Frequent false-positive results of Aspergillus latex agglutination test: transient Aspergillus antigenemia during neutropenia.


Kami M, Kanda Y, Ogawa S, Mori S, Tanaka Y, Honda H, Chiba S, Mitani K, Yazaki Y, Hirai H.

Date: 18 December 2006


BACKGROUND: Two serologic assays, Aspergillus latex agglutination testing (LA) and plasma (1–>3)-beta-D-glucan (BDG) measurement, are used when invasive pulmonary aspergillosis (IPA) is suspected. Despite the high specificity of these assays, false-positive results are frequent for neutropenic patients. This study was conducted to evaluate the efficacy of LA and BDG and to investigate the cause of the false-positive results. METHODS: Eighty-eight consecutive patients with hematologic malignancies who underwent intensive chemotherapy were tested weekly with LA and BDG. RESULTS: Sixteen of 88 patients were diagnosed as having IPA. The sensitivity, specificity, and positive predictive values were 23%, 98%, and 64% for LA and 27%, 88%, and 52% for BDG, respectively. Of 11 patients who became positive for LA only during neutropenic periods, 2 patients developed IPA. In contrast, six of eight patients who became positive for LA during nonneutropenic periods developed IPA. Transient Aspergillus antigenemia was more frequently encountered during neutropenia (2.9%) than during nonneutropenic periods (0.2%). The plasma BDG concentration increased at the nadir of neutropenia in 36 of 45 patients who had no signs of IPA, and it exceeded the level of 20 pg/mL in 2 patients. CONCLUSIONS: Both BDG and LA have a low sensitivity and a high specificity for IPA. However, the false-positive rate of LA increases during neutropenic periods. Caution should be exercised in interpreting the results of these blood tests, especially when patients are neutropenic.

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