May 23, 2024

Mold spores can lodge in lung cells

As of March 15, 2023 at 2:52 p.m

The spores of the pathogenic mold Aspergillus fumigatus are able to nest in specific areas of lung cells by binding to a specific human protein. This prevents the fungus from being killed by the epithelial cells on the surface of the lungs. This is what researchers at the Leibniz Institute for Research in Natural Products and Infection Biology (Leibniz-HKI) in Jena have discovered.

Normally, the epithelial cells in the lungs preserve most of the germs we breathe in every day by putting them into what’s called a phagocyte. During the process of phagocyte maturation, foreign bodies are rendered harmless by highly reactive substances. However, this maturation process is prevented by the binding of the human protein p11 to a protein from mold. The Leibniz-HKI researchers found that the mold spores instead continued to germinate in the immature phagosome and formed mycelial hyphae. Some of the spores were transferred to neighboring cells, allowing the fungus to spread further.

Aspergillus smoke It is a mold found in the environment all over the world. It can become a serious danger for people with weakened immune systems: according to estimates, more than 300,000 people worldwide contract gas aspergillosis each year, that is, an infection with molds of the genus Aspergillus fungus. 40 to 90 percent of patients die from it.