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PLoS One. 2012;7(3):e32621. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0032621. Epub 2012 Mar 30.

Development of an in vitro model for the multi-parametric quantification of the cellular interactions between Candida yeasts and phagocytes.

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  • 1Université Bordeaux, Microbiologie Fondamentale et Pathogénicité, UMR 5234, Bordeaux, France.


We developed a new in vitro model for a multi-parameter characterization of the time course interaction of Candida fungal cells with J774 murine macrophages and human neutrophils, based on the use of combined microscopy, fluorometry, flow cytometry and viability assays. Using fluorochromes specific to phagocytes and yeasts, we could accurately quantify various parameters simultaneously in a single infection experiment: at the individual cell level, we measured the association of phagocytes to fungal cells and phagocyte survival, and monitored in parallel the overall phagocytosis process by measuring the part of ingested fungal cells among the total fungal biomass that changed over time. Candida albicans, C. glabrata, and C. lusitaniae were used as a proof of concept: they exhibited species-specific differences in their association rate with phagocytes. The fungal biomass uptaken by the phagocytes differed significantly according to the Candida species. The measure of the survival of fungal and immune cells during the interaction showed that C. albicans was the more aggressive yeast in vitro, destroying the vast majority of the phagocytes within five hours. All three species of Candida were able to survive and to escape macrophage phagocytosis either by the intraphagocytic yeast-to-hyphae transition (C. albicans) and the fungal cell multiplication until phagocytes burst (C. glabrata, C. lusitaniae), or by the avoidance of phagocytosis (C. lusitaniae). We demonstrated that our model was sensitive enough to quantify small variations of the parameters of the interaction. The method has been conceived to be amenable to the high-throughput screening of mutants in order to unravel the molecular mechanisms involved in the interaction between yeasts and host phagocytes.

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