Conclusions

In vitro models have greatly advanced our knowledge about fungal virulence by providing a means of understanding the process of pathogenicity in its single consecutive steps at a cellular level. Although any inference from these models for an in vivo infection has to be made with caution, the available systems reflect more and more the physiological situation found in vivo, thereby providing a valid matrix to model the events that occur in vivo under controlled experimental conditions. Improvements in reproducibility by using commercial or well-designed in-house models, and the development towards four-dimensional systems, reflecting changes in cell viability, metabolism, and model integrity in real time, make the application of the in vitro technology especially attractive. The advances in the development of robust models which adequately reflect reality go hand in hand with the opportunity to draw relevant conclusions from experimental infections in vitro. Thus, implementation of in vitro cell and tissue technology in fungal infection research is a multidiscipline approach which profits from the gain of knowledge in histology and physical and chemical analytical methods. However, as well as the in vitro models themselves as the application of analytical assays are concerned, a devastating lack of standards has to be noted which makes the transfer from single approaches to other similar experiments extremely difficult. Publications rarely address the question of improving analysis systematically, for example of images generated by microscopy by different image analysis software packages (O'Mahony et al., 2005). The application of in vitro models in fungal pathogenicity research would clearly profit from a prompt transfer of newly gained knowledge between the single scientific disciplines.

Acknowledgements We thank colleagues for sharing information prior to publication. S.G. is recipient of a fellowship from the German Academy of Scientists 'LEOPOLDINA'. Work in our laboratory is supported by NIH Grant RX4215-030 and BIO2006-036737.

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The term vaginitis is one that is applied to any inflammation or infection of the vagina, and there are many different conditions that are categorized together under this ‘broad’ heading, including bacterial vaginosis, trichomoniasis and non-infectious vaginitis.

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