The University of Louisville Journal of Respiratory Infections


Pneumocystis pneumonia (PCP) is an opportunistic infection caused by the fungus Pneumocystis jirovecii. Infection with P. jirovecii can result in serious illness in patients with a weakened immune system, and can lead to death if it is not properly diagnosed and treated. Direct detection of P. jirovecii in lower respiratory tract specimens such as bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) is preferred for rapid diagnosis, a laboratory service currently not available locally. We report here the development of a diagnostic real-time Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) assay using BAL specimens to detect P. jirovecii. By targeting the multi-copy mitochondrial large subunit ribosomal RNA gene (mtLSU rRNA) of P. jirovecii, assay sensitivity is increased. Primer pairs were designed to include a fluorescent reporter dye-labeled primer with a unique MultiCode® base pair isoC on the 5’end and one unlabeled primer. The performance characteristics were determined on the Luminex ARIES® instrument, combining DNA extraction, amplification and detection into a one-step process. The cassette contains the reagents needed to perform all of the steps including extraction, purification, amplification, and detection, plus a sample processing control. Accuracy, precision, sensitivity, specificity and stability studies were conducted to validate the assay to meet CLIA requirements. The analytical sensitivity was 89.1%, and the analytical specificity was 100%. The assay could reliably detect 200 organisms/mL, crossing thresholds (Ct) and melt temperatures (Tm) were consistent, and no cross-reactivity was observed with other pathogens known to cause respiratory infections. The results demonstrated that these primers are specific to Pneumocystis jirovecii. The real-time PCR method using the ARIES® system allowed for rapid and sensitive detection of Pneumocystis pneumonia infections with P. jirovecii using clinical respiratory specimens.


This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.



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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

figure 1a.png (59 kB)
Figure 1A. Negative Control Result: Sample data from ARIES® instrument with a negative control illustrating the amplification curve (Ct) and melt temperature (Tm) for the internal control (SPC).

figure 1b.png (60 kB)
Figure 1B. Positive Control Result: Sample data from ARIES® instrument with a positive control illustrating the amplification curve (Ct) and melt temperature (Tm) for P. jirovecii.



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