The gut, the bad and the harmless: Candida Albicans as a commensal and opportunistic pathogen in the intestine.
Candida albicans is a regular member of the intestinal microbiota in the majority of the human population. This underscores C. albicans' adaptation to life in the intestine without inducing competitive interactions with other microbes, or immune responses detrimental to its survival. However, specific conditions such as a dysbalanced microbiome, a suppression of the immune system, and an impaired intestinal barrier can predispose for invasive, mostly nosocomial, C. albicans infections. Colonization of the intestine and translocation through the intestinal barrier are fundamental aspects of the processes preceding life-threatening systemic candidiasis. Insights into C. albicans' commensal lifestyle and translocation can thus help us to understand how patients develop candidiasis, and may provide leads for therapeutic strategies aimed at preventing infection. In this review, we discuss the commensal lifestyle of C. albicans in the intestine, the role of morphology for commensalism, the influence of diet, and the interactions with bacteria of the microbiota.