While healthy people usually are at low risk of getting infected by microorganisms, people with low immunity can find themselves in trouble as a specific type of fungus can potentially threaten their lives. Patients suffering from immune-related diseases like AIDS or those who are immunosuppressed following organ transplantation are at a higher risk as per the new study.
Researchers at the University of Jena, Germany have now discovered howAspergillus fumigatus, the fungus can knock out the immune defences and develop fatal fungal infections. There are many factors responsible for the pathogenicity of Aspergillus fumigatus including gliotoxin, a potent mycotoxin. Pathogenicity can be defined as thedisease-causingcapabilities of an organism.
"It was known that this substance has an immunosuppressive effect, which means that it weakens the activity of cells of the immune defence system. However, it had not been clear previously how exactly this happens," said Oliver Werz, Professor at the University of Jena in Germany.
The researchers brought immune cells and synthetically produced gliotoxin in contact with each other to carry out the experiment. The immune cells called neutrophilic granulocytesrepresent the first line of the immune defence system which detects pathogens and eliminates them. However, if the body is attacked by the pathogenAspergillus fumigatus, this process doesn’t take place which tends to hamper the defence mechanism.