Autoimmune inflammatory disorders, systemic corticosteroids and pneumocystis pneumonia: a strategy for prevention

BMC Infect Dis. 2004 Oct 16;4:42. doi: 10.1186/1471-2334-4-42.

Abstract

Background: Pneumocystis pneumonia (PCP) is an increasing problem amongst patients on immunosuppression with autoimmune inflammatory disorders (AID). The disease presents acutely and its diagnosis requires bronchoalveolar lavage in most cases. Despite treatment with intravenous antibiotics, PCP carries a worse prognosis in AID patients than HIV positive patients. The overall incidence of PCP in patients with AID remains low, although patients with Wegener's granulomatosis are at particular risk.

Discussion: In adults with AID, the risk of PCP is related to treatment with systemic steroid, ill-defined individual variation in steroid sensitivity and CD4+ lymphocyte count. Rather than opting for PCP prophylaxis on the basis of disease or treatment with cyclophosphamide, we argue the case for carrying out CD4+ lymphocyte counts on selected patients as a means of identifying individuals who are most likely to benefit from PCP prophylaxis.

Summary: Corticosteroids, lymphopenia and a low CD4+ count in particular, have been identified as risk factors for the development of PCP in adults with AID. Trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (co-trimoxazole) is an effective prophylactic agent, but indications for its use remain ill-defined. Further prospective trials are required to validate our proposed prevention strategy.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones / therapeutic use*
  • Autoimmune Diseases / complications*
  • Autoimmune Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Autoimmune Diseases / immunology
  • Humans
  • Immunocompromised Host*
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Incidence
  • Pneumonia, Pneumocystis / epidemiology
  • Pneumonia, Pneumocystis / etiology*
  • Pneumonia, Pneumocystis / immunology
  • Prognosis

Substances

  • Adrenal Cortex Hormones
  • Immunosuppressive Agents