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Microbiology. 2010 Mar;156(Pt 3):909-919. doi: 10.1099/mic.0.033530-0. Epub 2009 Dec 3.

Candida albicans biofilm formation in a new in vivo rat model.

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1Department of Molecular Microbiology, VIB, K.U. Leuven, Kasteelpark Arenberg 31, B-3001 Leuven, Belgium.
2Laboratory of Molecular Cell Biology, Institute of Botany and Microbiology, K.U. Leuven, Kasteelpark Arenberg 31, B-3001 Leuven, Belgium.
3Comenius University in Bratislava, Faculty of Natural Sciences, Department of Microbiology and Virology, Mlynská dolina B-2, 842 15 Bratislava, Slovak Republic.
4Department of Chemistry, Laboratory of Biochemistry, Molecular and Structural Biology, K.U. Leuven, Celestijnenlaan 200 G, B-3001 Heverlee, Belgium.
5Department of Medical Diagnostic Sciences, Laboratory of Experimental Microbiology, K.U. Leuven, Herestraat 49, B-3000 Leuven, Belgium.


Device-associated microbial growth, including Candida biofilms, represents more than half of all human microbial infections and, despite a relatively small risk of implant-associated diseases, this type of infection usually leads to high morbidity, increased health-care costs and prolonged antimicrobial therapy. Animal models are needed to elucidate the complex host-pathogen interactions that occur during the development of attached and structured biofilm populations. We describe here a new in vivo model to study Candida biofilm, based on the avascular implantation of small catheters in rats. Polyurethane biomaterials challenged with Candida cells were placed underneath the skin of immunosuppressed animals following only minor surgery. The model allowed the study of up to ten biofilms at once, and the recovery of mature biofilms from 2 days after implantation. The adhering inoculum was adjusted to the standard threshold of positive diagnosis of fungal infection in materials recovered from patients. Wild-type biofilms were mainly formed of hyphal cells, and they were unevenly distributed across the catheter length as observed in infected materials in clinical cases. The hyphal multilayered structure of the biofilms of wild-type strains was observed by confocal microscopy and compared to the monolayer of yeast or hyphal cells of two well-known biofilm-deficient strains, efg1Delta/efg1 Delta cph1Delta/cph1Delta and bcr1Delta /bcr1Delta, respectively. The subcutaneous Candida biofilm model relies on the use of implanted catheters with accessible, fast and minor surgery to the animals. This model can be used to characterize the ability of antimicrobial agents to eliminate biofilms, and to evaluate the prophylactic effect of antifungal drugs and biomaterial coatings.

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