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Mixed Pneumocystis and Cryptococcus cutaneous infection histologically mimicking xanthoma

Zachary G Peña, Hugh R Byers, Larisa M Lehmer, Carolyn A Smith, Bruce D Ragsdale
American Journal of Dermatopathology 2013, 35 (1): e6-10
Cutaneous Pneumocystis jirovecii infection is rare. It is thought that the disease emerges from a latent infection delivered via hematogenous and/or lymphatic dissemination from a primary lung infection in immunocompromised individuals. A 32-year-old human immunodeficiency virus-positive male was admitted for headache and vomiting. He was diagnosed with meningitis due to Cryptococcus neoformans and sputum tested positive for Pneumocystis. Six months later, he presented with a slightly crusted yellowish brown plaque and 2 similar but smaller papules with telangiectasia near the right angle of the mouth. Biopsy of the area featured histiocytes expanded by foamy cytoplasm as in a xanthoma except that the vacuoles were coarser. Special stains ultimately demonstrated the characteristic disks of Pneumocystis accompanied by a minor component of budding yeasts (Cryptococcus) in the same fields. This case illustrates the utility of adequate special stains in recognizing a mixed cutaneous infection, particularly in human immunodeficiency virus-positive patients, when microscopy presents an odd xanthoma-like lesion.

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