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1.  Environmental Risk Factors for Pneumocystis Pneumonia Hospitalizations in HIV Patients 
This report identifies both climatological and air pollution constituents as independent risk factors for hospitalization of HIV-positive patients with Pneumocystis pneumonia (PcP). These findings may lead to new insights about the epidemiology and pathogenesis of PcP.
Background. Pneumocystis pneumonia (PcP) is the second leading cause of morbidity and mortality in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)–infected patients in the United States. Although the host risk factors for the development of PcP are well established, the environmental (climatological, air pollution) risk factors are poorly understood. The major goal of this study was to determine the environmental risk factors for admissions of HIV-positive patients with PcP to a single medical center.
Methods. Between 1997 and 2008, 457 HIV-positive patients with microscopically confirmed PcP were admitted to the San Francisco General Hospital. A case-crossover design was applied to identify environmental risk factors for PcP hospitalizations. Climatological and air pollution data were collected from the Environmental Protection Agency and Weather Warehouse databases. Conditional logistic regression was used to evaluate the association of each environmental factor and PcP hospital admission.
Results. Hospital admissions were significantly more common in the summer than in the other seasons. Increases in temperature and sulfur dioxide levels were independently associated with hospital admissions for PcP, but the effects of sulfur dioxide were modified by increasing carbon monoxide levels.
Conclusions. This study identifies both climatological and air pollution constituents as independent risk factors for hospitalization of HIV-positive patients with PcP in San Francisco. Thus, the environmental effects on PcP are more likely complex than previously thought. Further studies are needed to understand how these factors exert their effects and to determine if these factors are associated with PcP in other geographic locations.
PMCID: PMC3571628  PMID: 23042978
Pneumocystis; PcP; environmental factors; HIV
2.  Effects of Surfactant Protein-A on the Interaction of Pneumocystis murina with its Host at Different Stages of the Infection in Mice 
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.
PMCID: PMC2675919  PMID: 19335775
Host; immune response; knock-out mice; Pneumocystis; pneumonia; SP-A
3.  Long-Term Serologic Responses to the Pneumocystis jirovecii Major Surface Glycoprotein in HIV-Positive Individuals With and Without P. jirovecii Infection 
The Journal of infectious diseases  2009;199(9):1335-1344.
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.
PMCID: PMC2714884  PMID: 19301979
4.  Humoral Immune Responses to Pneumocystis jirovecii Antigens in HIV-Infected and Uninfected Young Children with Pneumocystis Pneumonia 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e82783.
Humoral immune responses in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected and uninfected children with Pneumocystis pneumonia (PcP) are poorly understood.
Consecutive children hospitalized with acute pneumonia, tachypnea, and hypoxia in South Africa were investigated for PcP, which was diagnosed by real-time polymerase chain reaction on lower respiratory tract specimens. Serum antibody responses to recombinant fragments of the carboxyl terminus of Pneumocystis jirovecii major surface glycoprotein (MsgC) were analyzed.
149 children were enrolled of whom 96 (64%) were HIV-infected. PcP occurred in 69 (72%) of HIV-infected and 14 (26%) of HIV-uninfected children. HIV-infected children with PcP had significantly decreased IgG antibodies to MsgC compared to HIV-infected patients without PcP, but had similar IgM antibodies. In contrast, HIV-uninfected children with PcP showed no change in IgG antibodies to MsgC, but had significantly increased IgM antibodies compared to HIV-uninfected children without PCP. Age was an independent predictor of high IgG antibodies, whereas PcP was a predictor of low IgG antibodies and high IgM antibodies. IgG and IgM antibody levels to the most closely related MsgC fragments were predictors of survival from PcP.
Young HIV-infected children with PcP have significantly impaired humoral immune responses to MsgC, whereas HIV-uninfected children with PcP can develop active humoral immune responses. The children also exhibit a complex relationship between specific host factors and antibody levels to MsgC fragments that may be related to survival from PcP.
PMCID: PMC3873266  PMID: 24386119
5.  Ambient Air Pollution Associated with Suppressed Serologic Responses to Pneumocystis jirovecii in a Prospective Cohort of HIV-Infected Patients with Pneumocystis Pneumonia 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e80795.
Ambient air pollution (AAP) may be associated with increased risk for Pneumocystis pneumonia (PCP). The mechanisms underlying this association remain uncertain.
To determine if real-life exposures to AAP are associated with suppressed IgM antibody responses to P. jirovecii in HIV-infected (HIV+) patients with active PCP, and to determine if AAP, mediated by suppressed serologic responses to Pneumocystis, is associated with adverse clinical outcomes.
We conducted a prospective cohort study in HIV+ patients residing in San Francisco and admitted to San Francisco General Hospital with microscopically confirmed PCP. Our AAP predictors were ambient air concentrations of particulate matter of < 10 µm in diameter (PM10) and < 2.5 µm in diameter (PM2.5), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), ozone (O3), and sulfur dioxide (SO2) measured immediately prior to hospital admission and 2 weeks prior to admission. Our primary outcomes were the IgM serologic responses to four recombinant P. jirovecii major surface glycoprotein (Msg) constructs: MsgC1, MsgC3, MsgC8, and MsgC9.
Elevated PM10 and NO2 exposures immediately prior to and two weeks prior to hospital admission were associated with decreased IgM antibody responses to P. jirovecii Msg. For exposures immediately prior to admission, every 10 µg/m3 increase in PM10 was associated with a 25 to 35% decrease in IgM responses to Msg (statistically significant for all the Msg constructs), and every 10 ppb increase in NO2 was associated with a 19-45% decrease in IgM responses to Msg (statistically significant for MsgC8 and MsgC9). Similar findings were seen with exposures two weeks prior to admission, but for fewer of the Msg constructs.
Real life exposures to PM10 and NO2 were associated with suppressed IgM responses to P. jirovecii Msg in HIV+ patients admitted with PCP, suggesting a mechanism of immunotoxicity by which AAP increases host susceptibility to pulmonary infection.
PMCID: PMC3827464  PMID: 24236202
6.  Antibody Responses against Pneumocystis jirovecii in Health Care Workers Over Time 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2013;19(10):1613-1620.
In a previous cross-sectional study, we showed that clinical staff working in a hospital had significantly higher antibody levels than nonclinical staff to Pneumocystis jirovecii. We conducted a longitudinal study, described here, to determine whether occupation and self-reported exposure to a patient with P. jirovecii pneumonia were associated with antibody levels to P. jirovecii over time. Baseline and quarterly serum specimens were collected and analyzed by using an ELISA that targeted different variants of the Pneumocystis major surface glycoprotein (MsgA, MsgB, MsgC1, MsgC3, MsgC8, and MsgC9). Clinical staff had significantly higher estimated geometric mean antibody levels against MsgC1 and MsgC8 than did nonclinical staff over time. Significant differences were observed when we compared the change in antibody levels to the different MsgC variants for staff who were and were not exposed to P. jirovecii pneumonia–infected patients. MsgC variants may serve as indicators of exposure to P. jirovecii in immunocompetent persons.
PMCID: PMC3810734  PMID: 24048016
Pneumocystis jirovecii; transmission; health care worker–patient; human immunodeficiency virus; HIV; major surface glycoprotein; pneumonia; respiratory diseases; fungi; HIV/AIDS and other retroviruses
7.  Antibody Response to Pneumocystis jirovecii 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2006;12(8):1231-1237.
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.
PMCID: PMC3291227  PMID: 16965702
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
8.  Serologic Responses to Recombinant Pneumocystis jirovecii Major Surface Glycoprotein among Ugandan Patients with Respiratory Symptoms 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(12):e51545.
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.
PMCID: PMC3528778  PMID: 23284710
9.  Serologic responses to Pneumocystis Proteins in Human Immunodeficiency Virus Patients With and Without Pneumocystis jirovecii Pneumonia 
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.
PMCID: PMC3150634  PMID: 21372726
HIV; Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome; Pneumocystis; serology
10.  HIV-Associated Pneumocystis Pneumonia 
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).
PMCID: PMC3132788  PMID: 21653531
acquired immune deficiency syndrome; HIV; Pneumocystis; Pneumocystis pneumonia; dihydropteroate synthase
11.  Seroepidemiological study of Pneumocystis jirovecii infection in healthy infants in Chile using recombinant fragments of the P. jirovecii major surface glycoprotein 
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.
PMCID: PMC2995006  PMID: 20926326
Serological responses; Pneumocystis; Major surface glycoprotein (Msg); Children
12.  Decreased Serum Antibody Responses to Recombinant Pneumocystis Antigens in HIV-Infected and Uninfected Current Smokers▿  
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.
PMCID: PMC3067379  PMID: 21191078
13.  Serum Antibody Levels to the Pneumocystis jirovecii Major Surface Glycoprotein in the Diagnosis of P. jirovecii Pneumonia in HIV+ Patients 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(12):e14259.
Pneumocystis jirovecii remains an important cause of fatal pneumonia (Pneumocystis pneumonia or PcP) in HIV+ patients and other immunocompromised hosts. Despite many previous attempts, a clinically useful serologic test for P. jirovecii infection has never been developed.
Methods/Principal Findings
We analyzed serum antibody responses to the P. jirovecii major surface glycoprotein recombinant fragment C1 (MsgC1) in 110 HIV+ patients with active PcP (cases) and 63 HIV+ patients with pneumonia due to other causes (controls) by an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). The cases had significantly higher IgG and IgM antibody levels to MsgC1 than the controls at hospital admission (week 0) and intervals up to at least 1 month thereafter. The sensitivity, specificity and positive predictive value (PPV) of IgG antibody levels increased from 57.2%, 61.7% and 71.5% at week 0 to 63.4%, 100%, and 100%, respectively, at weeks 3–4. The sensitivity, specificity and PPV of IgM antibody levels rose from 59.7%, 61.3%, and 79.3% at week 0 to 74.6%, 73.7%, and 89.8%, respectively, at weeks 3–4. Multivariate analysis revealed that a diagnosis of PcP was the only independent predictor of high IgG and IgM antibody levels to MsgC1. A high LDH level, a nonspecific marker of lung damage, was an independent predictor of low IgG antibody levels to MsgC1.
The results suggest that the ELISA shows promise as an aid to the diagnosis of PCP in situations where diagnostic procedures cannot be performed. Further studies in other patient populations are needed to better define the usefulness of this serologic test.
PMCID: PMC3000336  PMID: 21151564
14.  Evidence for high prevalence of Pneumocystis jirovecii exposure among Cameroonians 
Acta tropica  2009;112(2):219-224.
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.
PMCID: PMC2761101  PMID: 19665440
glycoprotein (Msg); recombinant protein; serology; sub-Sahara Africa
15.  Echinocandin Treatment of Pneumocystis Pneumonia in Rodent Models Depletes Cysts Leaving Trophic Burdens That Cannot Transmit the Infection 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(1):e8524.
Fungi in the genus Pneumocystis cause pneumonia (PCP) in hosts with debilitated immune systems and are emerging as co-morbidity factors associated with chronic diseases such as COPD. Limited therapeutic choices and poor understanding of the life cycle are a result of the inability of these fungi to grow outside the mammalian lung. Within the alveolar lumen, Pneumocystis spp., appear to have a bi-phasic life cycle consisting of an asexual phase characterized by binary fission of trophic forms and a sexual cycle resulting in formation of cysts, but the life cycle stage that transmits the infection is not known. The cysts, but not the trophic forms, express β -1,3-D-glucan synthetase and contain abundant β -1,3-D-glucan. Here we show that therapeutic and prophylactic treatment of PCP with echinocandins, compounds which inhibit the synthesis of β -1,3-D-glucan, depleted cysts in rodent models of PCP, while sparing the trophic forms which remained in significant numbers. Survival was enhanced in the echincandin treated mice, likely due to the decreased β -1,3-D-glucan content in the lungs of treated mice and rats which coincided with reductions of cyst numbers, and dramatic remodeling of organism morphology. Strong evidence for the cyst as the agent of transmission was provided by the failure of anidulafungin-treated mice to transmit the infection. We show for the first time that withdrawal of anidulafungin treatment with continued immunosuppression permitted the repopulation of cyst forms. Treatment of PCP with an echinocandin alone will not likely result in eradication of infection and cessation of echinocandin treatment while the patient remains immunosuppressed could result in relapse. Importantly, the echinocandins provide novel and powerful chemical tools to probe the still poorly understood bi-phasic life cycle of this genus of fungal pathogens.
PMCID: PMC2813285  PMID: 20126455
16.  Healthcare Worker Occupation and Immune Response to Pneumocystis jirovecii 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2009;15(10):1590-1597.
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.
PMCID: PMC2866396  PMID: 19861050
Pneumocystis; health personnel; HIV/AIDS and other retroviruses; opportunistic infections; antibodies; fungal; fungi; serologic tests; research
17.  Early Predictors of Mortality from Pneumocystis jirovecii Pneumonia in HIV-Infected Patients: 1985–2006 
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.
PMCID: PMC2735405  PMID: 18190281
18.  Pneumocystis murina colonization in immunocompetent surfactant protein A deficient mice following environmental exposure 
Respiratory Research  2009;10(1):10.
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.
PMCID: PMC2650685  PMID: 19228388
19.  In Vitro Selection and In Vivo Efficacy of Piperazine- and Alkanediamide-Linked Bisbenzamidines against Pneumocystis Pneumonia in Mice 
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.
PMCID: PMC1489771  PMID: 16801410
20.  Highly Active Anti-Pneumocystis carinii Compounds in a Library of Novel Piperazine-Linked Bisbenzamidines and Related Compounds 
Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy  2004;48(11):4209-4216.
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.
PMCID: PMC525440  PMID: 15504843
21.  Current Epidemiology of Pneumocystis Pneumonia 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2004;10(10):1713-1720.
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.
PMCID: PMC3323247  PMID: 15504255
Pneumocystis jirovecii; Pneumocystis pneumonia; PCP; epidemiology; HIV; highly active antiretroviral therapy; perspective
22.  Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay and Serologic Responses to Pneumocystis jiroveci 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2004;10(5):848-854.
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.
PMCID: PMC3323219  PMID: 15200818
Pneumocystis; Major surface glycoprotein; Infection; ELISA; HIV patients; Serum antibodies
23.  Sensitized Splenocytes Result in Deleterious Cytokine Cascade and Hyperinflammatory Response in Rats with Pneumocystis Pneumonia despite the Presence of Corticosteroids  
Infection and Immunity  2004;72(2):757-765.
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.
PMCID: PMC321630  PMID: 14742518
24.  New Rat Model of Pneumocystis Pneumonia Induced by Anti-CD4+ T-Lymphocyte Antibodies  
Infection and Immunity  2003;71(11):6292-6297.
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.
PMCID: PMC219604  PMID: 14573648
25.  Use of Terbinafine in Mouse and Rat Models of Pneumocystis carinii Pneumonia 
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.
PMCID: PMC127063  PMID: 11796365

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