Stem Cells Boost Immunity Against Candida albicans Infections

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the discovery of this new host/pathogen interaction mechanism and its consequences in the modulation of immune response may provide a new target for intervention in the fight against serious infections.

María Luisa Gil

Professor of microbiology , The University of Valencia

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Using stem cells to boost immunity against Candida albicans infections

26/10/2016 Asociación RUVID

Researchers from the Universitat de València (UV) and the Cedar Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles have partnered to describe a biological mechanism that generates cells which are better equipped to fight off serious infections caused by the Candida albicansfungus.

The fungus, which is often found in innocuous form in the oral cavity, vagina and gastrointestinal tract, can cause superficial skin and mucus infections in healthy people. It can also cause serious internal or invasive infections in immunodepressed patients and is as such considered an opportunistic pathogenic fungus.

The research, published in Microbes and Infection, analyses the interaction betweenhematopoietic progenitor and stem cells with this fungus. María Luisa Gil, professor or microbiology at the University of Valencia, explains:

“When stem cells interact directly with the Candida albicans microorganism, this leads quickly to the conversion of these cells into mature mieloid cells -neutrophil, monocyte, macrophages and dendritic cells-, which are what fuel our natural immune system, our first defense against infections”.

The fact of stems cells interacting with the C. albicans microorganism is important because until now it was thought that only mature cells recognised and responded directly to microorganisms and derivatives. The study shows that this interaction can lead to the generation of cells that are functionally better prepared to face off an infection.

Indeed, the discovery of this new host/pathogen interaction mechanism and its consquences in the modulation of immune response may provide a new target for intevention in the fight against serious infections.

Research group and funding

The Immunology of Fungal Infections research group of the Infections) reports to both the department of Microbiology and Ecology, and the Interdisciplinary Research Structure for Biotechnology and Biomedicine (ERI-BIOTECMED) of the University of Valencia. Part of the experimental work was carried out at the University’s Central Service for Experimental Research (SCSIE), and in collaboration with researchers from Cedar Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

The group has been researching immune response to the Candida albicans fungus for a number years. The incidence and seriousness of C. albicans infections has increased considerably over recent decades, due mainly to the increase in at-risk population. The work has received funding from the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (ref. SAF2014-53823-P, co-funded by the ERDF).

Full bibliographic information

Javier Megías et al. TLR2, TLR4 and Dectin-1 signalling in hematopoietic stem and progenitor cells determines the antifungal phenotype of the macrophages they produce. Microbes and Infection. Volume 18, Issue 5, May 2016, Pages 354–363. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.micinf.2016.01.005
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