The prevalence of azole-resistant Aspergillus fumigatus (ARAF) in Japan is unclear. We aimed to investigate the epidemiology of clinically isolated Aspergillus species and the frequency of azole resistance in Aspergillus species, particularly Aspergillus fumigatus, in the Kyoto and Shiga regions of Japan. Strains of clinically isolated Aspergillus species were prospectively collected from nine acute care hospitals. Species identification was performed by DNA sequence analysis, and all strains were subjected to antifungal susceptibility testing. Sequencing of the Aspergillus cyp51A gene and promoter region and genotyping by short tandem repeats were performed for ARAF isolates. A total of 149 strains were collected, and 130 strains were included for the subsequent analysis after the exclusion of duplicate isolates. The most commonly isolated species was Aspergillus fumigatus, accounting for 43.1% (56 isolates) overall, and seven (12.7%) of 55 strains of A. fumigatus were azole-resistant. Azole-resistance of other Aspergillus species were also found that two (22.2%) of nine strains of A. tubingensis and two (28.6%) of seven strains of A. flavus were azole-resistant. DNA sequence analysis of the ARAF strains revealed that two carried the cyp51A TR34/L98H mutation, one carried G448S, one carried M220I, and three had no relevant mutations (wild type). Genotyping and phylogenetic analyses showed that the TR34/L98H strains were clustered with the strains from the Netherlands and France. These data suggest the emergence of ARAF with TR34/L98H in Japan, and continuous surveillance will be important to identify trends in resistance.
Keywords: Aspergillus fumigatus; Cyp51A; TR34/L98H; azole resistance; epidemiology.