Virulence Characteristics of Aspergillus fumigatus
Rebecca A. Owens, Grainne O'Keeffe, Karen A. O'Hanlon, Lorna Gallagher and Sean Doyle
from: Human Pathogenic Fungi: Molecular Biology and Pathogenic Mechanisms (Edited by: Derek J. Sullivan and Gary P. Moran). Caister Academic Press, U.K. (2014)
Aspergillus fumigatus is an opportunistic fungal pathogen which causes serious disease, broadly termed aspergillosis, in immunocompetent and immunocompromised individuals. Advances in the diagnosis of aspergillosis exploit detection of fungal nucleic acid via PCR and secreted galactomannan by ELISA. New diagnostic strategies are emerging based on detection of secreted low molecular mass metabolites. Drug treatments, which interfere with membrane biosynthesis and integrity, as well as cell wall function, are available to treat infection with A. fumigatus. No single characteristic appears to confer complete virulence on A. fumigatus, rather, it appears to depend on a combination of survival factors, in part derived from its function as a saprophyte, to facilitate host colonisation and fungal growth. These attributes include a robust cell wall, small hydrophobic conidia and biofilm architecture; resistance to oxidative stress, hypoxia and iron starvation; secondary metabolite biosynthesis and secretion, as well as thermotolerance and an ability to secrete degradative enzymes for nutrient uptake. Attenuation of the efficiency of these survival strategies offers possibilities for the development of new classes of antifungal drugs read more ...