Early Detection of Aspergillus Infection after Allogeneic Stem Cell Transplantation by Polymerase Chain Reaction Screening


Hebart H, Löffler J, Meisner C, Serey F, Schmidt D, Böhme A, Martin H, Engel A, Bunje D, Kern WV, Schumacher U, Kanz L, Einsele H
The Journal of Infectious Diseases 2000; 181:1713-9


Invasive aspergillosis (IA) has become a major cause of mortality in patients after allogeneic stem cell transplantation. To assess the potential of prospective polymerase chain reaction (PCR) screening for early diagnosis of IA, 84 recipients of an allogeneic stem cell transplant were analyzed with the investigators blinded to clinical and microbiologic data. Of 1193 blood samples analyzed, 169 (14.2%) were positive by PCR. In patients with newly diagnosed IA (n=7), PCR positivity preceded the first clinical signs by a median of 2 days (range, 1-23 days) and preceded clinical diagnosis of IA by a median of 9 days (range, 2-34 days). Pretransplantation IA (relative risk [RR], 2.37), acute graft-versus-host disease (RR, 2.75), and corticosteroid treatment (RR, 6.5) were associated with PCR positivity. The PCR assay revealed a sensitivity of 100% (95% confidence interval [CI], 48%-100%) and a specificity of 65% (95% CI, 53%-75%). None of the PCR-negative patients developed IA during the study period. Thus, prospective PCR screening allows for identification of patients at high risk for subsequent onset of IA.