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Definition of Candida Albicans - Start Here!

Candida Definition


Candida albicans is described as either a polymorphic or dimorphic organism which undergoes morphologic transition between yeast, pseudohyphal and hyphal forms. There are over 150 types or species of Candida. Some of these Candida species, such as Candida Albicans, are very common commensal organisms of the human intestinal tract. As a commensal organism they have evolved to co-exist with over 5600 other species of micro-organisms within the intestinal tract.


In its normal commensal form, Candida Albicans exists as a yeast. The ability of C. Albicans to change from its yeast to its pathogenic, filamentous fungal form is a major determinant of its virulence. Several virulence factors for C. albicans that promote successful colonization or invasion of host tissues include factors related to the cell wall, adhesion, and extracellular proteolytic enzyme production. Other virulence factors include secreted phospholipases, lipases, and N-acetyl-B-hexosaminidases. 


As an infectious agent, C. Albicans is the most common hospital-acquired fungal infection, and 4th overall infectious agent in hospitals. Candida albicans is the yeast species most frequently isolated from human clinical specimens and causes a spectrum of superficial and systemic infections. The superficial infections such as oral candidiasis (Thrush) affect a large proportion of the population including neonates and elderly individuals. Candidal vaginitis (commonly known as a Yeast Infection) afflicts more than 30% of all women. In recent years there has been an increasing interest in Candida infections and in C. albicans in particular because fatal infections have become more prevalent and new Candida associated disorders have been recognized. Among these are acute infections range from diarrhea and life-threatening colitis, to chronic infections leading to obesity, cancers, and other unknown diseases and conditions. Through the effect of its proteolytic enzymes, it has recently been implicated in diabetes, hypertension, and immune system suppression.


While C. Albicans infections can be extremely life-threatening in immunocompromised individuals, a compromised immune system is not necessary for its spread and dissemination throughout the body and its tissues.


The primary cause of systemic fungal candida infections is antibiotic use. Other causes include chemotherapy, immunosuppressive drugs and conditions, and steroids.


Keywords: candida albicans, what is candida, systemic candida, definitions, glossary, beginner, basics, antibiotics, diseases, drjefftop

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