Pulmonary complications of combination therapy with cyclophosphamide and prednisone

Chest. 1991 Jan;99(1):143-6. doi: 10.1378/chest.99.1.143.


Oral cyclophosphamide and prednisone are standard treatment for some neoplasms and necrotizing systemic vasculitis and are advocated with increasing frequency for idiopathic interstitial lung disease. During a 15-month period, we observed four cases of acute respiratory failure from Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP) in patients treated with oral cyclophosphamide and prednisone. One patient each had polyarteritis nodosa, Wegener's granulomatosis, bronchiolitis obliterans with organizing pneumonia, and chronic lymphocytic leukemia with red blood cell aplasia. Hypoalbuminemia (serum albumin level less than 3.0 g/dl) and daily therapy were associated with increased risk for development of PCP (p less than 0.05). None of the patients had leukopenia (less than 3,500/cu mm) or neutropenia (less than 1,000/cumm) at diagnosis. All were negative for the human immunodeficiency virus. Patients receiving oral cyclophosphamide and prednisone may be at higher or increasing risk for PCP. A high index of suspicion and aggressive evaluation for opportunistic infection are needed in these patients; consideration for trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole prophylaxis and development of more quantitative measures of immunosuppression are needed.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Bronchiolitis Obliterans / drug therapy
  • Cyclophosphamide / administration & dosage
  • Cyclophosphamide / adverse effects*
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Female
  • Granulomatosis with Polyangiitis / drug therapy
  • Humans
  • Leukemia, Lymphocytic, Chronic, B-Cell / drug therapy
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pneumonia, Pneumocystis / chemically induced*
  • Polyarteritis Nodosa / drug therapy
  • Prednisone / administration & dosage
  • Prednisone / adverse effects*
  • Respiratory Insufficiency / chemically induced*


  • Cyclophosphamide
  • Prednisone