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Predicting fatal fungal infections
Date:6/15/2009

who had a history of fungal meningitis caused by Cryptococcus neoformans; people infected with HIV but with no history of the disease; and those with no history of either HIV infection or the disease.

"We were astounded to find a profound difference in the level of these IgM memory B cells between the HIV-infected groups," said Dr. Pirofski. "The HIV-infected people with fungal meningitis caused by Cryptococcus neoformans had much lower levels of these cells."

The research team wanted to know if the lower levels of IgM memory B cells in certain HIV-infected individuals resulted from the fungal disease, or whether their reduced levels of these cells preceded their development of the disease.

To find out, Dr. Pirofski analyzed frozen blood samples taken from HIV-infected patients before they had developed fungal meningitis due to Cryptococcus neoformans. Years before these HIV-infected patients were diagnosed with meningitis, their blood had far fewer IgM memory B cells than HIV-infected patients who didn't come down with the disease. This suggests that some people are predisposed to develop fungal meningitis because they have low levels of IgM memory B cells that may be due to their genetic makeup.

These findings could be important for many other immunocompromised patients in addition to those infected with HIV. "We think that knowing whether transplant recipients or other patients taking immunosuppressive drugs have low numbers of IgM memory B cells could be useful in deciding which patients should receive antifungal drugs to prevent meningitis caused by Cryptococcus neoformans," says Dr. Pirofski.


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Contact: Deirdre Branley
sciencenews@aecom.yu.edu
718-430-2923
Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Source:Eurekalert  

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