The allergic airway diseases, including chronic rhinosinusitis (CRS), asthma, allergic bronchopulmonary mycosis (ABPM) and many others, comprise a heterogeneous collection of inflammatory disorders affecting the upper and lower airways and lung parenchyma that represent the most common chronic diseases of humanity. In addition to their shared tissue tropism, the allergic airway diseases are characterized by a distinct pattern of inflammation involving the accumulation of eosinophils, type 2 macrophages, innate lymphoid cells type 2 (ILC2), IgE-secreting B cells, and T helper type 2 (Th2) cells in airway tissues, and the prominent production of type 2 cytokines including interleukin (IL-) 33, IL-4, IL-5, IL-13, and many others. These factors and related inflammatory molecules induce characteristic remodeling and other changes of the airways that include goblet cell metaplasia, enhanced mucus secretion, smooth muscle hypertrophy, tissue swelling and polyp formation that account for the major clinical manifestations of nasal obstruction, headache, hyposmia, cough, shortness of breath, chest pain, wheezing, and, in the most severe cases of lower airway disease, death due to respiratory failure or disseminated, systemic disease. The syndromic nature of the allergic airway diseases that now include many physiological variants or endotypes suggests that distinct endogenous or environmental factors underlie their expression. However, findings from different perspectives now collectively link these disorders to a single infectious source, the fungi, and a molecular pathogenesis that involves the local production of airway proteinases by these organisms. In this review, we discuss the evidence linking fungi and their proteinases to the surprisingly wide variety of chronic airway and systemic disorders and the immune pathogenesis of these conditions as they relate to environmental fungi. We further discuss the important implications these new findings have for the diagnosis and future therapy of these common conditions.
Keywords: Airway mycosis; Asthma; Chronic rhinosinusitis; Fibrinogen; Fungi; Nasal polyposis.
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