Growth of Candida albicans in human saliva is supported by low-molecular-mass compounds

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Saliva plays a key role in the maintenance of a stable oral microflora. It contains antimicrobial compounds but also functions as a substrate for growth of bacteria under conditions of low external nutrient supply. Besides bacteria, yeasts, in particular Candida albicans, commonly inhabit the oral cavity. Under immunocompromised conditions, instantaneous outgrowth of this yeast occurs in oral carriers of C. albicans, suggesting that this yeast is able to survive in the oral cavity with saliva as sole source of growth substrate. The aim of the present study was to identify the salivary constituents that are used by C. albicans for growth and survival in saliva. In addition, we have explored the effect of growth in saliva on the susceptibility of C. albicans to histatin 5, a salivary antifungal peptide. It was found that C. albicans was able to grow in human saliva without addition of glucose, and in the stationary phase could survive for more than 400 h. Candida albicans grown in saliva was more than 10 times less susceptible for salivary histatin 5 than C. albicans cultured in Sabouraud medium.

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