Here’s How Gliotoxin Can Cripple the Immune System, New Study Suggests


Our immune system is possibly one of the most important prospects of our overall health. Any kind of disturbances with the immune system has the possibility of affecting the overall body activity. Gliotoxin is one such fungus that has the capability of crippling the system altogether.

A new study (R) conducted by the researchers from the Friedrich-Schiller-Universitaet Jena found the mode of action opted by the harmful mycotoxin, gliotoxin in the body. They have established a complete rundown of the process of infestation which causes the fatal fungal infection to spread around.


The presence of this fungus is everywhere around you and it is often hard to detect where they will be around and might end up infesting your body. This form of fungus is actually quite harmful for the people who suffer from an extremely weak immune system.

It is the fungus Aspergillus fumigatus which ends up affecting the immune system heavily. It virtually does occur around everywhere which is one of the reasons why it is hard to detect this from around you. It is found as dark grey, wrinkled cushions on the damp walls or even in the microscopically small spores that is found around in the air.

A healthy individual with a well working and strong immune system will actually be able to fight off the infestation of the pores around which is not the case with that of the people with a weakened immunity. It is predominantly the AIDS patients or people with immunosuppression who tend to be affected the most by this fungus, so and so that it could even be fatal for their lives.

This international research has been led on by one of the renowned professors from Friedrich Schiller University, Jena, Prof. Oliver Werz. They have worked on to find that it does knock out the immune defenses of an individual, enabling the formation of a potential dangerous fungal infection in the body.

They have found that it is the action of the mycotoxin, gliotoxin is what is responsible for the pathogenicity of the fungus altogether. Prof. Werz stated saying that it was very clear and known right from the start that this specific fungus did have effective immunosuppressive effects on the body, which in short means that it suppresses the activity of the immune cells in the body.

Werz, along with his colleagues have worked to find the efficacy of this specific mycotoxin in suppressing the immune response in the body.

Communication between the immune cells

In order to test out the process of interaction, the researchers developed synthetically derived gliotoxin and brought the same is contact with the immune cells. The immune cells in question were the neutrophilic granulocytes which account for the first line of immune response in our body.

Their primary job is to detect the pathogens and then eliminate the same from the body. Werz further explains stating that the moment the immune cells come in contact with a pathogen, it ends up releasing specific messenger substances known as the leukotrienes into the bloodstream which ends up being a trigger for the other immune cells in the periphery to accumulate around. Once there is a substantial amount of immune cells around, the same can work around to inactivate the pathogen completely.

Gliotoxin switches the enzyme off

Enzymatic reactions are beneficial for smooth functioning. This process is hindered when Aspergillus fumigatus is involved in the process. The group of scientists working on this has found that gliotoxin does end up affecting the release of leukotrieneB4 in the neutrophilic granulocytes in the body. This ends up prohibiting the signal to be sent to the other immune cells nearby.

The gliotoxin ends up affecting and stopping the activity of the LTA4 hydrolase enzyme. This is what ends up altering the communication between the immune cells amidst the body and thus hampers the defense mechanism in the body. This makes it easier for the infested spores to infiltrate the body tissues and organs.

All in all, it is very important to maintain proper hygiene to reduce the risks of the fungal interaction in the body. The gliotoxin in the Aspergillus fumigatus can be a deadly impact on the people who already suffer from an affected immune system.