How Does a Deadly Fungus Get Inside Brain Tissue?

How Does a Deadly Fungus Get Inside Brain Tissue?
How Does a Deadly Fungus Get Inside Brain Tissue? - Cryptococcus neoformans under the microscope. (CDC/Dr. Leanor Haley/Public Domain)

Scientists have discovered that when the deadly fungus Cryptococcus neoformans enters the body, its size actually changes, increasing the likelihood of infection. Sounds a bit like the plot of a horror movie.

The fungus can be discovered in a variety of environments, including rotting wood and bird droppings in the wild. Once inhaled, it can pass from the lungs through the bloodstream to various organs, creating a shape change inside the body to throw off the chance of infection.

Once the infection settles in the human body, it can cause a variety of diseases, including the rare but potentially fatal condition known as fungal meningitis, which causes swelling in the brain.
There is also a chance that the disease could be treated more successfully in the future, thanks to recent discoveries based on a mouse study.

According to pathologist Jessica Brown of the University of Utah, “Cryptococcal cells in the lungs are quite diverse, with different sizes and different appearances.” I was very surprised when my graduate student showed me images of the homogeneity of brain cells.

So far it has only been implied that there is a very good reason for this group of cells to enter the body.

Knowing that the fungus can grow up to 10 times its typical size in the lungs, the researchers sought to understand why cells of a certain size were detected so deeply in the host region.

The scientists found that the smallest cells of C. neoformans tend to enter the brain when they infect mice with parasites of different sizes.

But that was not all; The team also discovered changes in the surfaces of smaller cells and variations in the genes that are active in these fungi. According to the researchers, these "seed cells" aren't just tiny copies of the fungus, they're something entirely different.

Phosphate is likely driving these changes, according to the researchers' work. Phosphate is abundant in bird droppings as well as being released from host cells when tissues are damaged during infection.

This seems to be the spark that the fungus evolved shape-shifting abilities that could aid in its ability to infect humans and enter the brain.

Brown, we believe that C. neoformans gained the capacity to infect mammals due to pressures from environmental niches such as pigeon guano.

These germ cells were able to travel to the brain in just a few days in mouse trials. According to the researchers, the ability of the fungus to adapt to many environments so quickly is crucial to its ability to successfully spread throughout the body.

The next step is to confirm that C. neoformans shrinks similarly in humans and discover drugs that can stop this process and stop C. neoformans from wreaking havoc on the body. Scientists think drugs that have already been approved by the regulatory agency would be beneficial.

We are slowly but surely learning more about the techniques this deadly fungus uses to spread its infection, especially in light of current studies of how the fungus penetrates the blood-brain barrier that protects the brain.

We show that the development of a small C. neoformans morphotype, also known as 'seed' cells due to their colonization tendencies, is essential for extrapulmonary organ entry.

Source: Science Alert

Similar Ads

Be the first to comment

your comment