Purpose of review Pneumocystis
pneumonia remains the most prevalent opportunistic infection
in patients with AIDS. It is also a common devastating infection in patients with other causes of altered immunity. Though scientific study of this fungal pathogen is challenging given the inability to propagate the organism outside of the host lung, studies utilizing advanced molecular techniques and genomic analysis have broadened our understanding of the epidemiology and pathogenesis of Pneumocystis
and will be described herein.
Results from advanced molecular techniques suggest that Pneumocystis
organisms not only cause infection in patients with impaired immunity but also colonize mammals with normal immune systems. Advanced technology has also identified acquired Pneumocystis
genetic mutations that confer resistance to currently utilized therapeutics. Though not yet widely utilized in clinical medicine, advanced polymerase chain reaction techniques improve the diagnostic yield of respiratory specimen analysis. Preliminary results from serum β-glucan testing suggest that a noninvasive marker of Pneumocystis
pneumonia infection and response to therapy may be on the horizon.
Recent scientific advances suggest opportunities for improving the diagnosis
and treatment surveillance of Pneumocystis
pneumonia. Further investigations are necessary to define the optimal characteristics of these laboratory tests and to develop therapeutics directed at novel Pneumocystis