Neutrophil phagocyte oxidase activity controls invasive fungal growth and inflammation in zebrafish

J Cell Sci. 2019 Dec 20;133(5):jcs236539. doi: 10.1242/jcs.236539.


Neutrophils are primary phagocytes of the innate immune system that generate reactive oxygen species (ROS) and mediate host defense. Deficient phagocyte NADPH oxidase (PHOX) function leads to chronic granulomatous disease (CGD) that is characterized by invasive infections, including those by the generally non-pathogenic fungus Aspergillus nidulans The role of neutrophil ROS in this specific host-pathogen interaction remains unclear. Here, we exploit the optical transparency of zebrafish to image the effects of neutrophil ROS on invasive fungal growth and neutrophil behavior in response to Aspergillus nidulans In a wild-type host, A. nidulans germinates rapidly and elicits a robust inflammatory response with efficient fungal clearance. PHOX-deficient larvae have increased susceptibility to invasive A. nidulans infection despite robust neutrophil infiltration. Expression of subunit p22phox (officially known as CYBA), specifically in neutrophils, does not affect fungal germination but instead limits the area of fungal growth and excessive neutrophil inflammation and is sufficient to restore host survival in p22phox-deficient larvae. These findings suggest that neutrophil ROS limits invasive fungal growth and has immunomodulatory activities that contribute to the specific susceptibility of PHOX-deficient hosts to invasive A. nidulans infection.

Keywords: Aspergillus; Chronic granulomatous disease; Neutrophils; Phagocyte oxidase/reactive oxygen species; Zebrafish.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Aspergillosis / immunology*
  • Aspergillus nidulans / growth & development*
  • Aspergillus nidulans / pathogenicity
  • Granulomatous Disease, Chronic / enzymology
  • Inflammation / enzymology
  • Models, Animal
  • NADPH Oxidases / deficiency
  • NADPH Oxidases / metabolism*
  • Neutrophils / enzymology*
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism
  • Zebrafish


  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • NADPH Oxidases