JOURNAL ARTICLE

The Aspergillus fumigatus toxin fumagillin suppresses the immune response of Galleria mellonella larvae by inhibiting the action of haemocytes

John P Fallon, Emer P Reeves, Kevin Kavanagh
Microbiology 2011, 157 (Pt 5): 1481-8
21349977
Larvae of Galleria mellonella are widely used to evaluate microbial virulence and to assess the in vivo efficacy of antimicrobial agents. The aim of this work was to examine the ability of an Aspergillus fumigatus toxin, fumagillin, to suppress the immune response of larvae. Administration of fumagillin to larvae increased their susceptibility to subsequent infection with A. fumigatus conidia (P = 0.0052). It was demonstrated that a dose of 2 µg fumagillin ml⁻¹ reduced the ability of insect immune cells (haemocytes) to kill opsonized cells of Candida albicans (P = 0.039) and to phagocytose A. fumigatus conidia (P = 0.016). Fumagillin reduced the oxygen uptake of haemocytes and decreased the translocation of a p47 protein which is homologous to p47(phox), a protein essential for the formation of a functional NADPH oxidase complex required for superoxide production. In addition, toxin-treated haemocytes showed reduced levels of degranulation as measured by the release of a protein showing reactivity to an anti-myeloperoxidase antibody (P<0.049) that was subsequently identified by liquid chromatography-MS analysis as prophenoloxidase. This work demonstrates that fumagillin suppresses the immune response of G. mellonella larvae by inhibiting the action of haemocytes and thus renders the larvae susceptible to infection. During growth of the fungus in the larvae, this toxin, along with others, may facilitate growth by suppressing the cellular immune response.

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