Fungal Sensitization Is Associated with Increased Risk of Life-Threatening Asthma

Sarah K. Medrek, Christina C. Kao, Danny H. Yang, Nicola A. Hanania, Amit D. Parulekar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Background Fungal sensitization in patients with asthma has been associated with severe asthma and worse asthma outcomes. Objective The purpose of this study was to determine the relationship between fungal and nonfungal sensitization, asthma severity, and clinical outcomes. Methods A retrospective review of patients with asthma evaluated in an urban pulmonary subspecialty clinic in the United States was performed. Patients with fungal and nonfungal allergen sensitization were identified based on serum-specific immunoglobulin E (sIgE) testing. Demographic, clinical, laboratory, and spirometric data were obtained. The relationship between fungal sensitization and asthma outcomes was examined. Results Of 390 patients with asthma identified, 307 had sIgE testing, of whom 53 (17.3%) had fungal sensitization, 117 (38.1%) had nonfungal sensitization, and 137 (44.6%) had no sensitization. Patients with fungal sensitization were more likely to be sensitized to ≥5 allergens than patients with nonfungal sensitization (66% for fungal vs 29% for nonfungal, P <.001). Serum IgE concentrations were highest in patients with fungal sensitization compared with patients with no sensitization or nonfungal sensitization (median, 825, 42, and 203 IU/mL, respectively, P <.001). Fungal sensitized patients were more likely to require intensive care unit (ICU) admission and mechanical ventilation than those with no sensitization or nonfungal sensitization (13.2%, 3.7%, and 3.4%, respectively, for ICU admission, P =.02; 11.3%, 1.5%, and 0.9%, respectively, for ventilation, P <.001). Conclusions Fungal sensitization is common in patients with asthma in an urban setting and is associated with greater sensitization to nonfungal allergens and increased risk of life-threatening asthma.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1025-1031.e2
JournalJournal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Allergens
  • Atopy
  • Serum-specific immunoglobulin E
  • Severe asthma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy


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