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Introduction: We aimed to elucidate the inflammatory response of Aspergillus fumigatus conidia in a whole-blood model of innate immune activation and to compare it with the well-characterized inflammatory reaction to E. coli. Methods: Employing a human lepirudin whole-blood model, we analyzed complement and leukocyte activation by measuring the sC5b-9 complex and assessing CD11b expression. A 27-multiplex system was used for quantification of cytokines. Selective cell removal from whole blood and inhibition of C3, C5, and CD14 were also applied. Results: Our findings demonstrated a marked elevation in sC5b-9 and CD11b post-A. fumigatus incubation. Thirteen cytokines (TNF, IL-1β, IL-1ra, IL-4, IL-6, IL-8, IL-17, IFNγ, MCP-1, MIP-1α, MIP-1β, FGF-basic, and G-CSF) showed increased levels. A generally lower level of cytokine release and CD11b expression was observed with A. fumigatus conidia than with E. coli. Notably, monocytes were instrumental in releasing all cytokines except MCP-1. IL-1ra was found to be both monocyte and granulocyte-dependent. Pre-inhibiting with C3 and CD14 inhibitors resulted in decreased release patterns for six cytokines (TNF, IL-1β, IL-6, IL-8, MIP-1α and MIP-1β), with minimal effects by C5-inhibition. Conclusion: A. fumigatus conidia induced complement activation comparable to E. coli, whereas CD11b expression and cytokine release were lower, underscoring distinct inflammatory responses between these pathogens. Complement C3 inhibition attenuated cytokine release indicating a C3-level role of complement in A. fumigatus immunity.

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