Presentation and Mortality of Cryptococcal Infection Varies by Predisposing Illness: A Retrospective Cohort Study



      Cryptococcal epidemiology is changing in the modern antiretroviral era, and immune status informs outcomes. We describe the differences in clinical presentation and mortality of cryptococcosis by immune status in the antiretroviral therapy era.


      We conducted a single-center retrospective cohort study of patients diagnosed with cryptococcosis from 2002 through 2017. Data included demographics, clinical features, diagnostics, and mortality.


      We identified 304 patients with Cryptococcus neoformans infections: 105 (35%) were people living with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), 41 (13%) had a history of transplantation, and 158 (52%) were non-HIV nontransplant (NHNT). Age analysis showed that people living with HIV were younger (40 years) than transplant (53 years) and NHNT (61 years) (P < .001). Fevers and headache were more common in people living with HIV (70% and 57%) than in transplant (49% and 29%) and NHNT (49% and 38%) (P = .003 and P = .001), respectively. Meningitis was more common in people living with HIV (68%) than in transplant recipients (32%) or NHNT (39%, P < .001). Disseminated cryptococcosis was more common in people living with HIV (97%) as compared with transplant (66%) or NHNT (73%) (P < .001). Time to diagnosis from hospitalization was longer for transplant (median 2 days, interquartile range [IQR] ± 9 days) and NHNT patients (median 2 days, IQR ± 7 days) as compared with people living with HIV (median 1 day, IQR ± 2 days) (P = .003). NHNT patients had a higher risk of 90-day mortality (hazard ratio 3.3; 95% confidence interval, 1.9-5.8) as compared with people living with HIV.


      The majority of cryptococcosis occurs in NHNT patients. NHNT patients had more localized pulmonary cryptococcosis and significantly higher 90-day mortality. Cryptococcosis in NHNT patients appears to be a distinct entity that needs further study and requires a higher level of clinical suspicion than it currently receives.


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