Publication: Pathogenic potential of Saccharomyces strains isolated from dietary supplements.
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Saccharomyces cerevisiae plays a beneficial role in health because of its intrinsic nutritional value and bio-functional properties, which is why it is also used as a dietary supplement. However, the perception that S. cerevisiae is harmless has changed due to an increasing number of infections caused by this yeast. Given this scenario, we have tested whether viable strains contained in dietary supplements displayed virulence-associated phenotypic traits that could contribute to virulence in humans. We have also performed an in vivo study of the pathogenic potential of these strains using a murine model of systemic infection by intravenous inoculation. A total of 5 strains were isolated from 22 commercial products and tested. Results highlight one strain (D14) in terms of burden levels in brains and kidneys and ability to cause death, whereas the other two strains (D2 and D4) were considered of low virulence. Our results suggest a strong relationship between some of the virulence-associated phenotypic traits (ability to grow at 39°C and pseudohyphal growth) and the in vivo virulence in a mouse model of intravenous inoculation for isolates under study. The isolate displaying greatest virulence (D14) was evaluated in an experimental murine model of gastrointestinal infection with immunosuppression and disruption of mucosal integrity, which are common risk factors for developing infection in humans, and results were compared with an avirulent strain (D23). We showed that D14 was able to spread to mesenteric nodes and distant organs under these conditions. Given the widespread consumption of dietary supplements, we recommend only safe strains be used.