Invasive fungal diseases represent an unmet clinical need that could benefit from novel immunotherapeutic approaches. Host pattern recognition receptors (e.g., Toll-like receptors, C-type lectins, or scavenger receptors) that sense conserved fungal cell wall constituents may provide suitable immunotherapeutic antifungal agents. Thus, we explored the therapeutic potential of the lymphocyte class I scavenger receptor CD5, a nonredundant component of the antifungal host immune response that binds to fungal β-glucans. Antifungal properties of the soluble ectodomain of human CD5 (shCD5) were assessed in vivo in experimental models of systemic fungal infection induced by pathogenic species (Candida albicans and Cryptococcus neoformans). In vitro mechanistic studies were performed by means of fungus-spleen cell cocultures. shCD5-induced survival of lethally infected mice was dose and time dependent and concomitant with reduced fungal load and increased leukocyte infiltration in the primary target organ. Additive effects were observed in vivo after shCD5 was combined with suboptimal doses of fluconazole. Ex vivo addition of shCD5 to fungus-spleen cell cocultures increased the release of proinflammatory cytokines involved in antifungal defense (tumor necrosis factor alpha and gamma interferon) and reduced the number of viable C. albicans organisms. The results prompt further exploration of the adjunctive therapeutic potential of shCD5 in severe invasive fungal diseases.
Keywords: CD5; Candida albicans; Cryptococcus neoformans; antifungal therapy; fluconazole; fungal infection; immunotherapy; scavenger receptors; β-glucan.
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