Current Status Of Antifungal Susceptibility Testing Methods
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Antifungal susceptibility testing is a very dynamic field of medical mycology. Standardization of in vitro susceptibility tests by the Clinical and Laboratory Standards Institute (CLSI) and the European Committee for Antimicrobial Susceptibility Testing (EUCAST), and current availability of reference methods constituted the major remarkable steps in the field. Based on the established minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) breakpoints, it is now possible to determine the susceptibilities of Candida strains to fluconazole, itraconazole, voriconazole, and flucytosine. Moreover, utility of fluconazole antifungal susceptibility tests as an adjunct in optimizing treatment of candidiasis has now been validated. While the MIC breakpoints and clinical significance of susceptibility testing for the remaining fungi and antifungal drugs remain yet unclear, modifications of the available methods as well as other methodologies are being intensively studied to overcome the present drawbacks and limitations. Among the other methods under investigation are Etest, colorimetric microdilution, agar dilution, determination of fungicidal activity, flow cytometry, and ergosterol quantitation. Etest offers the advantage of practical application and favorable agreement rates with the reference methods that are frequently above acceptable limits. However, MIC breakpoints for Etest remain to be evaluated and established. Development of commercially available, standardized colorimetric panels that are based on CLSI method parameters has added more to the antifungal susceptibility testing armamentarium. Flow cytometry, on the other hand, appears to offer rapid susceptibility testing but requires specified equipment and further evaluation for reproducibility and standardization. Ergosterol quantitation is another novel approach, which appears potentially beneficial particularly in discrimination of azole-resistant isolates from heavy trailers. The method is yet investigational and requires to be further studied. Developments in methodology and applications of antifungal susceptibility testing will hopefully provide enhanced utility in clinical guidance of antifungal therapy. However, and particularly in immunosuppressed host, in vitro susceptibility is and will remain only one of several factors that influence clinical outcome.