Lipid-based Amphotericin B: A Review of the Last 10 Years of Use

Int J Antimicrob Agents. 2001 Mar;17(3):161-9. doi: 10.1016/s0924-8579(00)00341-1.


The last decade has been remarkable for the dramatic increase in the prevalence of serious fungal infections in patients with haematological disorders and neutropenic cancer patients. The mortality rate of deep-seated infection has been in excess of 90% and there is no doubt that this is one of the greatest challenges currently facing haematologists and oncologists. The development of the lipid-based drugs - liposomal amphotericin (AmBisome(R)), amphotericin B lipid complex, ABLC (Abelcet(R)), amphotericin B colloidal dispersion, Amphocil (ABCD(R)), has meant that doses of amphotericin B can be safely escalated for the first time whilst the problems of nephrotoxicity, infusion related reactions (including chills, rigors, fevers and hypoxia) can be reduced. These toxicities are variably reduced with AmBisome more than Abelcet and more than Amphocil and there is little information from randomised trials other than for AmBisome. AmBisome used in the setting of persistent fever and neutropenia not responding after 3-4 days of intravenous antibiotics, is associated with less breakthrough systemic fungal infections. There is also much less need for premedication, including steroids, compared with amphotericin B and Abelcet. The use of intermittent doses of Ambisome given prophylactically is now being explored. A new and exciting era of antifungal therapy is opening up with new compounds, such as itraconazole voriconazole, posaconazole and echinocandins, being investigated and for the first time, we also have options for combination therapy and prophylaxis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amphotericin B / economics
  • Amphotericin B / therapeutic use*
  • Antifungal Agents / economics
  • Antifungal Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Costs and Cost Analysis
  • Hematologic Diseases / complications
  • Humans
  • Mycoses / complications
  • Mycoses / therapy*
  • Neoplasms / complications
  • Neutropenia / complications
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic


  • Antifungal Agents
  • liposomal amphotericin B
  • Amphotericin B