Journal Article

BK polyoma virus nephropathy in the native kidney

Shree G. Sharma, Volker Nickeleit, Leal C. Herlitz, Anne K. de Gonzalez, Michael B. Stokes, Harsharan K. Singh, Glen S. Markowitz and Vivette D. D'Agati

in Nephrology Dialysis Transplantation

Published on behalf of European Renal Association - European Dialysis and Transplant Assoc

Volume 28, issue 3, pages 620-631
Published in print March 2013 | ISSN: 0931-0509
Published online December 2012 | e-ISSN: 1460-2385 | DOI:
BK polyoma virus nephropathy in the native kidney

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While BK polyoma virus nephropathy (PVN) is a well-recognized cause of renal allograft dysfunction, PVN of native kidneys is likely under-recognized.


We present the pathologic features, risk factors and outcomes of eight cases of PVN in native kidneys.


The cohort included eight males aged 16–73 years (mean 47.4) with an immunocompromised state (mean duration 3.15 years) attributable to: hematologic malignancies (n = 6), for which three had undergone bone marrow transplant; lung transplant (n = 1) and combined tuberculosis and diabetes (n = 1). Seven patients were receiving specific immunosuppressive therapies. Patients were biopsied for acute kidney injury (AKI) with rise in mean creatinine levels from baseline 1.6 to 2.8 mg/dL. Pathology showed BK PVN with characteristic intranuclear inclusions staining positive for SV40 T antigen and negative for JC virus (JCV), with positive serum and/or urine PCR for BK virus. One patient had focal medullary JCV co-infection. Two patients also had renal infiltration by chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL). Six patients received specific therapy directed to PVN (cidofovir or leflunomide). Follow-up ranged from 2 to 20 (mean 10) months. Despite marked decrease in serum BK viral copy numbers, creatinine continued to rise in six cases (mean 3.7 mg/dL in four, requiring dialysis in two) and three patients died of malignancy, opportunistic infection or renal failure. Advanced histologic stage of PVN, ineffective antiviral therapy, co-morbidities and persistent immunocompromised state likely contributed to the poor outcomes.


A high level of suspicion in immunocompromised patients is needed to diagnose PVN in an early stage that may respond more favorably to antiviral therapy.

Keywords: acute renal failure; BK virus in native kidneys; BK virus nephropathy; polyoma virus nephropathy; renal allograft dysfunction

Journal Article.  4725 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Nephrology

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