Cryptococcus neoformans is one of the most common causes of fungal disease in HIV-infected persons, but not all of those who are infected develop cryptococcal disease (CD). Although CD4 T cell deficiency is a risk factor for HIV-associated CD, polymorphisms of phagocytic Fc gamma receptors (FCGRs) have been linked to CD risk in HIV-uninfected persons. To investigate associations between FCGR2A 131 H/R and FCGR3A 158 F/V polymorphisms and CD risk in HIV-infected persons, we performed PCR-based genotyping on banked samples from 164 men enrolled in the Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study (MACS): 55 who were HIV infected and developed CD and a matched control group of 54 who were HIV infected and 55 who were HIV uninfected. Using additive and allelic statistical models for analysis, the high-affinity FCGR3A 158V allele was significantly associated with CD status after adjusting for race/ethnicity (odds ratio [OR], 2.1; P 0.005), as was the FCGR3A 158 VV homozygous genotype after adjusting for race/ethnicity, rate of CD4 T cell decline, and nadir CD4 T cell count (OR, 21; P 0.005). No associations between CD and FCGR2A 131 H/R polymorphism were identified. In binding studies, human IgG (hIgG)-C. neoformans complexes exhibited more binding to CHO-K1 cells expressing FCGR3A 158V than to those expressing FCGR3A 158F, and in cytotoxicity assays, natural killer (NK) cells expressing FCGR3A 158V induced more C. neoformans-infected monocyte cytotoxicity than those expressing FCGR3A 158F. Together, these results show an association between the FCGR3A 158V allele and risk for HIV-associated CD and suggest that this polymorphism could promote C. neoformans pathogenesis via increased binding of C. neoformans immune complexes, resulting in increased phagocyte cargo and/or immune activation.
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