Insights into the mechanisms of protective immunity against Cryptococcus neoformans infection using a mouse model of pulmonary cryptococcosis

Academic Article


  • Cryptococcus neoformans is an opportunistic fungal pathogen that causes life-threatening pneumonia and meningoencephalitis in immune compromised individuals. Previous studies have shown that immunization of BALB/c mice with an IFN-γ-producing C. neoformans strain, H99γ, results in complete protection against a second pulmonary challenge with an otherwise lethal cryptococcal strain. The current study evaluated local anamnestic cell-mediated immune responses against pulmonary cryptococcosis in mice immunized with C. neoformans strain H99γ compared to mice immunized with heat-killed C. neoformans (HKC.n.). Mice immunized with C. neoformans strain H99γ had significantly reduced pulmonary fungal burden post-secondary challenge compared to mice immunized with HKC.n. Protection against pulmonary cryptococcosis was associated with increased pulmonary granulomatous formation and leukocyte infiltration followed by a rapid resolution of pulmonary inflammation, which protected the lungs from severe allergic bronchopulmonary mycosis (ABPM)-pathology that developed in the lungs of mice immunized with HKC.n. Pulmonary challenge of interleukin (IL)-4 receptor, IL-12p40, IL-12p35, IFN-γ, T cell and B cell deficient mice with C. neoformans strain H99γ demonstrated a requirement for Th1-type T cell-mediated immunity, but not B cell-mediated immunity, for the induction of H99γ-mediated protective immune responses against pulmonary C. neoformans infection. CD4 T cells, CD11c cells, and Gr-1 cells were increased in both proportion and absolute number in protected mice. In addition, significantly increased production of Th1-type/pro-inflammatory cytokines and chemokines, and conversely, reduced Th2-type cytokine production was observed in the lungs of protected mice. Interestingly, protection was not associated with increased production of cytokines IFN-γ or TNF-α in lungs of protected mice. In conclusion, immunization with C. neoformans strain H99γ results in the development of protective anti-cryptococcal immune responses that may be measured and subsequently used in the development of immune-based therapies to combat pulmonary cryptococcosis. © 2009 Wozniak et al. + + +
  • Published In

  • PLoS ONE  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Wozniak KL; Ravi S; Macias S; Young ML; Olszewski MA; Steele C; Wormley FL
  • Volume

  • 4
  • Issue

  • 9