Skip to main content

Clinical isolates of yeast produce a gliotoxin-like substance


Candida infections are major causes of morbidity in compromised human hosts, but our understanding of the virulence of Candida remains incomplete. The possibility that toxic fungal metabolites belonging to the chemical class epipolythiodioxopiperzine (ETP), which are reported to possess immunomodulating and antiphagocytic properties may be produced by Candida species was investigated. Reversed phase HPLC analysis of flash evaporated chloroform extracts of 7 day cultures of clinical Candida isolates grown in Minimal Essential Medium (MEM) with 5% fetal calf serum revealed the presence of a compound which eluted at the same time as the ETP, gliotoxin. Of 50 strains of yeast tested, 32 produced this gliotoxin-like material. This material was tested for other properties of ETP type toxins including the presence of mercaptans (Ellman reaction), ultraviolet absorbance spectrum and antibacterial activity against Micrococcus lutea. These tests revealed gliotoxin-like material from yeast cultures to be similar to commercially supplied gliotoxin. This represents the first report of the presence of ETP-like compounds in yeast and raises the possibility that ETP's may contribute to the virulence of the organism.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.


  1. Mankowski, ZT. Production of glycoprotein by Candida albicans in a synthetic medium and its influence on the growth of newborn mice. Mycopathologica et Mycologica Applicata 1968; 34: 113–118.

    Google Scholar 

  2. Odds, FC. Candida albicans proteinase as a virulence factor in the pathogenesis of Candida infection. Zentralbl Bakteriol Mikrobiol Hyg 1985; 260: 539–542.

    Google Scholar 

  3. Burnie, JP, Odds, FC, Lee, W, Webster, C, Williams, JD. Outbreak of systemic Candida albicans in intensive care unit caused by cross infection. Br Med J 1985; 290: 746–748.

    Google Scholar 

  4. Odds, FC. Candida and Candidiasis. University Park Press, Baltimore, 1979.

    Google Scholar 

  5. Smail, EH, Melnick, DA, Ruggeri, R, Diamond, RD. A novel natural inhibitor from Candida albicans hyphae causing dissociation of the neutrophil respiratory burst response to chemotactic peptides from other post-activation events. J Immunol 1988; 140: 3893–3899.

    Google Scholar 

  6. Iwata, K, Uchida, K, Endo, H. ‘Canditoxin’, a new toxic substance isolated from a strain of Candida albicans. I. Relationship between strains and virulence and conditions for the toxic substance production. Medicine and Biology (Tokyo) 1968; 74: 345–355.

    Google Scholar 

  7. Hipp, SS, Lawton, WD, Chen, NC, Gaafar, HA. Inhibition of Neisseria gonorrhoeae by a factor produced by Candida albicans. App Microbiol 1974; 27:192–196.

    Google Scholar 

  8. Nagarajan, R. Gliotoxin and Epipolythiodioxopiperazines. V. Betina (ed.), Mycotoxins 1984; 351–385.

  9. Eichner, RD, Salami, MAl, Wood, PR, Mullbacher, A. The effect of gliotoxin upon macrophage function. J Immunopharmac 1986; 7: 789–797.

    Google Scholar 

  10. Miller, PA, Trown, PW, Fulmor, W. An epidithiapiperzinedione antiviral agent from Aspergillus terreus. Biochem Biophy Res Commun 1968; 33: 219–221.

    Google Scholar 

  11. Taylor, A. The toxicology of sporidesmins and other epipolythiadioxopiperazines. Microbial Toxins 1971; 7: 337–373.

    Google Scholar 

  12. Menzel, AEO, Wintersteiner, O, Hoogerheide, JC. The isolation of gliotoxin and fumigacin from culture filtrates of Aspergillus fumigatus. J Biochem 1944; 152: 419–429.

    Google Scholar 

  13. Johnson, JR, Bruce, WF, Dutcher, JD. Gliotoxin, the antibiotic principle of Gliocladium fimbriatum. I. Production, physical and biological properties. J Amer Chem Soc 1943; 65: 2005–2009.

    Google Scholar 

  14. Richard, JL, Lyon, RL, Fichtner, RE, Ross, PF. Use of thin layer chromatography for detection and high performance liquid chromatography for quantitating gliotoxin from rice cultures of Aspergillus fumigatus fresenius. Mycopathologia 1989; 107: 141–151.

    Google Scholar 

  15. Mullbacher, A, Waring, P, Eichner, RD. Identification of an agent in cultures of Aspergillus fumigatus displaying antiphagocytic and immunomodulating activity in vitro. J Gen Microbiol 1985; 131: 1251–1258.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Shah, D.T., Larsen, B. Clinical isolates of yeast produce a gliotoxin-like substance. Mycopathologia 116, 203–208 (1991).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

Key words

  • Candida albicans
  • mycotoxin
  • gliotoxin
  • virulence