Background: Invasive mucormycosis (IM) is an emerging life-threatening fungal infection. It is difficult to obtain a definite diagnosis and to initiate timely intervention. Mucorales-specific T cells occur during the course of IM and are involved in the clearance of the infection. We have evaluated the feasibility of detecting Mucorales-specific T cells in hematological patients at risk for IM, and have correlated the detection of such cells with the clinical conditions of the patients. Methods and Findings: By using an enzyme linked immunospot assay, the presence of Mucorales-specific T cells in peripheral blood (PB) samples has been investigated at three time points during highdose chemotherapy for hematologic malignancies. Mucorales-specific T cells producing interferon-γ, interleukin-10 and interleukin-4 were analysed in order to detect a correlation between the immune response and the clinical picture. Twenty-one (10.3%) of 204 patients, accounting for 32 (5.3%) of 598 PB samples, tested positive for Mucorales-specific T cells. Two groups could be identified. Group 1, including 15 patients without signs or symptoms of invasive fungal diseases (IFD), showed a predominance of Mucorales-specific T cells producing interferon-gamma. Group 2 included 6 patients with a clinical picture consistent with invasive fungal disease (IFD):2 cases of proven IM and 4 cases of possible IFD. The proven patients had significantly higher number of Mucorales-specific T cells producing interleukin-10 and interleukin-4 and higher rates of positive samples by using derived diagnostic cut-offs when compared with the 15 patients without IFD. Conclusions: Mucorales-specific T cells can be detected and monitored in patients with hematologic malignancies at risk for IM. Mucorales-specific T cells polarized to the production of T helper type 2 cytokines are associated with proven IM and may be evaluated as a surrogate diagnostic marker for IM.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)