Expulsion of Live Pathogenic Yeast by Macrophages

Curr Biol. 2006 Nov 7;16(21):2156-60. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2006.09.032.


Phagocytic cells, such as neutrophils and macrophages, perform a critical role in protecting organisms from infection by engulfing and destroying invading microbes . Although some bacteria and fungi have evolved strategies to survive within a phagocyte after uptake, most of these pathogens must eventually kill the host cell if they are to escape and infect other tissues . However, we now demonstrate that the human fungal pathogen Cryptococcus neoformans is able to escape from within macrophages without killing the host cell by a novel expulsive mechanism. This process occurs in both murine J774 cells and primary human macrophages. It is extremely rapid and yet can occur many hours after phagocytosis of the pathogen. Expulsion occurs independently of the initial route of phagocytic uptake and does not require phagosome maturation . After the expulsive event, both the host macrophage and the expelled C. neoformans appear morphologically normal and continue to proliferate, suggesting that this process may represent an important mechanism by which pathogens are able to escape from phagocytic cells without triggering host cell death and thus inflammation .

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Culture Techniques
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Survival
  • Chloroquine / pharmacology
  • Cryptococcosis / immunology
  • Cryptococcosis / microbiology
  • Cryptococcus neoformans / growth & development
  • Cryptococcus neoformans / immunology*
  • Cryptococcus neoformans / pathogenicity
  • Humans
  • Macrolides / pharmacology
  • Macrophages / microbiology*
  • Macrophages / physiology*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Phagocytosis*
  • Phagosomes / drug effects
  • Phagosomes / microbiology
  • Phagosomes / physiology
  • Vacuoles


  • Macrolides
  • concanamycin A
  • Chloroquine