Effect of suramin on the human pathogen Candida albicans: implications on the fungal development and virulence

Authors

  • Lys Adriana Braga-Silva,

    1. Departamento de Microbiologia Geral, Instituto de Microbiologia Prof. Paulo de Góes (IMPPG), Centro de Ciências da Saúde (CCS), Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), Brazil
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  • André Luis Souza dos Santos,

    1. Departamento de Microbiologia Geral, Instituto de Microbiologia Prof. Paulo de Góes (IMPPG), Centro de Ciências da Saúde (CCS), Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), Brazil
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  • Maristela Barbosa Portela,

    1. Departamento de Microbiologia Geral, Instituto de Microbiologia Prof. Paulo de Góes (IMPPG), Centro de Ciências da Saúde (CCS), Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), Brazil
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  • Thaïs Souto-Padrón,

    1. Departamento de Microbiologia Geral, Instituto de Microbiologia Prof. Paulo de Góes (IMPPG), Centro de Ciências da Saúde (CCS), Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), Brazil
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  • Rosangela Maria de Araújo Soares

    1. Departamento de Microbiologia Geral, Instituto de Microbiologia Prof. Paulo de Góes (IMPPG), Centro de Ciências da Saúde (CCS), Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), Brazil
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  • Editor: Alex van Belkum

Correspondence: Rosangela Maria de Araújo Soares, Departamento de Microbiologia Geral, Instituto de Microbiologia Prof. Paulo de Góes (IMPPG), Bloco I, Centro de Ciências da Saúde (CCS), Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ), Avenida Carlos Chagas Filho, 373, Cidade Universitária, Rio de Janeiro, RJ 21941-590, Brazil. Tel.: +55 21 2562 6711; fax: +55 21 2560 8344; e-mail: rasoares@micro.ufrj.br

Abstract

Candida albicans is an opportunistic pathogen that is of growing medical importance because it causes superficial, mucosal and systemic infections in susceptible individuals. Here, the effect of suramin, a polysulfonated naphthylurea derivative, on C. albicans development and virulence was evaluated. Firstly, it was demonstrated that suramin (500 μM) arrested its growth, showing a fungicidal action dependent on cell number. Suramin treatment caused profound changes in the yeast ultrastructure as shown by transmission electron microscopy. The more important changes were the enlargement of the fungi cytoplasmic vacuoles, the appearance of yeasts with an empty cytoplasm resembling ghost cells and a reduction in cell wall thickness. Suramin also blocked the transformation of yeast cells to the germ-tube and the interaction between C. albicans and epithelial cells. In order to ascertain that the action of suramin on C. albicans growth is a general feature instead of being strain-specific, the effects of suramin on 14 oral clinical strains isolated from healthy children and HIV-positive infants were analyzed. Interestingly, the strains of C. albicans isolated from HIV-positive patients were more resistant to suramin than strains isolated from healthy patients. Altogether, the results produced here show that suramin interfered with essential fungal processes, such as growth, differentiation and interaction with host cells.

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