Phagocytic cells are believed to have an important role in the eradication of fungal spores from the lung. The ability of human and mouse cells to phagocytose the opportunistic fungus Aspergillus fumigatus has been examined, spores of the non-pathogenic fungus Penicillium ochrochloron being used for comparison. Most spores became associated with cells. Those of A fumigatus appeared to remain bound to the surface of the phagocyte rather than being ingested; in contrast, P ochrochloron spores appeared to be phagocytosed more readily, although they also were seen, in small numbers, o n the cell surface. In view of the subjective nature of these observations, the effects of spore diffusates on phagocytosis were examined. Diffusates from spores of A fumigatus were shown to inhibit phagocytosis of antibody coated radiolabelled sheep red blood cells by primed mouse phagocytic cells. Diffusates of spores of P ochrochloron had no such effect. These results suggest that when spores of A fumigatus become bound to the surface of phagocytes they are able to release a substance that inhibits their ingestion while having little or no effect on surface binding.
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