Pathogenesis of pulmonary aspergillosis. Granulocytopenia versus cyclosporine and methylprednisolone-induced immunosuppression

Am J Respir Crit Care Med. 1995 Sep;152(3):1079-86. doi: 10.1164/ajrccm.152.3.7663787.


Patients with chemotherapy-induced granulocytopenia for neoplastic diseases and those receiving cyclosporin A plus corticosteroids for prevention and treatment of organ transplant rejection are two immunologically distinct patient populations with high risks for development of invasive pulmonary aspergillosis. In order to compare the pathogenesis of aspergillosis in these two high-risk populations and to further characterize the role of cyclosporin A in development of pulmonary aspergillosis, we studied the patterns of infection and inflammation in two clinically applicable rabbit models of invasive pulmonary aspergillosis. There were striking differences in the patterns of infection and inflammation of invasive pulmonary aspergillosis according to the type of underlying immune defect. Among rabbits challenged with the same intratracheal inoculum, there was a 100% mortality for invasive pulmonary aspergillosis in profoundly granulocytopenic rabbits in comparison with a 100% mortality for invasive pulmonary aspergillosis in profoundly granulocytopenic rabbits in comparison with a 100% survival in rabbits immunosuppressed with cyclosporin A plus methylprednisolone (CsA+MP). Lesions of pulmonary aspergillosis in granulocytopenic rabbits consisted predominantly of coagulative necrosis, intraalveolar hemorrhage, and scant mononuclear inflammatory infiltrate. By comparison, pulmonary foci in rabbits immunosuppressed by CsA+MP consisted mainly of neutrophilic and monocytic infiltrates, inflammatory necrosis, and scant intraalveolar hemorrhage. There was extensive infiltration by hyphae with angioinvasion in granulocytopenic rabbits, whereas conidia in various stages of germination predominated in CsA+MP treated animals in which there was a paucity of hyphae or angioinvasion. Extrapulmonary disease predominated in granulocytopenic rabbits. Methylprednisolone was the major immunosuppressive drug in rabbits treated with CsA+MP. Cyclosporin A alone did not increase the progression of pulmonary aspergillosis and did so only when used chronically with methylprednisolone.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Agranulocytosis / immunology*
  • Agranulocytosis / microbiology
  • Animals
  • Aspergillosis, Allergic Bronchopulmonary / immunology*
  • Aspergillus fumigatus / pathogenicity*
  • Chronic Disease
  • Cyclosporine / pharmacology
  • Female
  • Immune Tolerance
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / pharmacology
  • Inflammation
  • Lung / immunology*
  • Lung / pathology
  • Methylprednisolone / pharmacology
  • Opportunistic Infections / immunology*
  • Opportunistic Infections / microbiology
  • Rabbits


  • Immunosuppressive Agents
  • Cyclosporine
  • Methylprednisolone