Anti-Biofilm Activity of Cannabidiol against Candida albicans
Candida albicans is a common fungal pathogen in humans. Biofilm formation is an important virulence factor of C. albicans infections. We investigated the ability of the plant-derived cannabidiol (CBD) to inhibit the formation and removal of fungal biofilms. Further, we evaluated its mode of action. Our findings demonstrate that CBD exerts pronounced time-dependent inhibitory effects on biofilm formation as well as disruption of mature biofilm at a concentration range below minimal inhibitory and fungicidal concentrations. CBD acts at several levels. It modifies the architecture of fungal biofilm by reducing its thickness and exopolysaccharide (EPS) production accompanied by downregulation of genes involved in EPS synthesis. It alters the fungal morphology that correlated with upregulation of yeast-associated genes and downregulation of hyphae-specific genes. Importantly, it represses the expression of C. albicans virulence-associated genes. In addition, CBD increases ROS production, reduces the intracellular ATP levels, induces mitochondrial membrane hyperpolarization, modifies the cell wall, and increases the plasma membrane permeability. In conclusion, we propose that CBD exerts its activity towards C. albicans biofilm through a multi-target mode of action, which differs from common antimycotic agents, and thus can be explored for further development as an alternative treatment against fungal infections.
Keywords: C. albicans; CBD; biofilm; cell stress; gene expression; virulence.