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Putative virulence factors of Aspergillus fumigatus


Dr Tomee Department of Allergology, Clinic for Internal Medicine, University Hospital Groningen, Hanzeplein 1, 9713 GZ Groningen, The Netherlands.


Various putative virulence factors of Aspergillus fumigatus have been studied over the past decades. A. fumigatus gliotoxin is a potent inhibitor of the mucociliary system. Several fungal metabolites interfere with phagocytosis and opsonization including toxins, ‘conidial inhibitory factor’, ‘A. fumigatus diffusible product’ and ‘complement inhibitory factor’. A. fumigatus can bind specifically to different host tissues components, whereas toxins give a general and significant immunosuppressive effect on host defences. Circumstantial evidence links the production of elastinolytic proteases with the ability to cause disease. However, none of the reports demonstrates conclusively a decisive role for any of the virulence factors described thus far. It is conceivable that proteolytic enzyme activities such as those expressed by AFAlp are one of a number of factors, each with a minor effect, that combine to facilitate disease progression.

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