Pneumocystis jirovecii pneumonia in non-HIV-infected patients: new risks and diagnostic tools

Curr Opin Infect Dis. 2011 Dec;24(6):534-44. doi: 10.1097/QCO.0b013e32834cac17.


Purpose of review: Non-HIV-infected populations are increasingly identified as being at risk for developing Pneumocystis jirovecii pneumonia (PJP). These patients typically present with severe disease and poorly tolerate invasive diagnostic procedures. This review examines recently reported risks for PJP in non-HIV populations and summarizes new diagnostic techniques.

Recent findings: PJP is associated with immunomodulatory drug therapies, including monoclonal antibody therapies such as tumour necrosis factor α antagonists, and calcineurin inhibitors. Underlying disease states include solid-organ transplantation, connective tissue and rheumatologic disorders, inflammatory bowel disease, haematological malignancies, and solid tumours. Modern diagnostic techniques [conventional PCR, quantitative PCR, (1→3)-β-D-glucan assays, and PET] are reviewed with respect to predictive value and clinical utility. In particular, current literature regarding validation and specificity of molecular diagnostic techniques is summarized, including application to minimally invasive specimens.

Summary: HIV-negative populations at risk for PJP can be identified. Conventional PCR increases diagnostic sensitivity but may detect asymptomatic colonization. Quantitative PCR demonstrates potential for distinguishing colonization from infection, but clinical validation is required. Serum (1→3)-β-D-glucan may be elevated in PJP, although standardized cut-off values for clinical infection have not been determined. Further validation of serum markers and molecular diagnostic methods is necessary for early and accurate diagnosis in non-HIV populations.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • HIV Seronegativity
  • Humans
  • Pneumocystis carinii* / isolation & purification
  • Pneumonia, Pneumocystis / diagnosis*
  • Pneumonia, Pneumocystis / therapy
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction / methods
  • Positron-Emission Tomography / methods
  • Risk Factors
  • beta-Glucans / analysis


  • beta-Glucans
  • beta-1,3-glucan