Phaeohyphomycosis Caused by the Fungal Genera Bipolaris and Exserohilum. A Report of 9 Cases and Review of the Literature

Medicine (Baltimore). 1986 Jul;65(4):203-17. doi: 10.1097/00005792-198607000-00001.


We have reported 7 new cases of Bipolaris infection and 2 of Exserohilum infection, which demonstrate the capability of these 2 genera to cause invasive as well as "allergic" disease. As noted previously, it is likely that all of the cases of "Helminthosporium" and Drechslera infections reported in the literature were caused by Bipolaris or Exserohilum. Infections due to these 2 genera are probably more common than previously recognized. They should be included in the differential diagnosis of central nervous system and disseminated fungal disease, sinusitis, keratitis, peritonitis associated with continuous ambulatory peritoneal dialysis, and allergic bronchopulmonary disease. These various entities have distinct histopathologic characteristics. With disseminated disease in the immunocompromised patient, the most frequent findings are acute inflammation with prominent vascular invasion, thrombosis, and infarction. In contrast, granulomatous inflammation and leukocytoclastic vasculitis are seen in meningoencephalitis caused by these fungi. The histologic features of allergic bronchopulmonary disease and sinusitis are similar. A chronic inflammatory infiltrate of lymphocytes, plasma cells and eosinophils within edematous granulation tissue is found in addition to squamous metaplasia and thickening of the basement membrane. Infections caused by Bipolaris/Exserohilum and Aspergillus show many clinical and pathologic similarities despite the lack of taxonomic relationship between these fungi. Both cause disseminated disease in immunocompromised patients that is characterized by tissue necrosis and vascular invasion. Both cause central nervous system disease, osteomyelitis, and sinusitis and are associated with allergic bronchopulmonary disease. Sinusitis, the most common form of disease caused by Bipolaris and Exserohilum, occurs in otherwise healthy patients with nasal polyposis and allergic rhinitis. Although pathologic evidence of bone invasion may not be found, there frequently is radiographic evidence of invasive disease. Most patients who are treated initially with surgical debridement and amphotericin B have apparently been cured. However, longer follow-up will be necessary in these patients. Amphotericin B appears to be the treatment of choice for invasive infections caused by Bipolaris/Exserohilum species. Ketoconazole and other imidazole derivatives may also be effective in certain of the disease entities caused by these black moulds; however, their role has yet to be defined.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Child
  • Chronic Disease
  • Corneal Ulcer / drug therapy
  • Corneal Ulcer / microbiology
  • Corneal Ulcer / pathology
  • Dermatomycoses / drug therapy
  • Dermatomycoses / microbiology
  • Dermatomycoses / pathology
  • Ethmoid Sinus
  • Female
  • Frontal Sinus
  • Helminthosporium
  • Humans
  • Lung Diseases, Fungal / drug therapy
  • Lung Diseases, Fungal / microbiology
  • Lung Diseases, Fungal / pathology
  • Male
  • Maxillary Sinus
  • Microbial Sensitivity Tests
  • Middle Aged
  • Mitosporic Fungi / drug effects
  • Mitosporic Fungi / isolation & purification
  • Mycoses / drug therapy
  • Mycoses / microbiology
  • Mycoses / pathology*
  • Peritonitis / drug therapy
  • Peritonitis / microbiology
  • Peritonitis / pathology
  • Sinusitis / drug therapy
  • Sinusitis / microbiology
  • Sinusitis / pathology
  • Sphenoid Sinus