Production of carcinogenic acetaldehyde by Candida albicans from patients with potentially malignant oral mucosal disorders

J Oral Pathol Med. 2013 Mar;42(3):243-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0714.2012.01203.x. Epub 2012 Aug 22.


Objectives: Production of carcinogenic acetaldehyde by Candida has been suggested to contribute to epithelial dysplasia and oral carcinogenesis. Oral lichen planus (OLP), oral lichenoid lesion (OLL) and oral leukoplakia (OL) are potentially carcinogenic oral diseases where colonisation by Candida is common, but acetaldehyde production by Candida has not been studied.

Study design: Acetaldehyde production in ethanol (11 mM), glucose (100 mM), ethanol-glucose (11 mM and 100 mM) or red wine (1200 mM ethanol) incubation by Candida albicans from patients with OLL (n = 6), OLP (n = 16), OL (n = 6) and controls (n = 6) was measured by gas chromatography. Participants completed a questionnaire regarding their smoking habits and alcohol consumption.

Results: All Candida albicans isolates produced potentially carcinogenic levels of acetaldehyde (>100 μM) in all incubations containing ethanol. The control group isolates produced the highest acetaldehyde levels. Isolates from smokers produced more acetaldehyde in all incubations than those from non-smokers. The difference was significant in ethanol-glucose incubation. Isolates from patients who were both smokers and drinkers produced the highest amounts when incubated in ethanol, ethanol-glucose and wine.

Conclusions: Candida albicans isolated from potentially carcinogenic oral diseases can produce mutagenic amounts of acetaldehyde. Cigarette smoking and alcohol consumption may favour adaptational changes resulting in the upregulation of candidal acetaldehyde metabolism.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acetaldehyde / metabolism*
  • Adaptation, Physiological / physiology
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alcohol Drinking
  • Candida albicans / metabolism*
  • Carcinogens / metabolism*
  • Chromatography, Gas
  • Culture Media
  • Ethanol / metabolism
  • Female
  • Glucose / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Leukoplakia, Oral / microbiology
  • Lichen Planus, Oral / microbiology
  • Lichenoid Eruptions / microbiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mouth Diseases / microbiology
  • Mouth Neoplasms / microbiology*
  • Precancerous Conditions / microbiology*
  • Smoking
  • Wine
  • Young Adult


  • Carcinogens
  • Culture Media
  • Ethanol
  • Acetaldehyde
  • Glucose