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Central nervous system infections in immunocompromised patients: update on diagnostics and therapy.

Leukemia & Lymphoma 50(1):24 (2009) PMID 19031169

Infections of the central nervous system (CNS) are increasingly reported in patients with malignancies. Heavily immunocompromised patients like those after allogeneic stem cell transplantation (SCT) or previous T cell depleting treatment regimens (e.g. with fludarabine or alemtuzumab) are at highest risk for cerebral infections. The spectrum of causative organisms may vary greatly, depending on the underlying malignancy, its treatment and various other factors. Toxoplasma gondii and fungi are the leading causative organisms in patients after allogeneic SCT, but also viruses such as herpes simplex virus or JC virus may be detected in these patients. Definitive diagnosis of cerebral infection still remains a high challenge, although diagnostics have improved by the wide availability of imaging techniques and polymerase chain reaction in recent years. Novel therapeutic options are arising, particularly for fungal CNS infections. Here, we summarise aspects on epidemiology, clinical symptoms and prognosis of CNS infections in patients with malignancies. Additionally, we give an overview on the diagnostics and management of cerebral infections in these patients including evidence evaluation of efficacy of treatment.

DOI: 10.1080/10428190802517740