Intestinal epithelial cells and T cells differentially recognize and respond to Candida albicans yeast and hypha

Anja Schirbel, Dror S. Shouval, Betty Hebecker, Bernhard Hube, Andreas Sturm, Lael Werner*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) are a multifactorial disorder. Our understanding of the role of bacteria in the pathogenesis of IBD has increased substantially; however, only scarce data exist regarding the role of commensal fungi in maintaining intestinal homeostasis and triggering IBD. Candida albicans (C. albicans) is a member of the intestinal mycobiome and proposed to contribute to IBD pathogenesis. We aimed to investigate the influence of the two morphologies of C. albicans, yeast and hypha, on epithelial cells and T cells from IBD patients versus healthy controls. We found that C. albicans was recognized by both epithelial cells lines and T cells. In the intestinal epithelial cell line, Caco-2, response to hypha was different than to yeast cells, and this was mimicked by synthetic β-glucans and Pam3CSK4. Unstimulated T cells exhibited increased activation and pro-inflammatory cytokine secretion upon exposure, while there was no effect on apoptosis or proliferation. In contrast, C. albicans-challenged CD3-stimulated T-cells exhibited decreased activation, cytokine secretion, apoptosis, and proliferation, suggesting reciprocal responsiveness to C. albicans. Glycans alone did not mimic abovementioned influences on T cells, suggesting alternative modes of recognition. In conclusion, we provide evidence for glycan dependent and independent recognition of C. albicans by epithelial cells and T cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1826-1837
Number of pages12
JournalEuropean Journal of Immunology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2018


FundersFunder number
European Crohn's and Colitis Organization
European Crohn’s and Colitis Organization


    • Candida albicans
    • Epithelial cells
    • Glycans
    • Inflammatory bowel disease
    • T cells


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