The yeast Candida albicans has emerged as a major public health problem during the past two decades. The spectrum of diseases caused by this species ranges from vaginal infections, which affect up to 75% of the women at least once in their lifetime, to deep infections in hospitalized patients which lead to high morbidity and mortality rates. Candida albicans may also play a role in the persistence or worsening of some chronic inflammatory bowel diseases. Active research is now improving our understanding of the molecular mechanisms and genetic factors in the yeast and its host which influence the development of disease. Despite these advances and the availability of a more extensive therapeutic arsenal, current progress in the control of nosocomial infections due to Candida remains limited, mainly due to the difficulties in diagnosing these infections. The biologist has a key role to play in establishing a dialogue with the clinician in order to identify the saprophyte/pathogen transition in patients as early as possible. This review provides a quick synopsis of the modern concepts of Candida pathogenesis with some representative examples illustrating the specifics traits of this yeast in terms of pathogenic adaptation.
Keywords: Candida cell wall; candidosis; diagnosis; genetic factors; immunity.