It takes a village: Phagocytes play a central role in fungal immunity

Semin Cell Dev Biol. 2019 May:89:16-23. doi: 10.1016/j.semcdb.2018.04.008. Epub 2018 Jun 12.


Phagocytosis is an essential step in the innate immune response to invasive fungal infections. This process is carried out by a proverbial "village" of professional phagocytic cells, which have evolved efficient machinery to recognize and ingest pathogens, namely macrophages, neutrophils and dendritic cells. These innate immune cells drive early cytokine production, fungicidal activity, antigen presentation and activation of the adaptive immune system. Despite the development of antifungal agents with potent activity, the biological activity of professional phagocytic innate immune cells has proven indispensable in protecting a host from invasive fungal infections. Additionally, an emerging body of evidence suggests non-professional phagocytes, such as airway epithelial cells, carry out phagocytosis and may play a critical role in the elimination of fungal pathogens. Here, we review recent advances of phagocytosis by both professional and non-professional phagocytes in response to fungal pathogens, with a focus on invasive aspergillosis as a model disease.

Keywords: Airway epithelium; Dendritic cell; Fungi; Innate immunity; Macrophage; Neutrophil; Phagocytes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adaptive Immunity / immunology*
  • Antigen Presentation / immunology
  • Cytokines / immunology
  • Dendritic Cells / immunology
  • Dendritic Cells / microbiology
  • Fungi / immunology
  • Fungi / pathogenicity
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate / immunology*
  • Invasive Fungal Infections / immunology*
  • Invasive Fungal Infections / microbiology
  • Macrophages / immunology
  • Macrophages / microbiology
  • Neutrophils / immunology
  • Neutrophils / microbiology
  • Phagocytes / immunology*
  • Phagocytes / microbiology
  • Phagocytosis


  • Cytokines