The Relationship of Candida albicans with the Oral Bacterial Microbiome in Health and Disease

Adv Exp Med Biol. 2019:1197:69-78. doi: 10.1007/978-3-030-28524-1_6.


Candida albicans is an opportunistic pathogen colonizing the oropharyngeal, esophageal, and gastrointestinal mucosa in most healthy humans. In immunocompromised hosts, this fungal organism can cause mucosal candidiasis in these sites. C. albicans also causes fungemia, a serious consequence of cancer cytotoxic chemotherapy, which is thought to develop from fungal translocation through compromised mucosal barriers. Changes in endogenous bacterial population size or composition as well as changes in the host environment can transform fungal commensals into opportunistic pathogens in the upper and lower GI tract. Pioneering studies from our group have shown that a ubiquitous oral commensal of the mitis streptococcal group (Streptococcus oralis) has a mutualistic relationship with C. albicans, with C. albicans enabling streptococcal biofilm growth at mucosal sites, and S. oralis facilitating invasion of the oral and esophageal mucosa by C. albicans. In these studies, we used a cortisone-induced immunosuppression mouse model. More recently, the development of a novel mouse chemotherapy model has allowed us to examine the interactions of C. albicans with the endogenous bacterial microbiota in the oral and small intestinal mucosa, two sites adversely affected by cytotoxic chemotherapy. In this model, oral inoculation with C. albicans causes severe dysbiosis in the mucosal bacterial composition in both sites. We also found that antibiotic treatment ameliorates invasion of the oral mucosa but aggravates dissemination through the intestinal mucosa. In this chapter, we discuss work from our laboratory and others examining the relationships of C. albicans with oral bacteria and their role in mucosal homeostasis or disease.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Candida albicans* / physiology
  • Candidiasis / microbiology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Homeostasis
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Microbiota* / physiology
  • Mouth Mucosa* / microbiology
  • Streptococcus oralis