, Volume 7, Issue 3-4, pp 195-210

Cytokines in the treatment of fungal infections

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The incidence of invasive fungal infections in the immunocompromized host has increased during the past decade. Even the recently developed antifungal drugs are unable to cure these infections in patients with severely impaired host defense mechanisms. Cytokines have great potential to augment host resistance and as adjunctive therapy of invasive mycoses. We discuss the mechanisms of host defense against invasive candidiasis, aspergillosis, and cryptococcosis, and review the use of cytokines and growth factors in this setting. Interleukin-1 has been shown effective in an animal model of disseminated candidiasis, even during severe granulocytopenia. Interferon-γ has been very effective as a modulator of resistance against a variety of fungal infectionsin vitro. The effect of interferon-γ against disseminated candidiasis has been demonstrated in a mouse model. Activation of neutrophils is the main mechanism by which interferon-γ enhances the elimination ofCandida, and consequently the agent is not effective in severly granulocytopenic animals. Data on the role of colony-stimulating factors against fungal pathogens are accumulating, and trials with these agents for hematologic patients with invasive fungal infections are now being performed.