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J Infect Dis. 1993 Aug;168(2):421-6.

DNA amplification in experimental pneumocystosis: characterization of serum Pneumocystis carinii DNA and potential P. carinii carrier states.

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Memorial-Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York Hospital-Cornell Medical Center.


DNA amplification has identified P. carinii DNA in diverse biologic specimens, including the serum of patients with P. carinii pneumonia. To further examine the relationship between P. carinii DNA in serum and P. carinii infection, the corticosteroid-treated rat model of pneumocystosis was studied. By 4 weeks of immunosuppression, P. carinii DNA was detected in rat lungs and by 6 weeks, in their serum. P. carinii DNA persisted in lung tissue as long as 5 months after the withdrawal of steroids. Serum DNA disappeared 2 weeks after steroids were withdrawn. Nonimmunocompromised, sentinel rats housed near immunocompromised, P. carinii-infected rats also were studied. Within 6 weeks, P. carinii DNA became detectable in lung and by 8 weeks, in serum. P. carinii DNA disappeared rapidly from lungs and sera after sentinel rats were isolated away from corticosteroid-treated rats. These findings support the contagious transmission of P. carinii and suggest facile development of P. carinii carrier states.

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