Efficacy and safety of voriconazole in the treatment of chronic pulmonary aspergillosis: experience in Japan

Infection. 2012 Dec;40(6):661-7. doi: 10.1007/s15010-012-0322-x. Epub 2012 Sep 7.


Background: Though various clinical conditions of aspergillosis can occur, depending essentially on the host's immunological status, the focus of research in North American and European countries has mainly been on invasive pulmonary aspergillosis in immunocompromised patients. There are, however, also many problems to overcome in chronic forms of aspergillosis. One of those problems is that there are no codified treatment guidelines for chronic pulmonary aspergillosis (CPA). Especially in Japan, this issue is more serious, because there are more cases with CPA due to the many aged people with past history of tuberculosis. Several clinical cases and case series have reported the usefulness of the various antifungal agents that are available. The new triazole, voriconazole, in particular, seems to be effective in the treatment of CPA. The aim of the present study is to evaluate the efficacy and safety of voriconazole in the treatment of CPA in non-immunocompromised patients.

Patients and methods: We conducted a prospective, open-label, non-comparative, multicenter study over a 2-year period. For inclusion in the study, patients with confirmed or probable CPA were recruited in 11 hospitals of the National Hospital Organization in Japan. Clinical, radiological, serological, and mycological data were collected at baseline and 12 weeks after treatment or at the end of treatment.

Results: Among 77 patients enrolled in the study, 71 patients (mean age 65.9 years, 56 males and 15 females) were eligible for the study. All of the eligible patients presented with underlying lung diseases, including sequelae of tuberculosis (n = 35), non-tuberculous mycobacterial lung disease (n = 8), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) (n = 8), interstitial pneumonia (n = 7), cystic lung disease (n = 4), pneumothorax (n = 3), bronchial cancer (n = 1), and others (n = 5). Voriconazole was indicated in 48 cases (68 %) as the first-line treatment for CPA and 23 patients previously received other antifungal therapies. Based on a composite of clinical, radiologic, serological, and mycologic criteria, good response was seen in 43 patients (60.6 %), no response was observed in 19 patients (26.8 %), and 4 cases (5.6 %) got worse. Five patients (7.0 %) were unassessable for efficacy. The common adverse events were visual disturbances (17 patients, 23.9 %), abnormal liver function test results (12 patients, 16.9 %), adverse psychological effects (3 patients, 4.2 %), and others (10 patients, 14.0 %). Treatment with voriconazole had to be stopped in 2 cases (2.8 %) because of serious adverse events (abnormal liver function test results). There was no association between adverse effects and trough voriconazole levels in serum.

Conclusions: In Japan, voriconazole provides effective therapy of CPA in non-immunocompromised patients with an acceptable level of toxicity.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Antifungal Agents / adverse effects
  • Antifungal Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Chronic Disease / drug therapy
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Japan
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Pulmonary Aspergillosis / drug therapy*
  • Pyrimidines / adverse effects
  • Pyrimidines / therapeutic use*
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Triazoles / adverse effects
  • Triazoles / therapeutic use*
  • Voriconazole


  • Antifungal Agents
  • Pyrimidines
  • Triazoles
  • Voriconazole