Risk factors for BK polyomavirus nephritis in renal allograft recipients

Clin Transplant. 2004 Aug;18(4):456-62. doi: 10.1111/j.1399-0012.2004.00191.x.


Recurrent episodes of acute rejection (AR) and/or the intense immunosuppression used for their treatment have been proposed as risk factors for BK nephritis (BKN; BK refers to the initials of the first patient from whom this polyomavirus was isolated). To further examine the relationship between AR and BKN, we analyzed all kidney transplants performed at our center between January 1999 and August 2001 (n = 286). After a mean follow-up of 737 +/- 22 d, we identified nine cases of BKN (3.1%). The mean time to diagnosis of BKN was 326 +/- 56 d. No patient with BKN had a prior history of AR. During the same period, 62 patients were diagnosed with AR (22%). The mean time to diagnosis of AR was 197 +/- 40 d (p = 0.01 vs. time to diagnosis of BKN). Despite aggressive therapy with methylprednisolone and, in some cases, anti-lymphocyte antibody, none of these patients with AR developed BKN. We compared the baseline characteristics of patients in both groups and found that BKN patients were more likely to be white people (78 vs. 44%, p = 0.05) and male (89 vs. 53%, p = 0.04). Moreover, the mean tacrolimus (TAC) levels before diagnosis were higher in BKN than in AR patients (11.7 +/- 0.5 vs. 6.5 +/- 0.6 ng/mL, p < 0.001). In summary, our study shows that BKN often occurs in the absence of prior episodes of AR. In addition, our findings suggest that white males exposed to higher TAC levels are at greater risk of developing BKN.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antilymphocyte Serum / therapeutic use
  • BK Virus* / isolation & purification
  • Female
  • Glucocorticoids / therapeutic use
  • Graft Rejection / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Incidence
  • Kidney Transplantation* / immunology
  • Male
  • Methylprednisolone / therapeutic use
  • Middle Aged
  • Nephritis / virology*
  • Opportunistic Infections / epidemiology*
  • Polyomavirus Infections / epidemiology*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Tumor Virus Infections / epidemiology*
  • Urine / virology


  • Antilymphocyte Serum
  • Glucocorticoids
  • Immunosuppressive Agents
  • Methylprednisolone