Antifungal drug resistance to azoles and polyenes

Lancet Infect Dis. 2002 Sep;2(9):550-63. doi: 10.1016/s1473-3099(02)00371-7.


There is an increased awareness of the morbidity and mortality associated with fungal infections caused by resistant fungi in various groups of patients. Epidemiological studies have identified risk factors associated with antifungal drug resistance. Selection pressure due to the continuous exposure to azoles seems to have an essential role in developing resistance to fluconazole in Candida species. Haematological malignancies, especially acute leukaemia with severe and prolonged neutropenia, seem to be the main risk factors for acquiring deep-seated mycosis caused by resistant filamentous fungi, such us Fusarium species, Scedosporium prolificans, and Aspergillus terreus. The still unacceptably high mortality rate associated with some resistant mycosis indicates that alternatives to existing therapeutic options are needed. Potential measures to overcome antifungal resistance ranges from the development of new drugs with better antifungal activity to improving current therapeutic strategies with the present antifungal agents. Among the new antifungal drugs, inhibitors of beta glucan synthesis and second-generation azole and triazole derivatives have characteristics that render them potentially suitable agents against some resistant fungi. Other strategies including the use of high doses of lipid formulations of amphotericin B, combination therapy, and adjunctive immune therapy with cytokines are under investigation. In addition, antifungal control programmes to prevent extensive and inappropriate use of antifungals may be needed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antifungal Agents / pharmacokinetics
  • Antifungal Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Azoles / pharmacology*
  • Candida / drug effects*
  • Candida / isolation & purification
  • Candida / pathogenicity
  • Chemistry, Pharmaceutical
  • Drug Resistance, Fungal*
  • Humans
  • Mycoses* / drug therapy
  • Mycoses* / epidemiology
  • Mycoses* / immunology
  • Polyenes / pharmacology*
  • Risk Factors


  • Antifungal Agents
  • Azoles
  • Polyenes