Humoral immune responses to Pneumocystis jirovecii antigens in HIV-infected and uninfected young children with pneumocystis pneumonia

BACKGROUND: Humoral immune responses in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected and uninfected children with Pneumocystis pneumonia (PcP) are poorly understood. METHODS: Consecutive children hospitalized with acute pneumonia, tachypnea, and hypoxia in South Africa were investigated for PcP, which was diagnosed by real-time polymerase chain reaction on lower respiratory tract specimens. Serum antibody responses to recombinant fragments of the carboxyl terminus of Pneumocystis jirovecii major surface glycoprotein (MsgC) were analyzed. RESULTS: 149 children were enrolled of whom 96 (64%) were HIV-infected. PcP occurred in 69 (72%) of HIV-infected and 14 (26%) of HIV-uninfected children. HIV-infected children with PcP had significantly decreased IgG antibodies to MsgC compared to HIV-infected patients without PcP, but had similar IgM antibodies. In contrast, HIV-uninfected children with PcP showed no change in IgG antibodies to MsgC, but had significantly increased IgM antibodies compared to HIV-uninfected children without PCP. Age was an independent predictor of high IgG antibodies, whereas PcP was a predictor of low IgG antibodies and high IgM antibodies. IgG and IgM antibody levels to the most closely related MsgC fragments were predictors of survival from PcP. CONCLUSIONS: Young HIV-infected children with PcP have significantly impaired humoral immune responses to MsgC, whereas HIV-uninfected children with PcP can develop active humoral immune responses. The children also exhibit a complex relationship between specific host factors and antibody levels to MsgC fragments that may be related to survival from PcP.