Candida glabrata- An Overview


Candida glabrata is a type of yeast that belongs to the genus Candida, which includes more than 200 species of fungi that can cause infections in humans and animals. Candida glabrata was previously known as Torulopsis glabrata, and it is closely related to the baker`s yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

Candida glabrata is one of the most common candida species, living commensally in the human host. It does not cause disease in healthy individuals, but it can become opportunistic and cause infections in people with weakened immune systems or other risk factors. These infections can range from superficial (such as oral, esophageal, vaginal, or urinary) to systemic (such as bloodstream or organ infections), and they are often difficult to treat due to the high resistance of Candida glabrata to many antifungal drugs.

Candida glabrata is responsible for about 15-30% of all cases of candidemia (bloodstream infection by candida species), which is a serious and potentially life-threatening condition. Candidemia is more common in hospitalized patients, especially those who have undergone surgery, chemotherapy, organ transplantation, or have indwelling catheters or devices. Candidemia can also occur in patients with diabetes mellitus, HIV/AIDS, cancer, or other chronic diseases that impair the immune system.

Candida glabrata can also cause infections of the mucosal surfaces, such as the mouth, throat, esophagus, vagina, or urinary tract. These infections are usually less severe than systemic ones, but they can cause discomfort, pain, inflammation, and sometimes complications such as abscesses or perforations. The most common mucosal infection caused by Candida glabrata is vulvovaginal candidiasis (VVC), which affects about 75% of women at some point in their lives. VVC can cause itching, burning, discharge, and sometimes pain during sexual intercourse or urination. VVC can be recurrent or chronic in some women, especially those who have diabetes mellitus, use oral contraceptives or antibiotics, or have hormonal imbalances.

The diagnosis of Candida glabrata infections can be challenging, as it requires the isolation and identification of the yeast from the infected site or blood sample. The morphology and culture characteristics of Candida glabrata are similar to other candida species, so specialized tests such as chromogenic media or molecular methods are needed to differentiate them. The treatment of Candida glabrata infections depends on the type and severity of the infection, the patient`s condition and risk factors, and the susceptibility of the yeast to antifungal drugs. The main classes of antifungal drugs used to treat Candida glabrata infections are azoles (such as fluconazole), polyenes (such as amphotericin B), and flucytosine. However, Candida glabrata has intrinsic or acquired resistance to many of these drugs, especially azoles, which limits the therapeutic options and increases the risk of treatment failure and relapse.

The prevention and control of Candida glabrata infections require a combination of measures that aim to reduce the exposure and colonization of the yeast in the host, enhance the host`s immune response and defense mechanisms against the yeast, and optimize the use and selection of antifungal drugs to prevent resistance development and spread. Some of these measures include:

  • Practicing good hygiene and sanitation practices to avoid contamination and transmission of the yeast
  • Avoiding unnecessary or prolonged use of antibiotics or corticosteroids that can disrupt the normal flora and favor the overgrowth of Candida glabrata
  • Using barrier methods such as condoms or diaphragms to prevent sexual transmission of Candida glabrata
  • Maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle that can boost the immune system and prevent chronic diseases that predispose to Candida glabrata infections
  • Seeking medical attention promptly if symptoms of Candida glabrata infection occur and following the prescribed treatment regimen
  • Monitoring the response and outcome of treatment and reporting any adverse effects or signs of resistance to antifungal drugs

Candida glabrata is an emerging pathogen that poses a significant challenge for clinical management and public health. It is important to increase the awareness and knowledge about this yeast among health professionals and patients alike, as well as to promote research and innovation in developing new strategies for diagnosis, treatment, prevention, and control of Candida glabrata infections.