Pneumocystis jiroveci pneumonia (PCP) is a life-threatening pulmonary infection after kidney transplantation (KTx). Its onset in the current era of modern immunosuppression and of routine use of universal PCP prophylaxis seems to differ from its onset in previous decades in terms of late onset with subtle clinical presentation, indicating a need for increased vigilance.
We retrospectively studied all KTx recipients from our center who underwent bronchoscopy and bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) between 2009 and 2018. Of these, all cases with confirmed PCP any time after the first post-KTx year were included in the analysis.
Among 60 patients with KTx who had undergone bronchoscopy and BAL, 12 cases with late-onset PCP were identified. PCP appeared late at a median of 10.8 (interquartile range, 2.4-15.8) years after transplantation. Patients’ mean age was 59 years, and all were receiving stable low-dose immunosuppression. Most of the patients (67%) had received PCP prophylaxis after KTx. Five out of 12 patients (42%) had concomitant cytomegalovirus (CMV) reactivation at the time of PCP. In almost all cases, clinical presentation was mild. Treatment consisted of trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (TMP-SMX) and intravenous corticosteroid administration, and concomitant immunosuppression was temporarily reduced or withdrawn. Outcome was generally good. None of the patients developed respiratory insufficiency or required mechanical ventilation. One patient died as a result of sepsis, and 3 more with preexisting advanced chronic kidney disease subsequently lost their grafts.
Renal transplant recipients are at risk of late-onset PCP, even at a steady state of low-dose maintenance immunosuppression. Because of its subtle clinical presentation, high suspicion of the disease is warranted. Its early recognition and proper management are essential for a successful outcome.

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