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Bone Marrow Transplant. 2005 Feb;35(4):389-95.

A prospective study of real-time panfungal PCR for the early diagnosis of invasive fungal infection in haemato-oncology patients.

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Section of Experimental Haematology, Division of Cancer Science and Molecular Pathology, University of Glasgow, UK.


A blinded prospective study was performed to determine whether screening of whole blood using a real-time, panfungal polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technique could predict the development of invasive fungal infection (IFI) in immunocompromised haemato-oncology patients. In all, 78 patients (125 treatment episodes) were screened twice weekly by real-time panfungal PCR using LightCyclertrade mark technology. IFI was documented in 19 treatment episodes (five proven, three probable and 11 possible), and in 12, PCR was sequentially positive. PCR positivity occurred in: 4/5 proven; 2/3 probable; 6/11 possible; and 29/106 with no IFI. In 8/12 with IFI and sequentially positive PCR results, PCR positivity occurred before (median 19.5 days) and in 4/12 (median 10.5 days) after the initiation of empirical antifungal therapy. Based on sequential positive results for proven/probable IFI sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value and negative predictive value were 75, 70, 15 and 98%, respectively. Real-time panfungal PCR is a sensitive tool for the early diagnosis of IFI in immunocompromised haemato-oncology patients. It may be most useful as a screening method in high-risk patients, either to direct early pre-emptive antifungal therapy or to determine when empirical antifungal therapy can be withheld in patients with antibiotic--resistant neutropenic fever. However, these strategies require further assessment in comparative clinical trials.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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