Background: Between 1955 and 1963, millions of individuals worldwide received vaccines contaminated with polyomavirus simian virus (SV)40. Recent data suggest that some individuals may develop renal dysfunction related to SV40 infection, including individuals too young to have received contaminated vaccines.
Case report and results: Three years after bilateral lung transplantation, a 32-year-old man with cystic fibrosis developed nephrotic syndrome and progressed to end-stage renal failure over 1.5 years. He was shown to have nephropathy caused by SV40. The diagnosis was documented by detecting and confirming sequences of SV40 (but not BK or JC virus) in his kidney biopsy and urine by polymerase chain reaction, Southern blot, and DNA sequencing. Positive immunohistochemistry for SV40 was found in his kidney, and neutralizing antibodies for SV40 were detected in his serum, before and after the onset of renal dysfunction. A source for the virus was not determined. His household contacts did not have serologic or molecular evidence of SV40 infection. No serum or tissue samples were available from his 27-year-old donor.
Discussion: This report shows that SV40 is circulating in the community and can cause nephropathy in transplant patients.