Characterization of human phagocyte-derived chitotriosidase, a component of innate immunity

Int Immunol. 2005 Nov;17(11):1505-12. doi: 10.1093/intimm/dxh328. Epub 2005 Oct 7.


Man has been found to produce highly conserved chitinases. The most prominent is the phagocyte-derived chitotriosidase, the plasma levels of which are markedly elevated in some pathological conditions. Here, we report that both polymorphonuclear neutrophils (PMNs) and macrophages (m) are a source of chitotriosidase. The enzyme is located in specific granules of human PMNs and secreted following stimulation with granulocyte macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF). In addition, GM-CSF induces expression of chitotriosidase in m that constitutively secrete the enzyme and partly accumulate it in their lysosomes. Studies with recombinant human chitotriosidase revealed that the enzyme targets chitin-containing fungi. These findings are consistent with earlier observations concerning anti-fungal activity of homologous plant chitinases and beneficial effects of GM-CSF administration in individuals suffering from invasive fungal infections. In conclusion, chitotriosidase should be viewed as a component of the innate immunity that may play a role in defence against chitin-containing pathogens and the expression and release of which by human phagocytes is highly regulated.

MeSH terms

  • Cells, Cultured
  • Chitin / immunology
  • Chitin / metabolism
  • Granulocyte Colony-Stimulating Factor / immunology
  • Granulocyte Colony-Stimulating Factor / pharmacology*
  • Hexosaminidases / genetics
  • Hexosaminidases / immunology
  • Hexosaminidases / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate*
  • Macrophages / cytology
  • Macrophages / immunology
  • Macrophages / metabolism*
  • Mycoses / drug therapy
  • Mycoses / immunology
  • Secretory Vesicles / immunology
  • Secretory Vesicles / metabolism*


  • Chitin
  • Granulocyte Colony-Stimulating Factor
  • Hexosaminidases
  • chitotriosidase