A cluster of parvovirus B19 infections in renal transplant recipients: a prospective case series and review of the literature

Am J Transplant. 2006 Jan;6(1):225-31. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-6143.2005.01139.x.


Up to 9% of renal transplant recipients have severe multifactorial erythropoietin-resistant anemia. Human parvovirus B19 (PVB19) infection can cause severe anemia and is likely underreported. Sparse information on epidemiology and management in this population exists. To address these issues, after our first index case, we modified our clinical practice to prospectively screen patients with persistent hemoglobin (Hb) <10 mg/dL for PVB19 infection after excluding common causes of anemia including erythropoietin resistance. Potentially infected patients were further evaluated by serology, qualitative polymerase chain reaction (quPCR) and bone marrow biopsy (BMB) for cytomegalovirus, Epstein-Barr virus, PVB19 and other etiologies. Over 3 months, 212 kidney recipients visited outpatient clinics. Of 52 recipients with anemia, 8 had an Hb <10 mg/dL with erythropoietin resistance and were screened for PVB19 infection. Three cases had PVB19 infection by quPCR and often-inconclusive serology/BMB results. Cases had immunosuppression reduced and received IVIG (0.5 gm/kg x 4 doses) with recovery from anemia, viral clearance in two cases and one recurrence. PVB19-mediated anemia occurred in up to three out of eight (38%) screened kidney recipients with Hb <10 mg/dL resistant to erythrypoietin. We recommend prospective risk stratification for this population, high indices of suspicion using at least qualitative techniques for diagnosis and treatment goal for viral eradication.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anemia / diagnosis*
  • Anemia / virology
  • Bone Marrow / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Kidney Transplantation*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Parvoviridae Infections / diagnosis*
  • Parvovirus B19, Human* / isolation & purification