Mucosal damage and neutropenia are required for Candida albicans dissemination

PLoS Pathog. 2008 Feb 8;4(2):e35. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.0040035.


Candida albicans fungemia in cancer patients is thought to develop from initial gastrointestinal (GI) colonization with subsequent translocation into the bloodstream after administration of chemotherapy. It is unclear what components of the innate immune system are necessary for preventing C. albicans dissemination from the GI tract, but we have hypothesized that both neutropenia and GI mucosal damage are critical for allowing widespread invasive C. albicans disease. We investigated these parameters in a mouse model of C. albicans GI colonization that led to systemic spread after administration of immunosuppression and mucosal damage. After depleting resident GI intestinal flora with antibiotic treatment and achieving stable GI colonization levels of C. albicans, it was determined that systemic chemotherapy with cyclophosphamide led to 100% mortality, whereas selective neutrophil depletion, macrophage depletion, lymphopenia or GI mucosal disruption alone resulted in no mortality. Selective neutrophil depletion combined with GI mucosal disruption led to disseminated fungal infection and 100% mortality ensued. GI translocation and dissemination by C. albicans was also dependent on the organism's ability to transform from the yeast to the hyphal form. This mouse model of GI colonization and fungemia is useful for studying factors of innate host immunity needed to prevent invasive C. albicans disease as well as identifying virulence factors that are necessary for fungal GI colonization and dissemination. The model may also prove valuable for evaluating therapies to control C. albicans infections.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / pharmacology
  • Bacterial Translocation / drug effects
  • Candida albicans / drug effects
  • Candida albicans / pathogenicity*
  • Candidiasis / drug therapy
  • Candidiasis / immunology
  • Candidiasis / microbiology*
  • Cyclophosphamide / therapeutic use
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / microbiology*
  • Gastrointestinal Tract / pathology
  • Gene Silencing
  • Immunosuppression Therapy
  • Longevity / drug effects
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C3H
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Mucous Membrane / drug effects
  • Mucous Membrane / microbiology*
  • Mucous Membrane / pathology
  • Neutropenia / chemically induced
  • Neutropenia / microbiology*
  • Neutropenia / pathology


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Cyclophosphamide