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Lancet. 1990 Nov 17;336(8725):1210-3.

Value of antigen detection in predicting invasive pulmonary aspergillosis.

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  • 1Department of Medical Microbiology, Charing Cross and Westminster Medical School, London.


Two ELISAs were used to detect serum and urinary aspergillus antigen in 121 patients who were profoundly neutropenic after leukaemia therapy or bone marrow transplantation. The presence of antigen correctly predicted development of invasive pulmonary aspergillosis (IPA) in 16 patients. In 2 other cases antigen appeared after the clinical diagnosis had been made, while in only 1 case was antigen not detected. In 11 of 13 episodes of clinically suspected fungal infection antigen was detected before clinical diagnosis was made. By contrast, antigen was detected in only 1 of 90 patients who had no evidence of IPA. Both ELISAs gave positive and negative predictive values for IPA of greater than 95%, demonstrating the value of antigen detection in early diagnosis of aspergillus infection and the assay's ability to predict subsequent development of IPA. We conclude that neutropenic patients should be screened for aspergillus antigen, and propose that initial detection of fungal antigen justifies commencement of empirical antifungal therapy. Such an approach should improve the survival of patients who are at risk of developing this usually fatal infection.

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