Pneumocystis jirovecii is an opportunistic fungus causing Pneumocystis pneumonia primarily in immunosuppressed patients. However, immunocompetent individuals may become colonized and, as asymptomatic carriers, serve as reservoirs of the pathogen. Moreover, these asymptomatic carriers are at higher risk of developing pneumonia if favorable conditions occur. This study aimed to determine the prevalence of P. jirovecii in patients with various pulmonary diseases and to characterize the genetic diversity of organisms circulating in the studied population. Bronchial washing specimens from 105 patients were tested for presence of P. jirovecii using nested polymerase chain reaction (PCR) targeting the mtLSU rRNA gene, as well as immunofluorescence microscopy. Multilocus sequence typing involving analysis of three loci - mtLSU rRNA, CYB, and SOD - was used for genotyping analysis. P. jirovecii DNA was detected in 17 (16.2%) patients. Amplification of the SOD locus was successful only in five cases (29.4% of the positive patients), while mtLSU rRNA and CYB were genotyped in all positive samples. Therefore, combined genotypes were identified based only on mtLSU rRNA and CYB loci. Eight different genotypes were identified, with Pj 1 and Pj 2 being the most prevalent (29.4% of patients each). There was no statistical correlation between these genotypes and demographic or clinical data; however, we found that infection with mutant CYB strains occurred only in patients diagnosed with lung cancer. Of the potential predictors examined, only immunosuppressive treatment was significantly associated with colonization. In conclusion, patients with various respiratory diseases, especially when immunosuppressed, are at risk of Pneumocystis colonization.
- Pneumocystis jirovecii
- Respiratory diseases