Clinical characteristics and prevalence of dihydropteroate synthase gene mutations in Pneumocystis jirovecii-infected AIDS patients from low endemic areas of China.

Clinical characteristics and prevalence of dihydropteroate synthase gene mutations in Pneumocystis jirovecii-infected AIDS patients from low endemic areas of China.

PLoS One. 2020;15(9):e0238184

Authors: Zhu M, Ye N, Xu J

Abstract
Pneumocystis pneumonia (PCP) is an opportunistic and potentially life-threatening infection of AIDS patients caused by the fungus Pneumocystis jirovecii (P. jirovecii). Trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (TMP-SMX) is the most commonly used drug combination in the treatment and prophylaxis of PCP. However, with long-term use of this combination, mutations in the dihydropteroate synthase (DHPS) gene of P. jirovecii bring about the development of resistance. Data on the prevalence of P. jirovecii and its DHPS mutants in China, especially in low endemic areas, are still limited. Thus, in the present study, we measured the P. jirovecii infection rate among HIV-positive and AIDS (HIV/AIDS) patients with suspected PCP and investigated the relationship between CD4+ T cell count and PCP occurrence. As well as the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) analysis and sequencing, the restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) method was used to analyze DHPS point mutation in P. jirovecii strains. P. jirovecii was detected in 40.82% of cases. The clinical symptoms and signs of PCP were not typical; with decreasing CD4+ T cell counts, PCP infection in HIV/AIDS patients increased. In only one case (1.67%), the patients' DHPS gene could not be cut by the Acc I restriction enzyme. Furthermore, mutation at codon 171 was detected in 11 cases and no mutation was found at codon 57. Patients treated with sulfamethoxazole combined with Voriconazole or Caspofungin exhibited favorable results. After treatment, the symptoms of dyspnea were alleviated, and chest computed tomography findings showed the improvement of lung shadows. These indicated that the prevalence of DHPS mutations in P. jirovecii isolates in AIDS-PCP patients in the region was low. Thus, the contribution of gene mutations to treatment failure requires further research.

PMID: 32911508 [PubMed - in process]