Sci Rep. 2021 Mar 24;11(1):6808. doi: 10.1038/s41598-021-86038-z.
Aspergillus species are emerging causative agents of non-dermatophyte mold onychomycosis. In this study, 48 Aspergillus isolates were obtained from patients with onychomycosis in Mashhad, Iran, during 2015-2018. The aim is to identify the Aspergillus isolates to the species level by using partial calmodulin and beta-tubulin gene sequencing and MALDI-TOF MS, and to evaluate their in vitro susceptibility to ten antifungal drugs: terbinafine, itraconazole, voriconazole, posaconazole, ravuconazole, isavuconazole, caspofungin, micafungin, anidulafungin and amphotericin B according to CLSI M38-A3. Our results indicate that A.flavus (n = 38, 79%) is the most common Aspergillus species causing onychomycosis in Mashhad, Iran. Other detected species were A. terreus (n = 3), A. tubingensis (n = 2), A. niger (n = 1), A. welwitschiae (n = 1), A. minisclerotigenes (n = 1), A. citrinoterreus (n = 1) and A. ochraceus (n = 1). Aspergillus flavus, A. terreus and A. niger isolates were correctly identified at the species level by MALDI-TOF MS, while all cryptic species were misidentified. In conclusion, A. flavus is the predominant Aspergillus species causing onychomycosis due to Aspergillus spp. in Mashhad, Iran. MALDI-TOF MS holds promise as a fast and accurate identification tool, particularly for common Aspergillus species. It is important that the current database of reference spectra, representing different Aspergillus species is expanded to increase the precision of the species-level identification. Terbinafine, posaconazole and echinocandins were in vitro most active against the studies Aspergillus isolates and terbinafine could be the first choice for treatment of onychomycosis due to Aspergillus.