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Due to limited arsenal of systemically available antifungal agents, infections caused by Candida albicans are difficult to treat and the emergence of drug-resistant strains present a major challenge to the clinicians worldwide. Hence further exploration of potential novel and effective antifungal drugs is required. In this study we have explored the potential of a flavonoid, astragalin, in controlling the growth of C. albicans, in both planktonic and biofilm forms by microdilution method; and in regulating the morphological switch between yeast and hyphal growth. Astragalin ability to interfere with membrane integrity, ergosterol synthesis and its role in the regulation of genes encoding for efflux pumps has been addressed. In our study, astragalin treatment produced good antimicrobial and significant antibiofilm activity. Anticandidal activity of astragalin was not related to ERG11 downregulation, neither to direct binding to CYP51 enzyme nor was linked to membrane ergosterol assembly. Instead, astragalin treatment resulted in reduced expression of CDR1 and also affected cell membrane integrity without causing cytotoxic effect on human gingival fibroblast cells. Considering that astragalin-mediated decreased expression of efflux pumps increases the concentration of antifungal drug inside the fungal cells, a combinatorial treatment with this agent could be explored as a novel therapeutic option for candidiasis.
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