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Eur J Clin Microbiol Infect Dis. 2014 Aug;33(8):1339-44. doi: 10.1007/s10096-014-2074-2. Epub 2014 Feb 20.

Comparison of flucytosine and fluconazole combined with amphotericin B for the treatment of HIV-associated cryptococcal meningitis: a systematic review and meta-analysis.

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Department of Neurology, The Second Affiliated Hospital of Nanjing Medical University, Nanjing, Jiangsu, 210011, People's Republic of China.


Treatment guidelines recommend combination antifungal therapy with amphotericin B (AmB) as an induction therapy for cryptococcal meningitis. The objective of this study was to compare the survival benefit between 5-FC (flucytosine) and fluconazole as second-line drugs given in combination with AmB. We carried out a systematic review and meta-analysis of prospective controlled studies reporting early combination treatment for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-associated cryptococcal meningitis. We searched MEDLINE, EMBASE and the Cochrane Library up to October 2013. Randomised trials and prospective cohort studies were selected. The primary outcome was mortality in the first 14 and 70 days. The secondary outcome was early fungicidal activity (EFA) in the first 2 weeks. Four trials were included in our study. All included studies could be considered to be of fair quality in their methodology. The meta-analysis suggested that mortality was lower in patients who were given AmB and 5-FC at the 2 weeks point (Fig. 2); the overall reduction in mortality with the 5-FC combination group was 44% [risk ratio (RR) 0.56, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.33-0.95, p = 0.03]. EFA was significantly shorter in patients receiving AmB plus 5-FC [mean difference (MD) -0.10 log10 colony-forming units (CFU) per day, 95 % CI -0.11-0.09, p < 0.00001]. Mortality was no different between the 5-FC and fluconazole groups at the 3 months time point (p = 0.15) (Fig. 4). Adverse events occurred with similar frequency between the two treatment groups. There was no statistically significant difference in the survival rate between AmB in combination with high-dose fluconazole and the current standard of AmB plus 5-FC therapy for HIV-associated cryptococcal meningitis.

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