Fluconazole. An update of its pharmacodynamic and pharmacokinetic properties and therapeutic use in major superficial and systemic mycoses in immunocompromised patients

Drugs. 1995 Oct;50(4):658-90. doi: 10.2165/00003495-199550040-00007.


Fluconazole is a triazole antifungal agent which is now an established part of therapy in patients with immune deficiencies. It is effective against oropharyngeal/oesophageal candidiasis (candidosis) when used orally once daily either as treatment or secondary prophylaxis in patients with AIDS or as treatment or primary prophylaxis in neutropenia associated with cancer therapy. Fluconazole also resolves symptoms in up to 60% of patients with cryptococcal meningitis and AIDS. However, in this infection its efficacy as treatment relative to that of amphotericin B is equivocal, and its major role is as the drug of choice for maintenance therapy following amphotericin B induction. In this regard, fluconazole has been proven superior to amphotericin B and to itraconazole 200 mg/day. Comparisons with other drugs used for the treatment of mucosal candidiasis in patients with AIDS show fluconazole to be superior to nystatin, similar to itraconazole and at least as effective as clotrimazole and ketoconazole; it was more so than the latter azole in 1 study. In patients undergoing chemotherapy or bone marrow transplantation, fluconazole as primary prophylaxis has produced greater clinical benefit than a clotrimazole regimen. The incidence of adverse events appears to be somewhat higher in patients with AIDS compared with HIV-negative cohorts, but the qualitative pattern of events is similar. The most frequent events are gastrointestinal complaints, headache and skin rash: rare exfoliative skin reactions and isolated instances of clinically overt hepatic dysfunction have occurred in patients with AIDS. Issues yet to be clarified include: the use of fluconazole in children with AIDS, in whom results have been promising; its efficacy against other fungal infections encountered in immunocompromised patients; whether the drug influences mortality, as has been suggested by one placebo-controlled trial in patients undergoing bone marrow transplant; and the appropriateness of its potential for use as primary prophylaxis against cryptococcal meningitis in patients with AIDS, where it shows efficacy but there is concern over increasing risk of development of secondary resistance. Notwithstanding these undefined aspects of its clinical profile, fluconazole is now confirmed as an important antifungal drug in the management of fungal infections in patients with immune deficiencies. In patients with AIDS it is the present drug of choice as maintenance therapy against cryptococcal meningitis and is a preferred agent for secondary prophylaxis against candidal infections; it is also a favoured agent for primary prophylaxis in patients at risk because of neutropenia associated with chemotherapy or bone marrow transplantation .

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • AIDS-Related Opportunistic Infections / immunology
  • AIDS-Related Opportunistic Infections / microbiology
  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / immunology
  • Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome / microbiology
  • Animals
  • Antifungal Agents / pharmacokinetics*
  • Antifungal Agents / pharmacology*
  • Child
  • Fluconazole / pharmacokinetics*
  • Fluconazole / pharmacology*
  • HIV Infections / immunology
  • HIV Infections / microbiology
  • Humans
  • Immunocompromised Host*
  • Mycoses / drug therapy*
  • Mycoses / immunology*
  • Mycoses / metabolism
  • Neoplasms / immunology
  • Neoplasms / microbiology


  • Antifungal Agents
  • Fluconazole