Immunological aspects of fungal pathogenesis

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Abstract

The incidence of infection with the pathogenic fungi continues to escalate, especially in the era of the acquired immune deficiency syndrome. To the clinician, this heterogeneous group of organisms poses both a diagnostic and a therapeutic challenge. Consequently, growing numbers of investigators are seeking to elucidate the pathogenetic mechanisms involved in disease caused by medically important fungi. In this review, many of the recent scientific advances that have been made in the immunological aspects of the pathogenesis of fungal infections are presented. The topics covered include 1) the receptors for fungi on the surface of professional phagocytes; 2) the mechanisms for killing and growth inhibition of fungi by phagocytes; 3) the means by which fungi evade host defenses; 4) the role of humoral immunity in fungal infection; 5) immunoregulation in fungal infections; and 6) the influence of cytokines on host defenses against pathogenic fungi.