Characterization of mucosal Candida albicans biofilms

PLoS One. 2009 Nov 24;4(11):e7967. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0007967.


C. albicans triggers recurrent infections of the alimentary tract mucosa that result from biofilm growth. Although the ability of C. albicans to form a biofilm on abiotic surfaces has been well documented in recent years, no information exists on biofilms that form directly on mucosal surfaces. The objectives of this study were to characterize the structure and composition of Candida biofilms forming on the oral mucosa. We found that oral Candida biofilms consist of yeast, hyphae, and commensal bacteria, with keratin dispersed in the intercellular spaces. Neutrophils migrate through the oral mucosa and form nests within the biofilm mass. The cell wall polysaccharide beta-glucan is exposed during mucosal biofilm growth and is more uniformly present on the surface of biofilm organisms invading the oral mucosa. We conclude that C. albicans forms complex mucosal biofilms consisting of both commensal bacterial flora and host components. These discoveries are important since they can prompt a shift of focus for current research in investigating the role of Candida-bacterial interactions in the pathogenesis of mucosal infections as well as the role of beta-glucan mediated signaling in the host response.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Biofilms*
  • Candida albicans / metabolism*
  • Candidiasis / microbiology
  • Cell Movement
  • Cell Wall / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Keratins / chemistry
  • Keratins / metabolism
  • Microscopy, Confocal / methods
  • Mouth Mucosa / microbiology
  • Mucous Membrane / metabolism
  • Neutrophils / metabolism
  • Polysaccharides / chemistry
  • Signal Transduction
  • beta-Glucans / chemistry


  • Polysaccharides
  • beta-Glucans
  • Keratins