Research Topic

Advances in Understanding Innate Immunity to Fungi

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The innate immune system encompasses a large network of haematopoietic and stromal cells that utilise inherited receptors to signal danger or the presence of a microbial intruder. The complexity of the innate immune system has become increasingly appreciated in the last decade with the identification of new ...

The innate immune system encompasses a large network of haematopoietic and stromal cells that utilise inherited receptors to signal danger or the presence of a microbial intruder. The complexity of the innate immune system has become increasingly appreciated in the last decade with the identification of new innate cell subsets and an enhanced mechanistic understanding of innate signalling pathways. For example, the discovery of innate lymphoid cells and their integral functions in barrier integrity has led to the development of a new immunology field which has generated significant insights into how we are protected from mucosal infections.

Over the years, the study of how innate immune responses develop in response to fungal infections and fungal products have provided several seminal insights into the functioning of the innate immune system. For example, the discovery of Dectin-1 as a receptor for β-glucan nearly two decades ago has paved the way for several studies analysing Dectin-1-related receptors and their functions in antifungal defence, as well as other models of inflammation. Analysing myeloid cell responses to β-glucan via Dectin-1 has also led to the delineation of critical pathways controlling trained or innate immune memory in recent years.

In addition to learning more about immune system regulation, study of innate immunity to fungal pathogens affords us insights into the pathogenesis of diseases that are still difficult to diagnose and treat, despite the availability of antifungal drugs. Fungal infections continue to represent a significant health threat, especially to immunocompromised individuals. It is estimated that over a million people die from invasive fungal infections every year, while many more cases of mucosal and skin fungal infections result in a reduced quality of life for chronic sufferers. We therefore require new diagnostic tools and immune-based therapeutics for the treatment of fungal infections to help combat these worrying trends, which will depend on a deep understanding of how fungal pathogens are recognised and controlled by the innate immune system.

In this Research Topic, we welcome the submission of Original Research, Review and Opinion articles, Methods, and Case Reports covering recent advances in our understanding of innate immune responses to fungi, focused on aspects of (i) pattern recognition and signalling, (ii) myeloid and innate lymphoid responses, (iii) innate memory, (iv) fungal factors eliciting innate immune responses, and (v) mechanisms of protection against infection.


Keywords: Myeloid cells, innate lymphoid cells, pattern recognition receptor


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