The Antidepressant Sertraline Induces the Formation of Supersized Lipid Droplets in the Human Pathogen Cryptococcus neoformans. Academic Article uri icon


  • The prevalence and increasing incidence of fungal infections globally is a significant worldwide health problem. Cryptococcosis, primarily caused by the pathogenic yeast Cryptococcus neoformans, is responsible for approximately 181,000 estimated deaths annually. The scarcity of treatments and the increasing resistance to current therapeutics highlight the need for the development of antifungal agents which have novel mechanisms of action and are suitable for clinical use. Repurposing existing FDA-approved compounds as antimycotic therapeutics is a promising strategy for the rapid development of such new treatments. Sertraline (SRT), a commonly prescribed antidepressant, is a broad-spectrum antifungal agent with particular efficacy against C. neoformans. However, the effect of SRT on fungal physiology is not understood. Here, we report that SRT induces the formation of supersized lipid droplets (SLDs) in C. neoformans, and in Candida albicans, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, and Aspergillus fumigatus. SLDs were not induced in C. neoformans by treatment with the antifungal fluconazole (FLC), consistent with SRT and FLC acting differently to perturb C. neoformans physiology. The formation of SLDs in response to SRT indicates that this compound alters the lipid metabolism of C. neoformans. Moreover, the SRT-induced enlargement of LDs in other fungal species may indicate a common fungal response to SRT.

published proceedings

  • J Fungi (Basel)

altmetric score

  • 1

author list (cited authors)

  • Breuer, M. R., Dasgupta, A., Vasselli, J. G., Lin, X., Shaw, B. D., & Sachs, M. S.

citation count

  • 5

complete list of authors

  • Breuer, Matthew R||Dasgupta, Ananya||Vasselli, Joseph G||Lin, Xiaorong||Shaw, Brian D||Sachs, Matthew S

publication date

  • June 2022