Reactivation of BK virus in renal allografts causes a destructive chronic infection. This single-center retrospective cohort study describes the evolution of BK virus allograft nephropathy (BKVAN) from 63 kidneys (from 61 patients) using sequential histopathology (454 biopsies, averaging 7.8 ± 2.6 per kidney) followed for 60.1 mo. Uninfected protocol biopsies formulated time-matched control Banff scores (n = 975). Interstitial inflammation occurred in 73% at diagnosis, correlating with viral histopathology (r = 0.413, p = 0.008) and amplifying early injury with accelerated interstitial fibrosis and tubular atrophy (IF/TA, p = 0.017) by 3 mo. Prodromal simian virus 40 large T antigen (SV40T)-negative inflammation with viremia preceded the histological diagnosis in 23.8%. Persistent subacute injury from viral cytopathic effect was associated with acute tubular necrosis and ongoing interstitial inflammation, culminating in IF/TA in 86.9%. Overall, cellular interstitial infiltration mitigated the intensity of subsequent tubular injury, SV40T, and tissue viral load, assessed by sequential paired histology (p < 0.001). Graft loss was predicted by high-level viremia (hazard ratio [HR] 4.996, 95% CI 2.19-11.396, p < 0.001), deceased donor (HR 3.201, 95% CI 1.149-8.915, p = 0.026), and late acute rejection (HR 3.124, 95% CI 1.037-9.413, p = 0.043). Transplant failure occurred in 38.1%, with uncontrolled infection (58.3%) and SV40T-negative chronic rejection (41.7%) causing losses. BKVAN is characterized by subacute virus-induced tubular injury, inflammation, and progressive nephron destruction. Effective antiviral therapy remains an unmet clinical need.
Keywords: clinical research/practice; complication: infectious; infection and infectious agents; infectious disease; kidney transplantation/nephrology; pathology/histopathology; viral: BK/JC/polyoma.
© 2017 The American Society of Transplantation and the American Society of Transplant Surgeons.