Association of hepatic iron overload with invasive fungal infection in liver transplant recipients

Liver Transpl. 2006 Dec;12(12):1799-804. doi: 10.1002/lt.20827.


Invasive fungal infection is a serious complication of orthotopic liver transplantation, but its risk factors remain incompletely defined. Iron overload has already been associated with increased risk of fungal infections, but it has not yet been assessed as a risk factor in liver transplantation. We retrospectively studied a cohort of 153 consecutive patients who underwent their first liver transplantation at a single center and who survived at least 7 days after transplantation. The association between various pretransplant patient characteristics, including hepatic explant iron and risk of invasive fungal infections, was analyzed by univariate and multivariate models. Iron in the hepatic explant was assessed by Perl's Prussian blue stain by a pathologist blinded to clinical outcome. During the first year after transplantation, 28 of 153 patients developed a total of 31 invasive fungal infections, of which 21 (68%) were caused by Candida, 7 (23%) by Aspergillus, 2 (6%) by Cryptococcus, and 1 (3%) by Saccharomyces. Stainable iron in the hepatic explant was found in 48 patients (31%). Stainable iron in the hepatic explant was found to be strongly and independently associated with posttransplantation fungal infections in multivariate analysis (hazard ratio 3.09; 95% confidence interval 1.45-6.56; P = 0.003). Hepatic iron overload is strongly and independently associated with posttransplantation invasive fungal infections. Studies to confirm this finding in other centers and define the mechanism are warranted.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Disease Susceptibility
  • Female
  • Fungi / isolation & purification
  • Humans
  • Iron / analysis
  • Iron Overload / complications*
  • Iron Overload / diagnosis
  • Liver / chemistry
  • Liver / microbiology
  • Liver Transplantation*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mycoses / epidemiology*
  • Mycoses / etiology
  • Postoperative Complications / epidemiology*
  • Risk Factors


  • Iron