Treatment of Chronic Pulmonary Aspergillosis: Current Standards and Future Perspectives
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Chronic pulmonary aspergillosis (CPA) complicates conditions including tuberculosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and sarcoidosis, and is associated with high morbidity and mortality. Surgical cure should be considered where feasible; however, many patients are unsuitable for surgery due to extensive disease or poor respiratory function. Azoles are the only oral drug with anti-Aspergillus activity and itraconazole and voriconazole are considered as first-line drugs. A randomized controlled trial demonstrated improvement or stability in three-quarters of patients given 6 months of itraconazole, but a quarter relapsed on stopping therapy. Long-term treatment may therefore be required in some cases. Itraconazole, voriconazole and posaconazole require therapeutic drug monitoring. No published data are yet available for isavuconazole. Adverse drug effects of azoles are common, including peripheral neuropathy, heart failure, elevated liver enzymes, QTc prolongation and sun sensitivity. Many serious drug-drug interactions occur, including major interactions with rifamycins, simvastatin, warfarin, clopidogrel, immunosuppressant drugs like sirolimus. Furthermore, drug resistance occurs, including cross-resistance to all azoles, but the true prevalence is not yet determined. Intravenous therapy is possible with echinocandins or amphotericin B, but long-term use is challenging. Hemoptysis complicates CPA and can be fatal. Tranexamic acid should be given acutely to reduce bleeding. Bronchial artery embolization can stop acute bleeds. In some circumstances, emergency surgery may be necessary to resect the source of the bleed. Current CPA treatments can be beneficial but have many drawbacks. New oral anti-Aspergillus agents are needed, along with optimization of currently available treatments.