Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 12540571
Infect. Immun. 2003 Feb;71(2):891-903
Aspergillus fumigatus is the most prevalent airborne fungal pathogen responsible for fatal invasive aspergillosis in immunocompromised patients. Upon arrival in the lung alveolus, conidia of A. fumigatus are phagocytosed by alveolar macrophages, the major phagocytic cells of the lung. Engulfment and intracellular trafficking of A. fumigatus conidia in alveolar macrophages of two different origins, the murine cell line MH-S and human pulmonary alveolar macrophages, were analyzed by electron microscopy and immunofluorescence. Phagocytosis of A. fumigatus conidia required actin polymerization and phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase activity. Fusion of A. fumigatus phagosomes with early and late endosomes was shown by immunolabeling with specific markers for the transferrin receptor, early endosome antigen, and Rab7. Maturation of A. fumigatus phagolysosomes was monitored by using a fixable acidotropic probe, LysoTracker Red DND-99, and an anti-cathepsin D antibody. Bafilomycin A-induced inhibition of lysosomal acidification abolished the conidial killing by the macrophages. These data suggest that the maturation of A. fumigatus phagosomes results from fusion with the compartments of the endocytic pathway and that the killing of conidia depends on phagolysosome acidification. A model for the phagocytosis of A. fumigatus conidia by alveolar macrophages is proposed on the basis of these results.