Pulmonary cryptococcosis in the immunocompetent patient-Many questions, some answers

John F. Fisher, Paula A. Valencia-Rey, William B. Davis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Background. There are no prospective data regarding the management of pulmonary cryptococcosis in the immunocompetent patient. Clinical guidelines recommend oral fluconazole for patients with mild to moderate symptoms and amphotericin B plus flucytosine followed by fluconazole for severe disease. It is unclear whether patients who have histological evidence of Cryptococcus neoformans but negative cultures will even respond to drug treatment. We evaluated and managed a patient whose presentation and course raised important questions regarding the significance of negative cultures, antifungal choices, duration of therapy, and resolution of clinical, serologic, and radiographic findings. Methods. In addition to our experience, to answer these questions we reviewed available case reports and case series regarding immunocompetent patients with pulmonary cryptococcosis for the last 55 years using the following definitions: Definite - Clinical and/or radiographic findings of pulmonary infection and respiratory tract isolation of C. neoformans without other suspected etiologies; Probable - Clinical and radiographic findings of pulmonary infection, histopathologic evidence of C. neoformans, and negative fungal cultures with or without a positive cryptococcal polysaccharide antigen. Results. Pulmonary cryptococcosis resolves in most patients with or without specific antifungal therapy. Clinical, radiographic, and serologic resolution is slow and may take years. Conclusions. Persistently positive antigen titers are most common in untreated patients and may remain strongly positive despite complete or partial resolution of disease. Respiratory fungal cultures are often negative and may indicate nonviable organisms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalOpen Forum Infectious Diseases
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2016


  • Cryptococcosis
  • Cryptococcus neoformans
  • Pulmonary cryptococcosis
  • Pulmonary fungal infections

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Clinical Neurology


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