Opportunistic pneumonia caused by E. cuniculi in mice immunosuppressed with cyclophosphamide

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Opportunistic fungal pneumonia is a cause of concern in immunocompromised patients due to its high morbidity and mortality rates. One such opportunistic agent affecting immunocompromised patients is the microsporidia called Encephalitozoon cuniculi. This study aimed to evaluate pneumonia caused by E. cuniculi in mice treated with the immunosuppressive agent cyclophosphamide (Cy). This study also aimed to describe the immune cells associated with the microsporidial pneumonia. C57BL/6 mice were infected intravenously with E. cuniculi spores and treated with Cy (75 mg/kg/week, intraperitoneally). Thirty days post-infection, the fungal burden (qPCR), histopathological lesions, cytokine production, and the phenotype of the immune cells in the lung parenchyma were evaluated. Histologically, interstitial pneumonia with lymphocytic infiltrate was observed in the infected animals. The infiltrate mainly consisted of CD8+ and CD4+ T lymphocytes, with reduced populations of B lymphocytes and macrophages. The production of tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α) was significant in the animals of the infected groups. Also, the fungal burden was higher in the Cy-treated animals, which was confirmed by the immunohistochemical observation of spores. These results demonstrated that E. cuniculi infection of C57BL/6 mice caused lymphocytic interstitial pneumonia (characterized by a predominant lymphocytic infiltrate), which was aggravated by Cy-induced immunosuppression. Thus, these results can be used to understand the different pathological, immunological, and therapeutic aspects of lymphocytic interstitial pneumonia.
Moreira IF, Alvares-Saraiva AM, Pérez EC, Xavier JG, Spadacci-Morena DD, Araújo RS, et al. Opportunistic pneumonia caused by E. cuniculi in mice immunosuppressed with cyclophosphamide. Immunobiology. 2022 May;227(3):152194. doi:10.1016/j.imbio.2022.152194.
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