Cryptococcus: from environmental saprophyte to global pathogen

Nat Rev Microbiol. 2016 Feb;14(2):106-17. doi: 10.1038/nrmicro.2015.6. Epub 2015 Dec 21.


Cryptococcosis is a globally distributed invasive fungal infection that is caused by species within the genus Cryptococcus which presents substantial therapeutic challenges. Although natural human-to-human transmission has never been observed, recent work has identified multiple virulence mechanisms that enable cryptococci to infect, disseminate within and ultimately kill their human host. In this Review, we describe these recent discoveries that illustrate the intricacy of host-pathogen interactions and reveal new details about the host immune responses that either help to protect against disease or increase host susceptibility. In addition, we discuss how this improved understanding of both the host and the pathogen informs potential new avenues for therapeutic development.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antifungal Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Cryptococcosis / drug therapy
  • Cryptococcosis / epidemiology*
  • Cryptococcosis / immunology*
  • Cryptococcus / growth & development
  • Cryptococcus / immunology
  • Cryptococcus / pathogenicity*
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions / immunology
  • Humans
  • Virulence


  • Antifungal Agents