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Scientist discover how fungus cripple’s immune system

Date: 11 February 2019 Tags: Biotechnology

Scientists have discovered how fungal toxin gliotoxin found in common fungus Aspergillus fumigatus cripples immune defence system and enable potentially fatal infection to develop. This common fungus is found virtually everywhere on Earth. It is commonly found on damp walls or in spores that blow through the air, mattresses and floors etc.

Findings of this study

  • Gliotoxin, a potent mycotoxin is responsible for pathogenicity of Aspergillus fumigatus. It has immunosuppressive effect i.e. it weakens activity of Neutrophilic granulocytes cells, which are important immune defence system.
  • Neutrophilic granulocytes cells represent first line of immune defence system. When these cells are bought into contact with gliotoxin, it releases specific messenger substances leukotrieneB4 into blood, which attract other immune cells. Once sufficient large number of immune cells has gathered, they can render intruder harmless.
  • But in case of Aspergillus fumigatus, Gliotoxin ensures that production of messenger substance in neutrophilic granulocytes is inhibited, so that they are unable to send signal to other immune cells.
  • This is caused by specific enzyme (LTA4 hydrolase) being switched off by mycotoxin. This interrupts communication between immune cells and destroys defence mechanism. As result, it is easy for spores -- in this case fungusthat enter the organism to infiltrate immune system.
  • Healthy people are not affected much if spores of this fungus find their way into their body. However, it threatens lives of people with compromised immune system, such as AIDS patients or people who are immunosuppressed following organ transplantation.