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Clin Microbiol Rev. 1990 Oct;3(4):321-34.

Candida albicans strain delineation.

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Department of Laboratory Medicine, Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions, Baltimore, Maryland 21205.


Candida albicans is a major opportunistic pathogen causing a wide spectrum of disease in human beings. Methods for strain delineation of this species to assess or predict virulence or to conduct epidemiologic or pathogenetic investigations have been developed. Although factors associated with virulence have been identified, there is no rapid system to quantitate them in a clinical laboratory. Therefore, many typing methods are based on variable phenotypic characteristics within this species including morphotyping, serotyping, antibiogram, resistogram typing, biotyping, biotyping based on commercial carbon assimilation patterns, enzyme profiles, sensitivity to yeast killer toxins, and typing based on protein variability. Phenotypically defined strains generally do not correlate with the pathogenic potential of a strain with the exception of morphotyping. However, these methods can be useful in epidemiologic investigations; for example, they have revealed that most individuals harbor one strain and that infections are frequently due to an endogenous strain. Problems with these methods usually relate to their discriminatory power. When this is maximized, reproducibility (especially between laboratories) suffers. Recently, methods based on differences in DNA structure (genotyping) for strain delineation have been developed, including electrophoretic karyotyping and restriction enzyme fragment length polymorphisms. The development of a computer-assisted data bank and analysis for these genotypic strain delineators will open investigations into the pathogenesis of this infection and permit epidemiologic studies previously not possible with this important human pathogen.

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