Oral candidiasis is closely associated with changes in the oral fungal flora and is caused primarily by Candida albicans. Conventional methods of fungal culture are time-consuming and not always conclusive. However, molecular genetic analysis of internal transcribed spacer (ITS) regions of fungal rRNA is rapid, reproducible and simple to perform. In this study we examined the fungal flora in patients with oral candidiasis and investigated changes in the flora after antifungal treatment using length heterogeneity-polymerization chain reaction (LH-PCR) analysis of ITS regions. Fifty-two patients with pseudomembranous oral candidiasis (POC) and 30 healthy controls were included in the study. Fungal DNA from oral rinse was examined for fungal species diversity by LH-PCR. Fungal populations were quantified by real-time PCR and previouslyunidentified signals were confirmed by nucleotide sequencing. Relationships between the oral fungal flora and treatmentresistant factors were also examined. POC patients showed significantly more fungal species and a greater density of fungi than control individuals. Sixteen fungi were newly identified. The fungal populations from both groups were composed predominantly of C. albicans, though the ratio of C. dubliniensis was significantly higher in POC patients than in controls. The diversity and density of fungi were significantly reduced after treatment. Furthermore, fungal diversity and the proportion of C. dubliniensis were positively correlated with treatment duration. These results suggest that C. dubliniensis and high fungal flora diversity might be involved in the pathogenesis of oral candidiasis. We therefore conclude that LH-PCR is a useful technique for diagnosing and assessing the severity of oral candidal infection.
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