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Am J Surg Pathol. 2010 May;34(5):730-4. doi: 10.1097/PAS.0b013e3181d9f16a.

Granulomatous reaction to pneumocystis jirovecii: clinicopathologic review of 20 cases.

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Department of Pulmonary and Mediastinal, Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, Washington, DC, USA.


To better characterize the clinical and pathologic features of granulomatous reaction to Pneumocystis jirovecii, we reviewed 20 cases of this uncommon response. Patients included 15 males and 5 females (mean age 52 y). The most common symptom was dyspnea (5 of 14). Primary medical diagnoses included human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (7 of 20), hematopoietic (6 of 20), and solid malignancies (4 of 20). Radiology findings included nodular (8 of 16) and diffuse (5 of 16) infiltrates and solitary nodules (3 of 16). Diagnostic procedures with the highest yield were open lung biopsy (13 of 20) and autopsy (5 of 20); false-negative results were most common on bronchial washings/brushings, bronchoalveolar lavage, fine needle aspiration, and transbronchial biopsy. Follow-up showed resolution of disease (6 of 13), death from disease (6 of 13), and death from unknown cause (1 of 13). Histologically, clusters of Gomori methenamine silver-positive (20 of 20) Pneumocystis organisms were identified in all cases. Organisms were identified within well (16 of 20) and poorly (4 of 20) formed necrotizing (16 of 20) and non-necrotizing (4 of 20) granulomas ranging in size from 0.1 to 2.5 cm (mean 0.5 cm); granulomas were multiple (18 of 20) or single (2 of 20). Giant cells (11 of 20), a fibrous rim (8 of 20), and eosinophils (6 of 20) were seen. Foamy eosinophilic exudates were present centrally within some granulomas (5 of 20). Cystic spaces (1 of 20) and calcification (1 of 20) were rare. Only one case demonstrated classic intra-alveolar foamy exudates containing Pneumocystis. Granulomatous P. jirovecii pneumonia occurs most commonly in males with human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, hematopoietic, and solid malignancies. The diagnosis may be overlooked as conventional radiologic and pathologic features are absent. When suspected, open lung biopsy is most likely to yield diagnostic material. Attention to organism morphology avoids misdiagnosis as Histoplasma.

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