Purpose of review: New broader spectrum antifungal agents with favorable safety profiles have been available for the last 15 years making prophylaxis feasible. The purpose of this article is to review recent studies in patient populations at high risk for invasive fungal infections.
Recent findings: Itraconazole, lipid formulations of amphotericin B, posaconazole, caspofungin and micafungin have been utilized for prophylaxis in different immunocompromised host settings. Itraconazole and caspofungin remain an option especially in patients with hematological diseases. Low dose liposomal amphotericin B shows a lower morbidity rate in patients treated for acute myeloid leukemia. Posaconazole demonstrated survival benefits in this setting although data have only been presented at an international meeting. In the transplantation setting, micafungin was superior to fluconazole during the early neutropenic phase and posaconazole was superior to fluconazole in preventing invasive aspergillosis in hematopoietic transplant recipients treated for graft-versus-host disease. Results from the latter study have thus far only been presented in abstract form.
Summary: Prophylaxis should only be given to a high-risk population. Results of studies should demonstrate morbidity and mortality advantages. The new generation of azoles and echinocandins have a favorable safety and drug interaction profile and appear advantageous in specific settings of immunosuppression. Pending full publication, posaconazole appears to be an appropriate agent for prophylaxis in acute myeloid leukemia patients or patients treated for graft-versus-host disease. Micafungin is superior to fluconazole in the neutropenic phase of hematopoietic transplantation.