Atypical Pneumocystis jirovecii pneumonia in previously untreated patients with CLL on single-agent ibrutinib

Blood. 2016 Oct 13;128(15):1940-1943. doi: 10.1182/blood-2016-06-722991. Epub 2016 Aug 8.


Ibrutinib is not known to confer risk for Pneumocystis jirovecii pneumonia (PCP). We observed 5 cases of PCP in 96 patients receiving single-agent ibrutinib, including 4 previously untreated. Clinical presentations included asymptomatic pulmonary infiltrates, chronic cough, and shortness of breath. The diagnosis was often delayed. Median time from starting ibrutinib to occurrence of PCP was 6 months (range, 2-24). The estimated incidence of PCP was 2.05 cases per 100 patient-years (95% confidence interval, 0.67-4.79). At the time of PCP, all patients had CD4 T-cell count >500/μL (median, 966/μL) and immunoglobulin G (IgG) >500 mg/dL (median, 727 mg/dL). All patients underwent bronchoalveolar lavage. P jirovecii was identified by polymerase chain reaction in all 5 cases; direct fluorescence antibody staining was positive in 1. All events were grade ≤2 and resolved with oral therapy. Secondary prophylaxis was not given to 3 patients; after 61 patient-months of follow up, no recurrence occurred. Lack of correlation with CD4 count and IgG level suggests that susceptibility to PCP may be linked to Bruton tyrosine kinase (BTK) inhibition. If confirmed, this association could result in significant changes in surveillance and/or prophylaxis, possibly extending to other BTK inhibitors. This trial was registered at as #NCT01500733 and #NCT02514083.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adenine / analogs & derivatives
  • Aged
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Leukemia, Lymphocytic, Chronic, B-Cell / drug therapy*
  • Male
  • Piperidines
  • Pneumocystis carinii*
  • Pneumonia, Pneumocystis* / chemically induced
  • Pneumonia, Pneumocystis* / diagnosis
  • Pneumonia, Pneumocystis* / prevention & control
  • Pyrazoles / administration & dosage*
  • Pyrazoles / adverse effects*
  • Pyrimidines / administration & dosage*
  • Pyrimidines / adverse effects*


  • Piperidines
  • Pyrazoles
  • Pyrimidines
  • ibrutinib
  • Adenine

Associated data