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Fungi, Molecular Detection

Molecular testing for fungi is used for rapid and highly specific and sensitive detection of fungi from a variety of biological materials.

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Fungi are single-celled and multicellular organisms and include yeasts, molds, and mushrooms. They are eukaryotic organisms and their cells contain well-defined membrane-bound organelles and have DNA genomes that contain coding sequences for proteins and non-coding sequences. They are surrounded by a rigid cell wall, making them non-mobile, a difference that distinguishes them from animal organisms. The characteristic constituents of the cell wall are chitin and glucans, mainly alpha-glucans. They digest food outside the organism by releasing digestive enzymes into their environment. These enzymes break down organic matter into a form that the fungus can absorb. Fungi are found almost everywhere in the environment and humans are constantly exposed to these organisms.

The fungi reproduce sexually, asexually, or paraphyletic. When two fungi reproduce, their two nuclei do not necessarily fuse but can coexist until they find suitable conditions. Some species of fungi produce bioactive compounds called mycotoxins and are toxic to animals including humans. Many types of fungi are pathogenic and can lead to many diseases in plants, animals, and of course humans. However, fungi are also used as a direct source of food in the production of food, beverages, proteins, detergents, and antibiotics.

Fungal infections are often classified as opportunistic and primary. Opportunistic infections are those that develop primarily in immunosuppressed patients. Primary infections can develop in patients with normal immune function. Fungal infections can be systemic or localized. Local fungal infections usually include the skin, mouth, and tongue as well as the vagina, and can occur in both normal and immunosuppressed patients.

Many opportunistic fungi are usually nonpathogenic unless found in immunosuppressed patients. The causes of immunosuppression include AIDS, azotemia, diabetes mellitus, lymphomas, leukemias or other hematological cancers, burns, and treatment with corticosteroids, immunosuppressants, or antimetabolites. Patients in ICUs may also be at risk of fungal infections due to medical procedures, underlying disorders, or even malnutrition. Typical systemic opportunistic fungal infections include Candidiasis, Aspergillosis, Mucormycosis, etc.

Primary fungal infections usually result from the inhalation of fungal spores, which can cause localized pneumonia as the primary manifestation of the infection. In immunosuppressed patients, systemic fungi usually have a chronic course. Disseminated fungal infections with pneumonia and septicemia are rare and lung lesions are usually slow. It may be months before medical attention is sought or a diagnosis is made. Symptoms are not severe in such chronic fungal infections, but fever, chills, night sweats, anorexia, weight loss, malaise, and depression may occur. Various organs can become infected, causing corresponding symptoms and malfunctions. Primary fungal infections may have a characteristic geographical distribution, particularly for endemic fungi caused by certain types of dimorphic fungi (eg Coccidioidomycosis, Histoplasmosis, Blastomycosis, etc.).


Important Note

Laboratory test results are the most important parameter for the diagnosis and monitoring of all pathological conditions. 70%-80% of diagnostic decisions are based on laboratory tests. The correct interpretation of laboratory results allows a doctor to distinguish "healthy" from "diseased".

Laboratory test results should not be interpreted from the numerical result of a single analysis. Test results should be interpreted in relation to each individual case and family history, clinical findings, and the results of other laboratory tests and information. Your personal physician should explain the importance of your test results.

At Diagnostiki Athinon we answer any questions you may have about the test you perform in our laboratory and we contact your doctor to get the best possible medical care.

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