Background: Candida glabrata is the second leading fungal pathogen causing candidaemia and invasive candidiasis in Europe. This yeast is recognized for its rapid ability to acquire antifungal drug resistance.
Objectives: We systematically evaluated 176 C. glabrata isolates submitted to the German National Reference Center for Invasive Fungal Infections (NRZMyk) between 2015 and 2019 with regard to echinocandin and fluconazole susceptibility.
Methods: Susceptibility testing was performed using a reference protocol (EUCAST) and a range of commercial assays. Hot spot regions of the echinocandin target FKS genes were sequenced using Sanger sequencing.
Results: In total, 84 of 176 isolates were initially classified as anidulafungin-resistant based on EUCAST testing. Of those, 71 harboured mutations in the glucan synthase encoding FKS genes (13% in FKS1, 87% in FKS2). Significant differences in anidulafungin MICs were found between distinct mutation sites. 11 FKS wild-type (WT) isolates initially classified as resistant exhibited anidulafungin MICs fluctuating around the interpretation breakpoint upon re-testing with multiple assays. Two FKS WT isolates consistently showed high anidulafungin MICs and thus must be considered resistant despite the absence of target gene mutations. Over one-third of echinocandin-resistant strains displayed concomitant fluconazole resistance. Of those, isolates linked to bloodstream infection carrying a change at Ser-663 were associated with adverse clinical outcome.
Conclusions: Resistant C. glabrata strains are emerging in Germany. Phenotypic echinocandin testing can result in misclassification of susceptible strains. FKS genotyping aids in detecting these strains, however, echinocandin resistance may occur despite a wild-type FKS genotype.