Tipping the balance both ways: drug resistance and virulence in Candida glabrata

FEMS Yeast Res. 2015 Jun;15(4):fov025. doi: 10.1093/femsyr/fov025. Epub 2015 May 15.


Among existing fungal pathogens, Candida glabrata is outstanding in its capacity to rapidly develop resistance to currently used antifungal agents. Resistance to the class of azoles, which are still widely used agents, varies in proportion (from 5 to 20%) depending on geographical area. Moreover, resistance to the class of echinocandins, which was introduced in the late 1990s, is rising in several institutions. The recent emergence of isolates with acquired resistance to both classes of agents is a major concern since alternative therapeutic options are scarce. Although considered less pathogenic than C. albicans, C. glabrata has still evolved specific virulence traits enabling its survival and propagation in colonized and infected hosts. Development of drug resistance is usually associated with fitness costs, and this notion is documented across several microbial species. Interestingly, azole resistance in C. glabrata has revealed the opposite. Experimental models of infection showed enhanced virulence of azole-resistant isolates. Moreover, azole resistance could be associated with specific changes in adherence properties to epithelial cells or innate immunity cells (macrophages), both of which contribute to virulence changes. Here we will summarize the current knowledge on C. glabrata drug resistance and also discuss the consequences of drug resistance acquisition on the balance between C. glabrata and its hosts.

Keywords: Candida glabrata; antifungal drug resistance; virulence.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antifungal Agents / pharmacology*
  • Azoles / pharmacology*
  • Candida glabrata / drug effects*
  • Candida glabrata / pathogenicity*
  • Candidiasis / microbiology
  • Candidiasis / pathology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Drug Resistance, Fungal*
  • Echinocandins / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Virulence


  • Antifungal Agents
  • Azoles
  • Echinocandins