Use of adjunctive corticosteroids in severe adult non-HIV Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia

Chest. 1998 May;113(5):1215-24. doi: 10.1378/chest.113.5.1215.


Study objective: To examine the use of adjunctive corticosteroids in cases of severe Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP) in non-HIV-infected adult patients.

Design: Retrospective review of medical records.

Setting: Tertiary care urban teaching hospital.

Patients: Review identified 31 consecutive histologically confirmed primary cases of adult non-HIV-related PCP. Complete records were available for 30 patients, including 20 male and 10 female patients with a mean age of 58.3+/-15 years (+/-SD). Underlying conditions included organ transplantation (n=13), long-term immunosuppressive therapy (n=9), and chemotherapy for malignancy (n=8). All patients had documented PO2 <65 mm Hg or arterial oxygen saturation <90% on room air.

Interventions: Following the identification of P carinii, in addition to trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole or pentamidine therapy, 16 patients received increased steroids (> or =60 mg prednisone daily equivalent; increased high-dose steroid group), whereas 14 patients were maintained on a regimen of low doses (< or =30 mg prednisone equivalent daily) or had steroid therapy tapered (low-dose steroid group).

Results: The increased high-dose steroid group demonstrated a shorter required duration for mechanical ventilation (6.3+/-6 days vs 18.0+/-21 days; p=0.047), a shorter duration of ICU admission (8.5+/-7 days vs 15.8+/-8 days; p=0.025), and a shorter duration of supplemental oxygen use (10.0+/-4 vs 32.2+/-33; p=0.05). The hospital duration to discharge for the nine survivors in each group favored the use of corticosteroids (15.4+/-5 days vs 36.3+/-33 days; p=0.077). Similar rates were observed for intubation (75% vs 57%; p=0.442) and in-hospital mortality (44% vs 36%; p=0.722).

Conclusions: These preliminary data suggest that high-dose adjunctive corticosteroids may accelerate recovery in cases of severe adult non-HIV PCP.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Infective Agents / therapeutic use
  • Antifungal Agents / therapeutic use
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Female
  • Glucocorticoids / administration & dosage
  • Glucocorticoids / therapeutic use*
  • HIV Infections
  • Humans
  • Intubation, Intratracheal
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Opportunistic Infections / complications
  • Opportunistic Infections / drug therapy*
  • Opportunistic Infections / epidemiology
  • Opportunistic Infections / microbiology
  • Pentamidine / therapeutic use
  • Pneumonia, Pneumocystis / complications
  • Pneumonia, Pneumocystis / drug therapy*
  • Pneumonia, Pneumocystis / epidemiology
  • Prednisone / administration & dosage
  • Prednisone / therapeutic use*
  • Respiration, Artificial
  • Respiratory Insufficiency / epidemiology
  • Respiratory Insufficiency / therapy
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Trimethoprim, Sulfamethoxazole Drug Combination / therapeutic use


  • Anti-Infective Agents
  • Antifungal Agents
  • Glucocorticoids
  • Pentamidine
  • Trimethoprim, Sulfamethoxazole Drug Combination
  • Prednisone