Polyomavirus BK-Specific Immunity after Kidney Transplantation

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Failure to mount or maintain a protective immune response may influence the development of polyomavirus BK (BKV)-associated nephropathy (PVAN). However, limited data are so far available on BKV-specific immunity after kidney transplantation. BKV-specific cellular immune response was retrospectively analyzed in kidney recipients with or without BKV infection/reactivation by measuring the frequency of interferon (IFN)–γ-secreting cells in peripheral blood. Patients with BKV-active infection and good renal function (n=6) had a mean BKV-specific lymphocyte frequency 2 log lower than healthy controls and in the same range as BKV-seropositive recipients without active infection (n=7). Patients with PVAN (n=5) revealed undetectable levels of BKV-specific cells. However, two patients from the latter cohort treated with immunosuppression reduction showed the emergence of specific immunity, with IFN-γ production in the same range as healthy controls. Our preliminary data suggest that lack of protective immunity toward BKV may favor the occurrence of BKV active infection and influence the progression to PVAN.

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