Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

HIV-related Death: Predicting Fatal Fungal Infections

Date:
July 4, 2009
Source:
Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Summary:
Researchers have identified cells in blood that predict which HIV-positive individuals are most likely to develop deadly fungal meningitis, a major cause of HIV-related death. This form of meningitis affects more than 900,000 HIV-infected people globally--most of them in sub-Saharan Africa and other areas of the world where antiretroviral therapy for HIV is not available.

This image shows two human neutrophils. The circular object about to be engulfed by the upper neutrophil is a Cryptococcus neoformans cell.
Credit: Image courtesy of Albert Einstein College of Medicine

In a study published in The Journal of Infectious Diseases, researchers from Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University have identified cells in blood that predict which HIV-positive individuals are most likely to develop deadly fungal meningitis, a major cause of HIV-related death. This form of meningitis affects more than 900,000 HIV-infected people globally—most of them in sub-Saharan Africa and other areas of the world where antiretroviral therapy for HIV is not available.

A major cause of fungal meningitis is Cryptococcus neoformans, a yeast-like fungus commonly found in soil and in bird droppings. Virtually everyone has been infected with Cryptococcus neoformans, but a healthy immune system keeps the infection from ever causing disease.

The risk of developing fungal meningitis from Cryptococcus neoformans rises dramatically when people have weakened immunity, due to HIV infection or other reasons including the use of immunosuppressive drugs after organ transplantation, or for treating autoimmune diseases or cancer. Knowing which patients are most likely to develop fungal meningitis would allow costly drugs for preventing fungal disease to be targeted to those most in need. (In the U.S., the widespread use of antiretroviral therapy by HIV-infected people, and their preventive use of anti-fungal drugs, has dramatically reduced their rate of fungal meningitis from Cryptococcus neoformans to about 2%.)

In this study, Liise-anne Pirofski, M.D., describes a technique for predicting which HIV-infected patients are at greatest risk for developing fungal meningitis caused by Cryptococcus neoformans. Dr. Pirofski is chief in the division of infectious diseases at Einstein.

Dr. Pirofski and her colleagues counted the number of immune cells known as IgM memory B cells in the bloodstream of three groups of individuals: people infected with HIV who had a history of fungal meningitis caused by Cryptococcus neoformans; people infected with HIV but with no history of the disease; and those with no history of either HIV infection or the disease.

"We were astounded to find a profound difference in the level of these IgM memory B cells between the HIV-infected groups," said Dr. Pirofski. "The HIV-infected people with fungal meningitis caused by Cryptococcus neoformans had much lower levels of these cells."

The research team wanted to know if the lower levels of IgM memory B cells in certain HIV-infected individuals resulted from the fungal disease, or whether their reduced levels of these cells preceded their development of the disease.

To find out, Dr. Pirofski analyzed frozen blood samples taken from HIV-infected patients before they had developed fungal meningitis due to Cryptococcus neoformans. Years before these HIV-infected patients were diagnosed with meningitis, their blood had far fewer IgM memory B cells than HIV-infected patients who didn't come down with the disease. This suggests that some people are predisposed to develop fungal meningitis because they have low levels of IgM memory B cells that may be due to their genetic makeup.

These findings could be important for many other immunocompromised patients in addition to those infected with HIV. "We think that knowing whether transplant recipients or other patients taking immunosuppressive drugs have low numbers of IgM memory B cells could be useful in deciding which patients should receive antifungal drugs to prevent meningitis caused by Cryptococcus neoformans," says Dr. Pirofski.

Krishanthi Subramanian, Ph.D., who did her thesis work in Dr. Pirofski's laboratory, is the first author of the study.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. IgM Memory B Cell Expression Predicts HIV-associated Cryptococcus neoformans Disease Status. The Journal of Infectious Diseases, June 15, 2009

Cite This Page:

Albert Einstein College of Medicine. "HIV-related Death: Predicting Fatal Fungal Infections." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 4 July 2009. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090615185424.htm>.
Albert Einstein College of Medicine. (2009, July 4). HIV-related Death: Predicting Fatal Fungal Infections. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 2, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090615185424.htm
Albert Einstein College of Medicine. "HIV-related Death: Predicting Fatal Fungal Infections." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090615185424.htm (accessed September 2, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Get on Your Bike! London Cycling Popularity Soars Despite Danger

Get on Your Bike! London Cycling Popularity Soars Despite Danger

AFP (Sep. 1, 2014) Wedged between buses, lorries and cars, cycling in London isn't for the faint hearted. Nevertheless the number of people choosing to bike in the British capital has doubled over the past 15 years. Duration: 02:27 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Can You Train Your Brain To Eat Healthy?

Can You Train Your Brain To Eat Healthy?

Newsy (Sep. 1, 2014) New research says if you condition yourself to eat healthy foods, eventually you'll crave them instead of junk food. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
We've Got Mites Living In Our Faces And So Do You

We've Got Mites Living In Our Faces And So Do You

Newsy (Aug. 30, 2014) A new study suggests 100 percent of adult humans (those over 18 years of age) have Demodex mites living in their faces. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Liberia Continues Fight Against Ebola

Liberia Continues Fight Against Ebola

AFP (Aug. 30, 2014) Authorities in Liberia try to stem the spread of the Ebola epidemic by raising awareness and setting up sanitation units for people to wash their hands. Duration: 00:41 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins