About this Research Topic
Immune memory is a fundamental feature of the immune system. To achieve long lasting immunity, memory cells persist for long periods after an antigen has been cleared. This feature has historically been attributed to adaptive T and B cells. However, recent advances implicate that cells of the innate immune system, as well as tissue epithelium, possess this capacity for ‘immunological memory’. This new shift in paradigm raises many interesting questions and avenues to be explored for a better understanding of the immune system.
Unlike the viral or bacterial fields, fungal vaccine immunology still falls behind. Notwithstanding, the 21st century has seen fungi emerge as premier opportunistic microbes, causing considerable morbidity and mortality. Indeed, the increase in incidence of fungal infections have mainly been due to the four medically relevant genera: Cryptococcus, Candida, Aspergillus and Pneumocystis, and primarily driven by the HIV pandemic and the advances in modern medicine, like use of immunosuppressive therapies for inflammatory diseases or organ transplantation. Invasive diseases caused by these fungi are associated with unacceptably high mortalities, even in the presence of anti-fungal treatment. It is estimated that 1.5 million people die each year from invasive fungal infections, similar to or above deaths due Tuberculosis or malaria. The more common superficial fungal infections of the skin and nails caused by dermatophytes affect at least 25% of the worlds’ population. Also mutual are mucosal fungal infections like oral thrush in babies or genital tract thrush caused by Candida species. In fact, it is estimated that 50-75% of women suffer at least an episode of vulvovaginal candidiasis, while 5-8% (~75 million women) suffer 4 episodes a year.
Over the years, fungal immunology research has made vast strides in uncoupling major players in anti-fungal immunity, but there remains much to be learnt. For instance, to date, there is no single fungal vaccine available in the clinic. The identification of factors which drive protective anti-fungal immunity, as well as defining the surrogate markers for this protection are just some challenges. Despite these impediments, there are exciting developments in this field of research to look forward to, especially for patients at risk of fungal infections.
The objective of this research collection is to bring to the forefront major advances in cellular and molecular mechanisms of immune memory against fungi. We welcome submission of Original Research, Reviews and Mini Reviews, Perspectives and Opinion articles on topics including:
1. Tissue-specific anti-fungal memory responses.
2. Molecular recognition of commensal vs pathogenic fungi and development of memory to these.
3. Cellular mechanisms of action driving short-term and long-term anti-fungal memory responses.
4. Impact of microbiome or dysbiosis on fungal immune memory and vaccines.
5. Adjuvants for fungal immune memory and vaccines.
6. Model systems to study fungal immune memory.
7. New developments in fungal vaccines.
Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.