Invasive fungal infections (IFIs) are serious infections that develop in conjunction with neutropenia after chemotherapy for acute leukemia or with hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. Conventionally, empirical antifungal therapy was recommended to treat IFIs for patient safety despite a lack of evidence of fungal infections. However, many studies have indicated that antifungals were not necessary for over half of patients, and several detriments of empirical therapy were noted, e.g., antifungals caused adverse reactions, an increase in drug-resistant fungi was a possibility, and medical costs soared. β-D-glucan (BDG) is a component of clinically important fungi such as Aspergillus and Candida. The G-test was developed in Japan as a way to measure BDG in serum using a coagulation factor from the blood of the horseshoe crab. Pre-emptive antifungal therapy based upon serodiagnosis with a BDG or galactomannan assay and CT imaging has been introduced. With pre-emptive antifungal therapy, the prognosis is equivalent to that with empirical therapy, and the dose of the antifungal has been successfully reduced. Measurement of BDG has been adopted widely as a method of diagnosing IFIs and is listed in the key guidelines for fungal infections and febrile neutropenia.
Keywords: Aspergillus; Candida; empirical therapy; galactomannan; horseshoe crab; invasive fungal infection; pre-emptive therapy; β-D-glucan.