Molecular mechanisms of acquired antifungal drug resistance in principal fungal pathogens and EUCAST guidance for their laboratory detection and clinical implications.
The increasing incidence and changing epidemiology of invasive fungal infections continue to present many challenges to their effective management. The repertoire of antifungal drugs available for treatment is still limited although there are new antifungals on the horizon. Successful treatment of invasive mycoses is dependent on a mix of pathogen-, host- and antifungal drug-related factors. Laboratories need to be adept at detection of fungal pathogens in clinical samples in order to effectively guide treatment by identifying isolates with acquired drug resistance. While there are international guidelines on how to conduct in vitro antifungal susceptibility testing, these are not performed as widely as for bacterial pathogens. Furthermore, fungi generally are recovered in cultures more slowly than bacteria, and often cannot be cultured in the laboratory. Therefore, non-culture-based methods, including molecular tests, to detect fungi in clinical specimens are increasingly important in patient management and are becoming more reliable as technology improves. Molecular methods can also be used for detection of target gene mutations or other mechanisms that predict antifungal drug resistance. This review addresses acquired antifungal drug resistance in the principal human fungal pathogens and describes known resistance mechanisms and what in-house and commercial tools are available for their detection. It is emphasized that this approach should be complementary to culture-based susceptibility testing, given the range of mutations, resistance mechanisms and target genes that may be present in clinical isolates, but may not be included in current molecular assays.