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Open Access Highly Accessed Open Badges Research article

Fluorescence of fungi in superficial and deep fungal infections

Dirk M Elston

Author Affiliations

Department of Dermatology, Brooke Army Medical Center, Ft. Sam, Houston, Texas 78234, USA

BMC Microbiology 2001, 1:21  doi:10.1186/1471-2180-1-21

Published: 24 September 2001



Fluorescence of many fungi is noted when H&E stained sections are examined under a fluorescent microscope. In theory, this phenomenon could aid in the diagnosis of cutaneous and disseminated fungal infections without the delay associated with special stains. Seventy-six cases of superficial and deep fungal infections and 3 cases of protothecosis were studied to determine the clinical usefulness of this technique.


In most cases, fluorescence was noted, but was not intense. Fluorescence of fungi did not correlate with the age of the specimen. In most cases, organisms in H&E stained sections were more easily identified with routine light microscopy than with fluorescent microscopy.


This report suggests that in H&E stained skin specimens, fluorescent microscopy is of little benefit in the identification of fungal organisms.