BACKGROUND The fungal cell wall constituent 1,3-β-d-glucan (BDG) is a pathogen-associated molecular pattern that can stimulate innate immunity. We hypothesized that BDG from colonizing fungi in critically ill patients may translocate into the systemic circulation and be associated with host inflammation and outcomes.METHODS We enrolled 453 mechanically ventilated patients with acute respiratory failure (ARF) without invasive fungal infection and measured BDG, innate immunity, and epithelial permeability biomarkers in serially collected plasma samples.RESULTS Compared with healthy controls, patients with ARF had significantly higher BDG levels (median [IQR], 26 pg/mL [15–49 pg/mL], P < 0.001), whereas patients with ARF with high BDG levels (≥40 pg/mL, 31%) had higher odds for assignment to the prognostically adverse hyperinflammatory subphenotype (OR [CI], 2.88 [1.83–4.54], P < 0.001). Baseline BDG levels were predictive of fewer ventilator-free days and worse 30-day survival (adjusted P < 0.05). Integrative analyses of fungal colonization and epithelial barrier disruption suggested that BDG may translocate from either the lung or gut compartment. We validated the associations between plasma BDG and host inflammatory responses in 97 hospitalized patients with COVID-19.CONCLUSION BDG measurements offered prognostic information in critically ill patients without fungal infections. Further research in the mechanisms of translocation and innate immunity recognition and stimulation may offer new therapeutic opportunities in critical illness.FUNDING University of Pittsburgh Clinical and Translational Science Institute, COVID-19 Pilot Award and NIH grants (K23 HL139987, U01 HL098962, P01 HL114453, R01 HL097376, K24 HL123342, U01 HL137159, R01 LM012087, K08HK144820, F32 HL142172, K23 GM122069).


Georgios D. Kitsios, Daniel Kotok, Haopu Yang, Malcolm A. Finkelman, Yonglong Zhang, Noel Britton, Xiaoyun Li, Marina S. Levochkina, Amy K. Wagner, Caitlin Schaefer, John J. Villandre, Rui Guo, John W. Evankovich, William Bain, Faraaz Shah, Yingze Zhang, Barbara A. Methé, Panayiotis V. Benos, Bryan J. McVerry, Alison Morris


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