Phenotypic and genotypic characteristics of Candida albicans isolates from bloodstream and mucosal infections

Summary

The interaction of Candida albicans with the host is of a complex nature involving fungal factors and host’s response. In this study, we concentrated on the phenotypic expression of virulence attributes and genotypic characteristics of C. albicans isolates from two distinct clinical entities of candidiasis—blood stream and vaginal infections, and the possible role of these factors. Hence, we conducted a comparative in vitro assessment of virulence characteristics, including adhesion to epithelial cells and HaCat cell line, biofilm formation, aspartic proteinases and phospholipase activity of 20 C. albicans isolates from patients with C. albicans bloodstream infection and 22 isolates from patients with C. albicans vaginitis. Further, we studied the epigenetic phenotypic switching of the strains and their ploidy, by flow cytometry and CHEF techniques. These studies indicated that although no overall differentiation between the isolates of the two groups (bloodstream infection and vaginitis) could be demonstrated, several characteristics were more specific to one of the groups than the other. While the strains from vaginal infection had higher capacity to adhere, the strains from patients with bloodstream infection had higher activity of phospholipase. Differences were also noted in phenotypic switching, with the strains from bloodstream infection revealing primarily the “white” type colonies, known to be more virulent, and had higher DNA content. This study is unique considering the concurrent comparison of isolates from different clinical entities, at the phenotypic and genotypic level.

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