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International Journal of Microbiology
Volume 2012, Article ID 349278, 5 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2012/349278
Review Article

Invasive Mold Infections: Virulence and Pathogenesis of Mucorales

Department of Public Health, Microbiology, and Virology, Università degli Studi di Milano, Via C. Pascal 36, 20133 Milan, Italy

Received 11 August 2011; Accepted 16 September 2011

Academic Editor: Arianna Tavanti

Copyright © 2012 Giulia Morace and Elisa Borghi. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Mucorales have been increasingly reported as cause of invasive fungal infections in immunocompromised subjects, particularly in patients with haematological malignancies or uncontrolled diabetes mellitus and in those under deferoxamine treatment or undergoing dialysis. The disease often leads to a fatal outcome, but the pathogenesis of the infection is still poorly understood as well as the role of specific virulence determinants and the interaction with the host immune system. Members of the order Mucorales are responsible of almost all cases of invasive mucormycoses, the majority of the etiological agents belonging to the Mucoraceae family. Mucorales are able to produce various proteins and metabolic products toxic to animals and humans, but the pathogenic role of these potential virulence factors is unknown. The availability of free iron in plasma and tissues is believed to be crucial for the pathogenesis of these mycoses. Vascular invasion and neurotropism are considered common pathogenic features of invasive mucormycoses.