Cryptococcus interactions with macrophages: evasion and manipulation of the phagosome by a fungal pathogen


  • Simon A. Johnston,

    Corresponding author
    1. MRC Centre for Developmental and Biomedical Genetics, Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK
    • Department of Infection and Immunity, Medical School, University of Sheffield, Sheffield, UK
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  • Robin C. May

    Corresponding author
    • Institute of Microbiology and Infection, School of Biosciences, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK
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Cryptococcus is a potentially fatal fungal pathogen and a leading cause of death in immunocompromised patients. As an opportunistic and facultative intracellular pathogen of humans, Cryptococcus exhibits a complex set of interactions with the host immune system in general, and macrophages in particular. Cryptococcus is resistant to phagocytosis but is also able to survive and proliferate within the mature phagolysosome. It can cause the lysis of host cells, can be transferred between macrophages or exit non-lytically via vomocytosis. Efficient phagocytosis is reliant on opsonization and Cryptococcus has a number of anti-phagocytic strategies including formation of titan cells and a thick polysaccharide capsule. Following uptake, phagosome maturation appears to occur normally, but the internalized pathogen is able to survive and replicate. Here we review the interactions and host manipulation processes that occur within cryptococcal-infected macrophages and highlight areas for future research.