Salomé LeibundGut-Landmann – University of Zürich, Switzerland
Fungal pathogens bear a serious health hazard for individuals with a weakened immune system. Although some fungi, such as Candida albicans, are present in the normal human microbiota, they can cause severe diseases if host defenses are breached. The continuous rise in fungal infections and the increase in resistance against available antifungal drugs urge the development of novel preventive and therapeutic strategies. For this, a detailed understanding of fungal pathogenicity and natural host defense mechanisms is of great importance. It is generally believed that the host immune status determines the outcome of the interaction between the fungus and the host, resulting in health or disease. Specific host mechanisms including those mediated by the cytokine interleukin-17 are now known to regulate the antimicrobial response and thereby limit fungal overgrowth at the epithelial barriers. It remains less clear however how the genetic diversity of C. albicans that is detected in strains isolated from colonized individuals impacts on the outcome of the interaction of the fungus with its host. Here I will discuss the current view of dynamic host-pathogen interactions that adjust the fine balance between fungal colonization and pathogenic infection.
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