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Clin Infect Dis. 2012 May;54(9):1322-31. doi: 10.1093/cid/cis132. Epub 2012 Feb 23.

Polymerase chain reaction-based assays for the diagnosis of invasive fungal infections.

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Department of Medicine, Infectious Disease Division, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston 02214, USA.


Currently accepted fungal diagnostic techniques, such as culture, biopsy, and serology, lack rapidity and efficiency. Newer diagnostic methods, such as polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based assays, have the potential to improve fungal diagnostics in a faster, more sensitive, and specific manner. Preliminary data indicate that, when PCR-based fungal diagnostic assays guide antifungal therapy, they may lower patient mortality and decrease unnecessary antifungal treatment, improving treatment-associated costs and avoiding toxicity. Moreover, newer PCR techniques can identify antifungal resistance DNA loci, but the clinical correlation between those loci and clinical failure has to be studied further. In addition, future studies need to focus on the implementation of PCR techniques in clinical decision making and on combining them with other diagnostic tests. A consensus on the standardization of PCR techniques, along with validation from large prospective studies, is necessary to allow widespread adoption of these assays.

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