Non-cultural methods for the diagnosis of invasive fungal disease

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Invasive fungal diseases carry a high mortality risk which can be reduced by early treatment. Diagnosing invasive fungal diseases is challenging, because invasive methods for obtaining histological samples are frequently not feasible in thrombocytopenic immunocompromised patients, while fungal cultures have low sensitivity and a long turn-around time. Non-cultural methods are fundamental for a rapid diagnosis of invasive fungal diseases and they include assays based on the detection of fungal antigens (galactomannan, Aspergillus-lateral flow device, [1,3]-β-D-glucan, mannan), antibodies, such as anti-mannan, and molecular tests. With the exception of some molecular methods for rare fungi, the non-cultural assays are usually applied to the diagnosis of invasive aspergillosis, invasive candidiasis and pneumocystosis. The performance of a single test or a combination of tests will be discussed, with particular focus on choosing the most appropriate marker(s) for every specific patient population. Reasons for potential false-positive or false-negative results will be discussed.

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