Background: Polyomavirus (PV) nephropathy has been attributed to reactivation of BK virus (BKV) or more rarely JC virus (JCV). The simian virus (SV) 40 is PV that was likely introduced into the human population through contaminated vaccines. The purpose of this study was to identify and characterize the PV that is associated with PV nephropathy.
Methods: The clinical diagnosis of PV nephropathy (PVN) was made in patients with acute deterioration in renal function whose renal biopsies showed typical viral cytopathic changes in tubular epithelial cells and staining for PV T antigen. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplification of DNA from peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC), urinary cells, and renal biopsy tissue was performed using specific primers for the transcription control regions of BKV, JCV, and SV40, respectively.
Results: Six cases of PV nephropathy were identified in 91 renal transplant recipients (7%). Immunosuppressive therapy was modified in all patients. Renal function stabilized or improved in four patients and deteriorated in two patients, and one patient has lost his allograft, after follow-up from 2 to 25 months. PCR detection demonstrated BKV genome in three of five PBMC samples, six of six urinary cell samples, and two of four renal biopsies. SV40 genome was detected in two of five PBMC samples, one of six urinary cell samples, and two of four renal biopsies. Infectious SV40 and BKV was demonstrated in CV-1 co-cultures using urine from one patient. JCV was not detected in any PVN sample. Co-infection with BKV and SV40 was found in two PVN patients. Urine samples obtained 12 months after transplant from 26 transplant recipients without PVN on simultaneous protocol renal biopsy were analyzed by PCR; BKV genome was demonstrated in 5 of 25 samples, JCV genome was demonstrated in 3 of 25 samples, and SV40 genome was demonstrated in 0 of 25 samples.
Conclusion: The authors report molecular evidence that co-infection with BKV and SV40 occurs in renal transplant patients with PVN, suggesting that SV40 may contribute to PVN after renal transplant.