Antifungal agents in the 1990s. Current status and future developments.


Kauffman CA, Carver PL






Significant advances in antifungal therapy have occurred in the last decade. Most of these advances have been tied to the introduction of the triazoles, itraconazole and fluconazole. Itraconazole has proved efficacious for the treatment of subacute to chronic infections with the endemic mycoses and other opportunistic filamentous fungi, including Aspergillus spp. Fluconazole is now routinely used for mucocutaneous and systemic candidiasis, and its use for coccidioidal meningitis has obviated the need for intrathecal amphotericin B in most patients. Large, well controlled trials in AIDS patients with cryptococcal meningitis have shown the benefit of induction therapy with amphotericin B and flucytosine, followed by consolidation and life-long maintenance therapy with fluconazole. Concomitant with the increased use of these well tolerated, effective oral triazole agents has come the emergence of drug resistance in AIDS patients and shifts in the species of yeasts causing infection in hospitalised patients. Amphotericin B remains the drug of choice for many fungal infections, especially those that are life-threatening. Lipid-containing formulations of amphotericin B have recently been approved: these preparations significantly reduce the risk of amphotericin B-induced nephrotoxicity. Several new fungicidal agents are currently in early trials. With the increasing number of available antifungal drugs, future studies will help define the appropriate niche for each and the possible benefit of therapy with combinations of drugs.