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Insights into Mechanisms of Antibody-Mediated Immunity from Studies with Cryptococcus neoformans

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At first glance Cryptococcus neoformans appears an unlikely microbe to provide a new understanding of mechanisms of antibody-mediated immunity (AMI), because it is a facultative intracellular fungal pathogen for which the role of naturally acquired AMI in host defense is uncertain. However, numerous studies have now established that certain antibodies (Abs) against C. neoformans are protective in certain hosts. Studies with Abs to C. neoformans have provided new insights into AMI and generated new precedents with implications for other pathogens. The following concepts have emerged: 1) susceptibility to C. neoformans may be related to qualitative and quantitative aspects of the Ab response; 2) protective monoclonal Abs can be generated against pathogens even when the role of humoral immunity is uncertain; 3) Abs to C. neoformans mediate protection by immunomodulatory effects, thereby linking Ab efficacy to the overall host immune response; 4) Ab efficacy is critically dependent on fine specificity, which in turn is affected by immunoglobulin variable region usage, somatic mutation and constant region usage; 5) the efficacy of passive Ab therapy is a function of Ab dose and infecting innoculum, with lack of efficacy at the extremes of Ab concentration; 6) Ab-mediated toxicity resulting from antigen-Ab complex-induced release of platelet activating factor is isotype dependent. Observations with C. neoformans have stimulated a reappraisal of the role of humoral immunity for other pathogens and highlighted the limitations in current methods of assessing the role of Ab in host defense.
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Keywords: antibody-mediated immunity; cryptococcus neoformans; glucuronoxylomannan; immunomodulation; isotypes; monoclonal antibodies

Document Type: Review Article

Affiliations: Division of Infectious Diseases or the Department of Medicine and the Department of Microbiology and Immunology of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, 1300 Morris Park Ave, Bronx, New York, 10461 USA.

Publication date: June 1, 2005

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  • Current Molecular Medicine is an interdisciplinary journal focused on providing the readership with current and comprehensive reviews on fundamental molecular mechanisms of disease pathogenesis, the development of molecular-diagnosis and/or novel approaches to rational treatment. The reviews should be of significant interest to basic researchers and clinical investigators in molecular medicine. Periodically the journal will invite guest editors to devote an issue on a basic research area that shows promise to advance our understanding of the molecular mechanism(s) of a disease or has potential for clinical applications.
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