Encapsulation of Candida albicans in Alginate Polymer

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Candida albicans is a commensal opportunistic fungal pathogen. It is a polymorphic organism that exists in pseudo-hyphal, hyphal and yeast forms in human hosts. C. albicans causes superficial and systemic infections, including oral thrush, vaginal yeast infections, and systemic bloodstream infections. Systemic candidiasis can be deadly in immunocompromised patients such as transplant recipients and patients that have HIV, cancer, and diabetes mellitus. C. albicans infections are associated with high morbidity and mortality rates yearly. The characteristics of C. albicans associated with an ability to cause infections involve cell adhesion, dimorphism, phenotypic switching, thigmotropism, and biofilm formation. These characteristics aid in yeast dispersal, virulence and resistance to current antifungal therapies. Due to the toxicity of antifungal therapies to human host cells, the resistance of C. albicans to antifungal therapies, and Candida’s ability to escape the white blood cells, newer approaches to better study C. albicans are needed. Encapsulation of yeast cells will allow observation of cell signaling, growth patterns, and, ultimately, enable the development of better alternatives to prevent biofilm formation and C. albicans hyphal growth, thereby limiting virulence. Anionic alginate polymers were used to mimic human host cells for Candida encapsulation observation. and C. albicans strain SC5134 was embedded in the capsules. The cells grew predominantly in the yeast form at 35 °C but showed significant hyphal growth at 37 °C, in both liquid growth medium and in the alginate capsules. The results also show that C albicans can successfully be encapsulated and that growth can be observed in the capsules.