Polyomavirus nephropathy: quantitative urinary polyomavirus-Haufen testing accurately predicts the degree of intrarenal viral disease

Transplantation. 2015 Mar;99(3):609-15. doi: 10.1097/TP.0000000000000367.


Background: A qualitative highly predictive urinary test for polyomavirus nephropathy (PVN) is the PV-Haufen test. This article evaluates whether a quantitative PV-Haufen analysis, that is, the number of PV-Haufen shed per milliliter urine, predicts PVN disease grades and the severity of intrarenal PV replication.

Methods: Polyomavirus-Haufen were counted in 40 urine samples from patients with biopsy-proven definitive PVN. The number of PV-Haufen was correlated with both histologic PVN disease grades 1 to 3 and the number of SV40-T-expressing cells as indicators of intrarenal PV replication in corresponding renal allograft biopsies (manual counts and automated morphometry). Findings from quantitative PV-Haufen analyses were compared to conventional laboratory test results, that is, BK viremia (quantitative polymerase chain reaction [PCR]) and BK viruria (quantitative PCR and decoy cell counts).

Results: Polyomavirus-Haufen counts showed excellent correlation (α0.77-0.86) with the severity of intrarenal PV replication and disease grades. In particular, low PV-Haufen numbers strongly correlated with early PVN grade 1 and minimal intrarenal expression of SV40-T antigen (P < 0.001). In comparison, BK viremia and viruria levels by PCR showed only modest correlations with histologic SV40-T expression (α0.40-0.49) and no significant correlation with disease grades or minimal intrarenal PV replication. No correlations were seen with urinary decoy cell counts. In contrast to conventional quantitative PCR assays or decoy cell counts, quantitative urinary PV-Haufen testing accurately reflects the severity of PV replication, tissue injury, and PVN disease grades.

Conclusions: Quantitative PV-Haufen testing is a novel noninvasive approach to patient management for the diagnosis and prediction of PVN disease grades and monitoring of disease course during therapy.

MeSH terms

  • Antigens, Polyomavirus Transforming / chemistry
  • Biopsy
  • DNA, Viral / urine*
  • Graft Survival
  • Humans
  • Kidney Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Kidney Diseases / virology*
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Polyomavirus / physiology
  • Polyomavirus Infections / diagnosis*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Viremia / urine*
  • Viremia / virology*
  • Virus Replication


  • Antigens, Polyomavirus Transforming
  • DNA, Viral