Fusarium infection in lung transplant patients: Report of 6 cases and review of the literature

Herman A. Carneiro, Jeffrey J. Coleman, Alejandro Restrepo, Eleftherios Mylonakis

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


Fusarium is a fungal pathogen of immunosuppressed lung transplant patients associated with a high mortality in those with severe and persistent neutropenia. The principle portal of entry for Fusarium species is the airways, and lung involvement almost always occurs among lung transplant patients with disseminated infection. In these patients, the immunoprotective mechanisms of the transplanted lungs are impaired, and they are, therefore, more vulnerable to Fusarium infection. As a result, fusariosis occurs in up to 32% of lung transplant patients. We studied fusariosis in 6 patients following lung transplantation who were treated at Massachusetts General Hospital during an 8-year period and reviewed 3 published cases in the literature. Cases were identified by the microbiology laboratory and through discharge summaries. Patients presented with dyspnea, fever, nonproductive cough, hemoptysis, and headache. Blood tests showed elevated white blood cell counts with granulocytosis and elevated inflammatory markers. Cultures of Fusarium were isolated from bronchoalveolar lavage, blood, and sputum specimens.Treatments included amphotericin B, liposomal amphotericin B, caspofungin, voriconazole, and posaconazole, either alone or in combination. Lung involvement occurred in all patients with disseminated disease and it was associated with a poor outcome. The mortality rate in this group of patients was high (67%), and of those who survived, 1 patient was treated with a combination of amphotericin B and voriconazole, 1 patient with amphotericin B, and 1 patient with posaconazole. Recommended empirical treatment includes voriconazole, amphotericin B or liposomal amphotericin B first-line, and posaconazole for refractory disease. High-dose amphotericin B is recommended for treatment of most cases of fusariosis. The echinocandins (for example, caspofungin, micafungin, anidulafungin) are generally avoided because Fusarium species have intrinsic resistance to them. Treatment should ideally be based on the Fusarium isolate, susceptibility testing, and host-specific factors. Prognosis of fusariosis in the immunocompromised is directly related to a patient's immune status. Prevention of Fusarium infection is recommended with aerosolized amphotericin B deoxycholate, which also has activity against other important fungi.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)69-80
Number of pages12
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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