Candida albicans Morphology-Dependent Host FGF-2 Response as a Potential Therapeutic Target
Huh, Eun Young
Saville, Stephen P.
Lee, Soo Chan
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Angiogenesis mediated by proteins such as Fibroblast Growth Factor-2 (FGF-2) is a vital component of normal physiological processes and has also been implicated in contributing to the disease state associated with various microbial infections. Previous studies by our group and others have shown that <i>Candida albicans</i>, a common agent of candidiasis, induces FGF-2 secretion in vitro and angiogenesis in brains and kidneys during systemic infections. However, the underlying mechanism(s) via which the fungus increases FGF-2 production and the role(s) that FGF-2/angiogenesis plays in <i>C. albicans</i> disease remain unknown. Here we show, for the first time, that <i>C. albicans</i> hyphae (and not yeast cells) increase the FGF-2 response in human endothelial cells. Moreover, Candidalysin, a toxin secreted exclusively by <i>C. albicans</i> in the hyphal state, is required to induce this response. Our in vivo studies show that in the systemic <i>C. albicans</i> infection model, mice treated with FGF-2 exhibit significantly higher mortality rates when compared to untreated mice not given the angiogenic growth factor. Even treatment with fluconazole could not fully rescue infected animals that were administered FGF-2. Our data suggest that the increase of FGF-2 production/angiogenesis induced by Candidalysin contributes to the pathogenicity of <i>C. albicans</i>.