Pathogenesis of Cryptococcus neoformans
Cryptococcus neoformans (Cn) is a fungal pathogen, commonly found in urban environments (Tampieri, 2006) that primarily affects immunocompromised individuals through inhalation of spores. In healthy individuals Cn infection is usually cleared, or can remain in a latent form for prolonged periods of time. However, in individuals with impaired immune function, the infection may spread to the central nervous system (CNS), causing life-threatening meningitis (Casadevall & Perfect, 1998; Hull & Heitman, 2002). Thus, the disease is relatively common in AIDS patients. A recent study shows that the prevalence of cryptococcosis has declined with the increasing availability of highly active retroviral therapy (HAART) to treat HIV (Lortholary et al., 2006; Mirza et al., 2003). However, the disease continues to be a problem for those with limited access to HAART, especially in the developing world (Banerjee et al., 2001; Marques et al., 2000). Another group of individuals who are susceptible to cryptococcosis are organ transplant recipients receiving immunosuppressive therapy (Husain et al., 2001; Vilchez et al., 2002). However, cryptococcosis is not limited to immunocompromised persons, as shown by the recent outbreak in Vancouver among healthy individuals (Hoang et al., 2004).
KeywordsMajor Histocompatibility Complex Cryptococcus Neoformans Phenotypic Switching Fungal Burden Delay Type Hypersensitivity Response
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