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Altered immune response differentially enhances susceptibility to Cryptococcus neoformans and Cryptococcus gattii infection in mice expressing the HIV-1 transgene.

Leongson K, Cousineau-Côté V, Goupil M, Aumont F, Sénéchal S, Gaboury L, Jolicoeur P, Kronstad JW, de Repentigny L

Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Faculty of Medicine, University of Montreal, Canada.

Cryptococcus neoformans var. grubii is the most frequent cause of AIDS-associated cryptococcosis worldwide, while Cryptococcus gattii usually infects immunocompetent people. To understand the mechanisms which cause differential susceptibility to these cryptococcal species in HIV infection, we established and characterized a model of cryptococcosis in CD4C/HIV(MutA) transgenic (Tg) mice expressing gene products of HIV-1 and developing an AIDS-like disease. Tg mice infected intranasally with C. neoformans var. grubii strain H99 or C23 consistently displayed reduced survival compared to non-Tg mice at three graded inocula, while shortened survival of Tg mice infected with C. gattii strain R265 or R272 was restricted to a single high inoculum. HIV-1 transgene expression selectively augmented systemic dissemination to the liver and spleen for strains H99 and C23 but not strains R265 and R272. Histopathologic examination of lungs of Tg mice revealed large numbers of widely scattered H99 cells, with a minimal inflammatory cell response, while in the non-Tg mice H99 was almost completely embedded within extensive mixed inflammatory cell infiltrates. In contrast to H99, R265 was dispersed throughout the lung parenchyma and failed to induce a strong inflammatory response in both Tg and non-Tg mice. HIV-1 transgene expression reduced pulmonary production of CCL2 and CCL5 after infection with H99 or R265, and production of these two chemokines was lower after infection with R265. These results indicate that an altered immune response in these Tg mice markedly enhances C. neoformans but not C. gattii infection. This model therefore provides a powerful new tool to further investigate the immunopathogenesis of cryptococcosis.

Infect. Immun. 2013;81(4):1100-13.

Pubmed ID: 23340313

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