Objective: Interest in Candida dubliniensis has led to renewed clinical investigations regarding incidence, drug resistance, pathogenesis, and epidemiology of fungal infections in patients with HIV. C dubliniensis phenotypically resembles Candida albicans in many respects, yet it can be identified and differentiated as a unique Candida species by its phenotypic and genetic profiles. The purpose of this study was to prospectively evaluate the prevalence of C dubliniensis in clinical isolates and determine the clinical and demographic characteristics of patients harboring C dubliniensis.
Study design: Over a 6-week period, 24 yeast-positive isolates from HIV-positive dental patients were screened for C dubliniensis through use of phenotypic criteria. HIV viral load, CD4 count, and complete oral health evaluations were performed on each patient at the same visit during which the oral fungal surveillance culture was taken.
Results: Six isolates from 24 HIV-seropositive and yeast-positive patients were shown to be consistent phenotypically and by electrophoretic karyotyping with the European reference strain of C dubliniensis. Dose-dependent susceptibility to fluconazole was shown in one of the C dubliniensis isolates. Five of the 6 patients demonstrated moderate to high viral loads. General oral health, as evidenced by the presence of advanced periodontal lesions and a high decayed, missing, and filled teeth index (>20), was poor in 3 of the 6 patients with C dubliniensis and 7 of the 18 patients with C albicans. A history of intravenous drug abuse was present in 50% of the C dubliniensis -positive patients, which is representative of the HIV-positive population at the hospital.
Conclusions: In this small sample, C dubliniensis represented 25% of the yeast-positive cultures. The clinical significance of this interesting species in the United States may be related to high viral load, rapid AIDS progression, and/or concomitant oral disease, such as a high caries index or periodontal disease.