Each year, fungal infections kill almost the same number of people as tuberculosis each year. The infection mainly takes hold in vulnerable people because they have a faulty immune system caused by an underlying disease, such as a viral infection (HIV or Covid-19), or cancer. Antibiotics can cause immune system abnormalities that increase the risk of fungal infections, a new study has found.
Antibiotics are more likely to cause fungal infections due to disruption of the immune system in the gut, according to the study conducted by the University of Birmingham (UK) and the National Institutes of Health (USA) .
The researchers said using immune-boosting drugs alongside antibiotics could reduce health risks from these complex infections.
A common cause of fungal infections in humans is Candida. It can cause invasive candidiasis, a life-threatening bacteremia. The study revealed that one of the risk factors for invasive candidiasis is taking antibiotics. When a patient is prescribed antibiotics, it kills some of the intestinal bacteria which can create space for the growth of intestinal fungi (like Candida).
If the intestine is damaged by surgery or chemotherapy, Candida can come out of the intestine and cause a blood infection. The most common way people get invasive candidiasis is not from their gut, but from their skin.
The life-threatening fungal infection is a major complication for hospitalized patients receiving antibiotics to prevent sepsis or other bacterial infections that spread rapidly in hospitals. Treating fungal infections can be more difficult than treating bacterial infections, but the underlying cause of these infections is not well understood.
Researchers have found that antibiotics disrupt the immune system in the intestines. The team also found that where fungal infections developed, gut bacteria could escape, leading to an additional risk of bacterial infection.
Posted in Cell host and microbe, the study demonstrated the potential of immune-boosting drugs. The researchers said their work also highlighted how antibiotics could have additional effects on bodies that affect how humans fight infection and disease. This highlights the importance of careful management of antibiotics.
The team used mice, treated with a broad-spectrum antibiotic cocktail, and infected them with Candida albicans. They found that although their mortality increased, it was due to an infection in the gut.
The team also identified parts of the immune system missing in the gut after antibiotic treatment. The researchers introduced them back into mice through immune-boosting drugs similar to those available to humans and found the approach helped reduce the severity of the fungal infection.
The team followed up the experiment by studying hospital records that showed the possibility of similar co-infections in humans after antibiotic treatment.
“Our work highlights the importance of antibiotic stewardship in protecting vulnerable patients from life-threatening infections and provides mechanistic insights into a controllable iatrogenic risk factor for invasive candidiasis,” the authors wrote. study.
The above article is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace professional advice. Always seek the advice of a physician or other qualified healthcare professional with any health-related questions.