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Methods Mol Biol. 2009;499:17-26. doi: 10.1007/978-1-60327-151-6_3.

Phagocytosis and killing assays for Candida species.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Georgetown University Medical Center, Washington, DC, USA.


Both innate resistance and acquired cell-mediated immunity are involved in an anti-Candida response. Essential components of both the arms of the immune defense against infections by Candida spp. include phagocytic cells, i.e., polymorphonuclear neutrophils (PMNs) and mononuclear phagocytes. A powerful in vitro assay to assess host-pathogen interactions and study pathogenesis is the co-culture of phagocytic cells with a test fungus. The precise contribution of phagocytes to the host defense is usually assessed by determining phagocytosis and killing of Candida spp. blastoconidia. Dissection of the roles of various virulence factors in the infection process will involve the use of both in vitro and ex vivo assays. These assays are very useful as one of the approaches to determine the virulence factors of Candida spp., now that specific gene mutants are relatively easy to construct. In vitro studies involving specific cultured immune system cells can permit the analysis of interactions under controlled conditions. These studies provide an opportunity to monitor and compare host cell behavior upon challenge with wild-type or mutant strains of the pathogen.

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