A Comparative Study of Candidal Invasion in Rabbit Tongue Mucosal Explants and Reconstituted Human Oral Epithelium

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The purpose of this study is to compare the light and scanning electron microscopic (SEM) features of tissue invasion by three Candida species (C. albicans, C. tropicalis, and C. dubliniensis) in two different tissue culture models: rabbit tongue mucosal explants (RTME) and reconstituted human oral epithelium (RHOE). Tongue mucosal biopsies of healthy New Zealand rabbits were maintained in explant culture using a transwell system. RHOE was obtained from Skinethic Laboratory (Nice, France). RTME and RHOE were inoculated with C. albicans, C. tropicalis, and C. dubliniensis separately and incubated at 37°C, 5% CO2, and 100% humidity up to 48 h. Light microscopic and SEM examinations of uninfected (controls) and infected tissues were performed at 24 and 48 h. C. albicans produced characteristic hallmarks of pathological tissue invasion in both tissue models over a period of 48 h. Hyphae penetrated through epithelial cells and intercellular gaps latter resembling thigmotropism. SEM showed cavitations on the epithelial cell surfaces particularly pronounced at sites of hyphal invasion. Some hyphae on RTME showed several clusters of blastospores attached in regular arrangements resembling “appareil sporifere”. C. tropicalis and C. dubliniensis produced few hyphae mainly on RTME but they did not penetrate either model. Our findings indicate that multiple host-fungal interactions such as cavitations, thigmotropism, and morphogenesis take place during candidal tissue invasion. RTME described here appears to be useful in investigations of such pathogenic processes of Candida active at the epithelial front.

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