Leflunomide therapy for BK virus allograft nephropathy in pediatric and young adult kidney transplant recipients

Pediatr Transplant. 2010 Feb;14(1):145-50. doi: 10.1111/j.1399-3046.2009.01183.x. Epub 2009 Mar 31.


BKVAN affects about 5% of kidney transplant recipients and may lead to graft failure. Treatment for BKVAN is challenging. Leflunomide, an immunosuppressant with antiviral activity in vitro was used successfully in some adult patients but there are no reports of its use in pediatric patients. We present our experience with three kidney transplant recipients with BKVAN who received leflunomide. Three male patients aged 9, 12, and 20 yr developed BKVAN at 9, 12, and 2 months after a kidney transplant. Immunosuppression was reduced and cidofovir was administered in all patients 2-3 wk apart. Due to inability to travel to receive cidofovir in one, lack of reduction in BK viral load in the second, and rising serum creatinine despite cidofovir in the third patient, we discontinued cidofovir and initiated leflunomide. Teriflunomide target trough levels were 30-60 microg/mL. The patients received leflunomide for 27, 26, and 24 months, respectively. BK viral load decreased below 1000 DNA copies/mL in one and was undetectable in two patients after beginning leflunomide. All patients tolerated leflunomide without side effects. Leflunomide use in a select group of patients is well tolerated and may provide an alternative for treatment of BKVAN in pediatric patients.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Antiviral Agents / therapeutic use
  • BK Virus / genetics*
  • Child
  • DNA, Viral / analysis*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / administration & dosage
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / therapeutic use*
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Isoxazoles / administration & dosage
  • Isoxazoles / therapeutic use*
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / surgery
  • Kidney Transplantation / adverse effects*
  • Leflunomide
  • Male
  • Polyomavirus Infections / drug therapy*
  • Polyomavirus Infections / virology
  • Transplantation, Homologous
  • Tumor Virus Infections / drug therapy*
  • Tumor Virus Infections / virology
  • Young Adult


  • Antiviral Agents
  • DNA, Viral
  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Isoxazoles
  • Leflunomide