Central nervous system (CNS) cryptococcosis in non-HIV infected patients affects solid organ transplant (SOT) recipients, patients with malignancy, rheumatic disorders, other immunosuppressive conditions and immunocompetent hosts. More recently described risks include the use of newer biologicals and recreational intravenous drug use. Disease is caused by Cryptococcus neoformans
and Cryptococcus gattii
species complex; C. gattii
is endemic in several geographic regions and has caused outbreaks in North America. Major virulence determinants are the polysaccharide capsule, melanin and several ‘invasins’. Cryptococcal plb1, laccase and urease are essential for dissemination from lung to CNS and crossing the blood–brain barrier. Meningo-encephalitis is common but intracerebral infection or hydrocephalus also occur, and are relatively frequent in C. gattii
infection. Complications include neurologic deficits, raised intracranial pressure (ICP) and disseminated disease. Diagnosis relies on culture, phenotypic identification methods, and cryptococcal antigen detection. Molecular methods can assist. Preferred induction antifungal therapy is a lipid amphotericin B formulation (amphotericin B deoxycholate may be used in non-transplant patients) plus 5-flucytosine for 2–6 weeks depending on host type followed by consolidation/maintenance therapy with fluconazole for 12 months or longer. Control of raised ICP is essential. Clinicians should be vigilant for immune reconstitution inflammatory syndrome.
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