Cryptococcal genotype influences immunologic response and human clinical outcome after meningitis

Darin L. Wiesner, Oleksandr Moskalenko, Jennifer M. Corcoran, Tami Mcdonald, Melissa A. Rolfes, David B. Meya, Henry Kajumbula, Andrew Kambugu, Paul R. Bohjanen, Joseph F. Knight, David R. Boulware, Kirsten Nielsen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

68 Scopus citations


In sub-Saharan Africa, cryptococcal meningitis (CM) continues to be a predominant cause of AIDS-related mortality. Understanding virulence and improving clinical treatments remain important. To characterize the role of the fungal strain genotype in clinical disease, we analyzed 140 Cryptococcus isolates from 111 Ugandans with AIDS and CM. Isolates consisted of 107 nonredundant Cryptococcus neoformans var. grubii strains and 8 C. neoformans var. grubii/neoformans hybrid strains. Multi-locus sequence typing (MLST) was used to characterize genotypes, yielding 15 sequence types and 4 clonal clusters. The largest clonal cluster consisted of 74 isolates. The results of Burst and phylogenetic analysis suggested that the C. neoformans var. grubii strains could be separated into three nonredundant evolutionary groups (Burst group 1 to group 3). Patient mortality was differentially associated with the different evolutionary groups (P = 0.04), with the highest mortality observed among Burst group 1, Burst group 2, and hybrid strains. Compared to Burst group 3 strains, Burst group 1 strains were associated with higher mortality (P = 0.02), exhibited increased capsule shedding (P = 0.02), and elicited a more pronounced Th2 response during ex vivo cytokine release assays with strain-specific capsule stimulation (P = 0.02). The results of these analyses suggest that cryptococcal strain variation can be an important determinant of human immune responses and mortality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere00196-12
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2012


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