Candida organisms commonly colonize the human gastrointestinal tract as a component of the resident microbiota. Their presence is generally benign. Recent studies, however, show that high level Candida colonization is associated with several diseases of the gastrointestinal tract. Further, results from animal models argue that Candida colonization delays healing of inflammatory lesions and that inflammation promotes colonization. These effects may create a vicious cycle in which low-level inflammation promotes fungal colonization and fungal colonization promotes further inflammation. Both inflammatory bowel disease and gastrointestinal Candida colonization are associated with elevated levels of the pro-inflammatory cytokine IL-17. Therefore, effects on IL-17 levels may underlie the ability of Candida colonization to enhance inflammation. Because Candida is a frequent colonizer, these effects have the potential to impact many people.
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