Objective: To compare Pneumocystis jirovecii pneumonia (PJP) risk between patients with autoimmune rheumatic diseases (ARD) and the general population Methods: We identified patients with ARD recorded in the National Health Insurance Research Database of Taiwan from 2002 to 2015 and randomly selected a comparison cohort from the general population matched for age and sex. We analyzed PJP risk stratified by sex, age, comorbidities, and medications using Cox proportional hazard model. Results: We enrolled 103,117 patients with ARD. PJP risk significantly increased in patients with any ARD and with each individual ARD like rheumatoid arthritis (RA), systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), Sjogren’s syndrome (SjS), polymyositis and dermatomyositis (PM/DM), systemic sclerosis (SSc), and systemic vasculitis. Patients with PM/DM showed prominent risk with incidence rate of 12.47/100,000 patient year (95% confidence interval (CI), 32.16–86.70). In a time-dependent Cox proportional hazard model with comorbidities and medications as covariates, PM/DM, SSc, SLE, and SjS significantly increased adjusted hazard ratios (aHR) of 5.40, 5.12, 4.09, and 3.64, respectively (95% CI of 2.82–10.35, 2.16–12.13, 2.41–6.95, and 2.06–6.42, respectively). AHR after adjusting for male sex, cancer, human immunodeficiency virus infection (HIV), and interstitial lung disease also significantly increased. Use of daily oral steroid dose of >10 mg conferred the highest risk followed by mycophenolate. Use of injected steroids, cyclophosphamide, biological agents, methotrexate, and cyclosporine conferred a significantly higher risk. Conclusion: Underlying ARD significantly predisposes patients to PJP, with PM/DM posing the highest threat. In addition to underlying disease, comorbidities and concomitant immunosuppressants are major risks. The strongest risk is recent daily steroid dose of >10 mg. Mycophenolate seems to be a more prominent risk factor than cyclophosphamide.Key Points• Autoimmune rheumatic diseases (ARD) significantly increased the overall risk of PJP, and so did each individual ARD.• Use of steroids, mycophenolate, cyclophosphamide, biological agents, methotrexate, and cyclosporine all significantly increased risk of PJP.• Male, elderly, malignancy, HIV, and interstitial lung disease are also related to increased risk of PJP.• Underlying ARD, comorbidities, and use of immunosuppressant should all be considered in determining the overall risk of PJP.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3755-3763
Number of pages9
JournalClinical Rheumatology
Issue number9
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2021


  • Autoimmune rheumatic diseases
  • Cyclophosphamide
  • Mycophenolate
  • Pneumocystis jirovecii pneumonia
  • Steroid

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rheumatology


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