Polyomavirus BK nephropathy (BKVN) is an important infectious complication in kidney transplantation. Since graft survival in patients with BKVN is poor, current clinical practice focuses on screening for viral replication, and pre-emptive reduction of immunosuppression in viraemic patients. Urinary cytology, nucleic acid testing of urine and/or plasma, and viral-specific staining of biopsy specimens are necessary for diagnosis. Infected tubular cells show intranuclear inclusions, lysis or necrosis, and shedding into the tubular lumen. But such light microscopy findings are quite focally observed in many cases, and varying degrees of tubulointerstitial inflammation mimicking T-cell-mediated acute rejection make accurate diagnosis difficult. There is a histological classification of BKVN originally reported by the University of Maryland in 2001, and modified by American Society of Transplantation Infectious Disease Community of Practice, which focuses on interstitial inflammation and fibrosis. Another classification was proposed by the Banff Working Group in 2009 (Banff Working Proposal), which focuses on acute tubular injury instead of interstitial inflammation. The usefulness of the Banff Working Proposal is now under consideration with a multicenter study being conducted, but it has not yet reached a clear conclusion. In this review, the current screening strategies for the replication of BK virus, difficulties with diagnosis, histopathological classifications, treatments, and prognostic factors of BKVN are discussed.
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