Evidence of a role for monocytes in dissemination and brain invasion by Cryptococcus neoformans

Caroline Charlier, Kirsten Nielsen, Samira Daou, Madly Brigitte, Fabrice Chretien, Françoise Dromer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

224 Scopus citations

Abstract

The pathogenesis of cryptococcosis, including the events leading to the production of meningoencephalitis, is still largely unknown. Evidence of a transcellular passage of Cryptococcus neoformans across the blood-brain barrier (BBB) and subsequent BBB disruption exists, but the paracellular passage of free yeasts and the role of monocytes in yeast dissemination and brain invasion (Trojan horse method) remain uncertain. We used our model of disseminated cryptococcosis, in which crossing of the BBB starts 6 h after intravenous inoculation, to study paracellular passage of the BBB. We prepared bone marrow-derived monocytes (BMDM) infected in vitro with C. neoformans (BMDM yeasts) and free yeasts and measured fungal loads in tissues. (i) Spleen and lung CFU were >2-fold higher in mice treated with BMDM yeasts than in those treated with free yeasts for 1 and 24 h (P < 0.05), while brain CFU were increased (3.9 times) only at 24 h (P < 0.05). (ii) By comparing the kinetics of brain invasion in naïve mice and in mice with preestablished cryptococcosis, we found that CFU were lower in the latter case, except at 6 h, when CFU from mice inoculated with BMDM yeasts were comparable to those measured in naïve mice and 2.5-fold higher than those in mice with preestablished cryptococcosis who were inoculated with free yeasts. (iii) Late phagocyte depletion obtained by clodronate injection reduced disease severity and lowered the fungal burden by 40% in all organs studied. These results provide evidence for Trojan horse crossing of the BBB by C. neoformans, together with mechanisms involving free yeasts, and overall for a role of phagocytes in fungal dissemination.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)120-127
Number of pages8
JournalInfection and immunity
Volume77
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2009

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