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1.  The role of adjuvants in therapeutic protection against paracoccidioidomycosis after immunization with the P10 peptide 
Paracoccidioidomycosis (PCM), a common chronic mycosis in Latin America, is a granulomatous systemic disease caused by the thermo-dimorphic fungus Paracoccidioides brasiliensis. The glycoprotein gp43 is the main antigen target of P. brasiliensis and a 15-mer internal peptide (QTLIAIHTLAIRYAN), known as P10, defines a major CD4+-specific T cell epitope. Previous results have indicated that, besides having a preventive role in conventional immunizations prior to challenge with the fungus, protective anti-fungal effects can be induced in P. brasiliensis-infected mice treated with P10 administered with complete Freund’s adjuvant (CFA). The peptide elicits an IFN-γ-dependent Th1 immune response and is the main candidate for effective immunotherapy of patients with PCM, as an adjunctive approach to conventional chemotherapy. In the present study we tested the therapeutic effects of P10 combined with different adjuvants [aluminum hydroxide, CFA, flagellin, and the cationic lipid dioctadecyl-dimethylammonium bromide (DODAB)] in BALB/c mice previously infected with the P. brasiliensis Pb18 strain. Significant reductions in the number of colony forming units of the fungus were detected in lungs of mice immunized with P10 associated with the different adjuvants 52 days after infection. Mice treated with DODAB and P10, followed by mice treated with P10 and flagellin, showed the most prominent effects as demonstrated by the lowest numbers of viable yeast cells as well as reductions in granuloma formation and fibrosis. Concomitantly, secretion of IFN-γ and TNF-α, in contrast to interleukin (IL)-4 and IL-10, was enhanced in the lungs of mice immunized with P10 in combination with the tested adjuvants, with the best results observed in mice treated with P10 and DODAB. In conclusion, the present results demonstrate that the co-administration of the synthetic P10 peptide with several adjuvants, particularly DODAB, have significant therapeutic effects in experimental PCM.
PMCID: PMC3343455  PMID: 22586420
Paracoccidioides brasiliensis; paracoccidioidomycosis; P10; adjuvants; dioctadecyl-dimethylammonium bromide; FliC flagellin; aluminum hydroxide; complete Freund’s adjuvant
2.  Synthetic Peptides Mimic gp75 from Paracoccidioides brasiliensis in the Diagnosis of Paracoccidioidomycosis 
Mycopathologia  2012;174(1):1-10.
Paracoccidioidomycosis (PCM) is a systemic granulomatous disease, endemic in Latin America, caused by the thermal dimorphic fungus Paracoccidioides brasiliensis. Although some fungal antigens have already been characterized and used for serological diagnosis, cross-reactions have been frequently observed. Thus, the examination of fungal forms in clinical specimens or isolation of P. brasiliensis by culture is still the most frequent method for the diagnosis of this mycosis. In this study, a random peptide phage display library was used to select mimotopes of P. brasiliensis, which were employed as antigens in an indirect enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. The protective monoclonal antibody against experimental PCM (anti-gp75) was used as molecular target to screen a phage display library. That approach led to a synthetic peptide named P2, which was synthesized and tested against PCM patients’ sera to check whether it was recognized. There was significant recognition of P2 by sera of untreated PCM patients when compared with normal human sera. Sera from treated PCM group, patients with other mycosis or co-infected with HIV had much lower recognition of P2 than untreated patient group. The test showed a sensitivity of 100 and 94.59% of specificity in relation to human sera control. These data indicate a potential use of P2 as diagnostic tool in PCM. Its application for serological diagnosis of PCM may contribute to the development and standardization of simpler, faster and highly reproducible immunodiagnostic tests at low cost.
PMCID: PMC3368115  PMID: 22249604
gp75; Paracoccidioides brasiliensis; Paracoccidioidomycosis; Peptides; Phage display
3.  ArtinM offers new perspectives in the development of antifungal therapy 
The thermally dimorphic fungus Paracoccidioides brasiliensis is the causative agent of paracoccidioidomycosis (PCM), the most frequent systemic mycosis that affects the rural populations in Latin America. Despite significant developments in antifungal chemotherapy, its efficacy remains limited since drug therapy is prolonged and associated with toxic side effects and relapses. In response to these challenges, it is now recognized that several aspects of antifungal immunity can be modulated to better deal with fungal infections. A common idea for halting fungal infections has been the need to activate a cell-based, pro-inflammatory Th1 immune response to improve the fungal elimination. ArtinM, a D-mannose binding lectin from Artocarpus heterophyllus, has the property of modulating immunity against several intracellular pathogens. Here, we review the immunomodulatory activity of ArtinM during experimental PCM in mice. Both prophylactic and therapeutic protocols of ArtinM administration promotes a Th1 immune response balanced by IL-10, which outstandingly reduces the fungal load in organs of the treated mice while maintaining a controlled inflammation at the site of infection. A carbohydrate recognition-based interaction of ArtinM with Toll-like receptor 2 (TLR2) accounts for initiating the immunomodulatory effect of the lectin. The precise identification of the TLR2 N-glycan(s) targeted by ArtinM may support novel basis for the development of antifungal therapy.
PMCID: PMC3375580  PMID: 22715337
Paracoccidioides brasiliensis; ArtinM; immunomodulation
4.  Additive Effect of rPb27 Immunization and Chemotherapy in Experimental Paracoccidioidomycosis 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(3):e17885.
Paracoccidioidomycosis, PCM, the major systemic mycosis in Latin America, is caused by the termally dimorphic fungus Paracoccidioides brasiliensis and requires extended periods of chemotherapy with a significant frequency of relapsing disease. The search for new alternatives of treatment is necessary. rPb27 is an antigenic protein from P. brasiliensis that already showed a significant protective activity as a vaccine for PCM in experimental models. The cDNA of rPb27 was subcloned into a pET-DEST 42 plasmid, expressed in E. coli with a his-tag and purified by affinity chromatography. Immunization with this recombinant protein and chemotherapy were used together in an attempt to improve treatment of PCM. For this, BALB/c mice were challenged with pathogenic P. brasiliensis strain and after immunized with rPb27, in the presence of Corynebacterium parvum and Al(OH)3, some groups were also treated with fluconazole. After 40 days of treatment, the combined drug/rPb27 administration controlled PCM in the liver and spleen, with long lasting protection, and largely preserved tissues structures of these organs. Additionally, in the lungs after 40 days of treatment there was a significant reduction in the fungal load and size of lesions. At the same time, the levels of TNF-α were higher than infected-only mice. Moreover, significant levels of anti-rPb27 specific IgG1, IgG2a and IgG2b isotypes were detected in the sera of mice immunized with rPb27 fluconazole treated or not. These results showed an additive protective effect of rPb27 immunization and chemotherapy, suggesting that an rPb27-based vaccine can be used to enhance PCM antifungal treatment.
PMCID: PMC3053394  PMID: 21423771
5.  The left lung is preferentially targeted during experimental paracoccidioidomycosis in C57BL/6 mice 
Paracoccidioidomycosis (PCM) is a chronic systemic mycosis caused by the inhalation of the thermally dimorphic fungus Paracoccidioides brasiliensis as well as the recently described P. lutzii. Because the primary infection occurs in the lungs, we investigated the differential involvement of the right and left lungs in experimental P. brasiliensis infection. Lungs were collected from C57BL/6 mice at 70 days after intravenous infection with 1×106 yeast cells of a virulent strain of P. brasiliensis (Pb18). The left lung, which in mice is smaller and has fewer lobes than the right lung, yielded increased fungal recovery associated with a predominant interleukin-4 response and diminished synthesis of interferon-γ and nitric oxide compared with the right lung. Our data indicate differential involvement of the right and left lungs during experimental PCM. This knowledge emphasizes the need for an accurate, standardized protocol for tissue collection during studies of experimental P. brasiliensis infection, since experiments using the same lungs favor the collection of comparable data among different mice.
PMCID: PMC3854305  PMID: 24141611
Lung; Paracoccidioidomycosis; Paracoccidioides brasiliensis
6.  Characterization of PbPga1, an Antigenic GPI-Protein in the Pathogenic Fungus Paracoccidioides brasiliensis 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(9):e44792.
Paracoccidioides brasiliensis is the etiologic agent of paracoccidioidomycosis (PCM), one of the most prevalent mycosis in Latin America. P. brasiliensis cell wall components interact with host cells and influence the pathogenesis of PCM. Cell wall components, such as glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI)-proteins play a critical role in cell adhesion and host tissue invasion. Although the importance of GPI-proteins in the pathogenesis of other medically important fungi is recognized, little is known about their function in P. brasiliensis cells and PCM pathogenesis. We cloned the PbPga1 gene that codifies for a predicted GPI-anchored glycoprotein from the dimorphic pathogenic fungus P. brasiliensis. PbPga1 is conserved in Eurotiomycetes fungi and encodes for a protein with potential glycosylation sites in a serine/threonine-rich region, a signal peptide and a putative glycosylphosphatidylinositol attachment signal sequence. Specific chicken anti-rPbPga1 antibody localized PbPga1 on the yeast cell surface at the septum between the mother cell and the bud with stronger staining of the bud. The exposure of murine peritoneal macrophages to rPbPga1 induces TNF-α release and nitric oxide (NO) production by macrophages. Furthermore, the presence of O-glycosylation sites was demonstrated by β-elimination under ammonium hydroxide treatment of rPbPga1. Finally, sera from PCM patients recognized rPbPga1 by Western blotting indicating the presence of specific antibodies against rPbPga1. In conclusion, our findings suggest that the PbPga1gene codifies for a cell surface glycoprotein, probably attached to a GPI-anchor, which may play a role in P. brasiliensis cell wall morphogenesis and infection. The induction of inflammatory mediators released by rPbPga1 and the reactivity of PCM patient sera toward rPbPga1 imply that the protein favors the innate mechanisms of defense and induces humoral immunity during P. brasiliensis infection.
PMCID: PMC3443090  PMID: 23024763
7.  Monitoring gp43 Antigenemia in Paracoccidioidomycosis Patients during Therapy 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2004;42(6):2419-2424.
Paracoccidioidomycosis (PCM) is a systemic fungal disease that is particularly important among individuals living and working in rural areas of endemicity in Latin America. Detection of anti-Paracoccidioides brasiliensis antibodies is of limited value due to false-negative results. Detection of P. brasiliensis-gp43 circulating antigen is a practical approach for a specific diagnosis of the disease. In a previous study we described an inhibition enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay able to detect the 43-kDa P. brasiliensis antigen in sera of 100% of patients with the acute form of PCM and in 95.31 and 100% of patients with the chronic multifocal and unifocal forms of PCM. To investigate its potential application for the follow-up of PCM patients during treatment, antigen levels were monitored at regular intervals for up 8 to 12 months in serum samples from 23 patients. The results showed that treatment with itraconazole resulted in decreasing levels of circulating gp43 that were correlated with the reduction of anti-gp43 antibodies. It was also observed that by the end of 12 months of treatment gp43 levels were <5 μg/ml in all patients.
PMCID: PMC427858  PMID: 15184413
8.  Characterization of gp70 and Anti-gp70 Monoclonal Antibodies in Paracoccidioides brasiliensis Pathogenesis  
Infection and Immunity  2003;71(11):6534-6542.
Paracoccidioidomycosis (PCM) is a systemic granulomatous mycosis whose agent is Paracoccidioides brasiliensis. In the culture supernatant, the fungus expresses glycoproteins of from 13 to 148 kDa. A cell surface glycoprotein of 43 kDa is the major antigenic component of P. brasiliensis. Another expressed glycoprotein, gp70, is recognized by 96% of sera from PCM patients and is able to induce lymphoproliferation. Since, little is known about this glycoprotein, we produced monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) against gp70 to isolate the molecule from total fungus extracts and to investigate its possible role in the pathogenesis of PCM. Using these MAbs, it was observed by confocal microscopy that gp70 is located mainly in the intracellular compartment of the fungus, although it was also detected in the culture supernatant. Based on observations showing that gp43 has a down-regulatory effect on mouse peritoneal macrophages, we tested the effects of gp70 on their phagocytic ability. Purified gp70 was able to inhibit the activity of macrophages through the mannose receptors and also through the Fc receptors; the latter effect was not observed with gp43. gp70 inhibits NO and H2O2 liberation by peritoneal macrophages in vitro, as does gp43. Results obtained with gp43 led us to hypothesize that gp70 could act as an escape mechanism for fungal establishment in primary infections. To corroborate this hypothesis, we analyzed the effect of passive immunization of mice during infection with P. brasiliensis using anti-gp70 MAbs. This treatment almost completely abolished granuloma formation in the lungs, suggesting that the protein facilitates fungal establishment and progression of lesions in primary infection.
PMCID: PMC219562  PMID: 14573675
9.  Comparative Genomic Analysis of Human Fungal Pathogens Causing Paracoccidioidomycosis 
PLoS Genetics  2011;7(10):e1002345.
Paracoccidioides is a fungal pathogen and the cause of paracoccidioidomycosis, a health-threatening human systemic mycosis endemic to Latin America. Infection by Paracoccidioides, a dimorphic fungus in the order Onygenales, is coupled with a thermally regulated transition from a soil-dwelling filamentous form to a yeast-like pathogenic form. To better understand the genetic basis of growth and pathogenicity in Paracoccidioides, we sequenced the genomes of two strains of Paracoccidioides brasiliensis (Pb03 and Pb18) and one strain of Paracoccidioides lutzii (Pb01). These genomes range in size from 29.1 Mb to 32.9 Mb and encode 7,610 to 8,130 genes. To enable genetic studies, we mapped 94% of the P. brasiliensis Pb18 assembly onto five chromosomes. We characterized gene family content across Onygenales and related fungi, and within Paracoccidioides we found expansions of the fungal-specific kinase family FunK1. Additionally, the Onygenales have lost many genes involved in carbohydrate metabolism and fewer genes involved in protein metabolism, resulting in a higher ratio of proteases to carbohydrate active enzymes in the Onygenales than their relatives. To determine if gene content correlated with growth on different substrates, we screened the non-pathogenic onygenale Uncinocarpus reesii, which has orthologs for 91% of Paracoccidioides metabolic genes, for growth on 190 carbon sources. U. reesii showed growth on a limited range of carbohydrates, primarily basic plant sugars and cell wall components; this suggests that Onygenales, including dimorphic fungi, can degrade cellulosic plant material in the soil. In addition, U. reesii grew on gelatin and a wide range of dipeptides and amino acids, indicating a preference for proteinaceous growth substrates over carbohydrates, which may enable these fungi to also degrade animal biomass. These capabilities for degrading plant and animal substrates suggest a duality in lifestyle that could enable pathogenic species of Onygenales to transfer from soil to animal hosts.
Author Summary
Paracoccidioides sp. are fungal pathogens that cause paracoccidioidomycosis in humans. They are part of a larger group of dimorphic fungi causing pulmonary infections in immunocompetent people, whereas many other fungi cause opportunistic infections. We sequenced the genomes of two strains of Paracoccidioides brasiliensis and one strain of the closely related species Paracoccidioides lutzii, and compared them to other fungal genomes. We found gene family expansions specific to Paracoccidioides, including the fungal-specific kinase family. By contrast we found that dimorphic fungi as a group have lost many genes involved in carbohydrate metabolism but retained most proteases. As the growth substrates for dimorphic fungi have not been well characterized, we tested a non-pathogenic relative, Uncinocarpus reesii, for growth on 190 carbon sources. We found that U. reesii is capable of growth on a limited set of carbohydrates, but grows more rapidly on a wide range of dipeptides and amino acids. Our analysis suggests that this genetic and phenotypic preference may underlie the ability of the dimorphic fungi to infect and grow on animal hosts.
PMCID: PMC3203195  PMID: 22046142
10.  Development and Evaluation of a Latex Agglutination Test for the Serodiagnosis of Paracoccidioidomycosis ▿ 
Paracoccidioidomycosis (PCM) is the most prevalent systemic mycosis in Latin America. It is caused by the dimorphic fungus Paracoccidioides brasiliensis. The immunodiffusion (ID) test is one of the most widely used techniques for PCM serologic diagnosis due to the simplicity and low costs of its execution. However, it requires trained and qualified people to execute it. The purpose of this study was to evaluate a latex particle agglutination (LA) test for the detection of anti-P. brasiliensis antibodies by using pooled crude exoantigens from the fungus. Fifty-one serum samples obtained from patients with PCM were tested. Positivity was observed in 84% (43/51) of these patients, and the agglutination patterns varied from small clumps with a cloudy background to large clumps with a clear background. The antibody titer reactivity ranged from 1:2 to 1:64. Cross-reactivity was observed in sera from patients with aspergillosis, histoplasmosis, and nonfungal disease. Serum samples obtained from healthy donors were not reactive. The sensitivity and specificity of the LA test were 84% and 81%, respectively. When comparing the LA test with the double-immunodiffusion test, we found an agreement of 92%. Further work is needed to improve the performance of the LA assay before it can be proposed as a reliable diagnostic tool, mainly in laboratories with little infrastructure.
PMCID: PMC3122578  PMID: 21325485
11.  NLRP3 Inflammasome Activation by Paracoccidioides brasiliensis 
Paracoccidioides brasiliensis is the etiologic agent of paracoccidioidomycosis (PCM), the most prevalent systemic mycosis that is geographically confined to Latin America. The pro-inflammatory cytokine IL-1β that is mainly derived from the activation of the cytoplasmic multiprotein complex inflammasome is an essential host factor against opportunistic fungal infections; however, its role in infection with a primary fungal pathogen, such as P. brasiliensis, is not well understood. In this study, we found that murine bone marrow-derived dendritic cells responded to P. brasiliensis yeast cells infection by releasing IL-1β in a spleen tyrosine kinase (Syk), caspase-1 and NOD-like receptor (NLR) family member NLRP3 dependent manner. In addition, P. brasiliensis-induced NLRP3 inflammasome activation was dependent on potassium (K+) efflux, reactive oxygen species production, phagolysosomal acidification and cathepsin B release. Finally, using mice lacking the IL-1 receptor, we demonstrated that IL-1β signaling has an important role in killing P. brasiliensis by murine macrophages. Altogether, our results demonstrate that the NLRP3 inflammasome senses and responds to P. brasiliensis yeast cells infection and plays an important role in host defense against this fungus.
Author Summary
Paracoccidioidomycosis is a systemic disease that has an important mortality and morbidity impact in Latin America. It mainly affects rural workers of Argentina, Colombia, Venezuela and Brazil. Upon host infection, one of the most important aspects that contribute to the disease outcome is the initial interaction of the Paracoccidioides brasiliensis fungus with the phagocytic cells and the induction of the inflammatory process. Among several inflammatory mediators, the cytokine interleukin-1β is of pivotal importance in this complex process. Here, we demonstrate that P. brasiliensis is sensed by the NLRP3 inflammasome, a cytoplasmatic multiprotein complex that lead to the processing and secretion of IL-1β. In addition, we described the intracellular perturbations that may be associated with NLRP3 activation such as potassium efflux, production of reactive oxygen species, and lysosomal damage. Finally, our work provides evidence for the protective role of IL-1β during fungal infection of murine macrophages.
PMCID: PMC3855149  PMID: 24340123
12.  The Pathogenic Fungus Paracoccidioides brasiliensis Exports Extracellular Vesicles Containing Highly Immunogenic α-Galactosyl Epitopes▿ 
Eukaryotic Cell  2011;10(3):343-351.
Exosome-like vesicles containing virulence factors, enzymes, and antigens have recently been characterized in fungal pathogens, such as Cryptococcus neoformans and Histoplasma capsulatum. Here, we describe extracellular vesicles carrying highly immunogenic α-linked galactopyranosyl (α-Gal) epitopes in Paracoccidioides brasiliensis. P. brasiliensis is a dimorphic fungus that causes human paracoccidioidomycosis (PCM). For vesicle preparations, cell-free supernatant fluids from yeast cells cultivated in Ham's defined medium-glucose were concentrated in an Amicon ultrafiltration system and ultracentrifuged at 100,000 × g. P. brasiliensis antigens were present in preparations from phylogenetically distinct isolates Pb18 and Pb3, as observed in immunoblots revealed with sera from PCM patients. In an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA), vesicle components containing α-Gal epitopes reacted strongly with anti-α-Gal antibodies isolated from both Chagas' disease and PCM patients, with Marasmius oreades agglutinin (MOA) (a lectin that recognizes terminal α-Gal), but only faintly with natural anti-α-Gal. Reactivity was inhibited after treatment with α-galactosidase. Vesicle preparations analyzed by electron microscopy showed vesicular structures of 20 to 200 nm that were labeled both on the surface and in the lumen with MOA. In P. brasiliensis cells, components carrying α-Gal epitopes were found distributed on the cell wall, following a punctuated confocal pattern, and inside large intracellular vacuoles. Lipid-free vesicle fractions reacted with anti-α-Gal in ELISA only when not digested with α-galactosidase, while reactivity with glycoproteins was reduced after β-elimination, which is indicative of partial O-linked chain localization. Our findings open new areas to explore in terms of host-parasite relationships in PCM and the role played in vivo by vesicle components and α-galactosyl epitopes.
PMCID: PMC3067469  PMID: 21216942
13.  Expression of Antibodies Directed to Paracoccidioides brasiliensis Glycosphingolipids during the Course of Paracoccidioidomycosis Treatment▿  
Clinical and Vaccine Immunology  2006;14(2):150-156.
Paracoccidioidomycosis (PCM) is a granulomatous disease caused by the dimorphic fungus Paracoccidioides brasiliensis. The immunoglobulin classes and isotypes of antibodies directed to acidic glycosphingolipids (GSLs) and glucosylceramide of P. brasiliensis were determined by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay of sera from 31 PCM patients. The reactivities of 38 serum samples were analyzed by considering the stage of treatment: before antifungal treatment (n = 10), during 1 to 4 months of treatment (T1-4; n = 9), during 5 to 12 months of treatment (T5-12; n = 9), and posttreatment (PT; n = 10). Sera from healthy subjects (n = 12) were used as controls. Only the GSL Pb-1 antigen, which presents the carbohydrate structure Galfβ1-6(Manα1-3)Manβ1, was reactive with the PCM patient sera. The PCM patient sera did not react with Pb-2, which lacks the Galf residue and which is considered the biosynthetic precursor of Pb-1, indicating that the Galf residue is essential for antibody reactivity. The Pb-1 glycolipid from nontreated patients elicited a primary immune response with immunoglobulin M (IgM) production and subsequent switching to IgG1 production. The IgG1 titer increased after the start of antifungal treatment (T1-4 group), and general decreases in the anti-Pb-1 antibody titers were observed after 5 months of treatment (T5-12 and PT groups). The Pb-1 antigen, an acidic GSL with terminal Galf residue, has potential application as an elicitor of the host immune response in patients with PCM.
PMCID: PMC1797792  PMID: 17135452
14.  Therapeutic DNA Vaccine Encoding Peptide P10 against Experimental Paracoccidioidomycosis 
Paracoccidioidomycosis (PCM), caused by Paracoccidioides brasiliensis, is the most prevalent invasive fungal disease in South America. Systemic mycoses are the 10th most common cause of death among infectious diseases in Brazil and PCM is responsible for more than 50% of deaths due to fungal infections. PCM is typically treated with sulfonamides, amphotericin B or azoles, although complete eradication of the fungus may not occur and relapsing disease is frequently reported. A 15-mer peptide from the major diagnostic antigen gp43, named P10, can induce a strong T-CD4+ helper-1 immune response in mice. The TEPITOPE algorithm and experimental data have confirmed that most HLA-DR molecules can present P10, which suggests that P10 is a candidate antigen for a PCM vaccine. In the current work, the therapeutic efficacy of plasmid immunization with P10 and/or IL-12 inserts was tested in murine models of PCM. When given prior to or after infection with P. brasiliensis virulent Pb 18 isolate, plasmid-vaccination with P10 and/or IL-12 inserts successfully reduced the fungal burden in lungs of infected mice. In fact, intramuscular administration of a combination of plasmids expressing P10 and IL-12 given weekly for one month, followed by single injections every month for 3 months restored normal lung architecture and eradicated the fungus in mice that were infected one month prior to treatment. The data indicate that immunization with these plasmids is a powerful procedure for prevention and treatment of experimental PCM, with the perspective of being also effective in human patients.
Author Summary
Paracoccidioidomycosis (PCM) is the predominant systemic mycosis in Latin America causing half of the total deaths among systemic fungal infectious diseases in Brazil. Chemotherapy is the standard treatment, but the long time required, severe cases of immunosuppression and frequent relapses indicate that additional methods should be introduced such as immunotherapy combined with antifungal drugs. Previously, the protective activity of P10, a peptide derived from the major diagnostic antigen gp43, was demonstrated, alone or combined with chemotherapy. P10 elicited a vigorous IFN-γ mediated Th-1 immune response. Presently, the reduction of fungal load, and even sterilization, was attempted using a specific DNA vaccine encoding P10. Plasmid pcDNA3 expression vector with P10 insert was tested as a vaccine in intratracheally infected BALB/c and B10.A mice. Our results showed that vaccination with pP10 induced a significant reduction of the fungal burden in the lung. Co-vaccination of pP10 with a plasmid encoding mouse IL-12 proved to be even more effective in the elimination of the fungus with virtual sterilization in a long term infection and treatment assay system. The data suggest that immunization with these plasmids, without the need of an adjuvant, could be used in the prevention and treatment of PCM in human patients.
PMCID: PMC3289603  PMID: 22389734
15.  Vaccination with Heat Shock Protein 60 Induces a Protective Immune Response against Experimental Paracoccidioides brasiliensis Pulmonary Infection▿  
Infection and Immunity  2008;76(9):4214-4221.
Paracoccidioides brasiliensis causes a chronic granulomatous mycosis prevalent in Latin America. The successful resolution of infection with this fungus is dependent on the activation of cellular immunity. We previously identified heat shock protein 60 (HSP60) as a target of the humoral response in paracoccidioidomycosis. Herein we expressed the gene encoding HSP60 in Escherichia coli and analyzed the immunological activity of this recombinant antigen. The immunization of BALB/c mice with recombinant protein emulsified in adjuvant stimulated a cellular immune response. Splenocytes from immunized mice proliferated in response to antigen and released interleukin-12 and gamma interferon (IFN-γ). Vaccination with HSP60 reduced the fungal burden in mice given 106 or 107 yeasts and protected mice from a lethal challenge. The efficacy of the vaccination was blunted by the neutralization of IFN-γ. CD4+ cells were necessary for the efficacy of the vaccination in both the afferent and efferent phases. Thus, we have demonstrated that this immunodominant antigen is a candidate for the development of a vaccine against this fungus.
PMCID: PMC2519447  PMID: 18625731
16.  Paracoccidioides brasiliensis Vaccine Formulations Based on the gp43-Derived P10 Sequence and the Salmonella enterica FliC Flagellin▿  
Infection and Immunity  2009;77(4):1700-1707.
Paracoccidioidomycosis (PCM) is a systemic granulomatous disease caused by the dimorphic fungus Paracoccidioides brasiliensis. Anti-PCM vaccine formulations based on the secreted fungal cell wall protein (gp43) or the derived P10 sequence containing a CD4+ T-cell-specific epitope have shown promising results. In the present study, we evaluated new anti-PCM vaccine formulations based on the intranasal administration of P. brasiliensis gp43 or the P10 peptide in combination with the Salmonella enterica FliC flagellin, an innate immunity agonist binding specifically to the Toll-like receptor 5, in a murine model. BALB/c mice immunized with gp43 developed high-specific-serum immunoglobulin G1 responses and enhanced interleukin-4 (IL-4) and IL-10 levels. On the other hand, mice immunized with recombinant purified flagellins genetically fused with P10 at the central hypervariable domain, either flanked or not by two lysine residues, or the synthetic P10 peptide admixed with purified FliC elicited a prevailing Th1-type immune response based on lung cell-secreted type 1 cytokines. Mice immunized with gp43 and FliC and intratracheally challenged with P. brasiliensis yeast cells had increased fungal proliferation and lung tissue damage. In contrast, mice immunized with the chimeric flagellins and particularly those immunized with P10 admixed with FliC reduced P. brasiliensis growth and lung damage. Altogether, these results indicate that S. enterica FliC flagellin modulates the immune response to P. brasiliensis P10 antigen and represents a promising alternative for the generation of anti-PCM vaccines.
PMCID: PMC2663153  PMID: 19204092
17.  Detection of Paracoccidioides brasiliensis gp70 Circulating Antigen and Follow-Up of Patients Undergoing Antimycotic Therapy 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2004;42(10):4480-4486.
Paracoccidioidomycosis (PCM), one of the most important systemic mycoses in Central and South America, is caused by the dimorphic fungus Paracoccidioides brasiliensis and has a high prevalence in Brazil. Glycoproteins of 43 and 70 kDa are the main antigenic compounds of P. brasiliensis and are recognized by Western blotting by 100 and 96% of PCM patient sera, respectively. In the present study, an inhibition enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) was used to detect gp70 in different biological samples from patients with PCM. gp70 was detected in 98.76% of 81 serum samples, with an average concentration of 8.19 μg/ml. The test was positive for 100% of the patients with the acute and chronic unifocal forms of PCM and 98.43% of the patients with the multifocal chronic form, with average concentrations of 11.86, 4.83, and 7.87 μg/ml, respectively. Bronchoalveolar lavage fluid from 23 patients with pulmonary unifocal PCM and 14 samples of cerebrospinal fluid from patients with neurological PCM were also tested for gp70 detection, with the test showing 100% sensitivity and 100% specificity, with mean gp70 concentrations of 7.5 and 6.78 μg/ml, respectively. To investigate the potential of gp70 detection by inhibition ELISA for the follow-up of PCM patients during antimycotic therapy with itraconazole (ITZ), the sera of 23 patients presenting with the chronic multifocal form of PCM were monitored at regular intervals of 1 month for 12 months. The results showed a decrease in circulating gp70 levels during treatment which paralleled the reduction in anti-P. brasiliensis antibody levels. The detection of P. brasiliensis gp70 from the biological fluids of patients suspected of having PCM proved to be a promising method for diagnosing infection and evaluating the efficacy of ITZ treatment.
PMCID: PMC522319  PMID: 15472297
18.  5-Lipoxygenase Activity Increases Susceptibility to Experimental Paracoccidioides brasiliensis Infection 
Infection and Immunity  2013;81(4):1256-1266.
Paracoccidioidomycosis (PCM) is a systemic mycosis caused by the thermodimorphic fungus Paracoccidioides brasiliensis. Leukotrienes and lipoxins are lipid mediators produced after 5-lipoxygenase (5-LO) activation that exhibit pro- and anti-inflammatory roles, respectively. Here, we have investigated the contribution of 5-LO enzymatic activity in PCM using an experimental model of P. brasiliensis infection. B6.129 wild-type (B6.129) and 5-LO-deficient (5-LO−/−) mice were intravenously inoculated with a virulent strain of P. brasiliensis (Pb18), and the survival rate of the infected mice was investigated on different days after yeast infection. 5-LO−/− mice exhibited an increased survival rate associated with a decreased number of CFU. The resistance of 5-LO−/− during PCM was associated with augmented nitric oxide (NO) production and the formation of compact granulomas. In addition, the absence of 5-LO was associated with a diminished number of CD4+ CD25+ regulatory T cells, higher levels of gamma interferon and interleukin-12, and increased T-bet (a T-box transcription factor that directs Th1 lineage commitment) mRNA levels in the lungs. Taken together, our results show for the first time that 5-LO enzymatic activity increases susceptibility to P. brasiliensis, suggesting that this pathway may be a potential target for therapeutic intervention during PCM.
PMCID: PMC3639621  PMID: 23381993
19.  Detection and Selection of Microsatellites in the Genome of Paracoccidioides brasiliensis as Molecular Markers for Clinical and Epidemiological Studies 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2004;42(11):5007-5014.
Paracoccidioides brasiliensis, a thermodimorphic fungus, is the causative agent of the prevalent systemic mycosis in Latin America, paracoccidioidomycosis (PCM). Here, we describe the microsatellite patterns observed in a collection of P. brasiliensis random sequence tags. We identified 1,117 microsatellite patterns in about 3.8 Mb of unique sequences (0.47% of the total DNA used in the analysis). The majority of these microsatellites (87.5%) are found in noncoding sequences. We used two polymorphic microsatellites located on noncoding and coding sequences, as well as two microsatellites located on introns, as molecular markers to discriminate P. brasiliensis isolates, to look for relationships between the genetic background of the strains and the types of human disease they cause. We did not observe any correlation between the clinical form of human PCM and four simple sequence repeat patterns analyzed.
PMCID: PMC525212  PMID: 15528688
20.  Cell organisation, sulphur metabolism and ion transport-related genes are differentially expressed in Paracoccidioides brasiliensis mycelium and yeast cells 
BMC Genomics  2006;7:208.
Mycelium-to-yeast transition in the human host is essential for pathogenicity by the fungus Paracoccidioides brasiliensis and both cell types are therefore critical to the establishment of paracoccidioidomycosis (PCM), a systemic mycosis endemic to Latin America. The infected population is of about 10 million individuals, 2% of whom will eventually develop the disease. Previously, transcriptome analysis of mycelium and yeast cells resulted in the assembly of 6,022 sequence groups. Gene expression analysis, using both in silico EST subtraction and cDNA microarray, revealed genes that were differential to yeast or mycelium, and we discussed those involved in sugar metabolism. To advance our understanding of molecular mechanisms of dimorphic transition, we performed an extended analysis of gene expression profiles using the methods mentioned above.
In this work, continuous data mining revealed 66 new differentially expressed sequences that were MIPS(Munich Information Center for Protein Sequences)-categorised according to the cellular process in which they are presumably involved. Two well represented classes were chosen for further analysis: (i) control of cell organisation – cell wall, membrane and cytoskeleton, whose representatives were hex (encoding for a hexagonal peroxisome protein), bgl (encoding for a 1,3-β-glucosidase) in mycelium cells; and ags (an α-1,3-glucan synthase), cda (a chitin deacetylase) and vrp (a verprolin) in yeast cells; (ii) ion metabolism and transport – two genes putatively implicated in ion transport were confirmed to be highly expressed in mycelium cells – isc and ktp, respectively an iron-sulphur cluster-like protein and a cation transporter; and a putative P-type cation pump (pct) in yeast. Also, several enzymes from the cysteine de novo biosynthesis pathway were shown to be up regulated in the yeast form, including ATP sulphurylase, APS kinase and also PAPS reductase.
Taken together, these data show that several genes involved in cell organisation and ion metabolism/transport are expressed differentially along dimorphic transition. Hyper expression in yeast of the enzymes of sulphur metabolism reinforced that this metabolic pathway could be important for this process. Understanding these changes by functional analysis of such genes may lead to a better understanding of the infective process, thus providing new targets and strategies to control PCM.
PMCID: PMC1578568  PMID: 16907987
21.  Immunological response to cell-free antigens of Paracoccidioides brasiliensis: relationship with clinical forms of paracoccidioidomycosis. 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  1993;31(3):671-676.
Sera from patients with the acute (AF) and chronic (CF) forms of paracoccidioidomycosis (PCM) were tested against Paracoccidioides brasiliensis cell-free antigens by Western blot (immunoblot). The CFA preparation contained components ranging in molecular mass from 18 to 102 kDa. The immunoglobulin G (IgG) reactivity profiles were similar for patients with both forms of the disease, and the 43-kDa component was recognized by 100% of the sera. IgM antibodies from the AF- and the CF-PCM sera recognized 21 and 20 components, respectively, the AF-PCM sera reacting preferentially with components with molecular masses above 50 kDa. None of the AF-PCM sera (IgM) reacted with the 43-kDa component, and only 10% of the CF-PCM sera recognized this molecule. The IgA response was more significant in the CF-PCM group than in the AF-PCM group, and the 43- and 74-kDa components were the most reactive ones (about 40% each). Our results showed that the cell-free antigen preparation is very appropriate for the immunoblotting analysis of PCM sera, and they also showed that the detection of IgG anti-gp43 is the best marker for the diagnosis and the following up of patients with the acute or the chronic form of the disease.
PMCID: PMC262839  PMID: 8458961
22.  Detection of Circulating gp43 Antigen in Serum, Cerebrospinal Fluid, and Bronchoalveolar Lavage Fluid of Patients with Paracoccidioidomycosis 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2003;41(8):3675-3680.
Paracoccidioidomycosis (PCM) is an important systemic fungal disease, particularly among individuals living and working in rural areas of endemicity in Latin America, who, without antifungal therapy, may develop fatal acute or chronic infection. For such patients, the detection of antibody responses by immunodiffusion is of limited value due to false-negative results. In contrast, the detection of Paracoccidioides brasiliensis gp43 circulating antigen may represent a more practical approach to the rapid diagnosis of the disease. Accordingly, an inhibition enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (inh-ELISA) was developed for the detection of a 43-kDa P. brasiliensis-specific epitope incorporating a species-specific murine monoclonal antibody. With sera from patients with acute and chronic forms of the disease (n = 81), the overall sensitivity of the test was found to be 95.1%, while specificity was found to be 97.5% compared to that with normal human sera from blood donors (n = 93) and sera from patients with other chronic fungal infections (histoplasmosis [n = 33] and cryptococcosis [n = 20]). The inh-ELISA detected circulating antigen in 100% of patients with the acute form of PCM and in 95.31 and 100% of patients with the chronic multifocal and unifocal forms of PCM according to the patient's clinical presentation. Cerebrospinal fluid from 14 patients with neuroparacoccidioidomycosis and 13 samples of bronchoalveolar lavage fluid from patients with pulmonary unifocal PCM were also tested for gp43 detection, with the test showing 100% sensitivity and specificity. This novel, highly specific inh-ELISA represents a significant addition to the existing tests for the diagnosis of PCM.
PMCID: PMC179774  PMID: 12904374
23.  Occurrence of Paracoccidioides lutzii in the Amazon Region: Description of Two Cases 
Paracoccidioidomycosis (PCM), the most important human systemic mycosis in Latin America, is known to be caused by at least four different phylogenetic lineages within the Paracoccidioides brasiliensis complex, including S1, PS2, PS3, and Pb01-like group. Herein, we describe two cases of PCM in patients native from the Amazon region. The disease was originally thought to have been caused by P. brasiliensis. Despite the severity of the cases, sera from the patients were negative in immunodiffusion tests using the standard exoantigen from P. brasiliensis B-339. However, a positive response was recorded with an autologous preparation of Paracoccidioides lutzii exoantigen. A phylogenetic approach based on the gp43 and ARF loci revealed high similarity between our clinical isolates and the Pb01-like group. The occurrence of PCM caused by P. lutzii in the Brazilian Amazon (Pará State) was thus proven. The incidence of PCM caused by P. lutzii may be underestimated in northern Brazil.
PMCID: PMC3516324  PMID: 22927496
24.  Involvement of an Alternative Oxidase in Oxidative Stress and Mycelium-to-Yeast Differentiation in Paracoccidioides brasiliensis ▿ † 
Eukaryotic Cell  2011;10(2):237-248.
Paracoccidioides brasiliensis is a thermodimorphic human pathogenic fungus that causes paracoccidioidomycosis (PCM), which is the most prevalent systemic mycosis in Latin America. Differentiation from the mycelial to the yeast form (M-to-Y) is an essential step for the establishment of PCM. We evaluated the involvement of mitochondria and intracellular oxidative stress in M-to-Y differentiation. M-to-Y transition was delayed by the inhibition of mitochondrial complexes III and IV or alternative oxidase (AOX) and was blocked by the association of AOX with complex III or IV inhibitors. The expression of P. brasiliensis aox (Pbaox) was developmentally regulated through M-to-Y differentiation, wherein the highest levels were achieved in the first 24 h and during the yeast exponential growth phase; Pbaox was upregulated by oxidative stress. Pbaox was cloned, and its heterologous expression conferred cyanide-resistant respiration in Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Escherichia coli and reduced oxidative stress in S. cerevisiae cells. These results reinforce the role of PbAOX in intracellular redox balancing and demonstrate its involvement, as well as that of other components of the mitochondrial respiratory chain complexes, in the early stages of the M-to-Y differentiation of P. brasiliensis.
PMCID: PMC3067407  PMID: 21183691
25.  Structural and Topographic Dynamics of Pulmonary Histopathology and Local Cytokine Profiles in Paracoccidioides brasiliensis Conidia-Infected Mice 
Paracoccidioidomycosis (PCM), an endemic systemic mycosis caused by the fungus Paracoccidioides brasiliensis (Pb), usually results in severe lung damage in patients.
Methods and Findings
Considering the difficulties to sequentially study the infection in humans, this work was done in mice inoculated intranasally with infective Pb-conidia. Lungs of control and Pb-infected mice were studied after 2-hours, 4, 8, 12 and 16-weeks post-infection (p.i) in order to define histopathologic patterns of pulmonary lesions, multiplex-cytokine profiles and their dynamics during the course of this mycosis. Besides the nodular/granulomatous lesions previously informed, results revealed additional non-formerly described lung abnormalities, such as periarterial sheath inflammation and pseudotumoral masses. The following chronologic stages occurring during the course of the experimental infection were defined: Stage one (2-hours p.i): mild septal infiltration composed by neutrophils and macrophages accompanied by an intense “cytokine burst” represented by significant increases in IL-1α, IL-1β, IL-4, IL-5, IL-6, IL-10, IL12p70, IL-13, IL-17, Eotaxin, G-CSF, MCP1, MIP1α, GM-CSF, IFN-γ, MIP1β and TNFα levels. Stage two (4-weeks p.i): presence of nodules, evidence of incipient periarterial- and intense but disperse parenchymal- inflammation, abnormalities that continued to be accompanied by hyper-secretion of those cytokines and chemokines mentioned in the first stage of infection. Stages three and four (8 and 12-weeks p.i.): fungal proliferation, inflammation and collagenesis reached their highest intensity with particular involvement of the periarterial space. Paradoxically, lung cytokines and chemokines were down-regulated with significant decreases in IL-2,IL-3,IL-5,IL-9,IL-13,IL-15,GM-CSF,IFN-γ,MIP1β and TNFα. Stage five (16-weeks p.i.): inflammation decreased becoming limited to the pseudotumoral masses and was accompanied by a “silent” cytokine response, except for PDGF, MIG, RANTES and IL12p40 which remained up-regulated for the duration of the experiment.
Results of this study identified both classic and novel patterns corresponding to histopathologic and immunologic responses occurring during the course of experimental PCM.
Author Summary
Paracoccidioidomycosis (PCM), an endemic fungal infection of pulmonary origin resulting in severe disseminated disease, occurs in rural areas of most South American countries and presents several clinical forms. The infection is acquired by inhalation of specific fungal propagules, called conidia. Considering the difficulties encountered when studying the infection in humans, this work was done in mice infected by inhalation of infective fungal conidia thus mimicking the human natural infection. The lungs of mice were sequentially studied by histopathological and multiplex cytokine methods from 2 h to 16 weeks after infection to verify the course of the disease. The mycosis presented different morphologic aspects during the course of time, affecting several pulmonary compartments. Otherwise and based on the analysis of 30 cytokines, the immune response also showed heterogeneous responses, which were up or down regulated depending on the time of infection. By recognizing the different stages that correspond to the evolution of pulmonary lesions, the severity (benign, chronic or fibrotic) of the disease could be predicted and the probable prognosis of the illness be inferred.
PMCID: PMC3134433  PMID: 21765962

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