Update on antifungal drug resistance mechanisms of Aspergillus fumigatus

Drug Resist Updat. 2005 Dec;8(6):344-58. doi: 10.1016/j.drup.2006.01.001. Epub 2006 Feb 20.


Although the arsenal of agents with anti-Aspergillus activity has expanded over the last decade, mortality due to invasive aspergillosis (IA) remains unacceptably high. Aspergillus fumigatus still accounts for the majority of cases of IA; however less susceptible to antifungals non-fumigatus aspergilli began to emerge. Antifungal drug resistance of Aspergillus might partially account for treatment failures. Recent advances in our understanding of mechanisms of antifungal drug action in Aspergillus, along with the standardization of in vitro susceptibility testing methods, has brought resistance testing to the forefront of clinical mycology. In addition, molecular biology has started to shed light on the mechanisms of resistance of A. fumigatus to azoles and the echinocandins, while genome-based assays show promise for high-throughput screening for genotypic antifungal resistance. Several problems remain, however, in the study of this complex area. Large multicenter clinical studies--point prevalence or longitudinal--to capture the incidence and prevalence of antifungal resistance in A. fumigatus isolates are lacking. Correlation of in vitro susceptibility with clinical outcome and susceptibility breakpoints has not been established. In addition, the issue of cross-resistance between the newer triazoles is of concern. Furthermore, in vitro resistance testing for polyenes and echinocandins is difficult, and their mechanisms of resistance are largely unknown. This review examines challenges in the diagnosis, epidemiology, and mechanisms of antifungal drug resistance in A. fumigatus.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amphotericin B / pharmacology
  • Animals
  • Antifungal Agents / pharmacology
  • Antifungal Agents / therapeutic use
  • Aspergillosis / drug therapy*
  • Aspergillosis / microbiology
  • Aspergillus / classification
  • Aspergillus / drug effects
  • Aspergillus / genetics*
  • Drug Resistance, Fungal / genetics*
  • Echinocandins
  • Humans
  • Lipopeptides
  • Lipoproteins / pharmacology
  • Micafungin
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Naphthalenes / pharmacology
  • Peptides, Cyclic / pharmacology
  • Terbinafine
  • Triazoles / pharmacology


  • Antifungal Agents
  • Echinocandins
  • Lipopeptides
  • Lipoproteins
  • Naphthalenes
  • Peptides, Cyclic
  • Triazoles
  • Amphotericin B
  • Terbinafine
  • Micafungin