From the Journals

Ibrutinib linked to invasive fungal infections



The tyrosine kinase inhibitor ibrutinib (Imbruvica) may be associated with early-onset invasive fungal infections (IFI) in patients with hematologic malignancies, investigators caution.

French investigators identified 33 cases of invasive fungal infections occurring among patients who had been treated with ibrutinib as monotherapy or in combination with other agents. Of the 33 cases, 27 were invasive aspergillosis, and 40% of these were localized in the central nervous system. The findings were published in the journal Blood.

“IFI tend to occur within the first months of treatment and are infrequent thereafter. Whilst it seems difficult at this point to advocate for systematic antifungal prophylaxis in all patients, an increased awareness about the potential risk of IFI after initiating ibrutinib is warranted, especially when other predisposing factors are associated,” wrote David Ghez, MD, PhD, and colleagues at the Gustave Roussy Institute in Villejuif and other centers in France.

Although ibrutinib, an inhibitor of Bruton’s tyrosine kinase, is generally considered to be less immunosuppressive than other therapies, it was associated with five cases of Pneumocystis jirovecii pneumonia in patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) treated with ibrutinib monotherapy in a 2016 report (Blood. 2016;128:1940-3). Of these five patients, four were treatment naive, suggesting that ibrutinib itself could increase risk for invasive opportunistic infections, Dr. Ghez and his colleagues noted.


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