Prevalence of Fungal and Bacterial Co-Infection in Pulmonary Fungal Infections: A Metagenomic Next Generation Sequencing-Based Study

Front Cell Infect Microbiol. 2021 Nov 1;11:749905. doi: 10.3389/fcimb.2021.749905. eCollection 2021.


With the widespread use of antibacterial drugs and increasing number of immunocompromised patients, pulmonary fungal infections are becoming more common. However, the incidence of pulmonary fungal and bacterial co-infection is rarely reported. In this study, 119 patients definitively diagnosed with pulmonary fungal infections between July 2018 and March 2020 were assessed using metagenomic next-generation sequencing (mNGS) as well as traditional pathogen detection to gauge the incidence of fungal and bacterial co-infection and evaluate the associated risk factors. We found that of the 119 patients with fungal infections, 48 (40.3%) had pulmonary fungal and bacterial co-infection. We identified immunocompromised status and the presence of one or more pulmonary cavities as risk factors associated with fungal and bacterial co-infection. The most commonly isolated fungi species were Aspergillus, Pneumocystis, and Rhizopus. The most commonly isolated bacterial species were Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Acinetobacter baumannii, and Stenotrophomonas maltophilia. Seventy-nine (66.4%) patients had received empirical antibiotic treatment before their pathogenic test results became available, and 41.7% (fungal infection group) and 38.7% (fungal and bacterial co-infection group) of the patients had their antibacterial drug dosage changed accordingly. This mNGS-based study showed that the incidence of fungal and bacterial co-infection is significant. Our research outcomes can, thus, guide the use of antibacterial drugs in the treatment of clinical fungal infections.

Keywords: antibacterial treatment; fungal and bacterial co-infection; fungal infection; mNGS; risk factor.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Coinfection* / epidemiology
  • Fungi / genetics
  • High-Throughput Nucleotide Sequencing
  • Humans
  • Lung Diseases, Fungal* / epidemiology
  • Metagenomics
  • Prevalence