SUMMARY: The susceptibility of four strains of to phagocytosis and intracellular killing by rabbit peritoneal neutrophils was investigated. Two of the strains, isolated from active infections, were known to synthesize a surface layer of mannoprotein fibrils in response to growth on 500 mM-galactose; the other strains, from asymptomatic carriers, lacked this capability. The presence of serum opsonins greatly enhanced phagocytosis of all four strains and, following opsonization, phagocytosis of an infective strain was equally rapid after growth on either 500 mM-galactose or 50 mM-glucose. In the absence of opsonins, galactose-grown infective strains were phagocytosed faster than either glucose-grown infective strains or galactose-grown carrier strains. These differences in phagocytic uptake were paralleled by differences in neutrophil chemiluminescence response. Intracellular killing of galactose-grown infective strains was only half that of glucose-grown infective strains or galactose-grown carrier strains after incubation for 60 min. Pretreatment of neutrophils with extracellular polymeric material, which contains the surface fibrils, completely inhibited intracellular killing. These results indicate that production of the fibrillar layer promotes yeast virulence by increasing resistance to intracellular killing, although it may enhance phagocytosis in locations where opsonic activity is poor.


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