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J Am Soc Nephrol. 2002 Aug;13(8):2145-51.

Clinical course of polyoma virus nephropathy in 67 renal transplant patients.

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Departments of Medicine, Pathology, Pharmacy Services, and Surgery, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, Maryland 21201, USA.


Polyoma virus (PV) can cause interstitial nephritis and lead to graft failure in renal transplant recipients. The clinical course of patients with polyoma virus nephritis (PVN) is not well understood, partially due to its relatively low incidence. This study is a retrospective analysis of our experience over 4 yr. The specific purpose is to outline the clinical course and outcome of patients with PVN and to study the relationship between immunosuppression and the disease process. Between June 1997 and March 2001, 67 patients with graft dysfunction were found to have biopsy-proven PVN. The diagnosis was made at a mean of 12.8 +/- 9.9 mo posttransplantation. The majority of patients were men (79%) with a mean age of 54 +/- 14 yr (range, 28 to 75). All patients received immunosuppression with a calcineurin inhibitor (tacrolimus in 89% of patients). All patients except two received mycophenolate mofetil and prednisone. After the diagnosis of PVN, maintenance immunosuppression was reduced in 52 patients and remained unchanged in 15 patients. After reduction of immunosuppression, eight patients (15.3%) developed acute rejection and six (11.5%) became negative for PV in biopsy and urine. After a mean observation period of 12.6 mo (mean of 26 mo posttransplantation), 16.4% of patients had lost their grafts (8 of 52 in the reduction group and 3 of 15 in the no change group). In comparison to a case-matched polyoma virus-negative control group, the PVN patients were older (P =.0004) and there was a predominance of men (P = 0.02). Kaplan-Meier analysis demonstrated that patients with PVN had reduced graft survival compared with negative controls (P =.0004). It is concluded that PVN is a serious hazard for renal transplant recipients and contributes directly to graft loss. Antiviral drugs are needed, as the reduction of immunosuppression alone may not significantly improve graft function in patients with already established PVN. Although multiple factors probably play a role in the development of PVN, judicious use of immunosuppressive agents is indicated to minimize the occurrence of this infection.

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