Inflammatory monocytes play contradictory roles in fungal infections

Immune cells called inflammatory monocytes are often one of the first responders to infections, but they actually facilitate the progression of Cryptococcus neoformans infection in mice, according to a study published March 21 in the open-access journal PLOS Pathogens by Lena Heung and Tobias Hohl of Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. According to the authors, these disparate results indicate that inflammatory monocytes possess a plasticity of function that can regulate infection outcomes, making them an important target for immunomodulatory therapies against C. neoformans.

C. neoformans is a yeast that is prevalent throughout the environment and can result in a fatal infection of the central nervous system when inhaled into the lungs by patients with impaired immune systems. Our understanding of the immune responses that either help clear C. neoformans from the lungs or permit development of disease remains limited.

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