Candida albicans, an opportunistic fungal pathogen, can cause severe systemic infections in susceptible patient groups. Systemic candidiasis is mainly studied in the mouse intravenous challenge model, where progressive infection correlates with increased early renal chemokine levels.
To develop a new in vitro assay to assess C. albicans virulence, which reflects the events occurring in the murine infection model, renal M-1 cortical collecting duct epithelial cells were evaluated as the early producers of cytokines in response to C. albicans. We show that renal epithelial cells respond only to live C. albicans cells capable of forming hyphae, producing chemokines KC and MIP-2, with levels correlating with epithelial cell damage. By assaying epithelial cell responses to strains of known virulence in the murine intravenous challenge model we demonstrate that renal epithelial cells can discriminate between virulent and attenuated strains. This simple, novel assay is a useful initial screen for altered virulence of C. albicans mutants or clinical isolates in vitro and provides an alternative to the mouse systemic infection model.
- Candida albicans
- innate immunity
- renal epithelium
- infection model