Gastrointestinal colonisation and translocation

The gastrointestinal tract is the main reservoir for C. albicans in the human host and the transition of C. albicans within the gut from a commensal to an invasive pathogen is of great clinical importance. However, it is largely unknown which host factors trigger the transition and which fungal factors are essential for translocation through the gut. Our research aims at a better understanding of the factors that influence colonisation and translocation. Therefore we use a combination of in vitro and in vivo infection models.

One aim of this project is to determine at which anatomical sites translocation occurs and which host cells are involved in the translocation process and host response. Furthermore, there is experimental evidence that intestinal ischemia/hypoxia, e.g., during major surgery and shock/sepsis, weakens the intestinal barrier. We therefore investigate whether hypoxia promotes translocation of C. albicans. Finally, as a member of the intestinal microbiome C. albicans not only interacts with the host but also other microorganisms. In the CanBac project we therefore investigate in collaboration with the Department of Microbial Pathogenicity Mechanisms how interactions between C. albicans and bacteria influence colonisation and translocation.

These projects are supported by the German Research Council (FG), Transregio 124 “FungiNet“ und the Jena School of Microbial Communication (JSMC) as well as the BMBF (CSCC - Center for Sepsis Control and Care).

Schematic figure showing the possible contribution of hypoxia to C. albicans translocation.
Schematic figure showing the possible contribution of hypoxia to C. albicans translocation.