Immune responses to invasive aspergillosis: new understanding and therapeutic opportunities

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Abstract

Purpose of review

Invasive aspergillosis is a worldwide disease that primarily affects immune-compromised patients, agricultural workers with corneal abrasions, individuals with structural lung disease, and patients with primary immune deficiency. The critical function of the immune system is to prevent the germination of airborne conidia into tissue-invasive hyphae. This review covers recent advances that shape our understanding of anti-Aspergillus immunity at the molecular and cellular level.

Recent findings

Host defense against conidia and hyphae occurs via distinct molecular mechanisms that involve intracellular and extracellular killing pathways, as well as cooperation between different myeloid cell subsets. The strength and efficacy of the host response is shaped by the tissue microenvironment. In preclinical models of disease, host immune augmentation strategies have yielded benefits, yet translating these insights into therapeutic strategies in humans remains challenging.

Summary

Although advances in early diagnostic strategies and in antifungal drugs have ameliorated clinical outcomes of invasive aspergillosis, further improvements depend on gaining deeper insight into and translating advances in anti-Aspergillus immunity.

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