Managing cryptococcosis in the immunocompromised host

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Purpose of review

Expanding access to antiretroviral treatment has dramatically improved the long-term prognosis of patients with HIV-associated cryptococcal disease who survive the acute infection. However, the incidence and acute mortality of HIV-associated cryptococcal meningitis remain high. In this context, this review summarizes urgently needed recent work aimed at improving the acute management of cryptococcal infection in immunocompromised hosts.

Recent findings

Studies have started to optimize antifungal regimens and address the complications of raised cerebrospinal fluid pressure and cryptococcal immune reconstitution syndrome. Amphotericin B at 1 mg/kg per day has been shown to be more rapidly fungicidal than the standard dose of 0.7 mg/kg per day, and new data support the importance of combination therapy with flucytosine. Amphotericin B and fluconazole at 800 mg is an alternative combination that appears superior to amphotericin B alone. At a dosage of 400 mg per day, fluconazole alone is much less rapidly fungicidal than amphotericin B and is associated with the development of secondary resistance.


Recent findings support the use of rapidly fungicidal initial antifungal therapy with amphotericin B-based combination treatment. Where amphotericin B treatment is not yet feasible, studies are needed to optimize oral regimens. Based on accumulating data on rate of clearance of infection, the most promising new regimens in terms of fungicidal activity and safety could be selected for clinical endpoint trials.

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