Antifungal resistance continues to grow and evolve and complicate patient management, despite the introduction of new antifungal agents. In vitro susceptibility testing is often used to select agents with likely activity for a given infection, but perhaps its most important use is in identifying agents that will not work, i.e., to detect resistance. Standardized methods for reliable in vitro antifungal susceptibility testing are now available from the Clinical and Laboratory Standards Institute (CLSI) in the United States and the European Committee on Antimicrobial Susceptibility Testing (EUCAST) in Europe. Data gathered by these standardized tests are useful (in conjunction with other forms of data) for calculating clinical breakpoints and epidemiologic cutoff values (ECVs). Clinical breakpoints should be selected to optimize detection of non-wild-type (WT) strains of pathogens, and they should be species-specific and not divide WT distributions of important target species. ECVs are the most sensitive means of identifying strains with acquired resistance mechanisms. Various mechanisms can lead to acquired resistance of Candida species to azole drugs, the most common being induction of the efflux pumps encoded by the MDR or CDR genes, and acquisition of point mutations in the gene encoding for the target enzyme (ERG11). Acquired resistance of Candida species to echinocandins is typically mediated via acquisition of point mutations in the FKS genes encoding the major subunit of its target enzyme. Antifungal resistance is associated with elevated minimum inhibitory concentrations, poorer clinical outcomes, and breakthrough infections during antifungal treatment and prophylaxis. Candidemia due to Candida glabrata is becoming increasingly common, and C glabrata isolates are increasingly resistant to both azole and echinocandin antifungal agents. This situation requires continuing attention. Rates of azole-resistant Aspergillus fumigatus are currently low, but there are reports of emerging resistance, including multi-azole resistant isolates in parts of Europe.
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