Author(s): Badiee P, Hashemizadeh Z
Invasive fungal infections are a significant health problem in immunocompromised patients. The clinical manifestations vary and can range from colonization in allergic bronchopulmonary disease to active infection in local aetiologic agents. Many factors influence the virulence and pathogenic capacity of the microorganisms, such as enzymes including extracellular phospholipases, lipases and proteinases, dimorphic growth in some Candida species, melanin production, mannitol secretion, superoxide dismutase, rapid growth and affinity to the blood stream, heat tolerance and toxin production. Infection is confirmed when histopathologic examination with special stains demonstrates fungal tissue involvement or when the aetiologic agent is isolated from sterile clinical specimens by culture. Both acquired and congenital immunodeficiency may be associated with increased susceptibility to systemic infections. Fungal infection is difficult to treat because antifungal therapy for Candida infections is still controversial and based on clinical grounds, and for molds, the clinician must assume that the species isolated from the culture medium is the pathogen. Timely initiation of antifungal treatment is a critical component affecting the outcome. Disseminated infection requires the use of systemic agents with or without surgical debridement, and in some cases immunotherapy is also advisable. Preclinical and clinical studies have shown an association between drug dose and treatment outcome. Drug dose monitoring is necessary to ensure that therapeutic levels are achieved for optimal clinical efficacy. The objectives of this review are to discuss opportunistic fungal infections, diagnostic methods and the management of these infections.