Update on the epidemiology and management of cryptococcal meningitis

Expert Opin Pharmacother. 2012 Apr;13(6):783-9. doi: 10.1517/14656566.2012.658773. Epub 2012 Mar 19.


Despite recent improvements in the diagnosis and treatment of cryptococcosis, cryptococcal meningitis is responsible for > 600,000 deaths/year worldwide. The aim of this work is to provide an update on the developments in its epidemiology and management. Understanding the pathogenesis of Cryptococcus has improved, and new insights for the virulence of the fungus and the host response have enabled scientists to design new ways to confront this infection. Additionally, invertebrate model hosts have greatly facilitated the research in this field. Importantly, the epidemiology of Cryptococcus gattii has continued to evolve, and the emergence of this highly virulent species in immunocompetent populations, especially in Northwestern America and British Columbia, warrants increased awareness because delayed diagnosis and inappropriate antifungal therapy is associated with high mortality. Diagnosis remains a challenge, but new techniques for early and inexpensive identification of the pathogen are under development. Management can vary, based on the patient population (HIV-seropositive, organ transplant recipients or non-transplant/non-HIV). In most patients, amphotericin B with flucytosine continues to be the most appropriate induction therapy. However, in organ transplant recipients the use of liposomal amphotericin B improves mortality compared with deoxycholate amphotericin B. Also, the combination of amphotericin B with fluconazole seems to be a reasonable alternative, while fluconazole with flucytosine is superior to fluconazole monotherapy.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Antifungal Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Cryptococcus / drug effects
  • Cryptococcus / isolation & purification*
  • Humans
  • Meningitis, Cryptococcal / drug therapy*
  • Meningitis, Cryptococcal / epidemiology*


  • Antifungal Agents