Estrogen effects on Candida albicans: a potential virulence-regulating mechanism

J Infect Dis. 2000 Apr;181(4):1441-6. doi: 10.1086/315406. Epub 2000 Apr 13.


Three Candida albicans strains were tested in the presence of 17-beta-estradiol (10-6 M and 10-9 M) for increased growth and for enhanced survival during incubation at nonpermissive temperatures. All 3 test organisms showed increased growth in the presence of estradiol compared with estrogen-free controls. Likewise, all 3 strains, when treated with estradiol, survived incubation at 48 degrees C better than did controls. Cytoplasmic extracts were probed with an anti-hsp90 antibody, and results suggested that intracellular hsp90 was up-regulated in the presence of 10-9 M 17-beta-estradiol. The results were confirmed by reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction with primers specific for C. albicans hsp90. A kinetic study revealed that peak hsp90 expression occurred within 2 h of exposure to 17-beta-estradiol. In addition, estrogen increased the amount of cdr1 (Candida multidrug resistance) mRNA compared with cells not treated with estrogen. Coumarin and phenol also up-regulated hsp90 and cdr1 mRNAs, indicating that the estrogen-sensing and -response systems in C. albicans may lack specificity.

MeSH terms

  • Candida albicans / drug effects*
  • Candida albicans / growth & development
  • Candida albicans / pathogenicity*
  • Coumarins / pharmacology
  • DNA Primers
  • Estradiol / pharmacology*
  • Fungal Proteins / biosynthesis
  • HSP90 Heat-Shock Proteins / biosynthesis*
  • HSP90 Heat-Shock Proteins / immunology
  • Humans
  • In Vitro Techniques
  • Kinetics
  • Membrane Transport Proteins*
  • Phenol / pharmacology
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Up-Regulation


  • CDR1 protein, Candida albicans
  • Coumarins
  • DNA Primers
  • Fungal Proteins
  • HSP90 Heat-Shock Proteins
  • Membrane Transport Proteins
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Phenol
  • Estradiol
  • coumarin