RESEARCH SUPPORT, NON-U.S. GOV'T
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Voriconazole pre-exposure selects for breakthrough mucormycosis in a mixed model of Aspergillus fumigatus-Rhizopus oryzae pulmonary infection.

Virulence 2011 July
Mucormycosis is an uncommon fungal infection that has been increasingly reported in severely immunocompromised patients receiving Aspergillus-active antifungals. Although clinical studies and pre-clinical animal models have suggested a unique predisposition for breakthrough mucormycoses in patients receiving voriconazole, no study has specifically evaluated the selection dynamics of various Aspergillus -active antifungal classes in vivo. We utilized an Aspergillus fumigatus:Rhizopus oryzae (10:1) model of mixed fungal pneumonia in corticosteroid-immunosuppressed mice to compare the selection dynamics of daily liposomal-amphotericin B (L-AMB), micafungin (MCFG) and voriconazole (VRC) therapy. A. fumigatus and R. oryzae lung fungal burden were serially monitored in parallel using non-cross-amplifying quantitative real-time PCR assays for each fungal genus. Additionally, experiments were performed where the R. oryzae component of the mixed inoculum was serially-passed on VRC-containing agar before animal infection. We found prior exposure to voriconazole in vitro, consistently resulted in a 1.5-2 log 10 increase in R. oryzae fungal burden by day +5 in vivo relative to animals infected with the non-VRC preexposed inoculum, irrespective of the antifungal-treatment administered in mice (P ≤ 0.02 all treatment groups). Mice infected with the VRC-preexposed inoculum and subsequently treated with saline or VRC had the highest mortality rates (82-86%), followed by MCFG (55%) then L-AMB (39%, P = 0.04 vs. control). However, in vivo treatment alone with voriconazole alone did not consistently increase the virulence of non- voriconazole preexposed R. oryzae versus controls. We conclude that exposure of R. oryzae sporangiospores to voriconazole in vitro modulates the subsequent growth rate and/or virulence of the fungus in vivo, which reduces effectiveness of Mucorales-active antifungals. The mechanisms underlying this phenotypic change are unknown.

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