Pathogenesis of allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis and an evidence-based review of azoles in treatment

Respir Med. 2004 Oct;98(10):915-23. doi: 10.1016/j.rmed.2004.07.002.


Background: Allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis (ABPA) is a complex condition that affects people with asthma and cystic fibrosis (CF). It results from exposure to the fungus Aspergillus fumigatus, which leads to worsening airway inflammation and progressive damage to the lungs. The aim of this review is to outline the pathogenesis of the disorder, diagnostic criteria and to discuss the use of anti-fungal agents in its treatment.

Methods: The Cochrane library of systematic reviews and the Cochrane database of controlled trials were searched for controlled trials on ABPA and its treatment in both asthma and CF. In addition, articles included within the reviews were examined separately, and a separate search carried out using Medline.

Results: A systematic review for the use of azole anti-fungal agents in ABPA was identified for their use in both CF and non-CF-related disease. The review of ABPA alone identified two randomized-controlled trials of itraconazole in chronic disease. These trials demonstrated improvements in symptoms and immune activation, but were short-term trials and failed to show a significant change in lung function. No trials were identified in CF.

Conclusions: The use of anti-fungal agents in ABPA seems to be a rational one, with short-term efficacy demonstrated for the use of itraconazole. Further investigations are required to identify individuals who will benefit most from treatment and to establish the correct dose and means of delivering treatment in ABPA. Longer-term studies are required to demonstrate that treatment modifies the progressive decline in lung function seen with the disease.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Antifungal Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Aspergillosis, Allergic Bronchopulmonary / diagnosis
  • Aspergillosis, Allergic Bronchopulmonary / drug therapy*
  • Aspergillosis, Allergic Bronchopulmonary / etiology*
  • Azoles / therapeutic use*
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Forecasting
  • Humans
  • Itraconazole / therapeutic use
  • Ketoconazole / therapeutic use
  • Pyrimidines / therapeutic use
  • Triazoles / therapeutic use
  • Voriconazole


  • Antifungal Agents
  • Azoles
  • Pyrimidines
  • Triazoles
  • Itraconazole
  • Voriconazole
  • Ketoconazole