Clinically significant azole cross-resistance in Candida isolates from HIV-positive patients with oral candidosis

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Objectives:To determine the proportion of fluconazole-resistant Candida albicans isolates that have clinically significant cross-resistance to itraconazole or ketoconazole, that is sufficient to result in failure of these agents at their standard doses (200 and 400 mg daily for 7 days, respectively).Methods:Seven hundred C. albicans isolates from HIV-positive patients with oral candidosis underwent susceptibility testing using a relative growth method, for which cut-off values corresponding to clinical drug failure have been established.Results:A total of 431 isolates were fully azole-susceptible and three main resistance patterns were detected: isolates resistant to fluconazole alone (n = 100); isolates resistant to fluconazole and ketoconazole but susceptible to itraconazole (n = 94); and isolates resistant to all three drugs (n = 50). No isolates were consistently resistant to ketoconazole without being fluconazole-resistant, and no itraconazole resistance was detected without ketoconazole resistance. Resistance to fluconazole alone was more common in specimens obtained soon after first clinical fluconazole failure, whereas specimens from patients with a longer history of fluconazole-unresponsive candidosis were more likely to be infected with cross-resistant isolates. Median days of prior azole exposure and cumulative fluconazole dose were significantly less for those with isolates resistant to fluconazole alone than for those with ketoconazole cross-resistant isolates, who had received less azole therapy and smaller cumulative fluconazole doses than those with isolates cross-resistant to all three drugs (although not statistically significant). After the diagnosis of fluconazole-unresponsive candidosis, increasing cumulative doses of itraconazole solution were associated with increasing likelihood of cross-resistance.Conclusions:Clinically significant cross-resistance to other azoles may occur in fluconazole-resistant isolates of C. albicans, although initially most isolates are not cross-resistant and the detection of cross-resistant isolates is associated with a history of greater prior azole exposure. Patients who have been treated for fluconazole-resistant candidosis for longer and with greater cumulative doses of itraconazole solution tend to become infected with increasingly cross-resistant isolates of C. albicans.

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