Tagore Medical College
Background and Purpose: Opportunistic fungal infections have been on a growing trend since the last two decades. Among the opportunistic fungal agents, Candida species, Cryptococcus neoformans, and Aspergillus fumigatus account for most of the life-threatening infections in immunocompromised individuals. Regarding this, the present study aimed to investigate the molecular identification and antifungal susceptibility pattern of Candida species isolated from HIV-infected patients.
Materials and Methods: This study was conducted on 80 clinical samples collected from HIV-infected patients with suspected candidiasis referring to Tagore Medical College and Hospital, Rathinamangalam and Government Hospital of Thoracic Medicine, in Chennai, India, for 18 months (i.e., May 2016-December 2017). Phenotypic and molecular identification was accomplished using internal transcribed spacer region 1 (ITS1) and ITS4 primers. The antifungal susceptibility pattern of the isolates against four antifungal agents was also determined by both disk diffusion and broth dilution methods.
Results: In the present study, the prevalence of candidiasis was obtained as 75% (n=60). Candida tropicalis was the predominant identified species. All the emerging species (i.e., Kodamaea ohmeri, Hanseniaspora opuntiae, and C. orthopsilosis) were identified through molecular identification since the phenotypic identification was inconclusive. In terms of the susceptibility pattern, 63.3% and 18.3% of the isolates were resistant to fluconazole and voriconazole, respectively. Candida albicans was also found to be resistant to amphotericin B.
Conclusion: Molecular assay led to the identification of K. ohmeri, H. opuntiae, and C. orthopsilosis, which were multidrug-resistant. This study highlighted the need for the prompt and timely identification of clinical yeast isolates given the emergence of many rare species and their capability of causing life-threatening infections and outbreaks. In the laboratories where molecular diagnostic methods are not available, alternative services of reference laboratories can be utilized as cost-effective measures. With regard to the growing prevalence of antifungal drug resistance, antifungal susceptibility testing should be made mandatory for effective patient management.