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Learning objectives

  • Describe virulence factors unique to fungi and parasites
  • Compare virulence factors of fungi and bacteria
  • Explain the difference between protozoan parasites and helminths
  • Describe how helminths evade the host immune system

Although fungi and parasites are important pathogens causing infectious diseases, their pathogenic mechanisms and virulence factors are not as well characterized as those of bacteria. Despite the relative lack of detailed mechanisms, the stages of pathogenesis and general mechanisms of virulence involved in disease production by these pathogens are similar to those of bacteria.

Fungal virulence

Pathogenic fungi can produce virulence factors that are similar to the bacterial virulence factors that have been discussed earlier in this chapter. In this section, we will look at the virulence factors associated with species of Candida , Cryptococcus, Claviceps, and Aspergillus .

Candida albicans is an opportunistic fungal pathogen and causative agent of oral thrush, vaginal yeast infections, and cutaneous candidiasis. Candida produces adhesins (surface glycoproteins) that bind to the phospholipids of epithelial and endothelial cells. To assist in spread and tissue invasion, Candida produces proteases and phospholipases (i.e., exoenzymes). One of these proteases degrades keratin, a structural protein found on epithelial cells, enhancing the ability of the fungus to invade host tissue. In animal studies, it has been shown that the addition of a protease inhibitor led to attenuation of Candida infection. K. Fallon et al. “Role of Aspartic Proteases in Disseminated Candida albicans Infection in Mice.” Infection and Immunity 65 no. 2 (1997):551–556. Similarly, the phospholipases can affect the integrity of host cell membranes to facilitate invasion.

The main virulence factor for Cryptococcus , a fungus that causes pneumonia and meningitis, is capsule production. The polysaccharide glucuronoxylomannan is the principal constituent of the Cryptococcus capsule. Similar to encapsulated bacterial cells, encapsulated Cryptococcus cells are more resistant to phagocytosis than nonencapsulated Cryptococcus , which are effectively phagocytosed and, therefore, less virulent.

Like some bacteria, many fungi produce exotoxins. Fungal toxins are called mycotoxin s . Claviceps purpurea , a fungus that grows on rye and related grains, produces a mycotoxin called ergot toxin, an alkaloid responsible for the disease known as ergotism . There are two forms of ergotism: gangrenous and convulsive. In gangrenous ergotism , the ergot toxin causes vasoconstriction, resulting in improper blood flow to the extremities, eventually leading to gangrene. A famous outbreak of gangrenous ergotism occurred in Eastern Europe during the 5th century AD due to the consumption of rye contaminated with C. purpurea . In convulsive ergotism , the toxin targets the central nervous system, causing mania and hallucinations.

The mycotoxin aflatoxin is a virulence factor produced by the fungus Aspergillus , an opportunistic pathogen that can enter the body via contaminated food or by inhalation. Inhalation of the fungus can lead to the chronic pulmonary disease aspergillosis , characterized by fever, bloody sputum, and/or asthma. Aflatoxin acts in the host as both a mutagen (a substance that causes mutations in DNA) and a carcinogen (a substance involved in causing cancer), and has been associated with the development of liver cancer . Aflatoxin has also been shown to cross the blood-placental barrier. C.P. Wild et al. “In-utero exposure to aflatoxin in west Africa.” Lancet 337 no. 8757 (1991):1602. A second mycotoxin produced by Aspergillus is gliotoxin . This toxin promotes virulence by inducing host cells to self-destruct and by evading the host’s immune response by inhibiting the function of phagocytic cells as well as the pro-inflammatory response. Like Candida , Aspergillus also produces several proteases. One is elastase , which breaks down the protein elastin found in the connective tissue of the lung, leading to the development of lung disease. Another is catalase , an enzyme that protects the fungus from hydrogen peroxide produced by the immune system to destroy pathogens.

Questions & Answers

what are eukaryotes
Kakande Reply
eukaryotes simply refers to a cell who does not have a definite nucleus.
Franca
Eukaryotic cell has a true nucleus
arfa
what is right answer ?
krishna
I can remember now truly that eukaryotes have true nucleus.I was referring to procaryotes.
Franca
Eukaryotes have got true nuclues
Ede
they have a nucleus, larger than prokaryotes
Alanna
The eukaryotes cell are found in advance organisms.
Franca
Eukaryotes are multicellular organism which has a membrane bounded structure mostly found in animals and some plant cells
KINGSFORD
bacteria growth curve
sani Reply
No bacteria's don't grow curvey. Curve is a shape for a bacteria not growth
KINGSFORD
What is the difference between eukaryotes and prokaryotes?
KINGSFORD Reply
What's a multicellular organism?
KINGSFORD
multicellular organisms is an organism composed of many cells which are to varying degree integrated and independent.
Ruth
Boiling of milk to kill germs is called?
Kasigwa
pasteurization
Aiyedun
pasteurization
Katta
kadha
Katta
pasteurization
Gomathi
what is microscopic
monish
Pasteurization
Hosy
what are Flora
Hosy
you mean like the normal flora?
Tenucharity
pasteurization has to do with killing of the harmful microbes present for safe consumption. Eg. pasteurized yoghurt beside the bacteria that are supposed to be present, there may be harmful ones that have been killed
Tenucharity
Can someone explain flora
KINGSFORD
what is cell?
Anita Reply
the cell is the functional and structural unit of the body
Ruth
yes ur right
Kasigwa
who add me
Wali
hy
Katta
hy
Shivangi
basic structural, functional, and biological unit of all known living organisms. A cell is the smallest unit of life.
Haru
hi
Ruth
hi
Haru
coming Oct 2 I have a exam on microbiology
Haru
okay all the best
Ruth
hi
sachin
hi
Ruth
plz bro send question of microbiology
umesh
structural and functional unit of the life
monish
this is not the correct answer
Alanna Reply
why
Hayat
why not
Zaajid
what is the correct answer?
vannessa
where is question
Zaajid
ask you question
Zaajid
What are mitochondria
Hayat
what is mitochondria
Hayat
who is the father of microbiology
T-
not
Hayat
Antonie Van Luweenhoek
Ravikumar
Mitochondria is the powerhouse of the Cell. And is the cell organelle which helps cell in generation of energy by Cellular Respiration
Ravikumar
Mitochondria are threadlike structuresbounded by double membrane,and serves as the power house of the cell
Felicity
can I get notes on introduction to microbiology just started I have no idea please
rita
Mitochondria is a membrane bounded structure, it's sausage in shape and has inner and outer membrane. The inner membrane is folded at the surface called cristae which project to form matrix. They function as the power house for the cell.
KINGSFORD
Rita are you a medilab student?
KINGSFORD
the father of microbiology is Luis pasture
Able
Erythromycin--------(+++) Cefuroxine ------------(++++) Chloramphenicol --(++) Vancomycin ---------(++++) please what does the above result means. under urine culture and sensitivity?
Kwame
francesco redi was the first to challenge spontaneous generation not pasteur
Alanna
Rita are you a medilab student? no please am a public health student
rita
kwame Evans this result ll mean that the bacterial in the urine can be remedy / killed by this antibacterial (cefuroxime and the rest are antibiotics
rita
Rita Appiah thanks.
Kwame
contact backstage
Emmanuel
what is a vacual
Star Reply
What is microbiology
Nji Reply
it is the study of microscopic organisms and basically their relation to the environment
Tenucharity
what is elements
Erneet Reply
an Element is a substance that can not be further decomposed by ordinary chemical means.
vannessa
can i get notes of biochemistry
Sneha Reply
yep why not
Abdullah
what is microbiology?
Gayanjali Reply
what is malaria
Gayanjali
bios- life/living things micro- small things that cannot be seen with the naked eye In other words the study of living things that cannot be seen with the naked eye but with the help of a microscope
Coltuneac
logos- science
Coltuneac
it is 10 to the power minus 6 biology which studies life forms on those scales including metabolism , physiology, nutrition requirements
barun
what are prokarytes
NDIMUKIKA Reply
A prokaryotic is a unicellular organanism that lacks a membrane bound nucleus ,mitochondria or other any membrane bound organelle. .......
Maryam
in prokaryotic nucleus is not developed and cell organelles are absent
Harshad
how is one who is feeling blockage in the chest with mucus be diagnosed
Essy Reply
be talking sepitol every morning
Ikenna
is that all?
Ven.phumie
What is prions
Sangeeta Reply
Prions are microscopic organism which have no nucleic acid, no nuclear bounded membrane and affect the brain of animals like sheep's and human such a CJD and Kuru
KINGSFORD
is tuberculosis a viral infection?
hildar Reply
No. It is a Bacterial Infection.
Orooj
what are zn staining
Evelyn Reply
full meaning zeil neelson staining
kezia
By using zn stain we diagnose / examine acid fast bacilli .
Deepak
Practice MCQ 2

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Source:  OpenStax, Microbiology. OpenStax CNX. Nov 01, 2016 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col12087/1.4
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