BackgroundAlthough Moraxella catarrhalis (M. catarrhalis) is a common cause of community-acquired pneumonia (CAP), studies investigating clinical manifestations of CAP due to M. catarrhalis (MC-CAP) in adults are limited. Since S. pneumoniae is the leading cause of CAP globally, it is important to distinguish between MC-CAP and CAP due to S. pneumoniae (SP-CAP) in clinical practice. However, no past study compared clinical characteristics of MC-CAP and SP-CAP by statistical analysis. We aimed to clarify the clinical characteristics of MC-CAP by comparing those of SP-CAP, as well as the utility of sputum Gram staining.MethodsThis retrospective study screened CAP patients aged over 20 years visiting or admitted to Okinawa Miyako Hospital between May 2013 and April 2018. Among these, we included patients whom either M. catarrhalis alone or S. pneumoniae alone was isolated from their sputum by bacterial cultures.ResultsWe identified 134 MC-CAP and 130 SP-CAP patients. Although seasonality was not observed in SP-CAP, almost half of MC-CAP patients were admitted in the winter. Compared to those with SP-CAP, MC-CAP patients were older (p < 0.01) and more likely to have underlying pulmonary diseases such as asthma and bronchiectasis (p < 0.01). Approximately half of asthmatic MC-CAP and SP-CAP patients had asthma attacks. Although winter is an influenza season in Japan, co-infection with influenza virus was less common in MC-CAP compared to SP-CAP patients (3% vs. 15%, p < 0.01). Bronchopneumonia patterns on X-ray, as well as bronchial wall thickening, bilateral distribution, and segmental pattern on CT were more common in MC-CAP patients than in SP-CAP patients (p < 0.01). Sputum Gram stain was highly useful method for the diagnosis in both MC-CAP and SP-CAP (78.4% vs. 89.2%), and penicillins were most frequently chosen as an initial treatment for both pneumonias.ConclusionsThis is the first study to show that MC-CAP occurred in older people compared to SP-CAP, influenza virus co-infection was less common in MC-CAP than SP-CAP, and that MC-CAP frequently caused asthma attacks. Gram stain contributed for the appropriate treatment, resulting in conserving broad-spectrum antibiotics such as cephalosporins and fluoroquinolones in both MC-CAP and SP-CAP patients.