Cryptococcus neoformans is a life-threatening human fungal pathogen that is responsible for an estimated 1 million cases of meningitis each year, primarily in HIV-infected and other immunocompromised patients. Interaction with immune cells called macrophages is a key step in whether it causes disease. Until now, the interactions between C. neoformans and host cells have mostly been studied using reference or mutant strains of the pathogen and few studies describe the effects of C. neoformans diversity on infections.
Researchers have developed a flow cytometry assay to study the dynamics of macrophage-C. neoformans interactions. Using several different clinical isolates of C. neoformans, they have discovered that under the same experimental conditions, clinical isolates behave differently and these differences could well have important effects for better or worse on outcomes for patients.
The research was published in mBio, an open access online journal published by the American Society for Microbiology to make microbiology research broadly accessible.