Itraconazole. A review of its pharmacodynamic and pharmacokinetic properties, and therapeutic use in superficial and systemic mycoses

Drugs. 1989 Mar;37(3):310-44. doi: 10.2165/00003495-198937030-00003.


Itraconazole is an orally active triazole antifungal drug which has demonstrated a broad spectrum of activity and a favourable pharmacokinetic profile. It is a potent inhibitor of most human fungal pathogens including Aspergillus sp. In non-comparative clinical trials itraconazole was shown to be extremely effective in a wide range of superficial and more serious 'deep' fungal infections when administered once or twice daily. Generally, greater than 80% of patients with superficial dermatophyte or yeast infections are cured by itraconazole. Similarly, good to excellent response rates (clinical cure or marked improvement) are achieved in paracoccidioidomycosis, histoplasmosis, sporotrichosis, blastomycosis, systemic candidiasis, coccidioidomycosis, chromomycosis, aspergillosis and cryptococcosis. Understandably, given the rare nature of some of these diseases, clinical experience is relatively limited and further evaluation, preferably controlled trials with amphotericin B and ketoconazole, would help clarify the ultimate role itraconazole will have in their management. Preliminary findings also indicate that itraconazole may hold promise for the prophylaxis of opportunistic fungal infections in patients at risk, for example women with chronic recurrent vaginal candidiasis, immunodeficient patients with chronic mucocutaneous candidiasis, AIDS patients and patients receiving immunosuppressant drugs. In studies to date itraconazole has been very well tolerated. Transient changes in indices of liver function occurred in 1 to 2% of patients; however, symptomatic liver dysfunction (as occurs infrequently with ketoconazole) has not been reported. Wider clinical experience is needed to permit clear conclusions as to whether liver dysfunction can result from itraconazole administration. Thus, while several aspects of the drug's profile require further investigation, itraconazole is a promising new oral treatment of fungal disease. The extent to which itraconazole will be employed in preference to ketoconazole will be clarified by wider clinical experience.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antifungal Agents / pharmacokinetics
  • Antifungal Agents / pharmacology*
  • Antifungal Agents / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Itraconazole
  • Ketoconazole / analogs & derivatives*
  • Ketoconazole / pharmacokinetics
  • Ketoconazole / pharmacology
  • Ketoconazole / therapeutic use
  • Mycoses / drug therapy*


  • Antifungal Agents
  • Itraconazole
  • Ketoconazole