Diversity of Pneumocystis jirovecii Across Europe: A Multicentre Observational Study

Alexandre Alanio, Maud Gits-Muselli, Nicolas Guigue, Marie Desnos-Ollivier, Enrique J. Calderon, David Di Cave, Damien Dupont, Axel Hamprecht, Philippe M. Hauser, Jannik Helweg-Larsen, Marta Kicia, Katrien Lagrou, Martina Lengerova, Olga Matos, Willem J.G. Melchers, Florent Morio, Gilles Nevez, Anne Totet, Lewis P. White, Stéphane Bretagne

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Pneumocystis jirovecii is an airborne human-specific ascomycetous fungus responsible for Pneumocystis pneumonia (PCP) in immunocompromised patients, affecting > 500,000 patients per year (www.gaffi.org). The understanding of its epidemiology is limited by the lack of standardised culture. Recent genotyping data suggests a limited genetic diversity of P. jirovecii. The objective of the study was to assess the diversity of P. jirovecii across European hospitals and analyse P. jirovecii diversity in respect to clinical data obtained from the patients. Genotyping was performed using six already validated short tandem repeat (STR) markers on 249 samples (median: 17 per centre interquartile range [11 − 20]) from PCP patients of 16 European centres. Mixtures of STR markers (i.e., ≥ 2 alleles for ≥ 1 locus) were detected in 67.6% (interquartile range [61.4; 76.5]) of the samples. Mixture was significantly associated with the underlying disease of the patient, with an increased proportion in HIV patients (78.3%) and a decreased proportion in renal transplant recipients (33.3%) (p < 0.001). The distribution of the alleles was significantly different (p < 0.001) according to the centres in three out of six markers. In analysable samples, 201 combinations were observed corresponding to 137 genotypes: 116 genotypes were country-specific; 12 in two; six in three; and two in four and one in five countries. Nine genotypes were recorded more than once in a given country. Genotype 123 (Gt123) was significantly associated with France (14/15, p < 0.001) and Gt16 with Belgium (5/5, p < 0.001). More specifically, Gt123 was observed mainly in France (14/15/16 patients) and in renal transplant patient (13/15). Our study showed the wide population diversity across Europe, with evidence of local clusters of patients harbouring a given genotype. These data suggest a specific association between genotype and underlying disease, with evidence of a different natural history of PCP in HIV patients and renal transplant recipients.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)155-163
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2017


  • Europe
  • Genotyping
  • Microsatellites
  • Mixed infection
  • MLS typing
  • Pneumocystis jirovecii
  • Transmission


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