Participation of yeast cell surface hydrophobicity in adherence of Candida albicans to human epithelial cells.
Recent studies have revealed that hydrophobic cells of the opportunistic pathogenic fungus Candida albicans are more virulent than hydrophilic cells. One critical step in the pathogenic process is adherence to host tissues. Adherence of C. albicans to epithelial tissues is mediated primarily by specific adhesin-receptor interactions, but whether cell surface hydrophobicity (CSH) of the yeast cells may also contribute has not been definitively demonstrated. Nineteen isolates of C. albicans were grown in Sabouraud dextrose broth at either 23 or 37 degrees C and tested for CSH by a polystyrene microsphere assay and for the ability to adhere to HeLa cells, a human cervical epithelioid carcinoma cell line. For 13 isolates, growth at 23 degrees C resulted in significantly higher levels of CSH than did growth at 37 degrees C. Three isolates were hydrophobic and two were hydrophilic regardless of growth temperature. One isolate was more hydrophobic after growth at 37 degrees C. Of the isolates that were more hydrophobic after growth at 23 degrees C, 86.5% (11 of 13) were also more adherent to HeLa cells. Growth temperature did not appear to determine adherence ability, as all isolates that did not differ in CSH after growth at either temperature also did not differ in ability to adhere. No correlation (r = 0.44) was obtained between CSH and adherence when the isolates grown at 23 degrees C were evaluated as a group. Higher correlation (r = 0.65) was obtained when the isolates were grown at 37 degrees C. Interestingly, a significantly positive correlation between CSH and adherence was obtained when individual isolates were analyzed. To accomplish this analysis, the isolates were allowed to vary in CSH over time in tissue culture medium without serum, and the corresponding adherence values determined. Only isolates that varied in CSH by greater than 10% were used. Correlation statistical analysis in which the coefficient of determination (r2) was calculated indicated that poor correlation between CSH and adherence for the isolates evaluated as a group was likely due to the fact that CSH had little effect on adherence once a moderately high level of CSH was attained. These results indicate that CSH is involved in adherence but is not the predominant mechanism and that the effect of CSH on adherence is isolate dependent.
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