PCR fingerprinting and multilocus sequence typing were applied to determine the major molecular types of the Cryptococcus neoformans/Cryptococcus gattii species complex in the Republic of Korea. Of the 78 strains isolated from patients diagnosed with cryptococcosis between 1990 and 2008, 96% were C. neoformans serotype A, mating type MATalpha and molecular type VNI. The remaining 4% were C. gattii, serotype B, mating type MATalpha and either molecular type VGIIb or VGIII. Of the 62 strains with known HIV status, only 14 (22.6%) were isolated from HIV-positive patients and belonged to molecular type VNI. Remarkably, 93% of the C. neoformans isolates had identical PCR fingerprint profiles with the VNIc genotype that has been identified recently as the major genotype among C. neoformans strains in China. Most strains (81.8%) of the VNIc genotype were associated with non-HIV patients compared with strains of the non-VNIc genotype (20%) (P=0.009). Unlike the Chinese strains, a majority (60%) of the non-HIV patients infected with strains of the VNIc genotype in the Republic of Korea had serious underlying conditions, with cancer and liver disease being the most common. This study affirms VNIc to be the most prevalent genotype of C. neoformans isolated from non-HIV patients with cryptococcosis.
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