Fungal infection in neural tissue of patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. - GreenMedInfo Summary
Fungal infection in neural tissue of patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
Neurobiol Dis. 2017 Dec ;108:249-260. Epub 2017 Sep 6. PMID: 28888971
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a devastating neurodegenerative disease and the main cause of motor neuron pathology. The etiology of the disease remains unknown, and no effective therapy exists to halt the disease or improve the quality of life. Here, we provide compelling evidence for the existence of fungal infection in ALS. Immunohistochemistry analysis using a battery of antifungal antibodies revealed fungal structures such as yeast and hyphae in the motor cortex, the medulla and the spinal cord, in eleven patients with ALS. Some fungal structures were localized intracellularly and even intranuclearly, indicating that this infection is not the result of post-mortem colonization. By contrast, this burden of fungal infection cannot be observed in several CNS areas of control subjects. PCR analysis and next generation sequencing of DNA extracted from frozen neural tissue identified a variety of fungal genera including Candida, Malassezia, Fusarium, Botrytis, Trichoderma and Cryptococcus. Overall, our present observations provide strong evidence for mixed fungal infections in ALS patients. The exact mixed infection varies from patient to patient consistent with the different evolution and severity of symptoms in each ALS patient. These novel findings provide a logical explanation for the neuropathological observations of this disease, such as neuroinflammation and elevated chitinase levels, and could help to implement appropriate therapies.