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Open Access Research article

Isolation of cholesterol-dependent, multidrug-resistant Candida glabrata strains from blood cultures of a candidemia patient in Kuwait

Ziauddin Khan1*, Suhail Ahmad1, Leena Joseph1 and Khaled Al-Obaid2

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Microbiology, Faculty of Medicine, Kuwait University, P. O. Box 24923, Safat 13110, Kuwait

2 Microbiology Unit, Al-Amiri Hospital, Safat, Kuwait

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BMC Infectious Diseases 2014, 14:188  doi:10.1186/1471-2334-14-188

Published: 8 April 2014



Candida glabrata has emerged as an important human pathogen associated with systemic and mucosal infections. Here, we describe isolation of two cholesterol-dependent Candida glabrata strains from a candidemia patient which failed to grow on the media devoid of a cholesterol source.


Both the isolates were recovered from BACTEC Plus Aerobic/F blood culture bottles of a candidemic patient. Since these isolates failed to grow on Sabouraud dextrose agar, Mueller-Hinton agar and RPMI 1640 agar media, their definitive identification required PCR sequencing of the internally transcribed spacer (ITS)1 and ITS2 regions of rDNA and the D1/D2 region sequences within 26S rRNA gene. The cholesterol auxotrophy was determined by their ability to grow on media containing a cholesterol source. The minimum inhibitory concentrations (MICs) to antifungal agents were determined by Etest.


The identity of the isolates was confirmed by sequencing of the ITS1 and ITS2 regions of rDNA and the D1/D2 region sequences within 26S rRNA gene and also by matrix-assisted laser desorption and ionization–time-of-flight mass spectrometry with 99.9% confidence value. Both the isolates showed good growth only when media were supplemented with cholesterol, oxbile or blood. Additionally, these isolates were resistant to amphotericin B (MIC ≥32 μg/ml), fluconazole (MIC ≥256 μg/ml), voriconazole (MIC ≥32 μg/ml), itraconazole (MIC ≥32 μg/ml), and posaconazole (MIC ≥32 μg/ml), but susceptible to caspofungin (MIC range 0.064 to 0.19 μg/ml).


This appears to be the first report on isolation of cholesterol-dependent strains of C. glabrata from a candidemia patient exhibiting resistance to azoles and amphotericin B. Further, the report demonstrates that induction of cholesterol/sterol auxotrophy is associated with resistance to antifungal drugs targeting ergosterol biosynthesis. These observations may have therapeutic implications for the treatment of infections caused by such C. glabrata strains.

Candida glabrata; Drug resistance; Cholesterol auxotrophy; Candidemia