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Genetically distinct strains of Candida albicans with elevated secretory proteinase production are associated with diarrhoea in hospitalized children


Correspondence: DrLtMathaba Department of Microbiology, University of Western Australia, QEII Medical Centre, Nedlands 6009, WA, Australia. Email:


Background: Candida albicans has been implicated as the aetiological agent in a significant percentage of children with diarrhoea. The virulence properties of C. albicans strains associated with acute and chronic diarrhoea in hospitalized children were investigated.

Methods: The genotypic relationships between the isolates were determined using restriction enzyme analysis and hybridization with a C. albicans-specific DNA probe, 27A.

Results and Conclusion: In patients with acute and chronic diarrhoea, there is evidence for selection of specific, genetically distinct strains of C. albicans. Higher levels of secretory Candida acid proteinase produced by isolates from patients with acute diarrhoea may account for the more severe symptoms. However, the lower adherence of these isolates may predispose to the rapid (within 2 to 4 days) resolution of the condition. In patients with chronic diarrhoea the lower levels of proteinase produced correlate with the less severe symptoms, while the increased adherence may account for the persistence of the infection.