Nonmolecular methods for the diagnosis of respiratory fungal infections

Clin Lab Med. 2014 Jun;34(2):315-36. doi: 10.1016/j.cll.2014.02.006. Epub 2014 Apr 12.


Diagnosis of invasive fungal pneumonias by conventional culture methods is difficult to assess and often delayed. Nonmolecular fungal markers have emerged as an important adjunctive tool to support their diagnosis in combination with other clinical, radiologic, and microbiological criteria of invasive fungal diseases. Concerns about the sensitivity and specificity of some tests in different patient populations should lead to warnings about their widespread use. None can identify the emerging and particularly deadly fungal pathogens responsible for mucormycosis. The role of nonmolecular fungal markers should be better defined in combination with other microbiological and radiologic tools in preemptive antifungal strategies.

Keywords: Cryptococcus antigen test; Galactomannan; Invasive aspergillosis; Mucormycosis; Pneumocystis jirovecii pneumonia; Pulmonary cryptococcosis; β-glucan.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Fungi / classification
  • Fungi / isolation & purification
  • Galactose / analogs & derivatives
  • Humans
  • Mannans / blood
  • Mycological Typing Techniques / methods*
  • Mycoses / diagnosis*
  • Mycoses / epidemiology
  • Mycoses / microbiology
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / diagnosis*
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / epidemiology
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / microbiology
  • Sensitivity and Specificity


  • Biomarkers
  • Mannans
  • galactomannan
  • Galactose