Nucleic Acid Tools for Invasive Fungal Disease Diagnosis


Purpose of Review

This review has incorporated the knowledge and experience of the leads of each of the laboratory working parties of the fungal PCR initiative in order to provide up-to-date information on the performance and developments of PCR methods for the detection of fungi that commonly cause invasive fungal disease (IFD).

Recent Findings

Molecular diagnosis of IFD enhances the current repertoire of mycological investigations. Providing superior sensitivity and turn-around-time over classical approaches, yet maintaining the benefits of classical tests (e.g. species level identification and identifying resistance). Standardization for Aspergillus PCR is almost complete; the recent release of commercial PCR assays for a wide range fungi (Aspergillus, Candida, Pneumocystis, Mucorales and Pan-fungal) and availability of external quality control schemes (e.g. Quality Control of Molecular Diagnostics for Aspergillus, Candida, Pneumocystis) means that fungal PCR testing is robust and ready for use, globally.


Further work is needed to ascertain the utility of PCR in routine practice and to determine whether combining it with other biomarkers is an optimal strategy. PCR for detecting Mucorales sp. and on tissue, together with direct antifungal resistance detection in body fluids, may increase its diagnostic value across the board. This and the ability to diagnose Pneumocystis pneumonia and invasive candidiasis would go a long way towards attaining the long-held ambition of medical mycology to provide a comprehensive range of tests that can be relied upon to diagnose, at least, the common IFD. In short, PCR has a clear future and is close to achieving its full potential in our laboratories.

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Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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Correspondence to P. Lewis White.

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Conflict of Interest

P. Lewis White reports personal fees from F2G, Gilead, MSD and BOPA, received funding for travel and meeting attendance from Gilead, Launch Diagnostics, BOPA and Bruker Diagnostics and received research funding from Bruker Diagnostics. Dr. White received payment from F2G for providing diagnostic services outside the submitted work. Alexandre Alanio reports non-financial support from Astellas and personal fees from Gilead science outside the submitted work. In addition, Dr. Alanio has a patent on a means for diagnosing, predicting or monitoring Pneumocystis pneumonia issued. Laurence Millon reports support for travel to meetings from Gilead, personal fees from Gilead, support for travel to meetings from Pfizer, personal fees from Pfizer, and support for travel to meetings from MSD outside the submitted work. Rosemary Barnes being treasurer and Steering Committee member of the Fungal PCR Initiative. Joseph Peter Donnelly reports personal fees from F2G, Gilead and Pfizer outside the submitted work. Mario Cruciani, Rebecca Gorton, Volker Rickerts and Juergen Loeffler declare no conflicts of interest relevant to this manuscript.

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White, P.L., Alanio, A., Cruciani, M. et al. Nucleic Acid Tools for Invasive Fungal Disease Diagnosis. Curr Fungal Infect Rep 14, 76–88 (2020).

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  • Aspergillus
  • Candida
  • Pneumocystis
  • Mucorales
  • Pan-fungal
  • Tissue
  • PCR