Affiliation: Department of Medical Microbiology, University Medical Center of Goettingen, Kreuzbergring 57, 37075 Goettingen, Germany.
Although innate immunity primarily combats systemic infections of opportunistic fungi such as Aspergillus and Candida spp., acquired and protective immunoreactions were observed long ago in animal trials following sublethal systemic infections caused by viable fungi or after challenging animals with inactivated fungal cells. Based on these observations, fungal antigens should exist which mediate such protective immunoreactions and have in part already been identified. In this context, this review focuses primarily on the various approaches that have been used to identify protectionmediating Aspergillus-antigens and their rationale. Emphasis is placed on screening methods that have exploited genetic or proteomic approaches on the basis of the corresponding fungal genome projects. Thereby, a survey and description is given of the antigens so far known to be capable of inducing immune responses that protect animals against acquiring lethal systemic aspergillosis.