The production of reactive oxygen species by phagocytic cells is an important host defense against invading microorganisms. Because pathogens that achieve intracellular survival escape destruction by reactive oxidants, we investigated the relationship between the intracellular survival of H. capsulatum and the macrophage oxidative burst. H. capsulatum yeast failed to stimulate the release of reactive oxygen metabolites in unprimed murine macrophages despite extensive phagocytosis of the microorganisms. This effect was observed with live as well as heat-killed fungi over a wide range of yeast-to-macrophage ratios. Preincubation of murine macrophages with heat-killed H. capsulatum (but not with latex spheres), followed by incubation with unopsonized zymosan, resulted in inhibition of oxidative burst triggering without inhibition of zymosan phagocytosis. Ingestion of H. capsulatum yeast opsonized with the cognate mouse antibody resulted in significant oxidant release, suggesting that suppression of the respiratory burst may be circumvented through Fc-mediated phagocytosis.

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