Antibiotics use increases susceptibility to fungal infections

May 19, 2022
Antibiotics use increases susceptibility to fungal infections

A new study from the University of Birmingham has uncovered how patients on heavy antibiotics use are at risk of fungal infection because of disruptions to their immune system. The study involved patients at a UK hospital – patients treated with antibiotics to prevent bacterial infections and sepsis instead developed fungal infections particularly caused by the candida fungus.

Candida infections are generally superficial but in some cases the fungus can enter the bloodstream causing what is known as invasive candidiasis which can be fatal.

A team in the University’s Institute of Immunology and Immunotherapy, in conjunction with US researchers at the National Institutes of Health, discovered that antibiotics disrupted the immune system in the intestines, meaning that fungal infections were poorly controlled in that area. Unexpectedly, the team also found that where fungal infections developed, gut bacteria were able to escape, leading to the additional risk of bacterial infection.

Through animal experiments and analysis of hospital records, the researchers showed that co-infections were likely to occur in humans after they have been treated with antibiotics.

“We knew that antibiotics make fungal infections worse, but the discovery that bacterial co-infections can also develop through these interactions in the gut was surprising,” said Birmingham fellow, Dr. Rebecca Drummond. “These factors can add up to a complicated clinical situation – and by understanding these underlying causes, doctors will be better able to treat these patients effectively.”

The researchers later revealed that treatment with immune-boosting drugs might help counteract the harm of antibiotics in patients in dire need of it.

Read: In plain sight: how your nails can show signs of stress and disease

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