Send to:

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
J Clin Microbiol. 2013 Nov;51(11):3478-83. doi: 10.1128/JCM.01737-13. Epub 2013 Jul 12.

β-D-glucan testing is important for diagnosis of invasive fungal infections.

Author information

  • 1Division of Clinical Microbiology, Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota, USA.


Invasive fungal infections are a significant cause of morbidity and mortality in patients who receive immunosuppressive therapy, such as solid organ and hematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT) recipients. Many of the fungi associated with these infections are angioinvasive and are best diagnosed by visualizing the organism in or culturing the organism from deep tissue. However, obtaining such tissue often requires an invasive procedure. Many HSCT recipients are thrombocytopenic, making such procedure too risky because of potential bleeding complications. Additionally, positive blood cultures are rare for patients with angioinvasive fungal infections, making this diagnostic strategy of little value. Undiagnosed fungal infections in these patient populations are a significant cause of mortality. Prophylactic use of antifungal agents, such as the echinocandins, during periods of neutropenia or graft-versus-host disease may prevent some fungal infections but increase the risk for others. Detection of fungal antigens in body fluids, including cryptococcus capsular polysaccharide, histoplasma antigen, galactomannan, and β-d-glucan, is viewed as being clinically useful for at least the presumptive diagnosis of invasive fungal infections. β-d-Glucan is an attractive antigen in that it is found in a broad range of fungal agents, including the commonly encountered agents Candida spp., Aspergillus spp., and Pneumocystis jirovecii. Cross-reactions with certain hemodialysis filters, beta-lactam antimicrobials, and immunoglobulins, which raise concerns about false-positive tests, have also been described. As a result, the use of this testing must be closely monitored. In this point-counterpoint, we have asked Elitza Theel, who directs the Infectious Disease Serology Laboratory at the Mayo Clinic, to address why she believes that this test has value in the diagnosis of invasive fungal infections. We have asked Christopher Doern, Director of Clinical Microbiology at Children's Medical Center of Dallas, why he questions the clinical value of β-d-glucan testing.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for HighWire Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk