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, 91 (3B), 256S-263S

Contour-clamped Homogeneous Electric Field Gel Electrophoresis as a Powerful Epidemiologic Tool in Yeast Infections


Contour-clamped Homogeneous Electric Field Gel Electrophoresis as a Powerful Epidemiologic Tool in Yeast Infections

D Pittet et al. Am J Med.


To examine the longitudinal and cross-sectional patterns of yeast colonization in critically ill patients using genotypic characteristics defined by contour-clamped homogeneous electric field (CHEF) gel electrophoresis, 322 clinical isolates of Candida species were prospectively collected from 29 critically ill patients under routine surveillance over a 6-month period. All isolates, recovered from multiple anatomic sites and from the same sites on different days, were characterized by several identification methods (germ tube test), phenotyping (API system), and genotyping (electrophoretic karyotyping). Electrophoretic karyotype (EK) was determined using pulsed field electrophoresis with the CHEF technique. We used a karyotyping system for Candida albicans (EK code) that facilitated intraspecies delineation. C. albicans colonized 83% of the 29 patients. Candida sp. strains isolated from an individual patient had an identical EK pattern, even when isolated from different body sites, and remained the same over a prolonged period, up to 140 days. EK delineated not only the different Candida species, but also different strains of C. albicans. Strains of C. albicans isolated from different patients were distinguished using the EK pattern, but not API system. Minor variations in EK pattern could be demonstrated in a minority of strains recovered from four patients and were interpreted as chromosomal rearrangements between parent strains. Severe candidal infections, including eight episodes of fungemia, occurred in 11 of 29 patients (38%). All patients had been previously colonized with strains with identical EK patterns. Infection occurred a mean of 25 days after initial surveillance cultures grew yeast. No horizontal transmission could be demonstrated during the study period. In conclusion, EK is a reproducible, stable marker allowing inter-, as well as, intraspecies Candida strain delineation. EK strain delineation is a useful tool in candidal epidemiologic and pathogenic studies. Yeast colonization with the same strain preceded infection in critically ill patients.

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