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eISSN: 2329-0358

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BK Virus: A Cause for Concern in Thoracic Transplantation?

Markus J. Barten, Andreas Zuckermann

(University Heart Center, University Hospital Hamburg-Eppendorf, Hamburg, Germany)

Ann Transplant 2018; 23:310-321

DOI: 10.12659/AOT.908429


ABSTRACT: Human BK polyomavirus (BKV) infection is poorly documented in heart and lung transplant patients. BK viruria and viremia have been estimated to affect 19% and 5% of heart transplant recipients, respectively. Data are limited, especially for lung transplantation, but the proportion of patients progressing from BK viruria to viremia or BKV-related nephropathy (BKVN) appears lower than in kidney transplantation. Nevertheless, a number of cases of BKVN have been reported in heart and lung transplant patients, typically with late diagnosis and generally poor outcomes. Risk factors for BKV infection or BKVN in this setting are unclear but may include cytomegalovirus infection and anti-rejection treatment. The relative infrequency of BKVN or other BK-related complications means that routine BKV surveillance in thoracic transplantation is not warranted, but a diagnostic workup for BKV infection may be justified for progressive renal dysfunction with no readily-identifiable cause; after anti-rejection therapy; and for renal dysfunction in patients with cytomegalovirus infection or hypogammaglobulinemia. Treatment strategies in heart or lung transplant recipients rely on protocols developed in kidney transplantation, with reductions in immunosuppression tailored to match the higher risk status of thoracic transplant patients.

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