Programmed cell death in human pathogenic fungi–a possible therapeutic target

Research output: Review article

1 Citation (Scopus)


Introduction: Diseases caused by pathogenic fungi are increasing because of antibiotic overuse, the rise of immunosuppressive therapies, and climate change. The limited variety of antimycotics and the rapid adaptation of pathogenic fungi to antifungal agents serve to exacerbate this issue. Unfortunately, about 1.6 million people are killed by fungal infections annually. Areas covered: The discovery of the small antimicrobial proteins produced by microorganisms, animals, humans, and plants will hopefully overcome challenges in the treatment of fungal infections. These small proteins are highly stable and any resistance to them rarely evolves; therefore, they are potentially good candidates for the treatment and prevention of infections caused by pathogenic fungi. Some of these proteins target the programmed cell death machinery of pathogenic fungi; this is potentially a novel approach in antimycotic therapies. In this review, we highlight the elements of apoptosis in human pathogenic fungi and related model organisms and discuss the possible therapeutic potential of the apoptosis-inducing, small, antifungal proteins. Expert opinion: Small antimicrobial proteins may establish a new class of antimycotics in the future. The rarity of resistance and their synergistic effects with other frequently used antifungal agents may help pave the way for their use in the clinic.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1039-1048
Number of pages10
JournalExpert Opinion on Therapeutic Targets
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - dec. 2 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Pharmacology
  • Drug Discovery
  • Clinical Biochemistry

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