The fungal pathogen, Cryptococcus neoformans
, causes devastating levels of morbidity and mortality. Infections with this fungus tend to be predominantly in immunocompromised individuals, such as those with HIV. Infections initiate with inhalation of cryptococcal cells and entry of the pathogen into the lungs. The bronchial epithelial cells of the upper airway and the alveolar epithelial cells of the lower airway are likely to be the first host cells that Cryptococcus
engage with. Thus the interaction of cryptococci and the respiratory epithelia will be the focus of this review. C. neoformans
has been shown to adhere to respiratory epithelial cells, although if the role of the capsule is in aiding or hindering this adhesion is debatable. The epithelia are also able to react to cryptococci with the release of cytokines and chemokines to start the immune response to this invading pathogen. The activity of surfactant components that line this mucosal barrier towards Cryptococcus
and the metabolic and transcriptional reaction of cryptococci when encountering epithelial cells will also be discussed.
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