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Innate immune system targets asthma-linked fungus for destruction
Date:9/2/2008

luorescence microscopy to determine the outcome of the interaction between eosinophils and A. alternata. The contact of fungus with eosinophils resulted in bright red fluorescence due to the damaged fungal cell wall and subsequent death of Alternaria. Immunohistochemistry confirmed the release of toxic granular proteins by eosinophils due to contact with the fungus.

Dr. Chris Lawrence, Associate Professor at VBI and the Department of Biological Sciences at Virginia Tech, remarked: "T helper 2 (Th2) cells in the immune system typically produce cytokine signaling molecules or interleukins that lead to the recruitment of eosinophils for the dysregulated immune response commonly associated with airway inflammatory disorders. Continual exposure of sensitized individuals to common environmental fungi like Alternaria may result in Th2 cells being constantly activated to recruit eosinophils and this sustained defense mechanism results in chronic inflammation. It has been shown previously that degranulation of eosinophils causes damage of airway mucosa and enhances inflammation. The next step in our transdisciplinary research collaboration will be to use recombinant fungal proteins and fungal knockout mutants for specific genes to dissect the different molecular steps involved in the development and progression of this acute immune response."

Hirohito Kita added: "We have taken an important step in showing that the innate immune system of eosinophils is capable of targeting an asthma-associated fungus for destruction. The biological significance of these results will need to be verified further in animal models and in humans and our collaborative efforts with Dr. Lawrence's research group for proteomics and functional genomics will be invaluable in this respect. We suspect that the dysregulated immune responses to Alternaria, other filamentous fungi, and perhaps chitin-encased insects, such as mites and cockroaches, may play a pivotal role in chron
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Contact: Barry Whyte
whyte@vbi.vt.edu
540-231-1767
Virginia Tech
Source:Eurekalert

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