2005 J Oral Pathol Med. 2005 Apr;34(4):240-6.
Division of Microbiology, Faculty of Dental Sciences, University of Peradeniya, Peradeniya, Sri Lanka.

An ultrastructural and a cytochemical study of candidal invasion of reconstituted human oral epithelium

Opportunistic yeast, Candida albicans causes superficial and systemic mycoses in compromised patients. Adhesion to host tissues, morphogenesis and extracellular phospholipases (PL) are thought to contribute to its virulence. The nature of numerous host-parasite interactions at the invasive phase of oral candidiasis is not fully understood. Hence in this study, we explore the ultrastructural features of oral candidiasis using a tissue culture model based on reconstituted human oral epithelium (RHOE). METHODS: Reconstituted human oral epithelium (Skinethic Laboratory, Nice, France) was inoculated with C. albicans SC5314 and incubated up to 48 h. The infected tissue was harvested at 12, 24 and 48 h and examined using light, scanning (SEM) and transmission electron microscopy (TEM). Localized activity of PLs of C. albicans during tissue invasion was also examined using a cytochemical method. RESULTS: Over a period of 48 h C. albicans invaded the RHOE, and histological examination revealed characteristic hallmarks of pathological tissue invasion. Hyphal penetration into the superficial epithelium, particularly at cell junctions, together with features of cellular internalization of yeasts was noted. Phospholipase activity was visible at the tips of hyphae and initial sites of bud formation. Further, SEM studies revealed cavitations on the surface epithelial cells particularly pronounced at the sites of hyphal invasion. Hyphal invasion was seen both at cell surfaces and intercellular cell junctions of the epithelium, the latter resembling thigmotropic behaviour. CONCLUSIONS: Our findings confirm that multiple cellular interactions such as internalization, thigmotropism and extracellular PLs contribute to invasive candidiasis. The RHOE model, described here, appears to be a satisfactory model for the investigation of ultrastructural and histochemical features of invasive candidiasis in humans.