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Weight loss and diabetes are new risk factor for the development of invasive aspergillosis infection in non-immunocompromized humans

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Well-established risk factors for aspergillosis include HIV, cancer, recent corticosteroid (prednisone) therapy, chemotherapy, or thoracic surgery. Non-established risk factors may include weight loss and a history of diabetes. Twenty-three patients without the classical risk factors for IA were identified retrospectively at Harbor UCLA Medical Center by discharge diagnosis over a 20 year period (1992-2012). None of the well-known risk factors are for Invasive Apergillious (IA). A history of weight loss was seen in 66% of the patients with IA (15 of 23). The weight loss ranged from 3.3 lbs to 43 lbs. In patients with weight loss the average loss was 22±3 lbs (mean±SEM). In this small group of patients with IA, diabetes was seen in 8 of the 23 (34%), which is significantly higher than the 19% incidence of diabetes seen in 100 patients with severe sepsis (p<0.05). Likewise, the 34% incidence of diabetes was higher than the 21% incidence reported in immunocompromised patients with invasive aspergillus (IA) infection (p<0.05). A reduced serum albumin concentration was seen in 33% of the study patients, which was less common than the 87% incidence seen in patients with severe sepsis or candidaemia (54%). Seventeen of the 23 patients had pulmonary involvement. While no one had a well-established risk factor for aspergillious, four patients had alcoholism as a potential risk factor. Eleven of the 23 (48%) died during the hospital stay despite antifungal therapy. Immunocompromised patients are known to have a mortality rate of approximately 45% for pulmonary or disseminated disease.


The incidence of diabetes was greater than seen in immunocompromised patients and may be considered an additional risk factor for the development of aspergillois infection. In addition, a history of weight loss should increase the suspicion for the diagnosis of IA in otherwise a non-immunocompromised patient. Early recognition and treatment of aspergillosis in the non-immunocompromised patient may improve outcome. Weight loss and diabetes should be added to the list of well-known risk factors for invasive aspergillosis and its high mortality rate.

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