Host chitinases, chitotriosidase and acidic mammalian chitinase (AMCase), improved the antifungal activity of caspofungin (CAS) against Aspergillus fumigatus in vitro. These chitinases are not constitutively expressed in the lung. Here, we investigated whether chitosan derivatives were able to induce chitinase activity in the lungs of neutropenic rats and, if so, whether these chitinases were able to prolong survival of rats with invasive pulmonary aspergillosis (IPA) or of rats with IPA and treated with CAS. An oligosaccharide-lactate chitosan (OLC) derivative was instilled in the left lung of neutropenic rats to induce chitotriosidase and AMCase activities. Rats instilled with OLC or with phosphate-buffered saline (PBS) were subsequently infected with A. fumigatus and then treated with suboptimal doses of CAS. Survival, histopathology, and galactomannan indexes were determined. Instillation of OLC resulted in chitotriosidase and AMCase activities. However, instillation of OLC did not prolong rat survival when rats were subsequently challenged with A. fumigatus. In 5 of 7 rats instilled with OLC, the fungal foci in the lungs were smaller than those in rats instilled with PBS. Instillation of OLC did not significantly enhance the survival of neutropenic rats challenged with A. fumigatus and treated with a suboptimal dosage of CAS. Chitotriosidase and AMCase activities can be induced with OLC, but the presence of active chitinases in the lung did not prevent the development of IPA or significantly enhance the therapeutic outcome of CAS treatment.

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Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy
Department of Medical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases

Refos, J., Vonk, A., ten Kate, M., Verbrugh, H.A. (Henri A.), Bakker-Woudenberg, I., & Van De Sandea, W.J.J. (Wendy J. J.). (2018). Chitinase induction prior to caspofungin treatment of experimental invasive aspergillosis in neutropenic rats does not enhance survival. Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, 62(1). doi:10.1128/AAC.00960-17