Nocardia infections in solid organ and hematopoietic stem cell transplant recipients

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Abstract

Purpose of review

Nocardia spp. is a gram-positive bacteria that may cause infections in humans. Nocardiosis has been described since the early years of transplantation. This review aims to provide an overview of present knowledge regarding posttransplant nocardiosis, with a focus on recent findings.

Recent findings

Nocardiosis is not rare among transplant recipients, especially after thoracic transplantation and/or in case of intense immunosuppressive regimen or use of tacrolimus. Low-dose cotrimoxazole is not effective to prevent nocardiosis. Although lung is the most common site of infection, more than 40% of organ transplant patients have a disseminated infection. As central nervous system involvement is frequent (about 1/3 of the patients) and possibly asymptomatic, brain imaging is mandatory. Diagnosis relies on direct examination and culture; molecular species identification is useful to guide treatment. Although cotrimoxazole is the drug for which we have the strongest clinical experience, other antibiotics such as linezolid, parenteral cephalosporins, carbapenems, and amikacin can be used to treat nocardiosis. Although treatment duration has historically been set to at least 6 months, shorter durations (<120 days) seem associated with a good outcome in selected patients.

Summary

Physicians in charge of transplant patients should be aware of nocardiosis. Diagnosis and management of transplant recipients with nocardiosis require a multidisciplinary approach.

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