Research Article| Volume 29, ISSUE 6, 104759, June 2020

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Central Nervous System Fungal Infection-Related Stroke: A Descriptive Study of Mold and Yeast-Associated Ischemic Stroke


      Objective: Central nervous system (CNS) ischemic events caused by fungal infections are rare, and clinical characteristics of these ischemic events are largely unknown. The objective of this manuscript is to highlight characteristics of fungal-related strokes and describe possible mechanistic differences between CNS mold and yeast infection-related strokes. Methods: We report a single-center retrospective case series of all adult patients who presented with concurrent CNS fungal infection and stroke between 2010 and 2018. Patients believed to have a stroke etiology due to cardioembolic, atheroembolic, or strokes nontemporally associated with a CNS fungal infection and those with incomplete stroke workups were excluded from analysis. Results: Fourteen patients were identified with ischemic stroke and concurrent CNS fungal infection without other known ischemic stroke etiology. Eight patients had a CNS yeast infection, and 6 had a CNS mold infection. All patients presented with recurrent or progressive stroke symptoms. Six patients were immune-compromised. Four patients admitted to intravenous drug use. All yeast infections were identified by cerebrospinal fluid culture or immunologic studies while all but one of the mold infections required identification by tissue biopsy. Leptomeningeal enhancement was only associated with CNS yeast infections, while basal ganglia stroke was only associated with CNS mold infections. Conclusion: Ischemic stroke secondary to CNS fungal infections should be considered in patients with recurrent or progressive cryptogenic stroke, regardless of immune status and cerebrospinal fluid profile. CNS yeast and mold infections have slightly different stroke and laboratory characteristics and should have a distinct diagnostic method. Depending on clinical suspicion, a thorough diagnostic approach including spinal fluid analysis and biopsy should be considered.

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