Visualizing Fungal Infections in Living Mice Using Bioluminescent Pathogenic Candida Albicans Strains Transformed With the Firefly Luciferase Gene

Microb Pathog. 2006 Feb;40(2):82-90. doi: 10.1016/j.micpath.2005.11.003. Epub 2006 Jan 19.


Animal studies with Candida albicans have provided models for understanding fungal virulence and antifungal drug development. To non-invasively monitor long-term Candida murine infections, clinical isolates were stably transformed with a codon-optimized luciferase gene to constitutively express luciferase. Chronic systemic infections were established in mice with engineered strains, and bioluminescent signals were apparent from kidneys by non-invasive imaging using charged-coupled device cameras. These infections were established in immune-competent mice, and bioluminescence was detectable in animals that showed no physiological consequence of infection, as well as those visually succumbing to the disease. Similarly, bioluminescence was measured from the vaginal tissue of mice infected vaginally. Fungal loads determined by plating vaginal lavages showed a similar pattern to the bioluminescent signals measured, and fungal infection could be detected in animals for over 30 days post infection by both modalities. The effect of the antifungal drug miconazole was tested in this model, and clearance in animals was apparent by both direct imaging and fungal load determination. The use of bioluminescence to monitor these and other models of Candida infections will greatly speed up the analysis of drug development studies, both in ease of visualizing infections and decreasing numbers of animals required to run such studies.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Candida albicans / genetics
  • Candida albicans / growth & development*
  • Candida albicans / isolation & purification*
  • Candidiasis / microbiology*
  • Candidiasis / pathology
  • Candidiasis, Vulvovaginal / microbiology
  • Candidiasis, Vulvovaginal / pathology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Hyphae / metabolism
  • Kidney / microbiology
  • Luciferases, Firefly / analysis
  • Luciferases, Firefly / genetics
  • Luciferases, Firefly / metabolism
  • Luminescent Measurements / methods
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Time Factors


  • Luciferases, Firefly