, Volume 71, Issue 18, pp 2405–2419 | Cite as

Triazole Antifungal Agents in Invasive Fungal Infections

A Comparative Review
  • Cornelia Lass-FlörlEmail author
Review Article


Invasive fungal disease continues to be a problem associated with significant morbidity and high mortality in immunocompromised and, to a lesser extent, immunocompetent individuals. Triazole antifungals have emerged as front-line drugs for the treatment and prophylaxis of many systemic mycoses.Fluconazole plays an excellent role in prophylaxis, empirical therapy, and the treatment of both superficial and invasive yeast fungal infections. Voriconazole is strongly recommended for pulmonary invasive aspergillosis. Posaconazole shows a very wide spectrum of activity and its primary clinical indications are as salvage therapy for patients with invasive aspergillosis and prophylaxis for patients with neutropenia and haematopoietic stem-cell transplant recipients. Itraconazole also has a role in the treatment of fungal skin and nail infections as well as dematiaceous fungi and endemic mycoses. Fluconazole and voriconazole are well absorbed and exhibit high oral bioavailability, whereas the oral bioavailability of itraconazole and posaconazole is lower and more variable. Posaconazole absorption depends on administration with a high-fat meal or nutritional supplements. Itraconazole and voriconazole undergo extensive hepatic metabolism involving the cytochrome P450 system. The therapeutic window for triazoles is narrow, and inattention to their pharmacokinetic properties can lead to drug levels too low for efficacy or too high for good tolerability or safety. This makes these agents prime candidates for therapeutic drug monitoring (TDM). Target drug concentrations for voriconazole and itraconazole should be >1 μg/mL and for posaconazole >1.5 mg/mL for treatment. Blood should be drawn once the patient reaches steady state, which occurs after 5 and 7 days of triazole therapy. Routine TDM of fluconazole is not required given its highly favourable pharmacokinetic profile and wide therapeutic index. The aim of this review is to provide a brief update on the pharmacology, activity, clinical efficacy, safety and cost of triazole agents (itraconazole, fluconazole, voriconazole and posaconazole) and highlight the clinical implications of similarities and differences.


Fluconazole Triazole Itraconazole Voriconazole Aspergillosis 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



No sources of funding were used in the preparation of this review. In the past 5 years, the author has received grant support from the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) P174840, MFF Tirol, Astellas Pharma, Gilead Sciences, Pfizer, Schering Plough and Merck Sharp and Dohme. She has been an advisor/consultant to Gilead Sciences, Merck Sharp and Dohme, Pfizer and Schering Plough. She has been paid for talks on behalf of Gilead Sciences, Merck Sharp and Dohme, Pfizer, Astellas Pharma and Schering Plough.


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© Adis Data Information BV 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Hygiene and Medical MicrobiologyInnsbruck Medical UniversityInnsbruckAustria

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