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Keywords:

  • pseudofungemia;
  • significant fungemia;
  • filamentous fungi;
  • hyalohyphomycosis;
  • phaeohyphomycosis;
  • hematopoietic stem cell transplantation

Abstract

BACKGROUND

The clinical relevance of mold isolated from blood cultures, even in severely immunosuppressed allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) recipients, remains uncertain. The authors hypothesized that isolation of non-Candida fungi from blood cultures in patients undergoing high-risk HSCT would have clinical significance.

METHODS

The authors reviewed the records of 73 allogeneic HSCT recipients between January 1, 1993 and January 1, 2001 in whom fungal species were isolated from blood cultures.

RESULTS

Fifty-two episodes of non-Candida fungemia occurred in 48 patients (66%) after a median of 10 days (range, 2–341) after transplantation. All 48 patients had indwelling intravascular catheters, and 23 patients (48%) had profound neutropenia. Thirty-five of 48 patients had received partially matched, related donor stem cell grafts (19 patients had 3-antigen-mismatched grafts); 35 patients had undergone T-cell depleted transplantation and 9 patients were receiving treatment for acute graft-versus-host disease. In 5 of 48 patients (10%), death was attributed to fungemia that occurred 8–11 days after the initial fungal blood culture was obtained; all 5 patients were age > 30 years. No deaths occurred in the younger age group (n = 22 patients; P = 0.05). In the 24 patients who did not receive systemic antifungal therapy, 4 deaths (17%) were attributed to infections with Penicillium (n = 2 patients), Epicoccum (n = 1 patient), or Penicillium plus Cladosporium species (n = 1 patient). Of the 24 patients who received amphotericin B, only 1 patient (4%) died as a result of a probable hematogenous Aspergillus species infection; this difference in outcome, however, was not significant (P = 0.2).

CONCLUSIONS

Most of the non-Candida fungal blood culture isolates in recipients of high-risk, mismatched donor transplantation were clinically nonsignificant. However, because these low-virulence saprophytes occasionally may cause life-threatening disease, a reevaluation of the existing diagnostic paradigm is needed so that clinically significant fungemia may be differentiated from pseudofungemia. Cancer 2004. © 2004 American Cancer Society.