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Ann Intern Med. 1991 Dec 15;115(12):936-41.

Histoplasmosis relapse in patients with AIDS: detection using Histoplasma capsulatum variety capsulatum antigen levels.

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Department of Internal Medicine, Indiana University, Indianapolis 46202.



To assess the accuracy of Histoplasma capsulatum variety capsulatum polysaccharide antigen testing for the identification of histoplasmosis relapse in patients with the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).


A retrospective study using stored specimens.


A referral center and several private hospitals.


Twenty episodes of histoplasmosis relapse were evaluated in 17 patients with AIDS from November 1987 to August 1990. Controls included 30 patients with AIDS and histoplasmosis who did not have a relapse during maintenance therapy and who were initially tested during the same week as the patients with relapse. A second control group included seven patients with AIDS and histoplasmosis who were evaluated for relapse on 23 occasions; relapse, however, was excluded on each occasion.


To avoid interassay variability, specimens were tested for H.c. var. capsulatum polysaccharide antigen with the same radioimmunoassay.


The change in the H.c. var. capsulatum polysaccharide antigen level during successful as opposed to unsuccessful maintenance therapy for the prevention of histoplasmosis relapse.


For the 20 episodes of relapse (17 patients), H.c. var. capsulatum antigen levels increased by at least 2 radioimmunoassay units in 12 of 14 serum specimens tested (85.7%; 95% Cl, 57.2% to 98.2%) and in 17 of 18 urine specimens tested (94.4%; Cl, 72.7% to 99.9%). Antigen levels increased in the urine or serum in 1 of 83 specimens (1.2%; CI, 0.03% to 6.6%) obtained on 56 occasions (1.8%; CI, 0.04% to 9.6%) from controls (specificity, 98.2%; CI, 90.4% to 99.96%). In three cases of relapse, antigen levels increased before clinical relapse, antigen levels increased before clinical relapse was suspected. Complement fixation titers increased by at least 2 dilutions in 4 of 11 cases (36.4%; CI, 10.9% to 69.2%) but in 0 of 9 control patients (CI, 0% to 28.3%).


An increase in H.c. var. capsulatum polysaccharide antigen levels of 2 units or more strongly suggests histoplasmosis relapse. The presence of increasing titers of anti-H.c. var. capsulatum antibodies by complement fixation is less accurate for the diagnosis of relapse.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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