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.
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.