Expert Opin Pharmacother. 2021 Apr 19:1-14. doi: 10.1080/14656566.2021.1915989. Online ahead of print.
Introduction: Pneumocystis jirovecii (PJ) is an opportunistic fungal pathogen that can cause severe pneumonia in immunocompromised hosts. Risk factors for Pneumocystis jirovecii pneumonia (PJP) include HIV, organ transplant, malignancy, certain inflammatory or rheumatologic conditions, and associated therapies and conditions that result in cell-mediated immune deficiency. Clinical signs of PJP are nonspecific and definitive diagnosis requires direct detection of the organism in lower respiratory secretions or tissue. First-line therapy for prophylaxis and treatment remains trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (TMP-SMX), though intolerance or allergy, and rarely treatment failure, may necessitate alternate therapeutics, such as dapsone, pentamidine, atovaquone, clindamycin, primaquine and most recently, echinocandins as adjunctive therapy. In people living with HIV (PLWH), adjunctive corticosteroid use in treatment has shown a mortality benefit.Areas covered: This review article covers the epidemiology, pathophysiology, diagnosis, microbiology, prophylaxis indications, prophylactic therapies, and treatments.Expert opinion: TMP-SMX has been first-line therapy for treating and preventing pneumocystis for decades. However, its adverse effects are not uncommon, particularly during treatment. Second-line therapies may be better tolerated, but often sacrifice efficacy. Echinocandins show some promise for new combination therapies; however, further studies are needed to define optimal antimicrobial therapy for PJP as well as the role of corticosteroids in those without HIV.