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Drugs. 2007;67(13):1803-12.

Changing epidemiology of rare mould infections: implications for therapy.

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Division of Infectious Diseases, University of Michigan Health System, Veterans Affairs Ann Arbor Healthcare System, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA.


There has been an increase in rare mould infections in recent decades. These infections have been reported primarily in severely immunocompromised patients. The emergence of these organisms is multifactorial and can be related to more intense immunosuppression, the prolonged survival of patients who have what were previously fatal diseases, and the selective pressure of broad spectrum antifungal agents used for prophylaxis or therapy. Among these rare mould infections, the Zygomycetes are the most commonly encountered, and in some institutions the increase in these organisms appears to be associated with the use of voriconazole. Aspergillus terreus, a species that is resistant to amphotericin B, and less frequently, A. ustus and A. lentulus, have been noted increasingly as causes of invasive aspergillosis in tertiary care centres in the US. Several species of Scedosporium with innate resistance to many antifungal agents have emerged as major causes of disseminated mould infections that are frequently very difficult to treat. Among patients who have haematological malignancies, are neutropenic or have received a haematopoietic stem cell transplant, infections due to Fusarium species respond poorly to many antifungal agents. Dematiaceous, or brown-black, fungi, most often associated with chronic localised infections, are now increasingly reported as a cause of disseminated infection in immunosuppressed hosts. Concomitant with the increased number of infections with these rare moulds, several new mould-active antifungal agents have been developed. The new expanded spectrum azole, voriconazole, has changed our approach to moulds such as S.apiospermum, Fusarium species and A. terreus that are amphotericin B resistant. Posaconazole, the most recently approved expanded spectrum azole, is the first drug in the azole class to show activity against the Zygomycetes and has proven extremely useful for step-down therapy after initial treatment with amphotericin B. It is not known whether posaconazole is effective as primary therapy for zygomycosis; the use of this agent for that purpose awaits clinical trials with the recently developed intravenous formulation of posaconazole.

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