Cryptococcal pathogenic mechanisms: a dangerous trip from the environment to the brain.
Cryptococcus neoformans is an opportunistic pathogenic yeast that causes serious infections, most commonly of the central nervous system (CNS). C. neoformans is mainly found in the environment and acquired by inhalation. It could be metaphorically imagined that cryptococcal disease is a "journey" for the microorganism that starts in the environment, where this yeast loads its suitcase with virulence traits. C. neoformans first encounters the infected mammalian host in the lungs, a site in which it must choose the right elements from its "virulence suitcase" to survive the pulmonary immune response. However, the lung is often only the first stop in this journey, and in some individuals the fungal trip continues to the brain. To enter the brain, C. neoformans must "open" the main barrier that protects this organ, the blood brain barrier (BBB). Once in the brain, C. neoformans expresses a distinct set of protective attributes that confers a strong neurotropism and the ability to cause brain colonisation. In summary, C. neoformans is a unique fungal pathogen as shown in its ability to survive in the face of multiple stress factors and to express virulence factors that contribute to the development of disease.
Esher, SK; Zaragoza, O; Alspaugh, JA
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