Allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis

Allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis

Name = Allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis| DiseasesDB =
ICD10 =
ICD9 = ICD9|518.6
OMIM = 103920
MedlinePlus = 000070
eMedicineSubj =
eMedicineTopic =
eMedicine_mult = eMedicine2|radio|55
MeshID = D001229
In medicine, allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis (ABPA) is a condition characterised by an exaggerated response of the immune system (a hypersensitivity response) to the fungus "Aspergillus" (most commonly "Aspergillus fumigatus"). It occurs most often in patients with asthma or cystic fibrosis. "Aspergillus" spores are ubiquitous in soil and are commonly found in the sputum of healthy individuals. "A. fumigatus" is responsible for a spectrum of lung diseases known as aspergilloses.

ABPA causes airway inflammation which can ultimately be complicated by sacs of the airways (bronchiectasis). The disease may cause airway constriction (bronchospasm). Besides asthma and cystic fibrosis, ABPA can also resemble other conditions such as eosinophilic pneumonia.

The exact criteria for the diagnosis of ABPA are not agreed upon. Chest X-rays and CT scans, raised blood levels of IgE and eosinophils, immunological tests for "Aspergillus" together with sputum staining and sputum cultures can be useful. Biopsies are rarely needed. Treatment consists of corticosteroids and antifungal medications.


Patients with allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis often have symptoms of poorly controlled asthma, with wheezing, cough, shortness of breath and exercise intolerance. They also have symptoms reminding of bronchiectasis, such as chronic sputum production, coughing up brownish mucoid plugs or even blood (the latter is called hemoptysis), and recurrent infections (with fever and malaise). However, since the infiltrates in ABPA indicate eosinophilic pneumonia, they do not respond to treatment with antibiotics. There may be unexplained worsening of asthma or cystic fibrosis.


A full blood count usually reveals eosinophilia more than 10% and there is a raised serum IgE more than 1000ng/ml.

"Chest radiography" shows various transient abnormalities:
*consolidation, infiltrates or collapse
*thickened bronchial wall markings
*peripheral shadows
*signs of bronchiectasis, typically in a central location

"Aspergillus specific tests":
*precipitating antibodies to aspergillus species in >90% of cases
*aspergillus-specific IgE RAST test
*skin-prick test is almost always positive to Aspergillus fumigatus

Fungal hyphae may be seen in the sputum.


The aim of treatment is to suppress the immune reaction to the fungus and to control bronchospasm.

The immune reaction is suppressed using oral corticosteroids:
*a high dose of prednisolone or prednisone (30 to 45 mg per day) in acute attacks
*a lower maintenance dose (5-10 mg per day)

Mucus plugs may be removed by bronchoscopic aspiration. It is almost impossible to eradicate the fungus but sometimes itraconazole (an anti-fungal) is used in combination with steroid therapy. Regular monitoring of the condition includes chest x-rays, pulmonary function tests, and serum IgE. The antibody levels usually fall as the disease is controlled, but they may rise again as an early sign of flare-ups.

The Aspergillus Website (non-profit) has full details on the treatment of ABPA in its [ Treatment Section] .


Estimating the prevalence of ABPA has been made difficult by lack of uniform diagnostic criteria and standardised tests. It usually occurs as a complication of other chronic lung disease, in particular asthma or cystic fibrosis. It is estimated that ABPA may be present in between 0.5 and 2% of all asthma patients, and in between 1 and 15% of cystic fibrosis patients.cite journal |author=Stevens DA, Moss RB, Kurup VP, "et al" |title=Allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis in cystic fibrosis--state of the art: Cystic Fibrosis Foundation Consensus Conference |journal=Clin. Infect. Dis. |volume=37 Suppl 3 |issue= |pages=S225–64 |year=2003 |month=October |pmid=12975753 |doi= |url=]

Disease mechanism

For an unknown reason, patients with allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis develop a hypersensitivity response, both a type I response (atopic, with formation of immunoglobulin E or IgE) and a type III hypersensitivity response (with formation of immunoglobulin G or IgG). The reaction of immunoglobulin E with Aspergillus antigens results in mast cell degranulation with bronchoconstriction and increased capillary permeability. Immune complexes (a type III reaction) and inflammatory cells are then deposited within the mucous membranes of the airways, leading to necrosis (tissue death) and an eosinophilic infiltrate. Type 2 T helper cells secreting interleukin 4 and interleukin 5, and attraction of neutrophils by interleukin 8 seem to play an important role.

In spite of this pronounced immune reaction, the fungus is not cleared from the airways. The subsequent damage to the bronchial wall caused by proteolytic enzymes released by the immune cells and toxins released by the fungi results in bronchiectasis, most pronounced in the central parts of the airways. Repeated acute episodes left untreated can result in progressive pulmonary fibrosis that is often seen in the upper zones and can give rise to a similar radiological appearance to that produced by tuberculosis.

This model explains the main features of episodic bronchospasm, increased mucus production and plugging of distal airways, leading to their collapse and subsequent bronchiectasis.

Patient Support

The charity funded [ Aspergillus Website] provides patient support at [ Patients Website] and a highly active support group at [ Aspergillus Support] .


*cite book | last = Kumar | first = Parveen | title = Clinical Medicine | publisher = W.B. Saunders | location = Philadelphia | year = 1998 | isbn = 0702020192
*cite book | last = Longmore | first = Murray | title = Oxford Handbook of Clinical Medicine | publisher = Oxford University Press | location = Oxford Oxfordshire | year = 2004 | isbn = 0198525583
*cite journal |author=Greenberger PA, Patterson R |title=Allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis and the evaluation of the patient with asthma |journal=J. Allergy Clin. Immunol. |volume=81 |issue=4 |pages=646-50 |year=1988 |pmid=3356845
*V.P.Kurup, B.Banerjee, P.A.Greenberger, J.N.Fink. "Allergic Bronchopulmonary Aspergillosis: Challenges in Diagnosis". From Medscape General Medicine. [ full text]


External links

* [ Allergic Bronchopulmonary Aspergillosis] - GP Notebook
* [ Allergic Bronchopulmonary Aspergillosis] - The Merck Manuals Online Medical Library
* [ Medpix. ABPA radiology pictures]
* [ The Aspergillus Website Treatment Section.]
* [ Aspergillus] - Aspergillus Website (Diagnosis, Treatment, Cases, Images, Educational video)
* [ Aspergillus Patients Support] - Aspergillus Patients (Questions & Answers, Support Group)

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis — bronchopulmonary a. accompanied by allergic (immunologic) symptoms in the bronchi, often with expectoration of yellow or brown bronchial plugs composed of eosinophils and fungal hyphae. It is frequently seen in patients with asthma or cystic… …   Medical dictionary

  • Aspergillosis — Classification and external resources Histopathologic image of pulmonary invasive aspergillosis in a patient with interstitial pneumonia. Autopsy material. Grocott s methenamine silver stain …   Wikipedia

  • Allergic conjunctivitis — Allergic eye disease Classification and external resources Allergic conjunctivitis ICD 9 372.14 …   Wikipedia

  • aspergillosis — /as peuhr jeuh loh sis/, n., pl. aspergilloses / seez/. an infection or disease caused by a mold of the genus Aspergillus, characterized by granulomatous lesions of the lungs, skin, etc. [1895 1900; < F aspergillose; see ASPERGILLUS, OSIS] * * *… …   Universalium

  • Aspergillosis — Infection with the fungus Aspergillus, seen especially in people with a deficient immune system. The clinical features of aspergillosis can include invasive lung infection and disseminated disease, usually with fever, cough, spitting up blood,… …   Medical dictionary

  • bronchopneumonic aspergillosis — bronchopulmonary aspergillosis infection of the bronchi and lungs by species of Aspergillus; subtypes include allergic bronchopulmonary a., chronic necrotizing a., invasive a., and aspergilloma. Called also bronchoaspergillosis …   Medical dictionary

  • Hypersensitivity pneumonitis — Classification and external resources Micrograph of hypersensitivity pneumonitis. Lung biopsy. Trichrome stain …   Wikipedia

  • ABPA — Aspergillose bronchopulmonaire L aspergillose bronchopulmonaire, ou aspergillose bronchopulmonaire allergique, est une réponse allergique au champignon Aspergillus fumigatus, dont les spores se déposent sur le sol et se trouvent souvent dans les… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Aspergillose Bronchopulmonaire — L aspergillose bronchopulmonaire, ou aspergillose bronchopulmonaire allergique, est une réponse allergique au champignon Aspergillus fumigatus, dont les spores se déposent sur le sol et se trouvent souvent dans les glaires humaines. A. fumigatus… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Aspergillose bronchopulmonaire — L aspergillose bronchopulmonaire, ou aspergillose bronchopulmonaire allergique, est une réponse allergique au champignon Aspergillus fumigatus, dont les spores se déposent sur le sol et se trouvent souvent dans les glaires humaines. A. fumigatus… …   Wikipédia en Français