Black yeasts and their filamentous relatives: principles of pathogenesis and host defense

Seyedmojtaba Seyedmousavi, Mihai G Netea, Johan W Mouton, Willem J G Melchers, Paul E Verweij, G Sybren de Hoog

    Research output: Contribution to journal/periodicalArticleScientificpeer-review

    87 Citations (Scopus)


    Among the melanized fungi, the so-called "black yeasts" and their filamentous relatives are particularly significant as agents of severe phaeohyphomycosis, chromoblastomycosis, and mycetoma in humans and animals. The pathogenicity and virulence of these fungi may differ significantly between closely related species. The factors which probably are of significance for pathogenicity include the presence of melanin and carotene, formation of thick cell walls and meristematic growth, presence of yeast-like phases, thermo- and perhaps also osmotolerance, adhesion, hydrophobicity, assimilation of aromatic hydrocarbons, and production of siderophores. Host defense has been shown to rely mainly on the ingestion and elimination of fungal cells by cells of the innate immune system, especially neutrophils and macrophages. However, there is increasing evidence supporting a role of T-cell-mediated immune responses, with increased interleukin-10 (IL-10) and low levels of gamma interferon (IFN-γ) being deleterious during the infection. There are no standardized therapies for treatment. It is therefore important to obtain in vitro susceptibilities of individual patients' fungal isolates in order to provide useful information for selection of appropriate treatment protocols. This article discusses the pathogenesis and host defense factors for these fungi and their severity, chronicity, and subsequent impact on treatment and prevention of diseases in human or animal hosts.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)527-42
    Number of pages16
    JournalClinical Microbiology Reviews
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2014


    • Animals
    • Fungi
    • Host-Pathogen Interactions
    • Humans
    • Mycoses
    • Virulence


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