Candida albicans is a major human fungal pathogen causing mucosal and deep tissue infections of which the majority is associated with biofilm formation on medical implants. Biofilms have a huge impact on public health, as fungal biofilms are highly resistant against most antimycotics. Animal models of biofilm formation are indispensable for improving our understanding of biofilm development inside the host, their antifungal resistance and their interaction with the host immune defence system. In currently used models, evaluation of biofilm development or the efficacy of antifungal treatment is limited to ex vivo analyses, requiring host sacrifice, which excludes longitudinal monitoring of dynamic processes during biofilm formation in the live host. In this study, we have demonstrated for the first time that non-invasive, dynamic imaging and quantification of in vitro and in vivo C. albicans biofilm formation including morphogenesis from the yeast to hyphae state is feasible by using growth-phase dependent bioluminescent C. albicans strains in a subcutaneous catheter model in rodents. We have shown the defect in biofilm formation of a bioluminescent bcr1 mutant strain. This approach has immediate applications for the screening and validation ofantimycotics under in vivo conditions, for studying host-biofilm interactions in different transgenic mouse models and for testing the virulence of luminescent C. albicans mutants, hereby contributing to a better understanding of the pathogenesis of biofilm-associated yeast infections.
© 2013 The Authors. Cellular Microbiology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.