Update on the Management of BK Virus Infection

Exp Clin Transplant. 2020 Nov;18(6):659-670. doi: 10.6002/ect.2019.0254. Epub 2020 Jun 16.


The BK polyomavirus was isolated in 1971; it has been a significant risk factor for both graft dysfunction and failure in renal transplant recipients. So far, no specific treatment option has been available for effective treatment or prophylaxis for BK virus infections. Although the use of heavy immunosuppression has been the main risk factor for BK virus infection, other risk factors are equally important, including elderly recipients, prior rejection episodes, male sex, human leukocyte antigen mismatching, prolonged cold ischemia time, pretransplant BK virus serostatus, and ureteral stenting. Regular follow-up for BK virus infections according to each institution's policy has been, so far, effective in detecting patients with BK virus viremia and consequently preventing allograft loss. The mainstay of management continues to be reduction of immunosuppression. However, newer options are providing new insights, such as cellular immunotherapy. In this review, we will address the diagnosis, screening, new diagnostic tools, and updated management of BK virus infections.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adoptive Transfer
  • Antiviral Agents / adverse effects
  • Antiviral Agents / therapeutic use*
  • BK Virus / drug effects*
  • BK Virus / immunology
  • BK Virus / pathogenicity
  • Drug Substitution
  • Humans
  • Immunocompromised Host
  • Immunoglobulins, Intravenous / therapeutic use
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / adverse effects
  • Immunotherapy* / adverse effects
  • Kidney Transplantation* / adverse effects
  • Opportunistic Infections / immunology
  • Opportunistic Infections / therapy*
  • Opportunistic Infections / virology
  • Polyomavirus Infections / immunology
  • Polyomavirus Infections / therapy*
  • Polyomavirus Infections / virology
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Tumor Virus Infections / immunology
  • Tumor Virus Infections / therapy*
  • Tumor Virus Infections / virology


  • Antiviral Agents
  • Immunoglobulins, Intravenous
  • Immunosuppressive Agents