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The biology of pulmonary aspergillus infections.

[allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis]

Pulmonary aspergillus infections are mainly caused by Aspergillus fumigatus and can be classified based on clinical syndromes into saphrophytic infections, allergic disease and invasive disease. Invasive pulmonary aspergillosis, occurring in immunocompromised patients, reflects the most serious disease with a high case-fatality rate. Patients with cystic fibrosis and severe asthma might develop allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis, while saphrophytic infections are observed in patients with lung cavities mainly due to tuberculosis. Histopathologically, a differentiation can be made into angio-invasive and airway-invasive disease. If the host response is too weak or too strong, Aspergillus species are able to cause disease characterized either by damage from the fungus itself or through an exaggerated inflammatory response of the host, in both situations leading to overt disease associated with specific clinical signs and symptoms. The unraveling of the specific host - Aspergillus interaction has not been performed to a great extent and needs attention to improve the management of those clinical syndromes.