Randomized controlled trial of oral itraconazole solution versus intravenous/oral fluconazole for prevention of fungal infections in liver transplant recipients

Drew J. Winston, Ronald W. Busuttil

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

85 Scopus citations


Background. Liver transplant recipients at high risk for serious fungal infections frequently receive fluconazole or an amphotericin B preparation for antifungal prophylaxis. Because of concerns about fungal resistance with fluconazole, safety with amphotericin B, and the cost of lipid formulations of amphotericin, alternative prophylactic regimens are needed. In this randomized, controlled trial, we compared the efficacy and safety of oral itraconazole solution with intravenous/oral fluconazole for prevention of fungal infections. Methods. Adult liver transplant recipients were randomized to receive either oral itraconazole solution (200 mg every 12 hr) or intravenous/oral fluconazole (400 mg every 24 hr). Each study drug was started immediately before transplant surgery and continued for 10 weeks after transplantation. Patients were evaluated for fungal colonization, proven invasive or superficial fungal infection, drug-related side effects, and death. Results. Fungal colonization decreased from baseline to week 8 after transplantation in both the itraconazole patients (67% to 25%, P < 0.001) and the fluconazole patients (77% to 30%, P < 0.001). Proven fungal infection developed in 9 (9%) of 97 itraconazole patients and in 4 (4%) of 91 fluconazole patients (P=0.25). The number of proven invasive fungal infections (seven with itraconazole [7%], three with fluconazole [3%]) and proven superficial fungal infections (two with itraconazole [2%], one with fluconazole [1%]) were also similar in both groups of patients. Organisms causing infection were Candida glabrata (four patients), Candida albicans (three patients), and Aspergillus species (two patients) in the itraconazole group and C glabrata (two patients), Candida krusei (one patient), and Aspergillus species (one patient) in the fluconazole group. Mortality from fungal infection was very low and occurred in only 1 (0.5%) of 188 patients. Except for more frequent gastrointestinal side effects (nausea, vomiting, diarrhea) with itraconazole, both itraconazole and fluconazole were well tolerated and not associated with any hepatotoxicity. Mean trough plasma concentrations of itraconazole were greater than 250 ng/mL throughout the study and were not affected by H2-receptor antagonists or antacids. Conclusion. Oral itraconazole solution has adequate bioavailability in liver transplant recipients for effective antifungal prophylaxis. Similar to fluconazole, prophylactic oral itraconazole decreases fungal colonization and is associated with a low incidence of serious or fatal fungal infections. Except for gastrointestinal side effects, oral itraconazole solution is well tolerated and has no significant hepatotoxicity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)688-695
Number of pages8
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 15 2002

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Transplantation


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