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Candida mannan: chemistry, suppression of cell-mediated immunity, and possible mechanisms of action.
R D Nelson, N Shibata, R P Podzorski, and M J Herron
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The ability of Candida albicans to establish an infection involves multiple components of this fungal pathogen, but its ability to persist in host tissue may involve primarily the immunosuppressive property of a major cell wall glycoprotein, mannan. Mannan and oligosaccharide fragments of mannan are potent inhibitors of cell-mediated immunity and appear to reproduce the immune deficit of patients with the mucocutaneous form of candidiasis. However, neither the exact structures of these inhibitory species nor their mechanisms of action have yet been clearly defined. Different investigators have proposed that mannan or mannan catabolites act upon monocytes or suppressor T lymphocytes, but research from unrelated areas has provided still other possibilities for consideration. These include interference with cytokine activities, lymphocyte-monocyte interactions, and leukocyte homing. To stimulate further research of the immunosuppressive property of C. albicans mannan, we have reviewed (i) the relationship of mannan to other antigens and virulence factors of the fungus; (ii) the chemistry of mannan, together with methods for preparation of mannan and mannan fragments; and (iii) the historical evidence for immunosuppression by Candida mannan and the mechanisms currently proposed for this property; and (iv) we have speculated upon still other mechanisms by which mannan might influence host defense functions. It is possible that understanding the immunosuppressive effects of mannan will provide clues to novel therapies for candidiasis that will enhance the efficacy of both available and future anti-Candida agents.