Clinical diversity of invasive cryptococcosis in AIDS patients from central China: report of two cases with review of literature

BMC Infect Dis. 2019 Nov 27;19(1):1003. doi: 10.1186/s12879-019-4634-7.


Background: Although antiretroviral therapy (ART) has greatly improved the prognosis of acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) patients globally, opportunistic infections (OIs) are still common in Chinese AIDS patients, especially cryptococcosis.

Case presentation: We described here two Chinese AIDS patients with cryptococcal infections. Case one was a fifty-year-old male. At admission, he was conscious and oriented, with papulonodular and umbilicated skin lesions, some with ulceration and central necrosis resembling molluscum contagiosum. The overall impression reminded us of talaromycosis: we therefore initiated empirical treatment with amphotericin B, even though the case history of this patient did not support such a diagnosis. On the second day of infusion, the patient complained of intermittent headache, but the brain CT revealed no abnormalities. On the third day, a lumbar puncture was performed. The cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) was turbid, with slightly increased pressure. India ink staining was positive, but the cryptococcus antigen latex agglutination test (CrAgLAT: IMMY, USA) was negative. Two days later, the blood culture showed a growth of Cryptococcus neoformans, and the same result came from the skin culture. We added fluconazole to the patient's treatment, but unfortunately, he died three days later. Case two was a sixty-four-year-old female patient with mild fever, productive cough, dyspnea upon movement, and swelling in both lower limbs. The patient was empirically put on cotrimoxazole per os and moxifloxacin by infusion. A bronchofibroscopy was conducted with a fungal culture, showing growth of Cryptococcus laurentii colonies. Amphotericin B was started thereafter but discontinued three days later in favor of fluconazole 400 mg/d due to worsening renal function. The patient became afebrile after 72 h of treatment with considerable improvement of other comorbidities and was finally discharged with continuing oral antifungal therapy.

Conclusions: Our cases illustrate that cryptococcal disease is an important consideration when treating immunocompromised individuals such as AIDS patients. Life threatening meningitis or meningoencephalitis caused by C. neoformansmay still common in these populations and can vary greatly in clinical presentations, especially with regard to skin lesions. Pulmonary cryptococcosis caused by C. laurentii is rare, but should also be considered in certain contexts. Guidelines for its earlier diagnosis, treatment and prophylaxis are needed.

Keywords: Cryptococcus laurentii; Cryptococcus neoformans; HIV/AIDS; Opportunistic infections.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / drug therapy
  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / microbiology*
  • Administration, Oral
  • Amphotericin B / adverse effects
  • Amphotericin B / therapeutic use
  • Antifungal Agents / administration & dosage
  • Antifungal Agents / therapeutic use
  • Antigens, Fungal / immunology
  • China
  • Cryptococcosis / diagnosis*
  • Cryptococcosis / microbiology
  • Cryptococcus neoformans / isolation & purification*
  • Female
  • Fluconazole / administration & dosage
  • Fluconazole / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Meningitis / microbiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Opportunistic Infections / drug therapy
  • Opportunistic Infections / microbiology*
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Antifungal Agents
  • Antigens, Fungal
  • Amphotericin B
  • Fluconazole