Eur J Clin Microbiol Infect Dis. 1989 May;8(5):413-37. doi: 10.1007/BF01964057.


Aspergillus spores are ubiquitous in the environment and may become concentrated in hospital ventilation systems. Colonization in normal hosts can lead to allergic diseases ranging from asthma to allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis. Normal hosts rarely develop invasive disease, which is primarily an infection of severely immunocompromised patients. The major predisposing factors for infection include prolonged neutropenia, chronic administration of adrenal corticosteroids, the insertion of prosthetic devices, and tissue damage due to prior infection or trauma. Since Aspergillus spp. are respiratory pathogens, the most common form of infection is pneumonia followed by sinusitis. Patients with preexistant cavitary disease may develop noninvasive aspergillomas. Most infections are caused by Aspergillus fumigatus. The organism is capable of invading across all natural barriers, including cartilage and bone. It has a propensity for invading blood vessels causing thrombosis and infarction. The diagnosis of pulmonary infection is usually difficult to establish because the organism is seldom cultured from sputum and can represent contamination in some cases. Therapy is immunocompromised hosts is less than satisfactory and amphotericin B is the only agent with significant activity. There is anecdotal evidence to suggest that the addition of 5-fluorocytosine to amphotericin B may be beneficial.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aspergillosis* / classification
  • Aspergillosis* / complications
  • Aspergillosis* / drug therapy
  • Aspergillosis* / epidemiology
  • Aspergillosis, Allergic Bronchopulmonary / epidemiology
  • Aspergillus / isolation & purification
  • Bone Marrow Transplantation
  • Cross Infection* / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Immune Tolerance
  • Lung Diseases, Fungal* / epidemiology
  • Neoplasms / complications
  • Opportunistic Infections