During the past 30 years, major advances have been made in our understanding of HIV/AIDS and Pneumocystis pneumonia (PCP), but significant gaps remain. Pneumocystis is classified as a fungus and is host-species specific, but an understanding of its reservoir, mode of transmission, and pathogenesis is incomplete. PCP remains a frequent AIDS-defining diagnosis and is a frequent opportunistic pneumonia in the United States and in Europe, but comparable epidemiologic data from other areas of the world that are burdened with HIV/AIDS are limited. Pneumocystis cannot be cultured, and bronchoscopy with bronchoalveolar lavage is the gold standard procedure to diagnose PCP, but noninvasive diagnostic tests and biomarkers show promise that must be validated. Trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole is the recommended first-line treatment and prophylaxis regimen, but putative trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole drug resistance is an emerging concern. The International HIV-associated Opportunistic Pneumonias (IHOP) study was established to address these knowledge gaps. This review describes recent advances in the pathogenesis, epidemiology, diagnosis, and management of HIV-associated PCP and ongoing areas of clinical and translational research that are part of the IHOP study and the Longitudinal Studies of HIV-associated Lung Infections and Complications (Lung HIV).
acquired immune deficiency syndrome; HIV; Pneumocystis; Pneumocystis pneumonia; dihydropteroate synthase
To characterize the seroepidemiological features of Pneumocystis jirovecii infection in healthy Chilean children using overlapping fragments (A, B, C) of the P. jirovecii major surface glycoprotein (Msg).
Serum antibodies to MsgA, MsgB, and MsgC were measured every 2 months by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) in 45 Chilean infants from about age 2 months to 2 years.
Peak antibody levels (usually reached at age 6 months) and the force (or rate) of infection were somewhat greater for MsgC than for MsgA. Significant seasonal variation in antibody levels was only found with MsgA. Respiratory infections occurred in most children, but nasopharyngeal aspirates were of limited value in detecting the organism. In contrast, serological responses commonly occurred, and higher levels only to MsgC were significantly related to the number of infections.
Serological responses to recombinant Msg fragments provide new insights into the epidemiological and clinical features of P. jirovecii infection of early childhood. MsgA, the amino terminus fragment, is more sensitive in detecting seasonal influences on antibody levels, whereas MsgC is better able to detect changes in antibody levels in response to clinical infection.
Serological responses; Pneumocystis; Major surface glycoprotein (Msg); Children
Serologic studies can provide important insights into the epidemiology and transmission of Pneumocystis jirovecii. Exposure to P. jirovecii can be assessed by serum antibody responses to recombinant antigens from the major surface glycoprotein (MsgC), although factors that influence the magnitude of the antibody response are incompletely understood. We determined the magnitudes of antibody responses to P. jirovecii in comparison to adenovirus and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) in HIV-infected and uninfected patients and identified predictors associated with the magnitude of the response. We performed a cross-sectional analysis using serum samples and data from 153 HIV-positive and 92 HIV-negative subjects enrolled in a feasibility study of the Veterans Aging Cohort 5 Site Study (VACS 5). Antibodies were measured using an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Independent predictors of antibody responses were determined using multivariate Tobit regression models. The results showed that serum antibody responses to P. jirovecii MsgC fragments were significantly and independently decreased in current smokers. Antibodies to P. jirovecii also tended to be lower with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), hazardous alcohol use, injection drug use, and HIV infection, although these results were not statistically significant. These results were specific to P. jirovecii and did not correlate with adenovirus. Antibody responses to RSV were in the inverse direction. Thus, current smoking was independently associated with decreased P. jirovecii antibody responses. Whether smoking exerts an immunosuppressive effect that affects the P. jirovecii antibody response, colonization, or subsequent risk for disease is unclear; prospective, longitudinal studies are needed to evaluate these findings further.
Cameroon lacks the capacity for routine Pneumocystis pneumonia (PcP) diagnosis thus, the prevalence of Cameroonian exposure to this microbe is unknown. It is known that Pneumocystis infecting different mammalian host species represent diverse phylogenetic backgrounds and are now designated as separate species. The highly sensitive nature of ELISA and the specificity afforded by using human-derived P. jirovecii Msg peptides has been shown to be useful for serological analysis of human sera. Thus, sera from patients in Yaoundé, the capital city of Cameroon, were analyzed for anti-P. jirovecii antibodies by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) using three recombinant major surface glycoprotein (Msg) peptide fragments, MsgA1, MsgB, and MsgC1. Based on serum recognition of one or more of the three fragments, 82% of the total samples analyzed was positive for antibodies to P. jirovecii Msg, indicating high prevalence of P. jirovecii infection or colonization among Cameroonians. Different Msg fragments appear to be recognized more frequently by sera from different geographic regions of the globe. Antibodies in the Cameroonian serum samples recognized MsgA>MsgC>MsgB, suggesting that different P. jirovecii strains exist in different parts of the world and/or human populations differ in their response to P. jirovecii. Also, HIV+ patients diagnosed with respiratory infections (such as TB and pneumonia) and maintained on trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazol prophylaxis had relatively lower anti-Msg titers. Whether PcP prophylaxis has significant effects on the quality of life among HIV+ patients in Cameroon warrants further investigation.
glycoprotein (Msg); recombinant protein; serology; sub-Sahara Africa
We examined the effects of surfactant protein A (SP-A), a collectin, on the interaction of Pneumocystis murina with its host at the beginning, early to middle, and late stages of infection. Pneumocystis murina from SP-A wild-type (WT) mice inoculated intractracheally into WT mice (WTS-WTR) adhered well to alveolar macrophages, whereas organisms from SP-A KO mice inoculated into KO mice (KOS-KOR) did not. Substitution of WT mice as the source of organisms (WTS-KOR) or recipient host macrophages (KOS-WTR) restored adherence to that found with WTS-WTR mice. In contrast, when immunosuppressed KO and WT mice were inoculated with P. murina from a homologous source (KOS-KOR, WTS-WTR) or heterologous source (WTS-KOR, KOS-WTR) and followed sequentially, WTS-KOR mice had the highest levels of infection at weeks 3 and 4; these mice also had the highest levels of the chemokine MIP-2 and neutrophils in lavage fluid at week 3. SP-A administered to immunosuppressed KOS-KOR mice with PCP for 8 weeks as a therapeutic agent failed to lower the organism burden. We conclude that SP-A can correct the host immune defect in the beginning of P. murina infection, but not in the middle or late stages of the infection.
Host; immune response; knock-out mice; Pneumocystis; pneumonia; SP-A
The immune responses to Pneumocystis jirovecii major surface glycoprotein (Msg) in individuals with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection are poorly understood.
We examined the sequential serologic responses to recombinant Msg carboxyl terminus fragments (MsgC1, MsgC3, MsgC8, and MsgC9) by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay in a cohort of individuals with HIV infection for the 5.5 years before death and autopsy. Analyses included mean antibody levels by status at death (Pneumocystis pneumonia, P. jirovecii colonization, or neither), factors associated with high antibody levels, and antibody responses before and after active Pneumocystis pneumonia.
Patients who died from Pneumocystis pneumonia had higher levels of antibody to MsgC8 than did patients who died from other causes. Previous episode of Pneumocystis pneumonia, geographic location, and age were independent predictors of high levels of anitbodies to most or all Msgs. Failure to take Pneumocystis pneumonia prophylaxis was associated with high levels of antibody to MsgC1. Patients who developed and recovered from active Pneumocystis pneumonia during the study exhibited an increase in serum antibody levels that persisted for months after the infection, whereas patients who developed another acquired immunodeficiency syndrome–defining illness did not.
Serum antibodies to Msgs are important markers of P. jirovecii infection in patients with HIV infection and are influenced by host and environmental factors in complex ways.
Humans may be a reservoir for this pathogen and transmit it from person to person.
The reservoir and mode of transmission of Pneumocystis jirovecii remain uncertain. We conducted a cross-sectional study of 126 San Francisco General Hospital staff in clinical (n = 103) and nonclinical (n = 23) occupations to assess whether occupational exposure was associated with immune responses to P. jirovecii. We examined antibody levels by ELISA for 3 overlapping fragments that span the P. jirovecii major surface glycoprotein (Msg): MsgA, MsgB, and MsgC1. Clinical occupation participants had higher geometric mean antibody levels to MsgC1 than did nonclinical occupation participants (21.1 vs. 8.2, p = 0.004); clinical occupation was an independent predictor of higher MsgC1 antibody levels (parameter estimate = 0.89, 95% confidence interval 0.29–1.48, p = 0.003). In contrast, occupation was not significantly associated with antibody responses to either MsgA or MsgB. Healthcare workers may have occupational exposure to P. jirovecii. Humans may be a reservoir for P. jirovecii and may transmit it from person to person.
Pneumocystis; health personnel; HIV/AIDS and other retroviruses; opportunistic infections; antibodies; fungal; fungi; serologic tests; research
Pneumocystis jirovecii pneumonia (PCP) remains the leading cause of opportunistic infection among human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)–infected persons. Previous studies of PCP that identified case-fatality risk factors involved small numbers of patients, were performed over few years, and often focused on patients who were admitted to the intensive care unit.
The objective of this study was to identify case-fatality risk factors present at or soon after hospitalization among adult HIV-infected patients admitted to University College London Hospitals (London, United Kingdom) from June 1985 through June 2006.
Patients and Methods
We performed a review of case notes for 494 consecutive patients with 547 episodes of laboratory-confirmed PCP.
Overall mortality was 13.5%. Mortality was 10.1% for the period from 1985 through 1989, 16.9% for the period from 1990 through June 1996, and 9.7% for the period from July 1996 through 2006 (P = .142). Multivariate analysis identified factors associated with risk of death, including increasing patient age (adjusted odds ratio [AOR], 1.54; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.11–2.23; P = .011), subsequent episode of PCP (AOR, 2.27; 95% CI, 1.14–4.52; P = .019), low hemoglobin level at hospital admission (AOR, 0.70; 95% CI, 0.60–0.83; P < .001), low partial pressure of oxygen breathing room air at hospital admission (AOR, 0.70; 95% CI, 0.60–0.81; P < .001), presence of medical comorbidity (AOR, 3.93; 95% CI, 1.77–8.72; P = .001), and pulmonary Kaposi sarcoma (AOR, 6.95; 95% CI, 2.26–21.37; P =.001). Patients with a first episode of PCP were sicker (mean partial pressure of oxygen at admission ± standard deviation, 9.3 ± 2.0 kPa) than those with a second or third episode of PCP (mean partial pressure of oxygen at admission ± standard deviation, 9.9 ± 1.9 kPa; P =.008), but mortality among patients with a first episode of PCP (12.5%) was lower than mortality among patients with subsequent episodes of PCP (22.5%) (P = .019). No patient was receiving highly active antiretroviral therapy before presentation with PCP, and none began highly active antiretroviral therapy during treatment of PCP.
Mortality risk factors for PCP were identifiable at or soon after hospitalization. The trend towards improved outcome after June 1996 occurred in the absence of highly active antiretroviral therapy.
Pneumocystis spp. are opportunistic pathogens that cause pneumonia in immunocompromised humans and animals. Pneumocystis colonization has also been detected in immunocompetent hosts and may exacerbate other pulmonary diseases. Surfactant protein A (SP-A) is an innate host defense molecule and plays a role in the host response to Pneumocystis.
To analyze the role of SP-A in protecting the immunocompetent host from Pneumocystis colonization, the susceptibility of immunocompetent mice deficient in SP-A (KO) and wild-type (WT) mice to P. murina colonization was analyzed by reverse-transcriptase quantitative PCR (qPCR) and serum antibodies were measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA).
Detection of P. murina specific serum antibodies in immunocompetent WT and KO mice indicated that the both strains of mice had been exposed to P. murina within the animal facility. However, P. murina mRNA was only detected by qPCR in the lungs of the KO mice. The incidence and level of the mRNA expression peaked at 8–10 weeks and declined to undetectable levels by 16–18 weeks. When the mice were immunosuppressed, P. murina cyst forms were also only detected in KO mice. P. murina mRNA was detected in SCID mice that had been exposed to KO mice, demonstrating that the immunocompetent KO mice are capable of transmitting the infection to immunodeficient mice. The pulmonary cellular response appeared to be responsible for the clearance of the colonization. More CD4+ and CD8+ T-cells were recovered from the lungs of immunocompetent KO mice than from WT mice, and the colonization in KO mice depleted CD4+ cells was not cleared.
These data support an important role for SP-A in protecting the immunocompetent host from P. murina colonization, and provide a model to study Pneumocystis colonization acquired via environmental exposure in humans. The results also illustrate the difficulties in keeping mice from exposure to P. murina even when housed under barrier conditions.
Bisbenzamidines, such as pentamidine isethionate, are aromatic dicationic compounds that are active against Pneumocystis and other microbes but are oftentimes toxic to the host. To identify potential anti-Pneumocystis agents, we synthesized bisbenzamidine derivatives in which the parent compound pentamidine was modified by a 1,4-piperazinediyl, alkanediamide, or 1,3-phenylenediamide moiety as the central linker. Several of the compounds were more active against P. carinii and less toxic than pentamidine in cytotoxicity assays. For this study, we evaluated nine bisbenzamidine derivatives representing a range of in vitro activities, from highly active to inactive, for the treatment of pneumocystosis in an immunosuppressed mouse model. Six of these in vitro-active compounds, 01, 02, 04, 06, 100, and 101, exhibited marked efficacies against infection at a dose of 10 mg/kg of body weight, and four compounds, 01, 04, 100, and 101, showed significant increases in survival versus that of untreated infected control mice. Compound 100 was highly efficacious against the infection at 20 mg/kg and 40 mg/kg, with >1,000-fold reductions in burden, and resulted in improved survival curves versus those for pentamidine-treated mice (at the same doses). All six bisbenzamidine compounds that exhibited high in vitro activity significantly decreased the infection in vivo; two compounds, 12 and 102, with marked to moderate in vitro activities had slight or no activity in vivo, while compound 31 was inactive in vitro and was also inactive in vivo. Thus, the selection of highly active compounds from in vitro cytotoxicity assays was predictive of activity in the mouse model of Pneumocystis pneumonia. We conclude that a number of these bisbenzamidine compounds, especially compound 100, may show promise as new anti-Pneumocystis drugs.
We conducted a prospective pilot study of the serologic responses to overlapping recombinant fragments of the Pneumocystis jirovecii major surface glycoprotein (Msg) in HIV-infected patients with pneumonia due to P. jirovecii and other causes. Similar baseline geometric mean antibody levels to the fragments measured by an ELISA were found in both groups. Serum antibodies to MsgC in P. jirovecii patients rose to a peak level 3–4 weeks (p<0.001) after recovery from pneumocystosis; baseline CD4+ count >50 cells/μL and first episode of pneumocystosis were the principal host factors associated with this rise (both p<0.001). Thus, MsgC shows promise as a serologic reagent and should be tested further in clinical and epidemiologic studies.
Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV); Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS); Pneumocystis pneumonia; Pneumocystis jirovecii; Recombinant antigens; Major surface glycoprotein (Msg); Serum antibody responses; Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA); CD4+ cells; First episode pneumocystosis
Trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole and pentamidine isethionate have been used extensively for the prophylaxis and therapy of pneumonia caused by Pneumocystis jirovecii. Problems associated with toxicity and potential emerging resistance for both therapies necessitate the development of safe and effective analogs or new treatment strategies. In the present study, a library of 36 compounds was synthesized by using the pentamidine molecule as the parent compound modified by a 1,4-piperazinediyl moiety as the central linker to restrict conformation flexibility. The compounds were evaluated for anti-Pneumocystis carinii activity in a bioluminescent ATP-driven assay. Four of the compounds were highly active, with 50% inhibitory concentration (IC50) values of <0.01 μg/ml; four had very marked activity (IC50 < 0.10 μg/ml); ten had marked activity (IC50 < 1.0 μg/ml); nine had moderate activity (IC50 < 10 μg/ml); one had slight activity (IC50 = 34.1 μg/ml); and the remaining eight did not demonstrate activity in this assay system. The high level of activity was specifically associated with an alkyl chain length of five to six carbons attached to one of the nitrogens of the bisamidinium groups. None of the highly active compounds and only one of the very marked compounds exhibited any toxicity when evaluated in three mammalian cell lines. The strategy of substitution of 1,4-piperazine-linked bisbenzamidines produced compounds with the highest level of activity observed in the ATP assay and holds great promise for the development of efficacious anti-P. carinii therapy.
Changes in incidence of PCP, groups at risk for PCP, and possible trends in the disease are discussed.
Pneumocystis pneumonia (PCP) has historically been one of the leading causes of disease among persons with AIDS. The introduction of highly active antiretroviral therapy in industrialized nations has brought about dramatic declines in the incidence of AIDS-associated complications, including PCP. In the adult population, the incidence of PCP has significantly decreased, but it remains among the most common AIDS-defining infections. Similar declines have been documented in the pediatric population. In much of the developing world, PCP remains a significant health problem, although its incidence among adults in sub-Saharan Africa has been debated. This review discusses the epidemiology of PCP during the current era of the AIDS epidemic. Although fewer cases of PCP occur in industrialized countries, increasing drug-resistant HIV infections, possible drug-resistant PCP, and the tremendous number of AIDS cases in developing countries make this disease of continued public health importance.
Pneumocystis jirovecii; Pneumocystis pneumonia; PCP; epidemiology; HIV; highly active antiretroviral therapy; perspective
Seroepidemiologic studies of Pneumocystis pneumonia (PCP) in humans have been limited by inadequate reagents. We have developed an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) using three overlapping recombinant fragments of the human Pneumocystis major surface glycoprotein (MsgA, MsgB, and MsgC) for analysis of antibody responses in HIV-positive patients and healthy blood donors. HIV-positive patients had significantly higher antibody levels to all Msg fragments. Furthermore, HIV-positive patients who experienced a previous episode of PCP (PCP-positive) had higher level of antibodies to MsgC than patients who never had PCP. A significant association was found between ELISA antibody level and reactivity by Western blot in HIV-positive patients, especially those who were PCP-positive. Thus, this ELISA will be useful in studying serum antibody responses to Pneumocystis in different human populations.
Pneumocystis; Major surface glycoprotein; Infection; ELISA; HIV patients; Serum antibodies
The immune response to the opportunistic pulmonary pathogen Pneumocystis can have beneficial and harmful effects on the host despite the presence of corticosteroids. We hypothesized that this deleterious hyperinflammatory response is associated with exaggerated cytokine production. The adoptive transfer of at least 107 immune splenocytes reduced the cyst count in rats with corticosteroid-induced pneumocystosis. About 18% of these rats developed clinical illness, an increased lung weight/body weight (LW/BW) ratio, and elevated levels of interleukin 1α (IL-1α), IL-1β, IL-6, tumor necrosis factor alpha, IL-5, IL-10, and gamma interferon in the lungs. This hyperinflammatory reaction was not observed in rats that remained clinically well or in control rats. Thus, in this model, corticosteroids have little effect on the cytokine cascade or other adverse effects of the host immune response to Pneumocystis.
The CD4+ T lymphocyte plays a central role in host defense against Pneumocystis pneumonia but has received only limited attention in rats. CD4+ T-cell-depleting (OX-38) and nondepleting (W3/25) monoclonal antibodies, which recognize an identical or adjacent epitope, were administered for up to 14 weeks to Lewis rats that had been exposed to Pneumocystis. While OX-38 produced a greater decrease in circulating CD4+ cells than W3/25, both antibody treatments resulted in similar effects on the health of the rats and the levels of Pneumocystis pneumonia, which were milder than those found with corticosteroids. W3/25 also did not enhance the severity of Pneumocystis pneumonia achieved with corticosteroids alone. We conclude that CD4+ cell function is more important than CD4+ cell number in host defense against Pneumocystis in the rat and that this new model permits study of opportunistic infections in the rat without the confounding effects of corticosteroids.
Terbinafine, an allylamine used to treat onychomycosis, has been reported to be active against rat Pneumocystis carinii in vitro and in vivo. By contrast, our in vitro data showed that the 50% inhibitory concentration of terbinafine against rat P. carinii is 3.7 μg/ml, a level that cannot be clinically achieved in serum. In the present study, terbinafine administered orally at doses of 20 to 400 mg/kg/day and 50 to 250 mg/kg/day was ineffective therapy for mouse and rat models of pneumocystosis, respectively. These results emphasize the complexities of P. carinii drug testing and the need for caution before considering studies in humans.
Quinupristin-dalfopristin (Q-D), which is active against bacteria and Toxoplasma gondii, was examined for its activity against Pneumocystis carinii. After 72 h of incubation with rat P. carinii in an ATP cytotoxicity assay, the 50% inhibitory concentration of Q-D was 10.6 μg/ml, a level that can be achieved in serum with high-dose administration. Q-D administered intraperitoneally at doses of 50 to 200 mg per kg of body weight per day in the treatment and 100 mg/kg/day three times per week in the prophylaxis of pneumocystosis in immunosuppressed mice reduced the organism burden up to 15- and 302-fold, respectively. We conclude that Q-D has activity against P. carinii in vitro and in vivo.
The major surface glycoprotein (MSG) of Pneumocystis carinii f. sp. carinii is a family of proteins encoded by a family of heterogeneous genes. Messenger RNAs encoding different MSGs each begin with the same 365-bp sequence, called the Upstream Conserved Sequence (UCS), which is in frame with the contiguous MSG sequence. The UCS contains several potential start sites for translation. To determine if translation of MSG mRNAs begins in the UCS, polyclonal antiserum was raised against the 123-amino-acid peptide encoded by the UCS. The anti-UCS serum reacted with a P. carinii protein that migrated at 170 kDa; however, it did not react with the mature MSG protein, which migrates at 116 kDa. A 170-kDa protein was immunoprecipitated with anti-UCS serum and shown to react with a monoclonal antibody against a conserved MSG epitope. To explore the functional role of the UCS in the trafficking of MSG, the nucleotide sequence encoding the UCS peptide was ligated to the 5′ end of an MSG gene and incorporated into a recombinant baculovirus. Insect cells infected with the UCS-MSG hybrid gene expressed a 160-kDa protein which was N-glycosylated. By contrast, insect cells infected with a baculovirus carrying an MSG gene lacking the UCS expressed a nonglycosylated 130-kDa protein. These data suggest that in P. carinii, translation begins in the UCS to produce a pre-MSG protein, which is subsequently directed to the endoplasmic reticulum and processed to the mature form by proteolytic cleavage.
The major surface glycoprotein (MSG) of Pneumocystis carinii f. sp. carinii consists of a heterogeneous family of proteins that are encoded by approximately 100 unique genes. A genomic expression library was screened with a panel of MSG-specific monoclonal antibodies (MAbs) to identify conserved and rare epitopes. All of the antibodies reacted with epitopes that are encoded within the 5′ end of MSG. The results from the expression screening identified antibodies that recognize highly conserved, moderately conserved, and rare epitopes. Four MAbs (MAbs RA-F1, RA-E7, RA-G10, and RB-E3) reacted with a maltose binding protein–MSG-B fusion protein (MBPMSG-B41–1065) by immunoblotting and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Three of the MAbs (MAbs RA-F1, RA-G10, and RA-E7) reacted with the same continuous epitope that was localized to amino acids 278 to 290 of MSG-B. Comparison of the sequence of the RA-F1-, RA-G10-, and RA-E7-reactive epitope to the deduced amino acid sequences of multiple MSGs demonstrated that it is highly conserved. The reactivity of RB-E3 with MSG-B was shown to be dependent on amino acids 184 to 192, which may comprise a portion of a discontinuous epitope.
Pneumocystis carinii was tightly attached to host alveolar type I cells, as judged by freeze-fracture electron microscopy. In contrast to other organisms studied by this technique, no changes in the cell membranes of P. carinii or the host cells could be demonstrated. These data suggest that P. carinii attaches in an unusual manner.
Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia was produced in rats by the administration of corticosteroids, low (8%) protein diet, and tetracycline in the drinking water. The rats were sacrificed at weekly intervals, and their lungs were examined by electron microscopy. For the first 6 weeks, few alterations were noted in host pulmonary tissue, except a close attachment of P. carinii trophozoites to the type I pneumocytes. At 7 to 8 weeks, when the infection reached the peak intensity on light microscopy, degenerative changes occurred in the type I pneumocyte, beginning with subepithelial bleb formation and followed by denudation of the basement membrane. This denuded surface appeared to be the site both of exudation of serum and tissue fluid into the alveolar space and of spread of P. carinii into the interstitium. There was hypertrophy of type II pneumocytes, which also occurred in uninfected control rats ingesting tetracyclines. With tapering of the corticosteroid dose, P. carinii was slowly cleared from the lungs, but latent infection persisted for at least 21 weeks. The host response to the corticosteroid dose tapering included increased prominence of alveolar macrophages and progressive interstitial lymphocytic infiltrate and fibrosis. Thus, P. carinii interacts with, and is associated with damage to, specific host cells. This interaction is important in the host-parasite relationship in this infection.
Little is known about the serologic responses to Pneumocystis jirovecii major surface glycoprotein (Msg) antigen in African cohorts, or the IgM responses to Msg in HIV-positive and HIV-negative persons with respiratory symptoms.
We conducted a prospective study of 550 patients, both HIV-positive (n = 467) and HIV-negative (n = 83), hospitalized with cough ≥2 weeks in Kampala, Uganda, to evaluate the association between HIV status, CD4 cell count, and other clinical predictors and antibody responses to P. jirovecii. We utilized ELISA to measure the IgM and IgG serologic responses to three overlapping recombinant fragments that span the P. jirovecii major surface glycoprotein: MsgA (amino terminus), MsgB (middle portion) and MsgC1 (carboxyl terminus), and to three variations of MsgC1 (MsgC3, MsgC8 and MsgC9).
HIV-positive patients demonstrated significantly lower IgM antibody responses to MsgC1, MsgC3, MsgC8 and MsgC9 compared to HIV-negative patients. We found the same pattern of low IgM antibody responses to MsgC1, MsgC3, MsgC8 and MsgC9 among HIV-positive patients with a CD4 cell count <200 cells/µl compared to those with a CD4 cell count ≥200 cells/µl. HIV-positive patients on PCP prophylaxis had significantly lower IgM responses to MsgC3 and MsgC9, and lower IgG responses to MsgA, MsgC1, MsgC3, and MsgC8. In contrast, cigarette smoking was associated with increased IgM antibody responses to MsgC1 and MsgC3 but was not associated with IgG responses. We evaluated IgM and IgG as predictors of mortality. Lower IgM responses to MsgC3 and MsgC8 were both associated with increased in-hospital mortality.
HIV infection and degree of immunosuppression are associated with reduced IgM responses to Msg. In addition, low IgM responses to MsgC3 and MsgC8 are associated with increased mortality.
Immune responses to Pneumocystis jirovecii are not well understood in HIV infection, but antibody responses to proteins may be useful as a marker of Pneumocystis risk or presence of Pneumocystis pneumonia (PcP).
Retrospective analysis of a prospective cohort
Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays of antibodies to recombinant Pneumocystis proteins of major surface glycoprotein fragments (MsgC1, C3, C8, and C9) and of antibody titers to recombinant kexin protein (KEX1) were performed on three sequential serum samples up to 18 months prior to and three samples after first AIDS-defining illness from Multicenter AIDS Cohort Study participants and compared between those who had PcP or a non-PcP AIDS-defining illness.
Fifty-four participants had PcP and 47 had a non-PcP AIDS-defining illness. IgG levels to MsgC fragments were similar between groups prior to first AIDS-defining illness, but the PcP group had higher levels of IgG to MsgC9 (median units/ml 50.2 vs. 22.2, p=0.047) post-illness. Participants with PcP were more likely to have an increase in MsgC3 (OR 3.9, p=0.02), MsgC8 (OR 5.5, p=0.001), and MsgC9 (OR 4.0, p=0.007). The PcP group was more likely to have low KEX1 IgG prior to development of PcP (OR 3.6, p=0.048) independent of CD4 cell count and to have an increase in high IgG titers to KEX1 after PcP.
HIV-infected individuals develop immune responses to both Msg and kexin proteins after PcP. Low KEX1 IgG titers may be a novel marker of future PcP risk before CD4 cell count has declined below 200 cells/μl.
HIV; Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome; Pneumocystis; serology