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Cesk Patol. 2005 Oct;41(4):163-6.

BK-virus nephropathy and simultaneous C4d positive staining in renal allografts.

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Department of Pathology, Institute for Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Prague, Czech Republic.


The role of antibodies in rejection of transplanted kidneys was the subject of debate at the last two Banff meetings and in medical journals. Diffuse C4d positive staining of peritubular capillaries (PTCs) was recognized as a marker of antibody-mediated rejection and this morphological feature was included in the updated Banff schema. At the same time polyomavirus infection of the renal allografts has been reported more frequently and is emerging as an important cause of renal allograft dysfunction and graft loss. At the present time, BK-virus nephropathy (BKN) represents the most common viral disease affecting renal allografts. BKN was identified in 6 patients in 12 biopsies and 2 graft nephrectomy specimens of 1115 biopsies between September 2000 and December 2003. Definite virus identification was done by immunohistochemistry. The reason for graft nephrectomies was graft failure due to BKN in a recipient after kidney-pancreas transplantation with good function of his pancreas graft and the necessity of continuing immunosuppression. Detection of C4d deposits was performed by immunofluorescence or by immunohistochemistry. In graftectomy samples C4d detection was performed by immunohistochemistry and retrospectively in all cases of BKN. Focal C4d positive PTCs and BKN were found simultaneously in 9 of 12 needle biopsies and in both graft nephrectomy samples. Detection of C4d by immunohistochemistry disclosed focal C4d positive staining in kidney tissue but diffuse in the sites where BK-virus inclusions in tubular epithelial cells were found. The complement system is part of the host defense response and is crucial to our natural ability to ward off infection. In cases of BKN, virus likely gains access to the bloodstream through injured tubular walls and via PTCs. Vascular endothelium in the PTCs represents a potential target antigen for alloresponse, and simultaneously possibly represents an imprint of complement activation or complement production in the places with BK-virus infection.

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