Pneumocystis jiroveciisolates with dihydropteroate synthase mutations in patients with chronic bronchitis

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Since mutations in the dihydropteroate synthase (DHPS) gene possibly associated with sulfonamide resistance have been reported in patients with Pneumocystis jiroveci (previously carinii) pneumonia, and since P. jiroveci colonization has been recently demonstrated in patients with chronic pulmonary diseases, the present study aimed to investigate the possible occurrence of P. jiroveci DHPS mutations in patients with chronic bronchitis. P. jiroveci colonization was detected in 15 of 37 non-selected patients with chronic bronchitis by amplifying the large subunit of the mitochondrial gene of the ribosomal RNA using nested PCR. DHPS mutations were demonstrated using touchdown PCR and restriction enzyme analysis in two of eight patients with chronic bronchitis and in two of six patients from the same region who had AIDS-associated Pneumocystis pneumonia. In all cases, mutations were observed in subjects with no prior exposure to sulfonamides. These data could have important implications for public health, since (i) P. jiroveci colonization could speed the progression of chronic bronchitis, and (ii) these patients, who are customary sputum producers, could represent a reservoir for sulfonamide-resistant strains with the potential ability to transmit them to immunocompromised hosts susceptible to Pneumocystis pneumonia.

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