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Keywords:

  • Fibrosis;
  • inflammation;
  • kidney;
  • polyomavirus;
  • rejection;
  • transplant

Understanding at a molecular level, the immunologic response of polyomavirus nephropathy (PVN), a critical cause of kidney graft loss, could lead to new targets for treatment and diagnosis. We undertook a transcriptional evaluation of kidney allograft biopsies from recipients with PVN or acute rejection (AR), as well as from recipients with stable allograft function (SF). In both the PVN and AR groups, Banff histologic scores and immunohistochemical analysis of inflammatory infiltrates were similar. Despite their different etiologies, the transcriptional profiles of PVN and AR were remarkably similar. However, transcription of genes previously linked to AR including CD8 (65.9 ± 18.8) and related molecules IFN-γ(55.1 ± 17.0), CXCR3 (49.9 ± 12.8) and perforin (153.8 ± 50.4) were significantly higher in PVN compared to AR (30.9 ± 2.0, 14.0 ± 7.3, 12.1 ± 7.3 and 15.6 ± 3.8-fold, respectively; p < 0.01). Importantly, transcription of molecules associated with graft fibrosis including matrix collagens, TGFβ, MMP2 and 9, as well as markers of epithelial-mesenchymal transformation (EMT) were significantly higher in PVN than AR. Thus, renal allografts with PVN transcribe proinflammatory genes equal in character and larger in magnitude to that seen during acute cellular rejection. BK infection creates a transcriptional microenvironment that promotes graft fibrosis. These findings provide new insights into the intrarenal inflammation of BK infection that promotes graft loss.