Possible Risk Factors for Candida Esophagitis in Immunocompetent Individuals

Yousef Nassar, Tony Eljabbour, Hwajeong Lee, Asra Batool


Background: Candida esophagitis (CE) is a condition typically diagnosed in patients who are immunocompromised. Risk factors leading to the development of CE in immunocompetent patients have not been entirely elucidated. This study set out to identify risk factors associated with the development of CE in immunocompetent patients.

Methods: This study was a single-center retrospective chart review. Patients diagnosed with CE confirmed by endoscopic biopsy or brushings at our hospital between 2007 and 2017 were reviewed. The medical histories, endoscopy reports and pathology results were noted. Abdominal pain, heartburn, dysphagia and odynophagia were the common indications for endoscopy. A total of 241 patients were identified as having been diagnosed with CE by endoscopic brushing or biopsy. Of these patients, 161 were excluded due to the presence of immunocompromising and 80 patients were included who had no underlying immunocompromising conditions.

Results: Eighty patients with CE satisfied the inclusion criteria. The mean age of patients at the time of diagnosis was 39.8 years old (95% CI: 34.9 - 44.7). The incidences in men and women were similar in this study (49% women and 51% men). Of these patients, 56 (70%) (95% CI: 59-80%; P < 0.005) were taking proton pump inhibitors (PPIs). Fifteen patients (19%) had a previous upper endoscopy with evidence of reflux esophagitis, and they were all treated with PPIs and subsequently found to have CE on repeat upper endoscopy with a mean of 21.6 months of PPI treatment. There were 16 (20%) patients without any attributable risk factor and were completely healthy.

Conclusions: CE is an opportunistic infection typically seen in immunocompromised. We report incidence of CE in immunocompetent patients. In our cohort of immunocompetent patients, PPI use was the most common risk factor associated with the development of CE. This could be related to hypochlorhydria resulting from PPI use. However, the cause remains unclear in some patients.

Gastroenterol Res. 2018;11(3):195-199
doi: https://doi.org/10.14740/gr1019w


Candida esophagitis; Healthy; Esophageal candidiasis; Proton pump inhibitors

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