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PLoS One. 2012;7(8):e43582. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0043582. Epub 2012 Aug 24.

Comparison and temporal trends of three groups with cryptococcosis: HIV-infected, solid organ transplant, and HIV-negative/non-transplant.

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Department of Epidemiology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, United States of America.

Erratum in

  • PLoS One. 2012;7(10). doi: 10.1371/annotation/a94bc542-6682-4579-a315-57019cef7e0e.



The Infectious Disease Society of America (IDSA) 2010 Clinical Practice Guidelines for the management of cryptococcosis outlined three key populations at risk of disease: (1) HIV-infected, (2) transplant recipient, and (3) HIV-negative/non-transplant. However, direct comparisons of management, severity and outcomes of these groups have not been conducted.


Annual changes in frequency of cryptococcosis diagnoses, cryptococcosis-attributable mortality and mortality were captured. Differences examined between severe and non-severe disease within the context of the three groups included: demographics, symptoms, microbiology, clinical management and treatment. An average of nearly 15 patients per year presented at Duke University Medical Center (DUMC) with cryptococcosis. Out of 207 study patients, 86 (42%) were HIV-positive, 42 (20%) were transplant recipients, and 79 (38%) were HIV-negative/non-transplant. HIV-infected individuals had profound CD4 lymphocytopenia and a majority had elevated intracranial pressure. Transplant recipients commonly (38%) had renal dysfunction. Nearly one-quarter (24%) had their immunosuppressive regimens stopped or changed. The HIV-negative/non-transplant population reported longer duration of symptoms than HIV-positive or transplant recipients and 28% (22/79) had liver insufficiency or underlying hematological malignancies. HIV-positive and HIV-negative/non-transplant patients accounted for 89% of severe disease cryptococcosis-attributable deaths and 86% of all-cause mortality.


In this single-center study, the frequency of cryptococcosis did not change in the last two decades, although the underlying case mix shifted (fewer HIV-positive cases, stable transplant cases, more cases with neither). Cryptococcosis had a relatively uniform and informed treatment strategy, but disease-attributable mortality was still common.

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