Mouse study points to why breathing in spores from one mold species doesn’t usually cause health problems
Immune cells can turn certain invaders on themselves, forcing them to prematurely self-destruct, researchers have discovered.
In mice, when white blood cells in the lungs engulf spores of a common airborne fungus, these immune cells release an enzyme that sends the fungal cells into programmed cell death. That prevents the spores from setting up shop in the lungs and sparking a potentially deadly lung infection, the researchers report in the Sept. 8 Science.
Found naturally in soil and decaying organic matter, the fungus, Aspergillus fumigatus, releases airborne spores that are found in small doses in the air people breathe every day. The finding may help explain why most people can regularly inhale the spores and not get sick. In people with weakened immune systems, though, this natural defense system doesn’t work. This research could eventually lead to better treatments