Invasive aspergillosis is a devastating invasive fungal disease associated with a high mortality rate in the immunocompromised, such as leukaemia patients, transplant patients and those with HIV/AIDS. The rodent serum orthologue of human L-ficolin, ficolin-A, can bind to and opsonize Aspergillus fumigatus, the pathogen that causes invasive aspergillosis, and may participate in fungal defence. Using human monocyte-derived macrophages and neutrophils isolated from healthy donors, we investigated conidial association and fungal viability by flow cytometry and microscopy. Additionally, cytokine production was measured via cytometric bead arrays. Ficolin-A opsonization was observed to significantly enhance association of conidia, while also inhibiting hyphal growth and contributing to increased fungal killing following incubation with monocyte-derived macrophages and neutrophils. Additionally, ficolin-A opsonization was capable of manifesting a decrease in IL-8, IL-1β, IL-6, IL-10 and TNF-α production from MDM and IL-1β, IL-6 and TNF-α from neutrophils 24 h post-infection. In conclusion, rodent ficolin-A is functionally comparable to human L-ficolin and is capable of modulating the innate immune response to A. fumigatus, down-regulating cytokine production and could play an important role in airway immunity.
Keywords: Aspergillosis; Cytokines; Innate immunity; Macrophage; Neutrophil.