For kidney transplant recipients with a serious complication called BK virus-associated nephropathy (BKVAN), promptly cutting back on anti-rejection drugs reduces the risk of losing the kidney (graft loss), according to a report in the November Clinical Journal of the American Society of Nephrology (CJASN).
"Our study is the first that demonstrates differences in outcomes when comparing two different immunosuppression tapering approaches in BKVAN, an increasingly prevalent, discouraging problem after kidney transplantation," comments Alexander C.Wiseman, MD, of the University of Colorado at Denver Health Sciences Center, one of the study authors.
The researchers compared the results of competing strategies for reducing immunosuppressive therapy in kidney transplant recipients with BKVAN. "Recognized slightly more than 10 years ago, BKVAN is caused by reactivation of a virus that exists latent in about 80 percent of all human kidneys," explains Dr. Wiseman. In healthy people, the BK virus is harmless.
However, in patients receiving immunosuppressive drugs to prevent rejection after kidney transplantation, the BK virus can become reactivated. "BKVAN occurs in two to 10 percent of kidney transplant recipients, routinely causing irreversible graft injury with a high frequency of graft loss," says Dr. Wiseman.
Of 910 patients receiving kidney transplants between 1999 and 2005, 3.8 percent developed BKVAN. Of these, 46 percent eventually lost the transplanted kidney. One group of patients was treated using a "withdrawal" strategy, in which the number of immunosuppressive drugs was cut back from three to two. Another group was treated by a "reduction" strategy, with a reduced dose of all three medications. The idea is that cutting back on anti-rejection drugs will allow the body's immune system to become strong enough to fight off the BK virus.
One year later, the transplanted kidney was still functioning in 8
|Contact: Shari Leventhal|
American Society of Nephrology