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Dynamics and prognostic value of plasma cell-free DNA PCR in patients with invasive aspergillosis and mucormycosis.

UNLABELLED: Aspergillus species and Mucorales agents are the primary etiologies of invasive fungal disease (IFD). Biomarkers that predict outcomes are needed to improve care. Patients diagnosed with invasive aspergillosis and mucormycosis using plasma cell-free DNA (cfDNA) PCR were retested weekly for 4 weeks. The primary outcome included all-cause mortality at 6 weeks and 6 months based on baseline cycle threshold (CT) values and results of follow-up cfDNA PCR testing. Forty-five patients with Aspergillus and 30 with invasive Mucorales infection were retested weekly for a total of 197 tests. Using the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer and the Mycoses Study Group Education and Research Consortium (EORTC/MSG) criteria, 30.7% (23/75), 25.3% (19/75), and 38.7% (29/75) had proven, probable, and possible IFD, respectively. In addition, 97.3% (73/75) were immunocompromised. Baseline CT increased significantly starting at week 1 for Mucorales and week 2 for Aspergillus . Aspergillosis and mucormycosis patients with higher baseline CT (CT >40 and >35, respectively) had a nonsignificantly higher survival rate at 6 weeks, compared with patients with lower baseline CT. Mucormycosis patients with higher baseline CT had a significantly higher survival rate at 6 months. Mucormycosis, but not aspergillosis patients, with repeat positive cfDNA PCR results had a nonsignificantly lower survival rate at 6 weeks and 6 months compared with patients who reverted to negative. Aspergillosis patients with baseline serum Aspergillus galactomannan index <0.5 and <1.0 had significantly higher survival rates at 6 weeks when compared with those with index ≥0.5 and ≥1.0, respectively. Baseline plasma cfDNA PCR CT can potentially be used to prognosticate survival in patients with invasive Aspergillus and Mucorales infections.

IMPORTANCE: We show that Aspergillus and Mucorales plasma cell-free DNA PCR can be used not only to noninvasively diagnose patients with invasive fungal disease but also to correlate the baseline cycle threshold with survival outcomes, thus potentially allowing the identification of patients at risk for poor outcomes, who may benefit from more targeted therapies.

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