Histoplasmosis is a worldwide-distributed deep mycosis that affects healthy and immunocompromised hosts. Severe and disseminated disease is especially common in HIV-infected patients. At least 11 phylogenetic species are recognized and the majority of diversity is found in Latin America. The northeastern region of Brazil has one of the highest HIV/AIDS prevalence in Latin America and Ceará State has one of the highest death rates due to histoplasmosis in the world, where the mortality rate varies between 33–42%. The phylogenetic distribution and population genetic structure of 51 clinical isolates from Northeast Brazil was studied. For that morphological characteristics, exoantigens profile, and fungal mating types were evaluated. The genotypes were deduced by a MSLT in order to define local population structure of this fungal pathogen. In addition, the relationships of H. capsulatum genotypes with clinically relevant phenotypes and clinical aspects were investigated. The results suggest two cryptic species, herein named population Northeast BR1 and population Northeast BR2. These populations are recombining, exhibit a high level of haplotype diversity, and contain different ratios of mating types MAT1-1 and MAT1-2. However, differences in phenotypes or clinical aspects were not observed within these new cryptic species. A HIV patient can be co-infected by two or more genotypes from Northeast BR1 and/or Northeast BR2, which may have significant impact on disease progression due to the impaired immune response. We hypothesize that co-infections could be the result of multiple exposure events and may indicate higher risk of disseminated histoplasmosis, especially in HIV infected patients.
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