Oral epithelial cells distinguish between candida species with high or low pathogenic potential through MicroRNA regulation

Márton Horváth, Gábor Nagy, Nóra Zsindely, László Bodai, Péter Horváth, Csaba Vágvölgyi, Joshua D. Nosanchuk, Renáta Tóth, Attila Gácsera

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Oral epithelial cells monitor microbiome composition and initiate immune response upon dysbiosis, as in the case of Candida imbalances. Candida species, such as C. albicans and C. parapsilosis, are the most prevalent yeasts in the oral cavity. Comparison of healthy oral epithelial cell responses revealed that while C. albicans infection robustly activated inflammation cascades, C. parapsilosis primarily activated various inflammation-independent pathways. In posttranscriptional regulatory processes, several miRNAs were altered by both species. For C. parapsilosis, the dose of yeast cells directly correlated with changes in transcriptomic responses with higher fungal burdens inducing significantly different and broader changes. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) associated with carbohydrate metabolism-, hypoxia-, and vascular development-related responses dominated with C. parapsilosis infection, whereas C. albicans altered miRNAs linked to inflammatory responses. Subsequent analyses of hypoxia-inducible factor 1a (HIF1-a) and hepatic stellate cell (HSC) activation pathways predicted target genes through which miRNA-dependent regulation of yeast-specific functions may occur, which also supported the observed species-specific responses. Our findings suggest that C. parapsilosis is recognized as a commensal at low doses by the oral epithelium; however, increased fungal burden activates different pathways, some of which overlap with the inflammatory processes robustly induced by C. albicans. IMPORTANCE A relatively new topic within the field of immunology involves the role of miRNAs in innate as well as adaptive immune response regulation. In recent years, posttranscriptional regulation of host-pathogenic fungal interactions through miRNAs was also suggested. Our study reveals that the distinct nature of human oral epithelial cell responses toward C. parapsilosis and C. albicans is possibly due to species-specific fine-tuning of host miRNA regulatory processes. The findings of this study also shed new light on the nature of early host cell transcriptional responses to the presence of C. parapsilosis and highlight the species’ potential inflammation-independent host activation processes. These findings contribute to our better understanding of how miRNA deregulation at the oral immunological barrier, in non-canonical immune cells, may discriminate between fungal species, particularly Candida species with high or low pathogenic potential.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere00163
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 2021


  • Candida
  • Host-pathogen interaction
  • MiRNA regulation
  • Oral epithelial cell

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Biochemistry
  • Physiology
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Computer Science Applications


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