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Rev Iberoam Micol. 2009 Sep 30;26(3):202-5. doi: 10.1016/j.riam.2009.03.001. Epub 2009 Jul 18.

Effect of phenotypic switching on expression of virulence factors by Candida albicans causing candidiasis in diabetic patients.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology, Kasturba Medical College, Manipal University, Mangalore 575001, India.


A total of 110 strains belonging to seven species of Candida were isolated from various forms of candidiasis in diabetic patients. They were Candida albicans 53 (47%), Candida tropicalis 36 (33%), Candida glabrata 9 (8%), Candida parapsilosis 4 (4%), Candida guilliermondii 2 (2%), Candida krusei 5 (5%) and Candida kefyr 1 (1%). All 53 strains of C. albicans isolated were observed to express virulence factors such as cell surface hydrophobicity (CSH), adherence to human buccal epithelial cell (BEC) and proteinase activity (100%), while phospholipase activity was observed in 52 (98%). Phenotypic switching and its influence on the pathogenicity of C. albicans were studied. Two C. albicans strains isolated from oral and vaginal thrush, respectively, in diabetic individuals, and the control strain C. albicans NCPF 3153A were induced to undergo phenotypic switching by exposure to UV light and the degree of expression of virulence factors by the different morphological forms was determined. Three different morphological forms of C. albicans were obtained, namely Star (S), Wrinkled (W) and Ring (R) types from the original Smooth (O) variety. It was found that proteinase activity was greatest with the W type followed by the R type then the O type. The S type produced the least proteinase. The phospholipase activity was greatest with O type followed by R type. The W and S types produced the least phospholipase. Expression of CSH and adherence was greatest in the O type followed by the R and then the W type and finally the S type. Differential expression of virulence factors occurs with different phenotypic forms of C. albicans and this may provide a particular morphological type with a distinct advantage over other types in causing candidiasis.

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