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Transpl Infect Dis. 2009 Oct;11(5):432-7. doi: 10.1111/j.1399-3062.2009.00424.x. Epub 2009 Jul 22.

Central nervous system involvement in cryptococcal infection in individuals after solid organ transplantation or with AIDS.

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Transplant Infectious Disease Program, Infectious Disease Division, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02114, USA.



Cryptococcus neoformans is an important pathogen of immunocompromised hosts. Manifestations of cryptococcal infection have not been compared between populations based on the nature of the underlying immune deficiencies.


The Prospective Antifungal Therapy Alliance (PATH) is a registry that collects clinical data from patients with invasive fungal infections from medical centers in North America. Univariate analyses and group comparisons were conducted from the PATH registry for cases of infection due to Cryptococcus species occurring between March 2004 and April 2008.


A total 235 cases of proven infection due to Cryptococcus species were documented, all of which were due to C. neoformans (52 in solid organ transplant [SOT] recipients, 107 in patients infected with the human immunodeficiency virus [HIV], and 76 with neither HIV nor organ transplantation). A total of 140 cases manifested as meningitis (25 in SOT recipients, 88 in HIV-positive patients, and 27 in those with neither risk factor). Of individuals with cryptococcal infection, 44.2% of SOT recipients had central nervous system (CNS) disease, while 84.1% of those with HIV infection presented with CNS involvement (P=0.0265). SOT recipients receiving calcineurin inhibitors (CNIs) were less likely to have CNS involvement in cryptococcal infection (40.1% versus 66.7%). Overall, 12-week mortality for patients with cryptococcal infection in the PATH Alliance registry was 22.6% (21.2% for SOT, 15.9% for HIV-infected patients, and 32.9% for patients with risk factors other than HIV infection or organ transplantation).


In a prospectively assembled cohort of individuals with proven infection due to C. neoformans, CNS involvement was more common in individuals with HIV infection than in SOT recipients. The role of CNIs in the reduction of risk for CNS cryptococcosis remains to be defined. Overall survival of patients with cryptococcal infection in immunocompromised hosts has improved over time. Observed differences in the context of various host immune deficits provide a basis for further investigation of cryptococcosis and other opportunistic infections.

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