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Keywords:

  • β-d-Glucan;
  • Pneumocystis jirovecii pneumonia;
  • prognosis

Clin Microbiol Infect 2011; 17: 595–602

Abstract

Pneumocystis jirovecii (carinii) pneumonia (PJP) is a major cause of disease in immunocompromised individuals. However, until recently no reliable and specific serological parameters for the diagnosis of PJP have been available. (1[RIGHTWARDS ARROW]3)-β-d-Glucan (BG) is a cell wall component of P. jirovecii and of various other fungi. Data from the past few years have pointed to serum measurement of BG as a promising new tool for the diagnosis of PJP. We therefore conducted a retrospective study on 50 patients with PJP and 50 immunocompromised control patients to evaluate the diagnostic performance of serum BG measurement. Our results show an excellent diagnostic performance with a sensitivity of 98.0% and a specificity of 94%. While the positive predictive value was only 64.7%, the negative predictive value was 99.8% and therefore a negative BG result almost rules out PJP. BG levels were already strongly elevated in an average of 5 days and up to 21 days before microbiological diagnosis demonstrating that the diagnosis could have been confirmed earlier. BG levels at diagnosis and maximum BG levels during follow-up did not correlate with the outcome of patients or with the P. jirovecii burden in the lung as detected by Real-Time PCR. Therefore, absolute BG levels seem to be of no prognostic value. Altogether, BG is a reliable parameter for the diagnosis of PJP and could be used as a preliminary test for patients at risk before a bronchoalveolar lavage is performed.