Early monitoring of the human polyomavirus BK replication and sequencing analysis in a cohort of adult kidney transplant patients treated with basiliximab
1 Department of Public Health and Infectious Diseases, "Sapienza" University of Rome, Rome, Italy
2 Department of Clinical Medicine, Nephrology and Dialysis Unit, "Sapienza" University of Rome, Rome, Italy
3 Department of Infectious and Tropical Diseases, "Sapienza" University of Rome, Rome, Italy
4 National Institute for Infectious Diseases Lazzaro Spallanzani, Rome, Italy
5 Doctoral School of Oncology and Genetics, University of Siena, Siena, Italy
6 Sbarro Institute for Cancer Research and Molecular Medicine, Center for Biotechnology, College of Science and Technology, Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Virology Journal 2011, 8:407 doi:10.1186/1743-422X-8-407Published: 17 August 2011
Nowadays, better immunosuppressors have decreased the rates of acute rejection in kidney transplantation, but have also led to the emergence of BKV-associated nephropathy (BKVAN). Therefore, we prospectively investigated BKV load in plasma and urine samples in a cohort of kidney transplants, receiving basiliximab combined with a mycophenolate mofetil-based triple immunotherapy, to evaluate the difference between BKV replication during the first 3 months post-transplantation, characterized by the non-depleting action of basiliximab, versus the second 3 months, in which the maintenance therapy acts alone. We also performed sequencing analysis to assess whether a particular BKV subtype/subgroup or transcriptional control region (TCR) variants were present.
We monitored BK viruria and viremia by quantitative polymerase chain reaction (Q-PCR) at 12 hours (Tx), 1 (T1), 3 (T2) and 6 (T3) months post-transplantation among 60 kidney transplant patients. Sequencing analysis was performed by nested-PCR with specific primers for TCR and VP1 regions. Data were statistically analyzed using χ2 test and Student's t-test.
BKV was detected at Tx in 4/60 urine and in 16/60 plasma, with median viral loads of 3,70 log GEq/mL and 3,79 log GEq/mL, respectively, followed by a significant increase of both BKV-positive transplants (32/60) and median values of viruria (5,78 log GEq/mL) and viremia (4,52 log GEq/mL) at T2. Conversely, a significantly decrease of patients with viruria and viremia (17/60) was observed at T3, together with a reduction of the median urinary and plasma viral loads (4,09 log GEq/mL and 4,00 log GEq/mL, respectively). BKV TCR sequence analysis always showed the presence of archetypal sequences, with a few single-nucleotide substitutions and one nucleotide insertion that, interestingly, were all representative of the particular subtypes/subgroups we identified by VP1 sequencing analysis: I/b-2 and IV/c-2.
Our results confirm previous studies indicating that BKV replication may occur during the early hours after kidney transplantation, reaches the highest incidence in the third post-transplantation month and then decreases within the sixth month, maybe due to induction therapy. Moreover, it might become clinically useful whether specific BKV subtypes or rearrangements could be linked to a particular disease state in order to detect them before BKVAN onset.