Native Valve Aspergillus Endocarditis in a Non-Neutropenic Immunocompromised Patient on Anti-TNF α Blockers Therapy

Cureus. 2021 Dec 23;13(12):e20629. doi: 10.7759/cureus.20629. eCollection 2021 Dec.


Invasive aspergillosis is a rare opportunistic infection mainly occurring in patients with a well-established risk such as neutropenia or conditions that lead to chronically impaired cellular immune responses. Systemic corticosteroids are a well-known risk factor for fungal infections. Recently, reports of invasive aspergillosis in patients treated with monoclonal biologic agents, such as tumor necrosis factor-alpha inhibitors, have been increasing. We present the case of a 47-year-old female patient with seronegative spondyloarthropathy treated with infliximab and corticosteroids. The patient presented classical symptoms of an acute lower respiratory infection, and she was treated with a β-lactam antibiotic. Infliximab administration was deferred until nine days after clinical recovery. Fourteen days after drug administration, she was admitted with a symptomatic subcortical hematoma in the left parietal region. There was a rapid neurological recovery, and there were no risk factors for haemorrhagic stroke detected. The chest X-ray revealed an oval mass with an air crescent sign, and the CT scan was suggestive of aspergilloma. Bronchoalveolar lavage cytology identified Aspergillus spp. Voriconazole was initiated and, after one month of treatment, the patient was readmitted with a left facial palsy associated with hemiparesis and dysarthria. Laboratory evaluation showed leukocytosis and elevated C-reactive protein. A severe right middle cerebral artery stroke was present on the brain CT scan. Transesophageal echocardiogram revealed large mitral valve vegetation, and the diagnosis of Aspergillus endocarditis with cerebral embolization was made. Fungal infections are challenging due to the diagnosis infrequency and paucisymptomatic natural history. Despite being crucial in the treatment of autoimmune diseases, immunosuppressive drugs increase the risk of fungal infection. It is extremely important to consider Aspergillus infection in immunosuppressed patients, and the need for prophylaxis in non-neutropenic patients with risk factors should be clarified.

Keywords: anti-tnf agents; autoimmune diseases; fungal endocarditis; invasive aspergillosis; seronegative spondyloarthropathy.

Publication types

  • Case Reports