Using an in vitro model of intravascular infection, we examined the effects of exposure to subinhibitory concentrations of fluconazole and amphotericin B on the ability of Candida albicans to adhere to and damage human umbilical vein endothelial cells. Incubation of the organisms for 18 h in 0.5x the MICs of fluconazole and amphotericin B inhibited endothelial cell adherence by 22 and 91%, respectively (P less than 0.001 for each drug). Candida-induced endothelial cell injury was also decreased by exposing the organisms to the antifungal drugs while in contact with the endothelial cells. Fluconazole inhibited damage by approximately 50% at concentrations ranging from 0.25x to 5x the MIC (P less than 0.01 for each concentration). Exposure to amphotericin B at 0.5x the MIC completely blocked the ability of the organisms to injure endothelial cells. The capacities of the antifungal agents to inhibit endothelial cell injury paralleled their abilities to suppress candidal germination. Organisms exposed to up to 5x the MIC of fluconazole had diminished, but still detectable, germ tube production and elongation, whereas incubation in 0.5x the MIC of amphotericin B completely abrogated germination. In addition to their direct effects on the growth of C. albicans, fluconazole and amphotericin B may decrease the ability of the fungus to disseminate hematogenously by inhibiting the organisms' capacity to adhere to and injure endothelial cells
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