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Immunology of chronic mucocutaneous candidiasis
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  1. D Lilic,
  2. I Gravenor
  1. Department of Microbiology and Immunology, The Medical School, University of Newcastle, Framlington Place, Newcastle NE2 4HH, UK desa.lilic@ncl.ac.uk

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    Patients with chronic mucocutaneous candidiasis (CMC) are susceptible to debilitating, persistent, and refractory infections of the skin, nails, and mucous membranes with yeasts of the genus candida, most often by the species Candida albicans. The underlying defect is thought to be an impairment of immune defences but the nature of the defect(s) has not been defined.1 Candida albicans is an opportunistic yeast inhabiting, as a commensal, the mucous membranes of > 80% of adults, becoming invasive only if the existing balance is disrupted. Various non-immunological factors are known to predispose to candida overgrowth and thrush (diabetes, obesity, systemic antibiotics, systemic and local steroid treatment, dentures, and occlusion—for example, nappies and tight clothing, etc); however, these infections are characteristically resolved as soon as the predisposing factors are removed and should not be confused with a persistent inability to clear candida, as is seen in CMC.2 Patients with CMC do not constitute a homogenous group and numerous classifications have been proposed, mostly based on the presence or absence of endocrinopathy, juvenile or mature onset, and familial or sporadic occurrence.3 Associated findings include alopecia, vitiligo, malabsorption disorders, and infections with encapsulated microorganisms.4 Patients with CMC and endocrinopathy are now frequently referred to as having the APECED (autoimmune polyendocrinopathy candidiasis ectodermal dysplasia) syndrome,5 previously known as APS-1 (autoimmune polyendocrinopathy syndrome type 1). In these patients, a genetic defect has recently been identified showing (various) mutations in the AIRE (autoimmune regulator) gene, which probably encodes a DNA transcription factor. The link between the identified gene defect and the inability to clear candida remains unknown. No gene defect has as yet been identified in patients with CMC without endocrinopathy, although there have been occasional reports of such patients where multiple family members through several generations were affected, again suggesting an …

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