Respiratory epithelial cells: more than just a physical barrier to fungal infections

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The respiratory epithelium is highly complex, and its composition varies along the conducting airways and alveoli. In addition to their primary function in maintaining the respiratory barrier and lung homeostasis for gas exchange, epithelial cells interact with inhaled pathogens, which can manipulate cell signaling pathways, promoting adhesion to these cells or hosting tissue invasion. Moreover, pathogens (or their products) can induce the secretion of chemokines and cytokines by epithelial cells, and in this way, these host cells communicate with the immune system, modulating host defenses and inflammatory outcomes. This review will focus on the response of respiratory epithelial cells to two human fungal pathogens that cause systemic mycoses: Aspergillus and Paracoccidioides. Some of the host epithelial cell receptors and signaling pathways, in addition to fungal adhesins or other molecules that are responsible for fungal adhesion, invasion, or induction of cytokine secretion will be addressed in this review.
Barros BCSC, Almeida BR., Barros DT.L., Toledo MS., Suzuki E. Respiratory epithelial cells: more than just a physical barrier to fungal infections. J. Fungi. 2022 May;8(6):548. doi:10.3390/jof8060548.
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