Microbes in the News #2


Copycat fungus deceives immune system and deactivates body’s response to infection

Date: March 28, 2019          Source: University of Sheffield


Summary: New research shows fungi can make similar chemical signals as our immune system. These chemicals enter the body and make humans more likely to get an infection.


Connections: Just today in class we talked about the immune system and how it captures microbes.


Critical Analysis: Fungi have always produced chemicals similar to those released in our immune system. Up until know, we haven’t known the function of these chemicals. Now, research shows that when exposed to these chemicals the fungi can grow more easily than when the host is unexposed. I found it especially interesting that the fungus does not suppress the immune system in any ways. These fungi immune chemicals named prostoglandins activate a specific immune system pathway. This pathway prevents over-stimulation of the immune system. Ultimately this makes the body unable to fight off the fungal infection. What is even more dangerous is that opportunistic infections from usually commensal bacteria pose a danger while these postoglandins deceive the body. Once the body is tricked into shutting down the immune system, bacteria that our bodies always host begin to grow out of control.


Question: Would it be possible for microbiologists to isolate these prostoglandins in order to treat diseases in which the immune system attacks itself?

1 Comment for “Microbes in the News #2”



This was a very interesting article, and it does shine some light on the mechanisms of eukaryotic similarity between humans and fungi. This is frequently the cause of difficulty in treating fungal infection, and it’s interesting to see how deep the similarities run.

Truthfully, prostaglandins are already generated by most cells in the body, and do have a wide variety of effects, many of which include immune suppression similar to antihistamines. It’s possible that future immunotherapy may involve upregulating the body’s own generation of prostaglandins instead of relying on external medicine.

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