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J Antimicrob Chemother. 2002 Mar;49(3):515-24.

Heterogeneous mechanisms of azole resistance in Candida albicans clinical isolates from an HIV-infected patient on continuous fluconazole therapy for oropharyngeal candidosis.

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Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases, The University of Texas Health Science Center, South Texas Centers for Biology in Medicine, San Antonio, TX, USA.


Molecular mechanisms of azole resistance in Candida albicans include alterations in the target enzyme and increased efflux of drug, but the impact of specific treatment regimens on resistance has not been established. A patient with advanced AIDS was enrolled in a longitudinal study to receive continuous oral fluconazole (FLU) 200 mg/day for the treatment of oropharyngeal candidosis (OPC). Oral cultures were obtained at time of enrollment, during episodes of OPC and quarterly for surveillance. The patient had five symptomatic relapses on continuous FLU during 43 months. All OPC episodes were successfully treated with increasing doses of FLU although increased FLU MICs were detected for C. albicans isolates with progression of time. DNA-typing techniques demonstrated that resistance developed in a persistent strain of C. albicans. Both FLU-resistant and isogenic isolates with reduced susceptibility were detected in the same clinical samples through multiple episodes. Analysis of molecular mechanisms of resistance revealed overexpression of MDR and CDR genes encoding efflux pumps (but not ERG11) in isolates with decreased FLU susceptibility. In addition, the presence of the G464S amino acid substitution in their lanosterol demethylase, affecting its affinity for FLU, was also detected. However, other isogenic, but FLU-susceptible isolates recovered from the same samples did not harbour the mutation, indicating microevolution of yeast populations within the oral cavity. In this patient, the continuous antifungal pressure exerted by FLU resulted in development of resistance of multifactorial nature. Despite their clonal origin, different subpopulations of C. albicans demonstrated distinct resistance mechanisms, including concomitant presence and absence of functional point mutations in ERG11 genes.

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