Which antifungal agents may be alternatives to amphotericin B for treatment of fungal pneumonia?

Updated: Jun 21, 2019
  • Author: Romeo A Mandanas, MD, FACP; Chief Editor: Guy W Soo Hoo, MD, MPH  more...
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Other formulations, however, are starting to replace amphotericin B because of their ease of use (oral formulations) and lower toxicity for more long-term suppression. Posaconazole is used in the prophylaxis of invasive Aspergillus and Candida infections in severely immunocompromised patients receiving hematopoietic stem cell transplants who have graft versus host disease and in patients with hematologic malignancies who have chemotherapy-induced neutropenia. [43] While it used to be available only as an oral suspension given thrice daily, a delayed-release tablet formulation of posaconazole for once-daily administration allows for better bioavailability without being affected by food. The intravenous formulation is also administered once daily, but it has to be through a central line because of the presence of a solubilizing excipient SBECD (sulfobutylether-β-cyclodextrin), which can be potentially renal toxic and can accumulate in patients with moderate-to-severe renal failure. [44] Because of the large interindividual and intraindividual variations in bioavailability and drug-to-drug-interactions, therapeutic drug monitoring is recommended for posaconazole, especially if used in the therapeutic setting to treat invasive aspergillosis or zygomycosis.

Other antifungal agents used in the treatment of fungal pneumonia are fluconazole (Diflucan), itraconazole (Sporanox), flucytosine (Ancobon), and ketoconazole (Nizoral). Newer antifungal agents, such as the third-generation triazoles or the echinocandins, are more tolerable than amphotericin B or its liposomal preparations are and may even be more effective in first- or second-line treatment.

Isavuconazole has been approved by the FDA and the European Medicines Agency for the treatment of invasive aspergillosis and mucormycosis. Studies have shown it to be not inferior to voriconazole for aspergillosis and comparable to amphotericin B and posaconazole for mucormycosis. [36]

There have been increasing reports of azole resistance in Aspergillus species. This might be the result of the increasing use of these agents for prophylaxis and treatment of fungal infections; also there are associations with exposure to azole-like compounds used in the agricultural industry in some countries. In addition, some species have intrinsic resistance to various azoles. [5]

Caspofungin is approved for the treatment of invasive Aspergillus infections in patients unresponsive to or unable to receive amphotericin B. Combinations of a triazole with an echinocandin with or without amphotericin B have been anecdotally reported to be effective in some cases of resistant organisms, such as Mucor or Zygomycetes species. [42]

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