Pneumocystosis is usually a disease of the lungs, but the number of cases of extrapulmonary pneumocystosis has greatly increased during the AIDS epidemic. Much remains unknown about the frequency and mechanisms of dissemination. In the present study, a systematic search for by PCR with primers specific for mitochondrial rRNA was performed in the lung, liver, spleen and kidney of 12 immunosuppressed rats and two immunocompetent rats. The amplified products were analysed by Southern hybridisation with a digoxigenin-11-dUTP labeled probe. DNA was found in lungs in all 14 rats and in at least one organ other than lung in 11 immunosuppressed rats and the two control rats. We suggest that extrapulmonary dissemination may not be an exceptional phenomenon in the course of pneumocystosis, but rather part of the natural evolution of the disease.


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