Candida albicans Biofilms and Human Disease

Annu Rev Microbiol. 2015;69:71-92. doi: 10.1146/annurev-micro-091014-104330.


In humans, microbial cells (including bacteria, archaea, and fungi) greatly outnumber host cells. Candida albicans is the most prevalent fungal species of the human microbiota; this species asymptomatically colonizes many areas of the body, particularly the gastrointestinal and genitourinary tracts of healthy individuals. Alterations in host immunity, stress, resident microbiota, and other factors can lead to C. albicans overgrowth, causing a wide range of infections, from superficial mucosal to hematogenously disseminated candidiasis. To date, most studies of C. albicans have been carried out in suspension cultures; however, the medical impact of C. albicans (like that of many other microorganisms) depends on its ability to thrive as a biofilm, a closely packed community of cells. Biofilms are notorious for forming on implanted medical devices, including catheters, pacemakers, dentures, and prosthetic joints, which provide a surface and sanctuary for biofilm growth. C. albicans biofilms are intrinsically resistant to conventional antifungal therapeutics, the host immune system, and other environmental perturbations, making biofilm-based infections a significant clinical challenge. Here, we review our current knowledge of biofilms formed by C. albicans and closely related fungal species.

Keywords: fungi; infection; microbial community; microbiota; pathogen; transcriptional regulation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biofilms*
  • Candida albicans / cytology
  • Candida albicans / growth & development
  • Candida albicans / physiology*
  • Candidiasis / microbiology*
  • Candidiasis / pathology
  • Cell Adhesion
  • Fungi / classification
  • Fungi / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Mycoses / microbiology
  • Mycoses / pathology