Exclusion of Mucorales Co-Infection in a Patient with Aspergillus flavus Sinusitis by Fluorescence In Situ Hybridization (FISH)
Wichelhaus, Thomas A.
Invasive fungal infections are associated with increased mortality in hematological patients. Despite considerable advances in antifungal therapy, the evaluation of suspected treatment failure is a common clinical challenge requiring extensive diagnostic testing to rule out potential causes, such as mixed infections. We present a 64-year-old patient with secondary AML, diabetes mellitus, febrile neutropenia, and sinusitis. While cultures from nasal tissue grew Aspergillus flavus, a microscopic examination of the tissue was suggestive of concomitant mucormycosis. However, fluorescence in situ hybridization (FISH) using specific probes targeting Aspergillus and Mucorales species ruled out mixed infection. This was confirmed by specific qPCR assays amplifying the DNA of Aspergillus, but not of Mucorales. These results provided a rational basis for step-down targeted therapy, i.e., the patient received posaconazole after seven days of calculated dual therapy with liposomal amphotericin B and posaconazole. Despite clinical response to the antifungal therapy, he died due to the progression of the underlying disease within two weeks after diagnosis of fungal infection. Molecular diagnostics applied to tissue blocks may reveal useful information on the etiology of invasive fungal infections, including challenging situations, such as with mixed infections. A thorough understanding of fungal etiology facilitates targeted therapy that may improve therapeutic success while limiting side effects.