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Cancer. 2007 Jul 1;110(1):112-20.

Immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome in cancer patients with pulmonary aspergillosis recovering from neutropenia: Proof of principle, description, and clinical and research implications.

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Myeloma Institute for Research and Therapy, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock, Arkansas 72205, USA.



Assessing the outcome of patients with invasive pulmonary aspergillosis by using conventional criteria is difficult, particularly when clinical and radiologic worsening coincides with neutrophil recovery. Usually, it is assumed that this deterioration is related to progressive aspergillosis, prompting changes in patient management. However, its temporal relation with neutrophil recovery suggests that it may be caused by an immune reconstitution syndrome (IRIS). Galactomannan is an Aspergillus-specific polysaccharide that is released during aspergillosis and is detected by the serum galactomannan test, which has been approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration for the diagnosis of invasive aspergillosis. In this study, the authors used sequential galactomannan testing to distinguish IRIS responses from progressive aspergillosis.


From April 2001 to December 2006, patients with hematologic malignancies underwent galactomannan screening during periods when they were at risk. The clinical and laboratory findings from patients who had >or=2 consecutive positive galactomannan assays (optical density, >or=0.5) were reviewed.


Nineteen neutropenic patients with aspergillosis developed clinical and radiologic pulmonary deterioration during neutrophil recovery. Deterioration coincided with microbiologic response, as documented by rapid normalization of serum galactomannan, and, in 16 patients, was followed by complete clinical response and survival at 3 months, although there were no changes in antifungal therapy. The 3 patients who died during the first month had no evidence of aspergillosis at autopsy examination.


The authors propose that IRIS was responsible for the current findings and provide a definition for the syndrome. They also recommend serial galactomannan testing to guide aspergillosis management. Declining galactomannan values imply IRIS with an aspergillus response and obviate the need for invasive procedures and alternative antifungal therapies, whereas persistent galactomannan elevation indicates progressive aspergillosis and requires prompt treatment modification.

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