Diagnosis and treatment of allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis

Mayo Clin Proc. 2001 Sep;76(9):930-8. doi: 10.4065/76.9.930.


Allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis (ABPA) is an underdiagnosed pulmonary disorder in asthmatic patients and patients with cystic fibrosis. Its clinical and diagnostic manifestations arise from an allergic response to multiple antigens expressed by fungi, most commonly Aspergillus fumigatus, colonizing the bronchial mucus. The clinical course is one of recurrent exacerbations characterized by chest infiltrates evident on chest x-ray films and associated with cough, wheeze, and sputum production that usually respond to oral corticosteroid treatment. Specific immunologic and radiologic markers of disease include elevation of the total serum IgE levels, presence of aspergillus IgE antibodies, and the occurrence of central bronchiectasis. Long-term treatment with corticosteroids is often required for effective management. The adverse effects of chronic corticosteroid use have led to attempts at treatment with antifungal agents such as itraconazole. Itraconazole has been reported anecdotally to be effective, and evidence for its effectiveness in randomized trials is still accruing. Consideration should be given to its use as a corticosteroid-sparing agent or for treatment of patients in whom corticosteroid response is poor. The natural history and prognosis of ABPA are not well characterized but may be complicated by progression to bronchiectasis and pulmonary fibrosis. If ABPA is diagnosed and treated before the development of bronchiectasis and fibrosis, these complications may be prevented.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / administration & dosage*
  • Antifungal Agents / administration & dosage
  • Aspergillosis, Allergic Bronchopulmonary / diagnosis*
  • Aspergillosis, Allergic Bronchopulmonary / drug therapy*
  • Bronchoscopy
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Itraconazole / administration & dosage*
  • Male
  • Prednisone / administration & dosage*
  • Radiography, Thoracic
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones
  • Antifungal Agents
  • Itraconazole
  • Prednisone