We examined the effect of Cryptococcus neoformans on nitric Oxide (NO) production by activated cultured macrophages. C. neoformans suppressed NO production by murine peritoneal macrophages stimulated with bacterial lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and interferon (IFN)-γ while it did not influence the production of IL-1β. This effect was observed when 1 x 106 or 107 of C. neoformans was added to macrophage cultures. A direct contact of C. neoformans with macrophages was essential for this inhibitory effect, since placement of a 0.45-μm-pore membrane between the organism and macrophages prevented such effect. In addition, C. neoformans killed by heat or paraformaldehyde did not show this inhibitory activity. Capsular polysaccharide did not mediate the inhibitory effect, since two nonencapsulated mutant strains of C. neoformans showed an inhibitory activity similar to that of encapsulated wild strains, and culture supernatants of C. neoformans, rich in polysaccharide antigens, did not inhibit macrophage NO production compared with control culture medium. The inhibitory effect was also not mediated by interleukin (IL)-10 and transforming growth factor (TGF)-β since neutralizing specific anti- bodies to these cytokines did not influence C. neoformans-induced reductions in macrophage NO production. Our results suggest that C. neoformans may cause a direct suppression of NO-mediated fungicidal activity of macrophages, and the effect is independent of the capsular polysaccharide and production of IL-10 and TGF-β.
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