Candida infections have emerged as a significant medical problem during the last few decades. Among the different virulence traits of C. albicans, secreted proteolytic activity has been intensively investigated. Pathogenesis of the various forms of candidiasis was shown to be associated with the differential and temporal regulation of the expression of genes coding for secreted aspartic proteases (Sap). These enzymes act as cytolysins in macrophages after phagocytosis of Candida, are present in tissue penetration and are also involved in adherence to epithelial cells. Since the introduction of new antiretroviral therapeutics such as HIV protease inhibitors, oropharyngeal candidiasis is less often observed in AIDS patients. Different HIV aspartic protease inhibitors were able to inhibit the C. albicans Saps involved in adherence. The lower rates of oropharyngeal candidiasis observed in individuals receiving antiretroviral combination therapy could reflect not only an improvement in the immune system but also direct inhibition of Candida Saps by HIV protease inhibitors. Therefore, the development of specific aspartic protease inhibitors might be of interest for the inhibition of candidiasis.
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