Breakthrough bloodstream infections caused by echinocandin-resistant candida tropicalis: An emerging threat to immunocompromised patients with hematological malignancies

Maroun M. Sfeir, Cristina Jiménez-ortigosa, Maria N. Gamaletsou, Audrey N. Schuetz, Rosemary Soave, Koen Van Besien, Catherine B. Small, David S. Perlin, Thomas J. Walsh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background. Candida tropicalis is a virulent fungal pathogen for which echinocandins are the primary therapy. Emergence of resistance to echinocandins of C. tropicalis carries potentially ominous therapeutic implications. Methods. We describe herein two patients with breakthrough C. tropicalis fungemia during echinocandin therapy, characterize their molecular mechanism of resistance, and systematically review 13 previously reported cases of echinocandin-resistant C. tropicalis bloodstream infections (BSIs) and other diseases. Results. Among these 15 patients with echinocandin-resistant C. tropicalis infections, the median age was 61 years (ages 28–84 years) and 13 (86%) were immunocompromised. Thirteen (86%) of all patients had a history of pervious or concurrent exposure to echinocandins. Isolates of C. tropicalis from 11 cases, including the two index cases, underwent DNA sequencing of the FKS1 gene for mutations known to confer echinocandin resistance. The amino acid substitution Ser654Pro was shown in four cases, while other FKS1 mutations encoded Ser80S/Pro, Phe641Leu, Phe641Ser, Ser80S/Pro substitutions. These mutational events were not associated with collateral increases in minimum inhibitory concentrations to antifungal triazoles and amphotericin B. Overall mortality in patients with echinocandin-resistant C. tropicalis infections was 40%. Among those six patients who died, two received monotherapy with voriconazole, one was treated with fluconazole, one remained on caspofungin, and two were switched to liposomal amphotericin B. Nine patients (60%) survived after being treated with an antifungal agent other than an echinocandin. Conclusions. Emergence of resistance to echinocandins by C. tropicalis, occurs during antifungal therapy, is associated with high mortality, is mediated by a diverse range of FKS1 mutations, retains in vitro susceptibility to triazoles and amphotericin B, and constitutes an emerging threat to patients with hematological malignancies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number20
JournalJournal of Fungi
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2020


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Plant Science
  • Microbiology (medical)


  • Candida tropicalis
  • Candidemia
  • Echinocandin resistance
  • FKS1 gene

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