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Transplant infectious disease


BACKGROUND: Reducing immunosuppression can effectively treat BK viremia (BKV) and BK nephropathy, but has been associated with increased risks for acute rejection and development of donor-specific antibodies (DSA). To date there have been no systematic evaluations of re-escalating immunosuppression in transplant patients with resolving BKV. Importantly, the safety of this approach and impact on graft survival is unclear.

METHODS: We performed a single-center retrospective review of kidney transplant recipients between July 2011 and June 2013 who had immunosuppression reduction after developing BKV (plasma PCR ≥ 1000 copies/ml). Changes in immunosuppression and patient outcomes were tracked until occurrence of a complication event: biopsy-proven acute rejection (BPAR), detection of de novo DSA, or recurrent BKV. Patients were grouped according to whether or not net immunosuppression was eventually increased.

RESULTS: Out of 88 patients with BKV, 44 (50%) had net immunosuppression increased while the other 44 did not. Duration of viremia, peak viremia, induction, and sensitization status were similar between the two groups. In a Kaplan-Meier analysis, increasing immunosuppression was associated with less BPAR (P = .001) and a trend toward less de novo DSA development (P = .06). Death-censored graft survival (P = .27) was not different between the two groups. In the net immunosuppression increase group, recurrent BKV occurred in 22.7% without any BKV-related graft losses.

CONCLUSION: These findings support potential benefits of increasing immunosuppression in patients with low-level or resolved BKV, but prospective trials are needed to better understand such an approach.

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