Candida glabrata, an emerging oral opportunistic pathogen

L. Li, S. Redding, A. Dongari-Bagtzoglou

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

178 Scopus citations


Following the widespread use of immunosuppressive therapy and broad-spectrum antimycotic prophylaxis, C. glabrata has emerged as an important opportunistic pathogen in the oral mucosa. In the past, studies on the virulence factors and host-pathogen interactions of this organism were scarce, but continued to rise in recent years. Denture-wearing, immunosuppression, antibiotic therapy, and aging are risk factors for oral colonization or infection with C. glabrata. Compared with C. albicans, C. glabrata exhibits lower oral keratinocyte-adherence capacity, but higher denture-surface-adherence ability. The role of extracellular hydrolase production in the virulence of this organism does not appear to be as important as it is in C. albicans pathogenesis. Although traditionally thought of as a non-transforming yeast organism, both phenotypic switching and pseudo-hyphal formation have recently been identified in C. glabrata, but their role in pathogenesis is not known. With the exception of granulocyte monocyte colony-stimulating factor, C. glabrata triggers a lower proinflammatory cytokine response in oral epithelial cells than does C. albicans, in a strain-dependent manner. C. glabrata is less susceptible to killing by human beta-defensins than is C. albicans and exhibits various degrees of resistance to the antifungal activity of salivary histatins and mucins. In addition, C. glabrata possesses both innate and acquired resistance against antifungal drugs, due to its ability to modify ergosterol biosynthesis, mitochondrial function, or antifungal efflux. This resistance allows for its relative overgrowth over other susceptible species and may contribute to the recent emergence of C. glabrata infections in chronically immunocompromised populations. Further investigations on the virulence and host-pathogen interactions of C. glabrata are needed to better define the pathogenesis of oral C. glabrata infection in susceptible hosts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)204-215
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of dental research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2007


  • C. glabrata
  • Oral candidiasis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dentistry(all)


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