Background: Overimmunosuppression is a widely recognized risk factor for BK virus (BKV) infection, particularly with the combination of tacrolimus, mycophenolate mofetil (MMF), and steroids. Nevertheless, the exact impact of exposure to tacrolimus and MMF is not well understood.
Methods: We examined 240 kidney recipients between 2006 and 2008. BKV was monitored every 2 months in the urine or blood. A kidney biopsy was performed when viremia exceeded 10 copies/mL.
Results: Ninety-five (40%) patients had sustained viruria, 48 (20%) sustained viremia, and 17 (7%) biopsy-proven polyomavirus-associated nephropathy. The mean time-to-occurrence was 7.6, 7.9, and 9.7 months for viruria, viremia, and polyomavirus-associated nephropathy. Risk factors associated with BKV infection in univariate analyses were retransplantation, panel-reactive antibody more than 0%, cytomegalovirus D+/R-, cold ischemia time, delayed graft function, induction with antithymocyte globulins, acute rejection before month 3 (M3), tacrolimus trough levels more than 10 ng/mL, and M3 AUC0-12 hr more than 50 hr mg/L. Multivariate analyses showed that cytomegalovirus D+/R- (adjusted hazard ratio [AHR], 2.03; P=0.05), acute rejection (AHR, 5.4; P<0.001), and mycophenolic acid AUC0-12 hr more than 50 hr mg/L (AHR, 3.6; P=0.001) were risk factors for BKV.
Conclusions: This study identified a link between a state of increased immunosuppression and BKV infection, especially in patients with higher MMF exposure and elevated tacrolimus trough levels at M3.