Aspergillus Newsletter
November 2014

Innovative Diagnostics

Sampling breathKoo et. al. have developed a device that detects gases released by fungal pathogens into the breath of patients with invasive pulmonary fungal infection. Detection of α-trans-bergamotene, β-trans-bergamotene, a β-vatirenene-like sesquiterpene, or trans-geranylacetone identified IA patients with 94% sensitivity (95% confidence interval [CI], 81%-98%) and 93% specificity (95% CI, 79%-98%).
 
The authors claim that it is possible that the volatile gas signature of an isolate is likely to be species specific, allowing accurate identification of an infecting fungus from a simple non-invasive analysis of a sample of the patients breath.
News
The End for Aspergillus? No!
 
Last month we held a poll asking whether we should keep the name Aspergillus for taxonomic purposes, pointing out the discussion already going on on this issue. The results of the poll gave strong (91% of 32 votes registered) support for keeping the name.
Jens Frizvad and Rob Samson pointed out that we had misinterpreted one part of the discussion. We have agreed to hold a second poll to ask those interested to make a choice between the more accurate choice currently  presented to the Aspergillus community of 1. Use Aspergillus for most species (Samson et. al. 2014) or 2. Use perfect state (teleomorph) for most Aspergillus species, use the name Aspergillus only for section Circumdati (Pitt & Taylor 2014). For more detail of the choices and to vote go here.
 
Articles
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A combined monitoring strategy based on serum GM and Aspergillus DNA was associated with an earlier diagnosis and a lower incidence of IA in high-risk hematological patients.
 
The D-CAR(+) T cells exhibited specificity for β-glucan which led to damage and inhibition of hyphal growth of Aspergillus in vitro and in vivo. Treatment of D-CAR(+) T cells with steroids did not compromise antifungal activity significantly. These data support the targeting of carbohydrate antigens by CAR(+) T cells and provide a clinically appealing strategy to enhance immunity for opportunistic fungal infections using T-cell gene therapy.
 

Clearance of Aspergillus fumigatus is impaired in the airway in allergic inflammation.

Aspergillus fumigatus (Af) sometimes colonizes and persists within the respiratory tree in some patients with asthma. To date, the precise reasons why the clearance of Af is impaired in patients with asthma remain unknown.

CONCLUSION:

In the airway of patients with allergy, T-helper cell type 2-dominant immunity potentially affects the expression of pathogen recognition receptors and attenuates cellular defense against Af. Prolonged IL-17 production also could play an important role.
Whole Glucan Particles as a Vaccine Against Murine Aspergillosis.
Vaccination with whole glucan particles (WGP) or WGP conjugated to BSA proved protective against systemic aspergillosis, equivalent to that of heat-killed Saccharomyces cerevisiae, supporting the potential of particulate β-glucans, alone or conjugated, as vaccines against aspergillosis.
 
Bone suppression increases the visibility of invasive pulmonary aspergillosis in chest radiographs.
The detection of IPA in CXRs can be improved when their evaluation is aided by bone suppressed images. BSI improved the sensitivity of the CXR examination, outweighing a small loss in specificity.
 
Aspergillus fumigatus proteases, Asp f 5 and Asp f 13, are essential for airway inflammation and remodelling in a murine inhalation model.
In susceptible individuals, exposure to Aspergillus fumigatus can lead to the development of atopic lung diseases such as allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis (ABPA) and severe asthma with fungal sensitization (SAFS). Protease allergens including Asp f 5 and Asp f 13 from Aspergillus fumigatus, are thought to be important for initiation and progression of allergic asthma.
CONCLUSION: Aspergillus fumigatus secreted allergen proteases, Asp f 5 and Asp f 13, are important for recruitment of inflammatory cells and remodelling of the airways in this murine model. However, deletion of a single allergen protease fails to alleviate airway hyperreactivity and allergic immune response. Targeting protease activity of Aspergillus fumigatus in conditions such as SAFS or ABPA may have beneficial effects in preventing key aspects of airway pathology.
Reviews/Overviews
ABPA is a disease with varied clinical, radiological, and serological patterns. Serum IgE monitoring may be done at the end of 2 and 6 months. Further studies are required to simplify the diagnosis and treatment algorithms in resource-limited countries.
 
The potential impact of the pulmonary microbiome on immunopathogenesis of Aspergillus-related lung disease.
There is increasing evidence that the microbiome plays a significant role in immune regulation, chronic inflammatory diseases, metabolism, and other physiological processes, including recovery from the effects of antibiotic treatment. Bacterial microbiome mediated resistance mechanisms probably play a major role in limiting fungal colonization of the lungs, and may therefore prevent humans from contracting Aspergillus-related diseases. In this perspective, we review this emerging area of research and discuss the role of the microbiome in aspergillosis, role of Aspergillus in the microbiome, and the influence of the microbiome on anti-Aspergillus host defense and its role in preventing aspergillosis.
Food 
The contamination of food and feed by Aspergillus has become a global issue with a significant worldwide economic impact. The growth of Aspergillus is unfavourable to the development of food and feed industries, where the problems happen mostly due to the presence of mycotoxins, which is a toxic metabolite secreted by most Aspergillus groups. Moreover, fungi can produce spores that cause diseases, such as allergies and asthma, especially to human beings. High temperature, high moisture, retarded crops, and poor food storage conditions encourage the growth of mold, as well as the development of mycotoxins. A variety of chemical, biological, and physical strategies have been developed to control the production of mycotoxins. A biological approach, using a mixed culture comprised of Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Lactobacillus rhamnosus resulted in the inhibition of the growth of fungi when inoculated into fermented food.
Deadlines
NIHR Fellowship Programme: Closing date for the applications is 21st January 2015 at 1.00pm.
 
 
 
Courses
Registration deadline is 27 February 2015.
 
Medical Mycology CPD courses Four (three-week) units of the University of Manchester Medical Mycology MSc programme are now available as Continuing Professional Development courses.

Allergy Academy, King's College, London. Online resources for allergy education. Intended for all audiences including doctors & patients.
Veterinary
Assessment of Toll-like receptor 2, 4 and 9 SNP genotypes in canine sino-nasal aspergillosis. The exact aetiology of canine sino-nasal aspergillosis (SNA) is unknown. In man, dysfunction in innate immunity, particularly in the function of pattern recognition receptors, is implicated in the pathogenesis of inflammatory sino-nasal disease and in fungal diseases. Associations between single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in Toll-like receptors (TLRs) and these diseases have been identified. Similarly, in dogs SNPs in genes encoding TLRs may be important in the pathogenesis of SNA. The aims of the present study were (1) to identify the presence of non-synonymous SNPs in the coding regions of the TLR2, 4 and 9 genes in dogs suffering from SNA, and (2) to investigate the SNP genotypes in dogs with SNA compared with a control population. CONCLUSIONS: These findings do not support a role for non-synonymous SNPs in the TLR 2, 4 and 9 coding regions in the pathogenesis of canine SNA, but do not exclude a role for innate immunity in the pathogenesis of the disease.
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