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Year : 2015  |  Volume : 4  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 365-367

Primary pulmonary cryptococcosis in an immunocompetent patient

Department of Pathology, Sri Devaraj Urs Medical College, Tamaka, Kolar, Karnataka, India

Date of Web Publication13-May-2015

Correspondence Address:
Manjula K Purushotham
Department of Pathology, Sri Devaraj Urs Medical College, Tamaka, Kolar 563 101, Karnataka
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/2278-0513.156853

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Cryptococcosis is an infection caused by yeast like encapsulated fungus Cryptococcus neoformans. Isolated primary pulmonary infection in an immunocompetent person is rare. We present a case, which was mistaken as carcinoma of lung and patient underwent pnemonectomy.

Keywords: Carcinoma of lung, cryptococcosis, immunocompetent

How to cite this article:
Purushotham MK, Chinaiah C, Lingaiha HM. Primary pulmonary cryptococcosis in an immunocompetent patient. Clin Cancer Investig J 2015;4:365-7

How to cite this URL:
Purushotham MK, Chinaiah C, Lingaiha HM. Primary pulmonary cryptococcosis in an immunocompetent patient. Clin Cancer Investig J [serial online] 2015 [cited 2020 Nov 29];4:365-7. Available from:

  Introduction Top

Cryptococcosis is an infection caused by yeast like encapsulated fungus Cryptococcus neoformans. Although respiratory track is the normal portal of entry, pulmonary cryptococcosis is often silent. Isolated pulmonary cryptococcosis is less commonly recognized and tends to occur most often in immunocompromised hosts. [1],[2],[3] This case highlights a rare instance of primary pulmonary cryptococcosis (PPC) presenting as left upper lobe mass in an immunocompetent patient.

  Case report Top

A 50-year-old woman presented with a 3 months history of cough and fever. Her history was unremarkable. Physical examination was near normal. Routine laboratory studies were unrevealing. Sputum cytology for malignant cells and acid-fast stain for acid-fast bacilli was negative. HIV antibody test was negative and CD4 count - 502 cells/microliter. A chest X-ray revealed lobulated nonhomogeneous lesion measuring 5 cm × 3 cm in the left hilum with mediastinal lymphadenopathy [Figure 1]. Chest computed tomography scan showed a well-defined oval nonenhancing soft tissue lesion measuring 5.8 cm × 3.6 cm (anterior-posterior transverse/cranio) seen involving the anterior segment of left upper lobe.
Figure 1: Chest X-ray posteroanterior view

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Bronchoscopic biopsy attempted but could not reach the lesion. Lobectomy of the upper segment of the lung was done with the provisional clinical diagnosis of carcinoma of the lung. Grossly, lobectomy specimen showed a well-circumscribed mass that measured 5 cm × 4 cm × 4 cm in the hilar region filling the entire lumen of the bronchus [Figure 2]. The lesion was gray-white with focal tiny cystic and mucoid areas. The surrounding lung parenchyma was normal and free of invasion by the mass.
Figure 2: Lobectomy specimen with a well-defined mass

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Histopathological examination showed numerous fungal elements measuring 3-10 μm with thick capsules present in the alveolar spaces and interstitium. There were also acute and chronic inflammatory cells, chronic granulomatous inflammation, multinucleated giant cells, and foci of necrosis [Figure 3]. The adjacent lung parenchyma showed areas of patchy pneumonia. Special stains periodic acid-Schiff and alcian blue highlighted the mucoid capsule of the organism [Figure 4]. Lymph nodes showed reactive changes. Histological features suggestive of malignancy were not identified. These gross and histological findings were diagnostic of cryptococcosis.
Figure 3: Alveolar spaces with cryptococal colonies (H and E, ×200)

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Figure 4: Periodic acid-Schiff stain demonstrating thick capsule of the organism (×400)

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  Discussion Top

The human pathogen C. neoformans is a nonmycelial encapsulated yeast-like fungus. It is found in pigeon and other bird droppings and can be inhaled by humans. Pulmonary infections are rare in individuals with normal immunity. [3],[4],[5],[6]

Cryptococcal infection limited to the lungs is defined as PPC, is difficult to diagnose because symptoms and radiologic findings are nonspecific. [4] Sputum cultures are not reliable, and serum titers are usually not elevated expect in disseminated diseases. The yeast grows within the alveoli resulting in an encapsulated mass which is resistant to neutrophil phagocytosis. Cell-mediated immunity plays an important role in arresting the infection. Most clinically apparent cases are diagnosed in immunocompromised patients. [5],[6],[7],[8],[9] Cryptococcal infection usually affects the central nervous system where it most commonly presents as meningitis and symptomatic pulmonary infections are uncommon.

Primary pulmonary cryptococcosis can cause vague symptoms such as fever, malaise, weight loss, cough or can be asymptomatic and can only be discovered incidentally on radiologic imaging. [10] Most common radiologic manifestation of PPC is solitary or multiple pulmonary nodules or masses, which mimics primary or metastatic malignancy. [5],[9],[10] A large solitary cryptococcoma replacing the majority of a lobe, as seen in our case, is highly unusual.

  References Top

Gang BX, Li ZF, Tuo ZT, Jing H. Adult T-cell lymphoma complicating cryptococcal infection of lymph nodes: A case report and review of literature. J Chin Clin Med 2010;5:1-6.  Back to cited text no. 1
Núñez M, Peacock JE Jr, Chin R Jr. Pulmonary cryptococcosis in the immunocompetent host. Therapy with oral fluconazole: A report of four cases and a review of the literature. Chest 2000;118:527-34.  Back to cited text no. 2
Kim NR, Ha SY, Chung DH, Han J, Lee KS, Kwon OJ, et al. Isolated Pulmonary Cryptocryptoccosis - Report of six cases and review of the Korean cases. Korean J Pathol 2003;37:193-8.  Back to cited text no. 3
Ziomek S, Weinstein W, Margulies M, Braun RA. Primary pulmonary cryptococcosis presenting as a superior sulcus tumor. Ann Thorac Surg 1992;53:892-3.  Back to cited text no. 4
Naik-Mathuria B, Roman-Pavajeau J, Leleux TM, Wall MJ Jr. A 29-year-old immunocompetent man with meningitis and a large pulmonary mass. Chest 2008;133:1030-3.  Back to cited text no. 5
Aberg JA, Mundy LM, Powderly WG. Pulmonary cryptococcosis in patients without HIV infection. Chest 1999;115:734-40.  Back to cited text no. 6
Flickinger FW, Sathyanarayana, White JE, Stincer EJ, Fincher RM. Cryptococcal pneumonia occurring as an infiltrative mass simulating carcinoma in an immunocompetent host: Plain film, CT, and MRI findings. South Med J 1993;86:450-2.  Back to cited text no. 7
Kishi K, Homma S, Kurosaki A, Kohno T, Motoi N, Yoshimura K. Clinical features and high-resolution CT findings of pulmonary cryptococcosis in non-AIDS patients. Respir Med 2006;100:807-12.  Back to cited text no. 8
Wu B, Liu H, Huang J, Zhang W, Zhang T. Pulmonary cryptococcosis in non-AIDS patients. Clin Invest Med 2009;32:E70-7.  Back to cited text no. 9
Chen CG, Chen CS, Huang CW, Liu MY. Cryptococcal empyema in an immunocompetent host. J Med Sci 2004;24:49-54.  Back to cited text no. 10


  [Figure 1], [Figure 2], [Figure 3], [Figure 4]


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