Capsule independent uptake of the fungal pathogen Cryptococcus neoformans into brain microvascular endothelial cells

PLoS One. 2012;7(4):e35455. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0035455. Epub 2012 Apr 17.


Cryptococcosis is a life-threatening fungal disease with a high rate of mortality among HIV/AIDS patients across the world. The ability to penetrate the blood-brain barrier (BBB) is central to the pathogenesis of cryptococcosis, but the way in which this occurs remains unclear. Here we use both mouse and human brain derived endothelial cells (bEnd3 and hCMEC/D3) to accurately quantify fungal uptake and survival within brain endothelial cells. Our data indicate that the adherence and internalisation of cryptococci by brain microvascular endothelial cells is an infrequent event involving small numbers of cryptococcal yeast cells. Interestingly, this process requires neither active signalling from the fungus nor the presence of the fungal capsule. Thus entry into brain microvascular endothelial cells is most likely a passive event that occurs following 'trapping' within capillary beds of the BBB.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood-Brain Barrier / microbiology
  • Brain / microbiology
  • Capillaries / cytology
  • Capillaries / microbiology
  • Cell Line
  • Cryptococcus neoformans / metabolism*
  • Cryptococcus neoformans / pathogenicity
  • Endocytosis*
  • Endothelial Cells / metabolism*
  • Endothelial Cells / microbiology
  • Endothelium, Vascular / microbiology*
  • Humans
  • Mice