Candida albicans: from commensal to pathogen

  • Paul L. FidelJr.


Candida albicans is a ubiquitous fungal organism that is part of the normal microflora of most, if not all, individuals. However, it is also an opportunistic pathogen and can quickly transform from a harmless inhabitant of mucocutaneous tissues to a highly pathogenic organism capable of killing its host under the appropriate conditions. Candida species are dimorphic organisms that can grow as a yeast or as a multi-nucleated hyphal form. Innate and acquired host defense mechanisms are responsible for keeping the organism in the commensal state. However, when the organism overwhelms these defenses or the defenses become deficient or lost, an infection will incur. Infections can be acute, chronic or recurrent and affect cutaneous or mucocutaneous tissues as well as systemic blood/organs. This chapter reviews the properties of C. albicans as a commensal organism and as a pathogen. The respective protective host defense mechanisms responsible for keeping the organism in the commensal state are included, together with immunological changes that occur, or are postulated to occur, to initiate an infectious condition. In some cases, current data are used to formulate hypotheses regarding the initiation of infection and potential immune-based therapies. Finally, the incidence and potentia mechanisms associated with candidiasis in the HIV patient are reviewed.


Candida Albicans Candida Species Germ Tube Mucosal Tissue Vaginal Mucosa 
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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 1999

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  • Paul L. FidelJr.

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