H‐ficolin binds Aspergillus fumigatus leading to activation of the lectin complement pathway and modulation of lung epithelial immune responses

Stefan Bidula, Darren Sexton, Matthew Yates, Alireza Abdolrasouli, Anand Shah, Russell Wallis, Anna Reed, Darius Armstrong-James, Silke Schelenz

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35 Citations (Scopus)


Aspergillus fumigatus is an opportunistic fungal pathogen that typically infects the lungs of immunocompromised patients leading to a high mortality. H-Ficolin, an innate immune opsonin, is produced by type II alveolar epithelial cells and could participate in lung defences against infections. Here, we used the human type II alveolar epithelial cell line, A549, to determine the involvement of H-ficolin in fungal defence. Additionally, we investigated the presence of H-ficolin in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid from transplant patients during pneumonia. H-Ficolin exhibited demonstrable binding to A. fumigatus conidia via l-fucose, d-mannose and N-acetylglucosamine residues in a calcium- and pH-dependent manner. Moreover, recognition led to lectin complement pathway activation and enhanced fungal association with A549 cells. Following recognition, H-ficolin opsonization manifested an increase in interleukin-8 production from A549 cells, which involved activation of the intracellular signalling pathways mitogen-activated protein kinase MAPK kinase 1/2, p38 MAPK and c-Jun N-terminal kinase. Finally, H-ficolin concentrations were significantly higher in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid of patients with lung infections compared with control subjects (n = 16; P = 0·00726). Receiver operating characteristics curve analysis further highlighted the potential of H-ficolin as a diagnostic marker for lung infection (area under the curve = 0·77; P < 0·0001). Hence, H-ficolin participates in A. fumigatus defence through the activation of the lectin complement pathway, enhanced fungus–host interactions and modulated immune responses.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)281-291
Number of pages11
Issue number2
Early online date24 Aug 2015
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2015

Bibliographical note

The authors would like to acknowledge Professor Christopher Thornton (University of Exeter) for providing lateral-flow devices and Dr Chris Furze for providing complement reagents. S.B., A.A., M.Y., A.S and A.R. per-formed the experiments. S.B., D.W.S., R.W., D.A.J. and S.S designed the experiments. S.B., D.W.S. and S.S. wrote the manuscript. This work was supported by the Imperial College Healthcare Biomedical Research Centre, the Royal Brompton and Harefield Respiratory Biomedical Research Unit, the Medical Research Council (MR/K002708/1 to A.A., A.S., A.R. and D.A.J.) and the Faculty of Health,University of East Anglia (PhD studentship FMH 04.4.66C4 to S.B., D.W.S. and S.S.)


  • Aspergillus
  • complement
  • ficolin
  • innate immunity


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