Antifungal therapy for invasive fungal diseases in allogeneic stem cell transplant recipients: an update

Dustin T Wilson, Richard H Drew, John R Perfect
Mycopathologia 2009, 168 (6): 313-27
Invasive fungal diseases (IFDs) remain a major cause of morbidity and mortality in allogeneic stem cell transplant (SCT) recipients. While the most common pathogens are Candida spp. and Aspergillus spp., the incidence of infections caused by non-albicans Candida species as well as molds such as Zygomycetes has increased. For many years, amphotericin B deoxycholate (AMB-D) was the only available antifungal for the treatment of IFDs. Within the past decade, there has been a surge of new antifungal agents developed and added to the therapeutic armamentarium. Lipid-based formulations of amphotericin B provide an effective and less nephrotoxic alternative to AMB-D. Voriconazole has now replaced AMB-D as first choice for primary therapy of invasive aspergillosis (IA). Another extended-spectrum triazole, posaconazole, also appears to be a promising agent in the management of zygomycosis, refractory aspergillosis, and for prophylaxis. Members of the newest antifungal class, the echinocandins, are attractive agents in select infections due to their safety profile, and are a more attractive option compared to AMB-D as initial treatment for invasive candidiasis and (based on one study) challenge fluconazole for superiority in management with this mycoses. However, challenges do exist among these newer agents in very high-risk individuals like allogeneic SCT recipients, which may include adverse drug events, drug-drug interactions, variability in oral absorption, and availability of alternative formulations. The addition of newer agents has also stimulated interest in the potential application of combination therapy in serious, life-threatening infections. However, adequate studies are not available for most IFDs; thus, the clinical use of combination therapy is not evidenced based on most cases and preciseness in its use is uncertain. Finally, therapeutic drug monitoring of select antifungals (notably posaconazole and voriconazole) may play an increasing role due to significant interpatient variability in serum concentrations after standard doses.


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