Laboratory Diagnosis of Invasive Candidiasis

J Microbiol. 2005 Feb;43 Spec No:65-84.


Invasive candidiasis is associated with high morbidity and mortality. Clinical diagnosis is complicated by a lack of specific clinical signs and symptoms of disease. Laboratory diagnosis is also complex because circulating antibodies to Candida species may occur in normal individuals as the result of commensal colonization of mucosal surfaces thereby reducing the usefulness of antibody detection for the diagnosis of this disease. In addition, Candida species antigens are often rapidly cleared from the circulation so that antigen detection tests often lack the desired level of sensitivity. Microbiological confirmation is difficult because blood cultures can be negative in up to 50% of autopsy-proven cases of deep-seated candidiasis or may only become positive late in the infection. Positive cultures from urine or mucosal surfaces do not necessarily indicate invasive disease although can occur during systemic infection. Furthermore, differences in the virulence and in the susceptibility of the various Candida species to antifungal drugs make identification to the species level important for clinical management. Newer molecular biological tests have generated interest but are not yet standardized or readily available in most clinical laboratory settings nor have they been validated in large clinical trials. Laboratory surveillance of at-risk patients could result in earlier initiation of antifungal therapy if sensitive and specific diagnostic tests, which are also cost effective, become available. This review will compare diagnostic tests currently in use as well as those under development by describing their assets and limitations for the diagnosis of invasive candidiasis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Blood / microbiology
  • Candida / classification*
  • Candida / genetics
  • Candida / isolation & purification
  • Candidiasis / diagnosis*
  • Candidiasis / microbiology
  • Clinical Laboratory Techniques*
  • Culture Media
  • DNA, Fungal / analysis
  • Fungemia / diagnosis*
  • Fungemia / microbiology
  • Humans
  • Mycological Typing Techniques
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction


  • Culture Media
  • DNA, Fungal