Cell Mol Life Sci. 2021 Jan 15. doi: 10.1007/s00018-020-03736-z. Online ahead of print.
Fungal infections are an increasing threat to global public health. There are more than six million fungal species worldwide, but less than 1% are known to infect humans. Most of these fungal infections are superficial, affecting the hair, skin and nails, but some species are capable of causing life-threatening diseases. The most common of these include Cryptococcus neoformans, Aspergillus fumigatus and Candida albicans. These fungi are typically innocuous and even constitute a part of the human microbiome, but if these pathogens disseminate throughout the body, they can cause fatal infections which account for more than one million deaths worldwide each year. Thus, systemic dissemination of fungi is a critical step in the development of these deadly infections. In this review, we discuss our current understanding of how fungi disseminate from the initial infection sites to the bloodstream, how immune cells eliminate fungi from circulation and how fungi leave the blood and enter distant organs, highlighting some recent advances and offering some perspectives on future directions.