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Keywords:

  • Colonization;
  • immunocompromised host;
  • Pneumocystis jirovecii pneumonia;
  • real-time PCR;
  • β-d-glucan

Clin Microbiol Infect 2012; 18: 591–597

Abstract

We evaluated whether quantitative PCR (qPCR) and (1[RIGHTWARDS ARROW]3)-β-d-glucan assays could be used to differentiate Pneumocystis pneumonia (PCP) from Pneumocystis jirovecii colonization in immunocompromised patients with pulmonary infiltrates. A total of 40 bronchoalveolar lavage samples and 107 induced sputum samples from 147 patients who were suspected of having PCP were obtained for PCR detection of P. jirovecii. Diagnoses of definite PCP, probable PCP, pneumonia with P. jirovecii colonization (colonization) and pneumonia without colonization (non-colonization) were made in 11, 42, 15 and 60 patients, respectively. A PCP diagnosis was undetermined in 19 patients. The copy numbers, determined using qPCR, were significantly higher in definite PCP and probable PCP patients than in colonized patients. The area under the receiver-operating characteristic curve (AUC), sensitivity and specificity for discriminating definite PCP from colonization were 0.96, 100.0% and 80.0%, respectively, at a cut-off value of 1300 copies/mL. The values for discriminating probable PCP from colonization were 0.71, 66.7% and 73.3%, respectively, at a cut-off value of 340 copies/mL. β-d-glucan levels were significantly higher in patients with both definite PCP and probable PCP than in colonized patients. The AUC, sensitivity and specificity for discriminating definite PCP were 0.91, 100.0% and 80.0%, respectively, at a cut-off value of 15.6 pg/mL. The values for discriminating probable PCP were 0.78, 76.2% and 73.3%, respectively, at a cut-off value of 6.0 pg/mL. Both qPCR and the β-d-glucan assay displayed high accuracy for discriminating colonization from definite PCP and displayed moderate accuracy for discriminating colonization from probable PCP.