Dynamics of gliotoxin and bis(methylthio)gliotoxin production during the course of Aspergillus fumigatus infection
Med Mycol. 2022 Apr 13:myac025. doi: 10.1093/mmy/myac025. Online ahead of print.
As recently described, fungal secondary metabolism activates during infection in response to a hostile host environment. Gliotoxin and bis(methylthio)gliotoxin are two recognized secondary metabolites produced by Aspergillus fumigatus with differential cytotoxicity and involved in virulence. We sought to describe the temporal dynamics of gliotoxin and bis(methylthio)gliotoxin during A. fumigatus progression to further explore their role in the infection. First, we optimized the production of the mycotoxins under different in vitro growth conditions and then specifically measured them using an UHPLC/PDA method. The analytical conditions were selected after testing different parameters such as extraction procedures, column type, and mobile phase composition. We found that gliotoxin and bis(methylthio)gliotoxin are differentially excreted to the extracellular media during the course of A. fumigatus infection regardless of the growth format tested. Dynamic profiles show an early production of gliotoxin, which, after reaching a maximum, decreases coinciding with the increase in the production of the inactive derivative bis(methylthio)gliotoxin. Presence of gliotoxin may indicate an early phase of fungal development, whereas detection of bis(methylthio)gliotoxin may correspond to a more advanced stage of infection. Our chromatographic method successfully characterizes these secondary metabolites. Thus, it may potentially be used to further understand Aspergillus infection.