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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2012 Nov;78(22):7977-84. doi: 10.1128/AEM.01953-12. Epub 2012 Aug 31.

EDTA inhibits biofilm formation, extracellular vesicular secretion, and shedding of the capsular polysaccharide glucuronoxylomannan by Cryptococcus neoformans.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, New York, USA.


The fungal pathogen Cryptococcus neoformans can grow as a biofilm on a range of synthetic and prosthetic materials. Cryptococcal biofilm formation can complicate the placement of shunts used to relieve increased intracranial pressure in cryptococcal meningitis and can serve as a nidus for chronic infection. Biofilms are generally advantageous to pathogens in vivo, as they can confer resistance to antimicrobial compounds, including fluconazole and voriconazole in the case of C. neoformans. EDTA can inhibit biofilm formation by several microbes and enhances the susceptibility of biofilms to antifungal drugs. In this study, we evaluated the effect of sublethal concentrations of EDTA on the growth of cryptococcal biofilms. EDTA inhibited biofilm growth by C. neoformans, and the inhibition could be reversed by the addition of magnesium or calcium, implying that the inhibitory effect was by divalent cation starvation. EDTA also reduced the amount of the capsular polysaccharide glucuronoxylomannan shed into the biofilm matrix and decreased vesicular secretion from the cell, thus providing a potential mechanism for the inhibitory effect of this cation-chelating compound. Our data imply that the growth of C. neoformans biofilms requires the presence of divalent metals in the growth medium and suggest that cations are required for the export of materials needed for biofilm formation, possibly including extracellular vesicles.

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