Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

, Volume 103, Issue 21–22, pp 9037–9055 | Cite as

Cinnamaldehyde inhibits Candida albicans growth by causing apoptosis and its treatment on vulvovaginal candidiasis and oropharyngeal candidiasis

  • Lei Chen
  • Zhen Wang
  • Liang Liu
  • Su Qu
  • Yuanyuan Mao
  • Xue PengEmail author
  • Yong-xin LiEmail author
  • Jun TianEmail author
Applied microbial and cell physiology


The invasion of Candida albicans is one of the most common fungal infections seen in clinical practice, and serious drug resistance has been reported in recent years. Therefore, new anti-C. albicans drugs must be introduced. In this research, it was demonstrated that cinnamaldehyde (CA) shows strong antimicrobial activity, with 0.26 mg/mL CA being the minimum inhibitory concentration to manage C. albicans. Extraordinarily, we detected that CA accumulated the intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS) and enhanced the calcium concentration in the cytoplasm and mitochondria through flow cytometry. In addition, we observed that C. albicans cells released Cytochrome c from the mitochondria to the cytoplasm, depolarized the mitochondrial membrane potential, and activated the metacaspase when exposed to 0.065, 0.13, 0.26, and 0.52 mg/mL CA. Furthermore, to confirm that CA introduces the C. albicans apoptosis, we discovered that when the phosphatidylserine was exposed, DNA damage and chromatin condensation occurred, which were detected by terminal deoxynucleotidyl transferase dUTP nick end labeling (TUNEL) and 4′,6-diamidino-2-phenylindole (DAPI) staining. Finally, demonstrations of phenotype investigation, colony-forming unit (CFU) counts, and periodic acid–Schiff (PAS) staining were conducted to prove that CA possessed the ability to treat oropharyngeal candidiasis (OPC) and vulvovaginal candidiasis (VVC). From the above, our research indicates that CA is a promising antifungal candidate when applied to C. albicans infections.


Candida albicans Cinnamaldehyde Reactive oxygen species Apoptosis Vulvovaginal candidiasis Oropharyngeal candidiasis 


Authors’ contributions

JT and XP designed the experiments. LC, ZW, and LL performed the experiments. SQ and YM analyzed the data. LC and YL drafted the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Funding information

This study was funded by National Natural Science Foundation of China (31972171, 31671944, 31570028), Six Talent Peaks Project of Jiangsu Province (SWYY-026), Qing Lan Project of Jiangsu Province, Natural Science Foundation by Xuzhou City (KC17053), Jiangsu Science and Technology Agency Project (BK20141148) and the PAPD of Jiangsu Higher Education Institutions.

Compliance with ethical standards

Ethical approval

All animal or human experiments in this study were performed in strict accordance with the Guide for the Care and Use of Chinese legislation, the Ministry of Science and Technology of China and were approved by the Institutional Jiangsu Normal University Committee for Animal Experiments.

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Life ScienceJiangsu Normal UniversityJiangsu ProvincePeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Beijing Advanced Innovation Center for Food Nutrition and Human HealthBeijing Technology and Business UniversityBeijingPeople’s Republic of China

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