Research Papers:

Diagnosis of Pneumocystis jirovecii pneumonia with serum cell-free DNA in non-HIV-infected immunocompromised patients

Dong Wang, Yang Hu, Ting Li, Heng-Mo Rong and Zhao-Hui Tong _

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Oncotarget. 2017; 8:71946-71953. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.18037

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Dong Wang1,*, Yang Hu1,*, Ting Li1, Heng-Mo Rong1 and Zhao-Hui Tong1

1Department of Respiratory Medicine and Critical Care Medicine, Beijing Institute of Respiratory Medicine and Beijing Chao-Yang Hospital, Capital Medical University, Beijing, 100020, China

*These authors contributed equally to this work

Correspondence to:

Zhao-Hui Tong, email: [email protected]

Keywords: cell-free DNA, immunocompromised patients, Pneumocystis jirovecii, polymerase chain reaction, serum

Received: March 29, 2017     Accepted: May 08, 2017     Published: May 20, 2017


Conventional respiratory tract specimens, such as bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid and induced sputum for diagnosing Pneumocystis jirovecii pneumonia (PCP) in immunocompromised patients are difficult to obtain. Besides, bronchoscopy is an invasive procedure that carries the risk of causing rapidly progressive respiratory insufficiency. By contrast, serum cell-free DNA (cfDNA) is easy to obtain and has been proven useful in diagnosing cancer, pregnancy associated complications, parasite infection and sepsis. In this study, we performed quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) to assess the diagnostic efficiency of using serum cfDNA, BAL fluid, and sputum DNA for PCP. Seventy-one patients (35 PCP patients and 36 non-PCP patients) were enrolled according to the clinical PCP diagnostic criteria. The sensitivity, specificity, positive predictive value, and negative predictive value of PCR using serum cfDNA were 68.6% (95% CI, 50.7–83.1), 97.2% (95% CI, 85.5–99.9), 96.0%, and 76.1%, respectively. PCR using BAL fluid and sputum had a high sensitivity (97.1% and 91.4%, respectively) but relatively low specificity (86.1% and 86.1%, respectively). The combination of the sputum PCR OR serum cfDNA PCR yielded a sensitivity of 97.1%.These results indicated that serum cfDNA might be a valuable method in PCP diagnosis.

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