Candidalysin Drives Epithelial Signaling, Neutrophil Recruitment, and Immunopathology at the Vaginal Mucosa.
ABSTRACT: Unlike other forms of candidiasis, vulvovaginal candidiasis, caused primarily by the fungal pathogen Candida albicans, is a disease of immunocompetent and otherwise healthy women. Despite its prevalence, the fungal factors responsible for initiating symptomatic infection remain poorly understood. One of the hallmarks of vaginal candidiasis is the robust recruitment of neutrophils to the site of infection, which seemingly do not clear the fungus, but rather exacerbate disease symptomatology. Candidalysin, a newly discovered peptide toxin secreted by C. albicans hyphae during invasion, drives epithelial damage, immune activation, and phagocyte attraction. Therefore, we hypothesized that Candidalysin is crucial for vulvovaginal candidiasis immunopathology. Anti-Candida immune responses are anatomical-site specific, as effective gastrointestinal, oral, and vaginal immunities are uniquely compartmentalized. Thus, we aimed to identify the immunopathologic role of Candidalysin and downstream signaling events at the vaginal mucosa. Microarray analysis of C. albicans-infected human vaginal epithelium in vitro revealed signaling pathways involved in epithelial damage responses, barrier repair, and leukocyte activation. Moreover, treatment of A431 vaginal epithelial cells with Candidalysin induced dose-dependent proinflammatory cytokine responses (including interleukin 1? [IL-1?], IL-1?, and IL-8), damage, and activation of c-Fos and mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling, consistent with fungal challenge. Mice intravaginally challenged with C. albicans strains deficient in Candidalysin exhibited no differences in colonization compared to isogenic controls. However, significant decreases in neutrophil recruitment, damage, and proinflammatory cytokine expression were observed with these strains. Our findings demonstrate that Candidalysin is a key hypha-associated virulence determinant responsible for the immunopathogenesis of C. albicans vaginitis.
Project description:The human fungal pathogen Candida albicans is the major etiological agent of vulvovaginal candidiasis (VVC). Despite this fact, other non-albicans Candida (NAC) species have frequently been reported, as well. Despite their presence in the vaginal environment, little is known about their capacities to elicit immune responses classically associated with C. albicans-mediated immunopathology, including neutrophil recruitment and proinflammatory cytokine signaling. Therefore, using a combination of in vitro and in vivo approaches, we undertook a comparative analysis to determine whether a representative panel of NAC species could colonize, induce immunopathological markers, or cause damage at the vaginal mucosa. Using a murine model of VVC, C. albicans was found to induce robust immunopathology (neutrophils and interleukin 1β [IL-1β]) and elicit mucosal damage. However, all the NAC species tested (including C. dubliniensis, C. tropicalis, C. parapsilosis, C. krusei, C. glabrata, and C. auris) induced significantly less damage and neutrophil recruitment than C. albicans, despite achieving similar early colonization levels. These results largely correlated with a notable lack of ability by the NAC species (including C. dubliniensis and C. tropicalis) to form hyphae both in vitro and in vivo Furthermore, both C. dubliniensis and C. tropicalis induced significantly less expression of the ECE1 gene encoding candidalysin, a key fungal virulence determinant driving VVC immunopathology. In order to determine the relative capacities of these species to elicit inflammasome-dependent IL-1β release, both wild-type and NLRP3-/- THP-1 cells were challenged in vitro While most species tested elicited only modest amounts of IL-1β, challenge with C. albicans led to significantly elevated levels that were largely NLRP3 dependent. Collectively, our findings demonstrate that although NAC species are increasingly reported as causative agents of VVC, C. albicans appears to be exceedingly vaginopathogenic, exhibiting robust immunopathology, hypha formation, and candidalysin expression. Thus, this study provides mechanistic insight into why C. albicans is overwhelmingly the major pathogen reported during VVC.
Project description:Candida albicans is a fungal pathobiont, able to cause epithelial cell damage and immune activation. These functions have been attributed to its secreted toxin, candidalysin, though the molecular mechanisms are poorly understood. Here, we identify epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) as a critical component of candidalysin-triggered immune responses. We find that both C. albicans and candidalysin activate human epithelial EGFR receptors and candidalysin-deficient fungal mutants poorly induce EGFR phosphorylation during murine oropharyngeal candidiasis. Furthermore, inhibition of EGFR impairs candidalysin-triggered MAPK signalling and release of neutrophil activating chemokines in vitro, and diminishes neutrophil recruitment, causing significant mortality in an EGFR-inhibited zebrafish swimbladder model of infection. Investigation into the mechanism of EGFR activation revealed the requirement of matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs), EGFR ligands and calcium. We thus identify a PAMP-independent mechanism of immune stimulation and highlight candidalysin and EGFR signalling components as potential targets for prophylactic and therapeutic intervention of mucosal candidiasis.
Project description:Vulvovaginal candidiasis is the most prevalent vaginal infection worldwide and Candida albicans is its major agent. Vulvovaginal candidiasis is characterized by disruption of the vaginal microbiota composition, as happens following large spectrum antibiotic usage. Recent studies support the effectiveness of oral and local probiotic treatment for prevention of recurrent vulvovaginal candidiasis. Saccharomyces cerevisiae is a safe yeast used as, or for, the production of ingredients for human nutrition and health. Here, we demonstrate that vaginal administration of probiotic Saccharomyces cerevisiae live yeast (GI) and, in part, inactivated whole yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae (IY), used as post-challenge therapeutics, was able to positively influence the course of vaginal candidiasis by accelerating the clearance of the fungus. This effect was likely due to multiple interactions of Saccharomyces cerevisiae with Candida albicans. Both live and inactivated yeasts induced coaggregation of Candida and consequently inhibited its adherence to epithelial cells. However, only the probiotic yeast was able to suppress some major virulence factors of Candida albicans such as the ability to switch from yeast to mycelial form and the capacity to express several aspartyl proteases. The effectiveness of live yeast was higher than that of inactivated whole yeast suggesting that the synergy between mechanical effects and biological effects were dominant over purely mechanical effects. The protection of epithelial cells to Candida-induced damage was also observed. Overall, our data show for the first time that Saccharomyces cerevisiae-based ingredients, particularly the living cells, can exert beneficial therapeutic effects on a widespread vaginal mucosal infection.
Project description:During oropharyngeal candidiasis (OPC), Candida albicans invades and damages oral epithelial cells, which respond by producing proinflammatory mediators that recruit phagocytes to foci of infection. The ephrin type-A receptor 2 (EphA2) detects ?-glucan and plays a central role in stimulating epithelial cells to release proinflammatory mediators during OPC. The epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) also interacts with C. albicans and is known to be activated by the Als3 adhesin/invasin and the candidalysin pore-forming toxin. Here, we investigated the interactions among EphA2, EGFR, Als3 and candidalysin during OPC. We found that EGFR and EphA2 constitutively associate with each other as part of a heteromeric physical complex and are mutually dependent for C. albicans-induced activation. Als3-mediated endocytosis of a C. albicans hypha leads to the formation of an endocytic vacuole where candidalysin accumulates at high concentration. Thus, Als3 potentiates targeting of candidalysin, and both Als3 and candidalysin are required for C. albicans to cause maximal damage to oral epithelial cells, sustain activation of EphA2 and EGFR, and stimulate pro-inflammatory cytokine and chemokine secretion. In the mouse model of OPC, C. albicans-induced production of CXCL1/KC and CCL20 is dependent on the presence of candidalysin and EGFR, but independent of Als3. The production of IL-1? and IL-17A also requires candidalysin but is independent of Als3 and EGFR. The production of TNF? requires Als1, Als3, and candidalysin. Collectively, these results delineate the complex interplay among host cell receptors EphA2 and EGFR and C. albicans virulence factors Als1, Als3 and candidalysin during the induction of OPC and the resulting oral inflammatory response.
Project description:Typically, established lab strains are widely used to study host-pathogen interactions. However, to better reflect the infection process, the experimental use of clinical isolates has come more into focus. Here, we analyzed the interaction of multiple vaginal isolates of the opportunistic fungal pathogen Candida albicans, the most common cause of vulvovaginal candidiasis in women, with key players of the host immune system: macrophages. We tested several strains isolated from asymptomatic or symptomatic women with acute and recurrent infections. While all clinical strains showed a response similar to the commonly used lab strain SC5314 in various in vitro assays, they displayed remarkable differences during interaction with macrophages. This coincided with significantly reduced ?-glucan exposure on the cell surface, which appeared to be a shared property among the tested vaginal strains for yeast extract/peptone/dextrose-grown cells, which is partly lost when the isolates faced vaginal niche-like nutrient conditions. However, macrophage damage, survival of phagocytosis, and filamentation capacities were highly strain-specific. These results highlight the high heterogeneity of C. albicans strains in host-pathogen interactions, which have to be taken into account to bridge the gap between laboratory-gained data and disease-related outcomes in an actual patient.IMPORTANCE Vulvovaginal candidiasis is one of the most common fungal infections in humans with Candida albicans as the major causative agent. This study is the first to compare clinical vaginal isolates of defined patient groups in their interaction with macrophages, highlighting the vastly different outcomes in comparison to a laboratory strain using commonly applied virulence-determining assays.
Project description:Treatment of vulvovaginal candidiasis (VVC), caused most frequently by Candida albicans, represents a significant unmet clinical need. C. albicans, as both a commensal and a pathogenic organism, has a complex and poorly understood interaction with the vaginal environment. Understanding the complex nature of this relationship is necessary for the development of desperately needed therapies to treat symptomatic infection. Using transcriptome sequencing (RNA-seq), we characterized the early murine vaginal and fungal transcriptomes of the organism during VVC. Network analysis of host genes that were differentially expressed between infected and naive mice predicted the activation or repression of several signaling pathways that have not been previously associated with VVC, including NLRP3 inflammasome activation. Intravaginal challenge of Nlrp3(-/-) mice with C. albicans demonstrated severely reduced levels of polymorphonuclear leukocytes (PMNs), alarmins, and inflammatory cytokines, including interleukin-1β (IL-1β) (the hallmarks of VVC immunopathogenesis) in vaginal lavage fluid. Intravaginal administration of wild-type (WT) mice with glyburide, a potent inhibitor of the NLRP3 inflammasome, reduced PMN infiltration and IL-1β to levels comparable to those observed in Nlrp3(-/-) mice. Furthermore, RNA-seq analysis of C. albicans genes indicated robust expression of hypha-associated secreted aspartyl proteinases 4, 5, and 6 (SAP4-6), which are known inflammasome activators. Despite colonization similar to that of the WT strain, ΔSAP4-6 triple and ΔSAP5 single mutants induced significantly less PMN influx and IL-1β during intravaginal challenge. Our findings demonstrate a novel role for the inflammasome in the immunopathogenesis of VVC and implicate the hypha-associated SAPs as major C. albicans virulence determinants during vulvovaginal candidiasis.Vaginitis, most commonly caused by the fungus Candida albicans, results in significant quality-of-life issues for all women of reproductive age. Recent efforts have suggested that vaginitis results from an immunopathological response governed by host innate immunity, although an explanatory mechanism has remained undefined. Using comprehensive genomic, immunological, and pharmacological approaches, we have elucidated the NLRP3 inflammasome as a crucial molecular mechanism contributing to host immunopathology. We have also demonstrated that C. albicans hypha-associated secreted aspartyl proteinases (SAP4-6 and SAP5, more specifically) contribute to disease immunopathology. Ultimately, this study enhances our understanding of the complex interplay between host and fungus at the vaginal mucosa and provides proof-of-principle evidence for therapeutic targeting of inflammasomes for symptomatic vulvovaginal candidiasis.
Project description:Streptococcus agalactiae and Candida albicans often co-colonize the female genital tract, and under certain conditions induce mucosal inflammation. The role of the interaction between the two organisms in candidal vaginitis is not known. In this study, we found that co-infection with S. agalactiae significantly attenuated the hyphal development of C. albicans, and that EFG1-Hwp1 signal pathway of C. albicans was involved in this process. In a mouse model of vulvovaginal candidiasis (VVC), the fungal burden and the levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines, IL-1?, IL-6 and TNF-? showed a increase on co-infection with S. agalactiae, while the level of TH17 T cells and IL-17 in the cervicovaginal lavage fluid were significantly decreased. Our results indicate that S. agalactiae inhibits C. albicans hyphal development by downregulating the expression of EFG1-Hwp1. The interaction between S. agalactiae and C. albicans may attenuate host vaginal mucosal TH17 immunity and contribute to mucosal colonization by C. albicans.
Project description:Lactobacillus species are the predominant vaginal microbiota found in healthy women of reproductive age and help to prevent pathogen infection by producing lactic acid, H2O2 and anti-microbial compounds. Identification of novel vaginal Lactobacillus isolates that exhibit efficient colonisation and secrete anti-Candida factors is a promising strategy to prevent vulvovaginal candidiasis. The azole antifungal agents used to treat vulvovaginal candidiasis elicit adverse effects such as allergic responses and exhibit drug interactions. Candida strains with resistance to antifungal treatments are often reported. In this study, we isolated Lactobacillus species from healthy Korean women and investigated their antifungal effects against C. albicans in vitro and in vivo. Lactobacillus conditioned supernatant (LCS) of L. crispatus and L. fermentum inhibited C. albicans growth in vitro. A Lactobacillus-derived compound, which was not affected by proteolytic enzyme digestion and heat inactivation, inhibited growth and hyphal induction of C. albicans after adjustment to neutral pH. Combination treatment with neutral LCSs of L. crispatus and L. fermentum effectively inhibited propagation of C. albicans in a murine in vivo model of vulvovaginal candidiasis.
Project description:OBJECTIVE:Vulvovaginal candidiasis (VVC) is a common vaginal infection. Risk factors include diabetes, antibiotic use and pregnancy. Candida albicans is the most common species identified but non-C. albicans species appear to be more commonly associated with VVC in some Asian and African countries. We had studied the distribution of Candida species in Spanish and immigrants' women residents in Spain. METHODS:Retrospective study of vaginal yeast cultures between 2015 and 2018. RESULTS:A total of 2,283 vaginal yeast cultures were collected. Candida spp. was detected in 25.7% from Spanish women and in 28.5% from immigrants (no significant differences). Immigrants have higher rates of vaginal candidiasis compared other studies in Spain. C. albicans was the most common species isolated (82.4%). CONCLUSIONS:There were no differences in vaginal candidiasis rate between Spanish and immigrants' women. Immigrants consulted proportionally more compared with the Spanish women.
Project description:To better understand the molecular events underlying vulvovaginal candidiasis, we established an in vitro system. Immortalized vaginal epithelial cells were infected with live, yeast form C. albicans and C. albicans cultured in the same medium without vaginal epithelial cells were used as control. In both cases a yeast to hyphae transition was robustly induced. Whole transcriptome sequencing was used to identify specific gene expression changes in C. albicans. Numerous genes leading to a yeast to hyphae transition and hyphae specific genes were upregulated in the control hyphae and the hyphae in response to vaginal epithelial cells. Strikingly, the GlcNAc pathway was exclusively triggered by vaginal epithelial cells. Functional analysis in our in vitro system revealed that the GlcNAc biosynthesis is involved in the adherence to, and the ability to kill, vaginal epithelial cells in vitro, thus indicating the key role for this pathway in the virulence of C. albicans upon vulvovaginal candidiasis.