Pneumocystis jirovecii pneumonia overview

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]


Pneumocystis pneumonia (PCP) is a form of pneumonia caused by the yeast-like fungal Pneumocystis jirovecii (Jirovecii is pronounced "yee row vet zee eye"). The causal agent was originally described as a protozoan and spelled P. jiroveci and prior to then was classified as a form of Pneumocystis carinii, a name still in common usage.[1][2] These names are discussed below. As a result, Pneumocystis pneumonia (PCP) has also been known as Pneumocystis jiroveci[i] pneumonia and as Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia, as is also explained below.[3][4][5]

It is relatively rare in people with normal immune systems but common among people with weakened immune systems, such as premature or severely malnourished children, the elderly, and especially AIDS patients, in whom it is most commonly observed today.[6] PCP can also develop in patients who are taking immunosuppressant medications (e.g. patients who have undergone solid organ transplantation) and in patients who have undergone bone marrow transplantation.

The organism is distributed worldwide[7].


  1. Stringer JR, Beard CB, Miller RF, Wakefield AE (2002). "A new name (Pneumocystis jiroveci) for Pneumocystis from humans". Emerg Infect Dis. 8 (9): 891–6. PMID 12194762.
  2. Redhead SA, Cushion MT, Frenkel JK, Stringer JR (2006). "Pneumocystis and Trypanosoma cruzi: nomenclature and typifications". J Eukaryot Microbiol. 53 (1): 2–11. PMID 16441572.
  3. Cushion MT . (1998). "Chapter 34. Pneumocystis carinii. In: Collier, L., Balows, A. & Sussman, M. (ed.), Topley and Wilson's Microbiology and Microbial Infections 9th ed. Arnold and Oxford Press, New York": 645–683.
  4. Cushion MT (1998). "Taxonomy, genetic organization, and life cycle of Pneumocystis carinii". Semin. Respir. Infect. 13 (4): 304–312.
  5. Cushion MT (2004). "Pneumocystis: unraveling the cloak of obscurity". Trends Microbiol. 12 (5): 243–249.
  6. Ryan KJ; Ray CG (editors) (2004). Sherris Medical Microbiology (4th ed. ed.). McGraw Hill. ISBN 0838585299.
  7. Morris A; et al. (2004). "Current Epidemiology of Pneumocystis Pneumonia". Emerg Infect Dis. 10 (10): 1713–1720. PMID 15504255.

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