Evidence for fungal infection in cerebrospinal fluid and brain tissue from patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

Int J Biol Sci. 2015 Apr 2;11(5):546-58. doi: 10.7150/ijbs.11084. eCollection 2015.


Among neurogenerative diseases, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a fatal illness characterized by a progressive motor neuron dysfunction in the motor cortex, brainstem and spinal cord. ALS is the most common form of motor neuron disease; yet, to date, the exact etiology of ALS remains unknown. In the present work, we have explored the possibility of fungal infection in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and in brain tissue from ALS patients. Fungal antigens, as well as DNA from several fungi, were detected in CSF from ALS patients. Additionally, examination of brain sections from the frontal cortex of ALS patients revealed the existence of immunopositive fungal antigens comprising punctate bodies in the cytoplasm of some neurons. Fungal DNA was also detected in brain tissue using PCR analysis, uncovering the presence of several fungal species. Finally, proteomic analyses of brain tissue demonstrated the occurrence of several fungal peptides. Collectively, our observations provide compelling evidence of fungal infection in the ALS patients analyzed, suggesting that this infection may play a part in the etiology of the disease or may constitute a risk factor for these patients.

Keywords: Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; brain histological analysis; fungal PCR; fungal infection; proteomic analysis..

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis / cerebrospinal fluid*
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis / complications*
  • Antigens, Fungal / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Antigens, Fungal / isolation & purification*
  • Brain / microbiology
  • Central Nervous System Fungal Infections / cerebrospinal fluid*
  • Central Nervous System Fungal Infections / complications*
  • DNA, Fungal / cerebrospinal fluid
  • DNA, Fungal / isolation & purification*
  • Humans
  • Neurons
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Proteomics


  • Antigens, Fungal
  • DNA, Fungal