Acrophialophora fusispora brain abscess in a child with acute lymphoblastic leukemia: Review of cases and taxonomy

I. Z. Al-Mohsen, D. A. Sutton, L. Sigler, E. Almodovar, N. Mahgoub, H. Frayha, S. Al-Hajjar, M. G. Rinaldi, T. J. Walsh

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


A 12-year-old girl with acute lymphoblastic leukemia was referred to King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center. The diagnosis without central nervous system (CNS) involvement was confirmed on admission, and chemotherapy was initiated according to the Children Cancer Group (CCG) 1882 protocol for high-risk-group leukemia. During neutropenia amphotericin B (AMB) (1 mg/kg of body weight/day) was initiated for presumed fungal infection when a computed tomography (CT) scan of the chest revealed multiple nodular densities. After 3 weeks of AMB therapy, a follow-up chest CT revealed progression of the pulmonary nodules. The patient subsequently suffered a seizure, and a CT scan of the brain was consistent with infarction or hemorrhage. Because of progression of pulmonary lesions while receiving AMB, antifungal therapy was changed to liposomal AMB (LAMB) (6 mg/kg/day). Despite 26 days of LAMB, the patient continued to have intermittent fever, and CT and magnetic resonance imaging of the brain demonstrated findings consistent with a brain abscess. Aspiration of brain abscess was performed and the Gomori methenamine silver stain was positive for hyphal elements. Culture of this material grew Acrophialophora fusispora. Lung biopsy showed necrotizing fungal pneumonia with negative culture. The dosage of LAMB was increased, and itraconazole (ITRA) was added; subsequently LAMB was discontinued and therapy was continued with ITRA alone. The patient demonstrated clinical and radiological improvement. In vitro, the isolate was susceptible to low concentrations of AMB and ITRA. A. fusispora is a thermotolerant, fast-growing fungus with neurotropic potential. We report the first case of human infection involving the CNS. Acrophialophora resembles Paecilomyces but differs in having colonies that become dark and in the development of phialides along the sides or at the tips of echinulate brown conidiophores. Conidia are borne in long chains and are smooth or ornamented with fine-to-coarse echinulations, sometimes in spiral bands. The taxonomy of the genus Acrophialophora is reviewed, and Acrophialophora nainiana and Acrophialophora levis are considered as synonyms or A. fusispora.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4569-4576
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of clinical microbiology
Issue number12
StatePublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology (medical)


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