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Am J Med. 1993 Aug;95(2):177-87.

Invasive aspergillosis in patients with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome: report of 33 cases. French Cooperative Study Group on Aspergillosis in AIDS.

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Service des Maladies Infectieuses et Tropicales, Hôpital de l'Institut Pasteur, Paris, France.



Acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS)-associated invasive aspergillosis (IA) is a rare condition, which is mainly reported as isolated cases either antemortem or at autopsy. The role of AIDS itself is controversial, because many of the reported patients exhibited the classic risk factors such as neutropenia and steroid therapy. The aims of this study were to report 33 patients with IA during AIDS and their outcome, focusing on the risk factors and the value of diagnostic procedures.


Thirty-three patients from 17 different medical centers in France were retrospectively included in the study. For pulmonary IA, we defined two types of patients: those with "confirmed IA," describing all the patients with histologically proven disease, and those with "probable IA," who had the development of a new pulmonary infiltrate on chest radiograph and a positive bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid culture for Aspergillus species without identification of other pathogens. For extrapulmonary IA, the diagnostic criteria included both positive histology and culture.


Of the 33 cases included in this series, 91% were recorded during the last 3 years (1989 to 1991), suggesting that aspergillosis is an emerging complication in AIDS. Approximately 50% of the patients did not exhibit any classic risk factor, i.e., neutropenia and steroid treatment; almost all patients had a CD4 cell count less than 50/mm3. The mycologic culture from BAL was the method of choice for the diagnosis of invasive pulmonary disease because it was known to correlate well with histologic findings obtained either antemortem or postmortem. Of 28 patients with a positive BAL culture for Aspergillus, 15 underwent a biopsy or autopsy and 14 were positive at histology. Serum antigen detection was positive in only 4 of 16 tested patients. Clinical and radiologic signs did not differ from those observed in neutropenic patients without human immunodeficiency virus, except for the higher incidence of neurologic complications in AIDS. Interestingly, we observed three cases of invasive necrotizing tracheobronchial aspergillosis with acute dyspnea and wheezing. The use of amphotericin B (0.5 mg/kg/d) and/or itraconazole (200 to 600 mg/d) was most often unsuccessful. Only four patients experienced clinical and radiologic improvement. The mean interval between the diagnosis of IA and death was 8 weeks (range: 3 days to 13 months).


This study suggests that aspergillosis is an important life-threatening condition in the advanced stage of AIDS. It requires an early diagnosis with BAL fluid culture and careful therapeutic evaluation.

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