Polyomavirus BK infection in pediatric kidney-allograft recipients: a single-center analysis of incidence, risk factors, and novel therapeutic approaches

Transplantation. 2003 Apr 27;75(8):1266-70. doi: 10.1097/01.TP.0000061767.32870.72.


Background: Although a growing body of literature regarding polyoma BK virus (BKV) infection and associated interstitial nephritis in kidney-allograft recipients is becoming available, the impact of BKV infection in the pediatric population has not been fully evaluated.

Methods: In a retrospective analysis, we performed polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assays for BKV DNA in serum and urine samples from 100 pediatric kidney-allograft recipients referred to our institution in the last 5 years.

Results: BKV viruria was observed in 26 of 100 patients, whereas BKV viremia was demonstrated in 5 patients. Serum creatinine was significantly higher in recipients with positive BK viremia compared with BKV DNA-negative patients (mean 2.66 vs. 1.14 mg/100 mL). Renal biopsy performed in 3 of 5 patients showed graft damage consistent with interstitial nephropathy. In the univariate analysis, negative antibody status of the recipient and the presence of mycophenolate mofetil in baseline immunosuppression were the two factors predictive of active BKV infection.

Conclusions: Our study shows that BKV-associated nephropathy is a relevant complication in the pediatric kidney transplantation setting also. Identification of patients at risk of developing virus-associated nephropathy, through prospective quantification of viral load, could improve clinical outcome by allowing the use of timely preemptive therapy guided by BKV DNA levels.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • BK Virus* / isolation & purification
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Kidney Diseases / virology*
  • Kidney Transplantation*
  • Male
  • Polyomavirus Infections / epidemiology
  • Polyomavirus Infections / etiology*
  • Polyomavirus Infections / physiopathology
  • Polyomavirus Infections / therapy*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Transplantation, Homologous
  • Urine / virology
  • Viremia / etiology