Rapid Quantification of Pathogenic Fungi by Cellometer Image-Based Cytometry

Document Type

Article - Merrimack Access Only

Publication Title

Journal of Microbiological Methods

Publication Date


Abstract/ Summary

The objective of this study was to develop an image-based cytometric methodology for the quantification of viable pathogenic yeasts, which can offer increased sensitivity and efficiency when compared to the traditional colony forming unit (CFU) assay. Live/dead yeast quantification by flow cytometry has been previously demonstrated, however, adoption of flow cytometric detection of pathogenic yeasts has been limited for a number of practical reasons including its high cost and biosafety considerations. Our studies focus on detection of two human fungal pathogens: Histoplasma capsulatum and Candida albicans. H. capsulatum colonizes alveolar macrophages by replicating within the macrophage phagosome. Here, we quantitatively assess the growth of H. capsulatum yeasts within RAW 264.7 macrophages using acridine orange/propidium iodide staining in combination with Cellometer image-based cytometry; this method faithfully recapitulates growth trends as measured by traditional CFU enumeration, but with significantly increased sensitivity. Additionally, we directly assess infection of bone marrow-derived macrophages with a GFP-expressing strain of C. albicans. To demonstrate that image-based cytometry can be used as a tool to assess the susceptibility of fungi to antifungal drugs, we perform dose response experiments with the antifungal drugs amphotericin B and itraconazole and show that image-based cytometry allows rapid assessment of the kinetics of cytotoxicity induced by these antifungals. Our methodology offers a rapid, accurate, and economical means for detection and quantification of important human fungal pathogens, either alone or in association with host cells.