Cryptococcus Neoformans is a Basidiomycetous Yeast Fungus
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Cryptococcus neoformans is a basidiomycetous yeast fungus that is enclosed with a polysaccharide capsule. C. neoformans can undergo sexual reproduction that is due to crossing α- and a-mating types, resulting in the formation of sexual spores or basidiospores (Buchanan and Murphy, 1998). It is an intracellular pathogen that affects more than one million individuals, resulting in over 700,000 deaths per year (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2014). Individuals become infected with this pathogen when they inhale fungal particles from the various sources that C. neoformans is found in: bird guano, decaying vegetables and soil (Upadhya et al. 2013). These particles then enter the alveoli within the lungs. In individuals with a healthy immune system, the infection is cleared or stays dormant until an imbalance of the immune system occurs. However, in individuals with compromised immune systems such as those with HIV, cancer or those taking corticosteroid medications; the fungus can disseminate and enter the central nervous system. Symptoms include coughing, chest pain, fever, weight loss, pneumonia and respiratory distress syndrome as well as meningoencephalitis that is fatal if left untreated (Bose et al. 2003; Upadhya et al. 2013).
Cell mediated immunity in the infected host is very important to respond to fungal invaders. Phagocytic cells like macrophages, and neutrophils produce reactive oxygen species (ROS) which kill