Cryptococcus neoformans is resistant to surfactant protein A mediated host defense mechanisms.
Initiation of a protective immune response to infection by the pathogenic fungus Cryptococcus neoformans is mediated in part by host factors that promote interactions between immune cells and C. neoformans yeast. Surfactant protein A (SP-A) contributes positively to pulmonary host defenses against a variety of bacteria, viruses, and fungi in part by promoting the recognition and phagocytosis of these pathogens by alveolar macrophages. In the present study we investigated the role of SP-A as a mediator of host defense against the pulmonary pathogen, C. neoformans. Previous studies have shown that SP-A binds to acapsular and minimally encapsulated strains of C. neoformans. Using in vitro binding assays we confirmed that SP-A does not directly bind to a fully encapsulated strain of C. neoformans (H99). However, we observed that when C. neoformans was incubated in bronchoalveolar fluid, SP-A binding was detected, suggesting that another alveolar host factor may enable SP-A binding. Indeed, we discovered that SP-A binds encapsulated C. neoformans via a previously unknown IgG dependent mechanism. The consequence of this interaction was the inhibition of IgG-mediated phagocytosis of C. neoformans by alveolar macrophages. Therefore, to assess the contribution of SP-A to the pulmonary host defenses we compared in vivo infections using SP-A null mice (SP-A-/-) and wild-type mice in an intranasal infection model. We found that the immune response assessed by cellular counts, TNFalpha cytokine production, and fungal burden in lungs and bronchoalveolar lavage fluids during early stages of infection were equivalent. Furthermore, the survival outcome of C. neoformans infection was equivalent in SP-A-/- and wild-type mice. Our results suggest that unlike a variety of bacteria, viruses, and other fungi, progression of disease with an inhalational challenge of C. neoformans does not appear to be negatively or positively affected by SP-A mediated mechanisms of pulmonary host defense.
Giles, SS; Zaas, AK; Reidy, MF; Perfect, JR; Wright, JR
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