealt with by the innate immune system then inhaled spores germinate in the warm, moist, nutrient-rich environment of the pulmonary alveoli and can lead to chronic pulmonary infections.

We know a lot about the way that our immune system functions to control potentially lethal fungal infections like A. fumigatus - here's one recent review: Immune responses against Aspergillus fumigatus: what have we learned?

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