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Keywords:

  • BK nephropathy;
  • BK polyoma virus;
  • BK virus;
  • BK virus allograft nephropathy;
  • BK virus nephritis;
  • bone marrow transplantation;
  • cidofovir;
  • kidney allograft;
  • kidney transplantation;
  • proximal tubule;
  • real time polymerase chain reaction (PCR);
  • real time RT-PCR;
  • viral infection;
  • viral load;
  • viral therapy

The human polyomavirus BK (BKV) causes nephropathy and hemorrhagic cystitis in kidney and bone marrow transplant patients, respectively. The anti-viral cidofovir (CDV) has been used in small case series but the effects on BKV replication are unclear, since polyomaviruses do not encode viral DNA polymerases. We investigated the effects of CDV on BKV(Dunlop) replication in primary human renal proximal tubule epithelial cells (RPTECs). CDV inhibited the generation of viral progeny in a dose-dependent manner yielding a 90% reduction at 40 μg/mL. Early steps such as receptor binding and entry seemed unaffected. Initial large T-antigen transcription and expression were also unaffected, but subsequent intra-cellular BKV DNA replication was reduced by >90%. Late viral mRNA and corresponding protein levels were also 90% reduced. In uninfected RPTECs, CDV 40 μg/mL reduced cellular DNA replication and metabolic activity by 7% and 11% in BrdU and WST-1 assays, respectively. BKV infection increased DNA replication to 142% and metabolic activity to 116%, respectively, which were reduced by CDV 40 μg/mL to levels of uninfected untreated RPTECs. Our results show that CDV inhibits BKV DNA replication downstream of large T-antigen expression and involves significant host cell toxicity. This should be considered in current treatment and drug development.