BK polyomavirus-pathogen, paradigm and puzzle

Suman Krishna Kotla, Pradeep V. Kadambi, Allen R. Hendricks, Rebecca Rojas

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


BK virus is a polyomavirus with seroprevalence rates of 80% in adults. Infection is usually acquired during childhood, and the virus is benign or pathologic depending on immune status. The virus reactivates in immunodeficiency states, mostly among transplant (either kidney or bone marrow) recipients. There are approximately 15 000 renal transplants every year in the USA, of which 5-10% develop BK polyomavirus nephropathy; 50-80% of patients who develop nephropathy go on to develop graft failure. BK virus is associated with BK polyomavirus nephropathy, ureteral stenosis, late-onset hemorrhagic cystitis, bladder cancer and other nonlytic large T-expressing carcinomas. The renal spectrum begins with viruria and can end with graft failure. The clinical spectrum and outcomes vary among transplant patients. New noninvasive diagnostic methods, such as urinary polyomavirus Haufen detected by electron microscopy, are currently under study. Treatment is primarily directed at decreasing immunosuppression but may be associated with graft rejection. Repeat transplantation is encouraged as long as viral clearance in plasma prior to transplant is accomplished. There remain no definitive data regarding the utility of transplant nephrectomy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)587-593
Number of pages7
JournalNephrology Dialysis Transplantation
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2021


  • BK virus pathogenesis
  • diagnosis
  • prevention and treatment and re-transplantation
  • risk factors
  • screening

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nephrology
  • Transplantation


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