The utility of bronchoalveolar lavage beta-D-glucan testing for the diagnosis of invasive fungal infections

J Infect. 2014 Sep;69(3):278-83. doi: 10.1016/j.jinf.2014.04.008. Epub 2014 May 4.


Objectives: To investigate the utility of beta-D-glucan (BDG) testing in bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid for the diagnosis of invasive fungal infection (IFI), as compared to BAL galactomannan (GM).

Methods: We retrospectively reviewed medical records of 132 consecutive patients at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in whom BAL BDG testing was performed for diagnosis of pneumonia. Using the European Organization for Research and Treatment of Cancer/Mycoses Study Group guidelines, we determined which patients had proven or probable IFI, and assessed the diagnostic performance of BAL BDG testing, relative to BAL GM. We also determined the reproducibility of the BDG assay in BAL via repeat testing of patient samples.

Results: Ten patients had Pneumocystis pneumonia, and 34 patients had proven/probable IFI, including 14 with invasive aspergillosis (IA). BAL BDG was 100% sensitive for Pneumocystis. Although BAL BDG had similar sensitivity to BAL GM for the diagnosis of IA and IFI, it exhibited inferior specificity. Repeat testing demonstrated poor reproducibility of the BDG assay in BAL but not in serum.

Conclusions: BDG testing exhibits poor specificity and reproducibility in BAL. Identification of the BAL-specific factors that may interfere with the performance of the assay could improve the clinical usefulness of BAL BDG testing.

Keywords: Aspergillosis; Beta-D-glucan; Bronchoalveolar lavage; Galactomannan; Invasive fungal infection.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Bronchoalveolar Lavage Fluid / chemistry*
  • Female
  • Fusariosis / blood
  • Fusariosis / diagnosis
  • Galactose / analogs & derivatives
  • Humans
  • Invasive Pulmonary Aspergillosis / blood
  • Invasive Pulmonary Aspergillosis / diagnosis
  • Lung Diseases, Fungal / blood
  • Lung Diseases, Fungal / diagnosis*
  • Lung Diseases, Fungal / microbiology
  • Male
  • Mannans / analysis*
  • Mucormycosis / blood
  • Mucormycosis / diagnosis
  • Paecilomyces
  • Pneumonia, Pneumocystis / blood
  • Pneumonia, Pneumocystis / diagnosis
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Scopulariopsis
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • beta-Glucans / analysis*
  • beta-Glucans / blood


  • Mannans
  • beta-Glucans
  • galactomannan
  • Galactose