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Itraconazole Therapy for Cryptococcal Meningitis and Cryptococcosis

David W. Denning, MB, MRCP; Richard M. Tucker, MD; Linda H. Hanson; John R. Hamilton, PhD; David A. Stevens, MD
Arch Intern Med. 1989;149(10):2301-2308. doi:10.1001/archinte.1989.00390100107024.
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• We studied the efficacy of itraconazole, a new oral triazole, in 33 patients (32 were immunocompromised) with cryptococcosis. Diagnoses included cryptococcal meningitis (24 patients), cryptococcemia (19 patients), cryptococcuria (4 patients), osteomyelitis (1 patient), pulmonary cryptococcosis (1 patient), and soft-tissue cryptococcosis (2 patients). Twenty-six patients had the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, and 4 were transplant recipients. Therapy (200 mg two times per day) was monitored by clinical response, culture, and cryptococcal antigen testing. Cryptococcemia was abolished in 10 (100%) of 10 assessable patients; clinical abnormalities also cleared. Thirteen (65%) of 20 assessable patients with cryptococcal meningitis had complete responses (clinical resolution and negative cultures), 5 (25%) had partial responses, and therapy failed in 2(10%). Ten (71%) of 14 patients with the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome who had meningitis and were treated with itraconazole as their sole therapy had complete responses, 3(21%) had partial responses, and therapy failed in 1(7%). Partial responses or failures were all associated with the failure of previous therapy, severe disease, low serum itraconazole concentrations, or a resistant organism. Noncompliance was associated with relapse (4 patients). Meningitis recrudesced in 3 (20%) of 15 patients who responded to therapy. All 4 patients with pulmonary cryptococcosis, soft-tissue cryptococcosis, or osteomyelitis responded to therapy (100%). Cryptococcuria was abolished in 3(60%) of 5 assessable patients. The median survival of the 20 patients with the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome who had meningitis exceeded 10.5 months at this writing. Overall results compare favorably with amphotericin B therapy with or without flucytosine. Forty of 44 isolates of Cryptococcus neoformans were susceptible in vitro to itraconazole (minimum inhibitory concentration ≤3.13 mg/L), 3 were borderline (minimum inhibitory concentration, 6.25 mg/L), and 1 was resistant (minimum inhibitory concentration, 12.5 mg/L). As itraconazole does not penetrate cerebrospinal fluid, the meningitis results are noteworthy and suggest that meningeal and parenchymal penetration is critical. Itraconazole is promising for the treatment of cryptococcosis in patients with and without the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome.

(Arch Intern Med. 1989;149:2301-2308)


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