In vitro and in vivo characterization of two nonsporulating Aspergillus fumigatus clinical isolates from immunocompetent patients.

Author: 

Zhang Z, Jiang Y, Chen J, Chen P, Kong Q, Lu L, Sang H
Med Mycol. 2019 Jul 9. pii: myz076.

Abstract: 

Aspergillus fumigatus is a pathogenic fungus responsible for invasive aspergillosis (IA). Typically, it can produce abundant conidia to survive and spread. The infection by A. fumigatus usually occurs in immunocompromised patients due to failed clearance of inhaled conidia. However, the incidence of aspergillosis in immunocompetent hosts has been increasing, the pathogenesis of which is still unknown. Our team previously obtained two clinical nonsporulating A. fumigatus isolates from non-immunocompromised patients, which only have the form of hyphae. This present study demonstrated the in vitro and in vivo characteristics of the two nonsporulating A. fumigatus isolates and verified that their conidiation defects are associated to abolished expression of the sporulation-related central regulatory pathway brlA gene. In addition, we confirmed the mutation site of brlA gene (c.657_660delTCCT) contributes to the nonsporulating phenotype in one clinical isolate. Plate assay showed that the two nonsporulating isolates have a similar resistance to antifungal drugs, cell wall disturbing substances, and oxidative stress compared with the wild-type reference Af293. Most important of all, we employed an immunocompetent mouse model to mimic the pathogenesis of pulmonary aspergillosis in non-immunocompromised patients. It revealed that the hyphae of two nonsporulating isolates and Af293 have similar virulence in immunocompetent hosts. Interestingly, the hyphae fragments of Af293 but not conidia are able to induce invasive aspergillosis in immunocompetent mice. In conclusion, our study indicate that the form of hyphae may play a dominant causative role in pulmonary aspergillosis of immunocompetent hosts rather than conidia.