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Ann Pharmacother. 2012 Jul-Aug;46(7-8):1086-96. doi: 10.1345/aph.1R020. Epub 2012 Jul 17.

Echinocandin resistance in Candida species: mechanisms of reduced susceptibility and therapeutic approaches.

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Department of Clinical Sciences and Administration, College of Pharmacy, University of Houston, TX, USA.



To summarize published data regarding mechanisms of reduced echinocandin susceptibility in Candida spp., the impact of echinocandin resistance on the fitness and virulence of Candida isolates, and current and future treatment approaches.


A search of MEDLINE databases (1966-September 2011) was conducted.


Databases were searched using the terms echinocandin, resistance, and Candida. Citations from publications were reviewed for additional references.


Echinocandins have in vitro activity against most Candida spp. and are first-line agents in the treatment of candidemia. However, case reports describing echinocandin treatment failure due to resistant isolates have been published. Reduced echinocandin susceptibility has been shown to occur via 3 main mechanisms: (1) adaptive stress responses, which result in elevated cell wall chitin content and paradoxical growth in vitro at supra minimum inhibitory concentrations (MICs); (2) acquired FKS mutations, which confer reduced glucan synthase sensitivity, elevated MICs, and are associated with clinical failure; and (3) intrinsic FKS mutations, which are naturally occurring mutations in C. parapsilosis and C. guilliermondii, which confer elevated MIC levels but a lower level of reduced glucan synthase sensitivity compared with acquired FKS mutations. Some FKS mutants have been shown to have significantly reduced fitness and virulence versus wild type isolates and may contribute to the low incidence of echinocandin resistance reported in large surveillance studies. Treatment strategies evaluated for FKS mutants include echinocandin dose escalation and combination with agents such as calcineurin inhibitors, HSP90 inhibitors, and chitin synthase inhibitors.


While the incidence of echinocandin resistance in Candida spp. is low, it can present a significant therapeutic challenge, especially in multidrug-resistant Candida isolates. Dose escalation is unlikely to be effective in treating FKS mutant isolates, and significant adverse effects limit the clinical use of agents evaluated as combination therapy. Patients with infections failing to respond to echinocandin therapy should undergo susceptibility testing and be treated with an alternative antifungal agent if possible.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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