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Concept: Candida albicans

191

Candida albicans is an opportunistic and polymorphic fungal pathogen that causes mucosal, disseminated and invasive infections in humans. Transition from the yeast form to the hyphal form is one of the key virulence factors in C. albicans contributing to macrophage evasion, tissue invasion and biofilm formation. Nontoxic small molecules that inhibit C. albicans yeast-to-hypha conversion and hyphal growth could represent a valuable source for understanding pathogenic fungal morphogenesis, identifying drug targets and serving as templates for the development of novel antifungal agents. Here, we have identified the triterpenoid saponin family of gymnemic acids (GAs) as inhibitor of C. albicans morphogenesis. GAs were isolated and purified from Gymnema sylvestre leaves, the Ayurvedic traditional medicinal plant used to treat diabetes. Purified GAs had no effect on the growth and viability of C. albicans yeast cells but inhibited its yeast-to-hypha conversion under several hypha-inducing conditions, including the presence of serum. Moreover, GAs promoted the conversion of C. albicans hyphae into yeast cells under hypha inducing conditions. They also inhibited conidial germination and hyphal growth of Aspergillus sp. Finally, GAs inhibited the formation of invasive hyphae from C. albicans-infected Caenorhabditis elegans worms and rescued them from killing by C. albicans. Hence, GAs could be useful for various antifungal applications due to their traditional use in herbal medicine.

Concepts: Bacteria, Ascomycota, Microbiology, Candida albicans, Hypha, Gymnema sylvestre, Fungus, Yeast

175

SCY-078 is an orally bioavailable ß-1,3-glucan synthesis inhibitor (GSI) and the first-in-class of structurally novel triterpine antifungals in clinical development for treating candidemia and invasive candidiasis. In vitro susceptibility by broth micro-dilution, antifungal carry-over, and time-kill dynamics were determined for 3 reference (ATCC) strains (C. albicans 90028, C. parapsilosis 90018, and C. tropicalis 750), a Quality Control (QC) strain (C krusei 6258), and 4 other strains (C. albicans MYA-2732, 64124, 76485 and C.glabrata 90030). Caspofungin (CASP), fluconazole (FLC), and voriconazole (VRC) were comparators. For time-kill experiments, SCY-078 and CASP were evaluated at 0.25, 1, 2, 4, 8, and 16x MIC80, and FLU and VORI were evaluated at 4x MIC80 The time to reach 50%, 90%, and 99.9% growth from starting innoculum was determined. Net change in CFU/mL was used to determine EC50, EC90, and Emax SCY-078 MIC range was between 0.0625 - 1 μg/mL and generally similar to CASP. Antifungal carryover was not observed for SCY-078. SCY-078 was fungicidal against 7 isolates at ≥4x MIC (kill ≥3log10) and achieved a 1.7 log10 reduction in CFUs/mL against C. albicans 90028. CASP behaved similarly against each isolate and achieved a 1.5 log10 reduction in CFUs/mL against C. albicans 90028. Reductions of 50% in CFUs/mL were achieved rapidly (1-2.8 h); fungicidal endpoints were reached at 12.1 - 21.8 h at ≥4x MIC. EC90 was reached at ∼5x MIC at each time point to 24 h. EC50 and EC90 were generally similar (8-24 h). Time-kill behavior of CASP was similar to SCY-078. FLC and VRC were fungistatic. Overall, SCY-078 has primarily fungicidal activity against Candida spp. and behaved comparably to CASP.

Concepts: Candida, Fluconazole, Candida krusei, Antifungals, Fungemia, Antifungal drug, Candida albicans, Candidiasis

169

BACKGROUND: Oral lichen planus (OLP) is seen frequently in patients with hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection. The aim of this study was to evaluate the occurrence of oral candidiasis, other mucosal lesions, and xerostomia during interferon (IFN) therapy for HCV infection. METHODS: Of 124 patients with HCV-infected liver diseases treated with IFN therapy in our hospital, 14 (mean age 56.00 +/- 12.94 years) who attended to receive administration of IFN once a week were identified and examined for Candida infection and other oral lesions and for the measurement of salivary flow. Serological assays also were carried out. RESULTS: Cultures of Candida from the tongue surfaces were positive in 7 (50.0%) of the 14 patients with HCV infection at least once during IFN therapy. C. albicans was the most common species isolated. The incidence of Candida during treatment with IFN did not increase above that before treatment. Additional oral mucosal lesions were observed in 50.0% (7/14) of patients: OLP in three (21.4%), angular cheilitis in three (21.4%) and recurrent aphthous stomatitis in one (7.1%). OLP occurred in one patient before treatment with IFN, in one during treatment and in one at the end of treatment. 85.7% of the oral lesions were treated with topical steroids. We compared the characteristics of the 7 patients in whom Candida was detected at least once during IFN therapy (group 1) and the 7 patients in whom Candida was not detected during IFN therapy (group 2). The prevalence of oral mucosal lesions (P=0.0075) and incidence of external use of steroids (P=0.0308) in group 1 were significantly higher than in group 2. The average body weight of group 1 decreased significantly compared to group 2 (P=0.0088). Salivary flow decreased in all subjects throughout the course of IFN treatment and returned at 6th months after the end of treatment. In group 1, the level of albumin at the beginning of the 6th month of IFN administration was lower than in group 2 (P=0.0550). According to multivariate analysis, one factor, the presence of oral mucosal lesions, was associated with the detection of Candida. The adjusted odds ratio for the factor was 36.00 (95% confidence interval 2.68-1485.94). CONCLUSION: We should pay more attention to oral candidiasis as well as other oral mucosal lesions, in patients with weight loss during IFN treatment.

Concepts: Candida albicans, Aphthous ulcer, Oral pathology, Interferon, Stomatitis, Candidiasis, Lichen planus, Hepatitis C

164

Development of resistant variants to existing antifungal drugs continues to be the serious problem in Candida albicans-induced fungal pathogenesis, which has a considerable impact on animal and human health. Identification and characterization of newer drugs against C. albicans is, therefore, essential. MMGP1 is a direct cell-penetrating peptide recently identified from marine metagenome, which was found to possess potent antifungal activity against C. albicans.

Concepts: Candidiasis, Candida albicans

161

Glucosinolates (GLs) are natural compounds present in species of the order Brassicales and precursors of bioactive isothiocyanates (ITCs). In the recent years, they have been studied mainly for their chemopreventive as well as novel chemotherapeutics properties. Among them 4-(α-L-rhamnosyloxy)benzyl glucosinolate (glucomoringin; GMG), purified from seeds of Moringa oleifera Lam., a plant belonging to the Moringaceae family, represents an uncommon member of the GL family with peculiar characteristics. This short communication reports new evidences about the properties of GMG and presents a new innovative utilization of the molecule. The bioactivation of GMG by myrosinase enzyme just before treatment, permits to maximize the power of the final product of the reaction, which is the 4-(α-L-rhamnosyloxy)benzyl isothiocyanate (GMG-ITC). We tested the antibiotic activity of this latter compound on two strains of pathogens affecting the health of patients in hospital, namely Staphylococcus aureus and Enterococcus casseliflavus, and on the yeast Candida albicans. Results show that the sensibility of S. aureus BAA-977 strain and E. casseliflavus to GMG-ITC treatment reveals an important possible application of this molecule in the clinical care of patients, more and more often resistant to traditional therapies.

Concepts: Brassicales, Moringa, Microbiology, Bacteria, Moringa oleifera, Staphylococcus aureus, Candida albicans, Antibiotic resistance

152

The increasing applicability of antifungal treatments, the limited range of available drug classes and the emergence of drug resistance in Candida spp. suggest the need for new treatment options. To explore the applicability of C. albicans photoinactivation, we examined nine structurally different imidazoacridinone derivatives as photosensitizing agents. The most effective derivatives showed a >104-fold reduction of viable cell numbers. The fungicidal action of the three most active compounds was compared at different radiant powers(3.5 to 63 mW/cm2), and this analysis indicated that 7 mW/cm2 was the most efficient. The intracellular accumulation of these compounds in fungal cells correlated with the fungicidal activity of all 9 derivatives. The lack of effect of verapamil, an inhibitor targeting Candida ABC efflux pumps, suggests that these imidazoacridinones are not substrates for ABC transporters. Thus, unlike azoles, a major class of antifungals used against Candida, ABC transporter-mediated resistance is unlikely. Electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR)-spin trapping data suggested that the fungicidal light-induced action of these derivatives might depend on the production of superoxide anion. The highest generation rate of superoxide anion was observed for 1330H, 1610H, and 1611. Singlet oxygen production was also detected upon the irradiation of imidazoacridinone derivatives with UV laser light, with a low to moderate yield, depending on the type of compound. Thus, imidazoacridinone derivatives examined in the present study might act via mixed type I/type II photodynamic mechanism. The presented data indicate lack of direct correlation between the structures of studied imidazoacridinones, cell killing ability, and ROS production. However, we showed for the first time that for imidazoacridinones not only intracellular accumulation is necessary prerequisite of lethal photosensitization of C. albicans, but also localization within particular cellular structures. Our findings present IA derivatives as efficient antifungal photosensitizers with a potential to be used in local treatment of Candida infection.

Concepts: Oxide, Reactive oxygen species, Superoxide dismutase, Fungus, Candida albicans, Candidiasis, Oxygen

36

Candida albicans is frequently detected with heavy infection by Streptococcus mutans in plaque-biofilms from children with early-childhood caries (ECC). This cross-kingdom biofilm contains an extensive matrix of extracellular α-glucans that is produced by an exoenzyme (GtfB) secreted by S. mutans. Here, we report that mannans located on the outer surface of C. albicans cell-wall mediates GtfB binding, enhancing glucan-matrix production and modulating bacterial-fungal association within biofilms formed in vivo. Using single-molecule atomic force microscopy, we determined that GtfB binds with remarkable affinity to mannans and to the C. albicans surface, forming a highly stable and strong bond (1-2 nN). However, GtfB binding properties to C. albicans was compromised in strains defective in O-mannan (pmt4ΔΔ) or N-mannan outer chain (och1ΔΔ). In particular, the binding strength of GtfB on och1ΔΔ strain was severely disrupted (>3-fold reduction vs. parental strain). In turn, the GtfB amount on the fungal surface was significantly reduced, and the ability of C. albicans mutant strains to develop mixed-species biofilms with S. mutans was impaired. This phenotype was independent of hyphae or established fungal-biofilm regulators (EFG1, BCR1). Notably, the mechanical stability of the defective biofilms was weakened, resulting in near complete biomass removal by shear forces. In addition, these in vitro findings were confirmed in vivo using a rodent biofilm model. Specifically, we observed that C. albicans och1ΔΔ was unable to form cross-kingdom biofilms on the tooth surface of rats co-infected with S. mutans. Likewise, co-infection with S. mutans defective in GtfB was also incapable of forming mixed-species biofilms. Taken together, the data support a mechanism whereby S. mutans-secreted GtfB binds to the mannan layer of C. albicans to promote extracellular matrix formation and their co-existence within biofilms. Enhanced understanding of GtfB-Candida interactions may provide new perspectives for devising effective therapies to disrupt this cross-kingdom relationship associated with an important childhood oral disease.

Concepts: Streptococcus, In vivo, Microbiology, Streptococcus mutans, Yeast, Dental plaque, Candida albicans, Fungus

32

Fungal infections are on the rise, with mortality above 30% in patients with septic Candida infections. Mutants lacking V-ATPase activity are avirulent and fail to acidify endomembrane compartments, exhibiting pleiotropic defects in secretory, endosomal and vacuolar pathways. However, the individual contribution of organellar acidification to virulence and its associated traits is not known. To dissect their separate roles in C. albicans pathogenicity we generated knockout strains for the V0 subunit a genes VPH1 and STV1, which target the vacuole and secretory pathway respectively. While the two subunits were redundant in many vma phenotypes, such as alkaline pH sensitivity, calcium homeostasis, respiratory defects and cell wall integrity, we observed a unique contribution of VPH1. Specifically, vph1Δ was defective in acidification of the vacuole and its dependent functions, such as metal ion sequestration as evidenced by hypersensitivity to Zn2+ toxicity, whereas stv1Δ resembled wild type. In growth conditions that elicit morphogenic switching, vph1Δ was defective in forming hyphae whereas stv1Δ was normal or only modestly impaired. Host cell interactions were evaluated in vitro using the Caco-2 model of intestinal epithelial cells, and murine macrophages. Like wild type, stv1Δ was able to inflict cellular damage in Caco-2 and macrophage cells, as assayed by LDH release, and escape by filamentation. In contrast, vph1Δ resembled a vma7Δ mutant, with significant attenuation in host cell damage. Finally, we show that VPH1 is required for fungal virulence in a murine model of systemic infection. Our results suggest that vacuolar acidification has an essential function in the ability of C. albicans to form hyphae and establish infection.

Concepts: Golgi apparatus, Bacteria, Gene, Candida albicans, Immune system, Fungus, Yeast, Cell

28

The molecules and pathways of the gut-brain axis represent new targets for developing methods to diagnose and treat psychiatric disorders. Manipulation of the gut microbiome with probiotics may be a therapeutic strategy with the potential to relieve gastrointestinal (GI) comorbidities and improve psychiatric symptoms. Candida albicans and Saccharomyces cerevisiae, commensal yeast species, can be imbalanced in the unhealthy human microbiome, and these fungal exposures were previously found elevated in schizophrenia. In a longitudinal, double-blind, placebo-controlled, pilot investigation of 56 outpatients with schizophrenia, we examined the impact of probiotic treatment on yeast antibody levels, and the relationship between treatment and antibody levels on bowel discomfort and psychiatric symptoms. We found that probiotic treatment significantly reduced C. albicans antibodies over the 14-week study period in males, but not in females. Antibody levels of S. cerevisiae were not altered in either treatment group. The highest levels of bowel discomfort over time occurred in C. albicans-seropositive males receiving the placebo. We observed trends toward improvement in positive psychiatric symptoms in males treated with probiotics who were seronegative for C. albicans. Results from this pilot study hint at an association of C. albicans seropositivity with worse positive psychiatric symptoms, which was confirmed in a larger cohort of 384 males with schizophrenia. In conclusion, the administration of probiotics may help normalize C. albicans antibody levels and C. albicans-associated gut discomfort in many male individuals. Studies with larger sample sizes are warranted to address the role of probiotics in correcting C. albicans-associated psychiatric symptoms. ClinicalTrials.gov identifier: NCT01242371.

Concepts: Yeasts, Candida albicans, Mental disorder, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Ascomycota, Gut flora, Fungus, Yeast

28

Endogenous tryptophan (Trp) metabolites have an important role in mammalian gut immune homeostasis, yet the potential contribution of Trp metabolites from resident microbiota has never been addressed experimentally. Here, we describe a metabolic pathway whereby Trp metabolites from the microbiota balance mucosal reactivity in mice. Switching from sugar to Trp as an energy source (e.g., under conditions of unrestricted Trp availability), highly adaptive lactobacilli are expanded and produce an aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) ligand-indole-3-aldehyde-that contributes to AhR-dependent Il22 transcription. The resulting IL-22-dependent balanced mucosal response allows for survival of mixed microbial communities yet provides colonization resistance to the fungus Candida albicans and mucosal protection from inflammation. Thus, the microbiota-AhR axis might represent an important strategy pursued by coevolutive commensalism for fine tuning host mucosal reactivity contingent on Trp catabolism.

Concepts: Organism, Yeast, Energy, Hydrocarbon, Bacteria, Aryl hydrocarbon receptor nuclear translocator, Candida albicans, Metabolism