Journal Highlight: Fungal Biofilms: Dampening Host Defenses

Demonstrating the presence of microbial functional amyloids in human disease is difficult, in part because of their small size as well as lack of knowledge concerning their composition and function. In a recent study, researchers from the USA investigated whether biofilm of fungal amyloid and SAP was a feature of disseminated fungal infections.

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Researchers in the USA offer an explanation for the sparse inflammatory responses seen in some fungal infections. Stephen Klotz at the University of Arizona and co-workers examined autopsy specimens from 15 patients with histological evidence of aspergillosis, mucormycosis, and coccidioidomycosis. They found few host inflammatory cells-if any-in the structure of lesions, but observed an abundance of protein aggregates called amyloids coated with serum amyloid P component, or SAP, a protease-resistant glycoprotein that binds to amyloids and interferes with defense against pathogens. These results suggest that some fungi may use biofilms containing amyloids and SAP to weaken host defenses, ultimately leading to a dampened inflammatory response. This finding opens new doors for understanding the pathogenesis of invasive fungal infections and for developing effective treatments.

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Richa Dandona

Partnerships and Operations Manager, Nature Partner Journals, Nature Research