Infections due to BK papovavirus frequently occur in renal transplant recipients  and may be involved in a variety of syndromes, including ureteral obstruction, deterioration of graft function, and pancreatic disease. The source of the BK papovavirus in these cases is not clear. Because the renal allograft has been implicated as a source of primary cytomegalovirus infections in renal transplant recipients , we investigated the possibility that donor kidneys may also contribute to the transmission of BK papovavirus. A fourfold or greater increase in titers of HAl antibodies to BK papovavirus was observed in 55 (24010) of 230 renal transplant recipients. Seronegative recipients who received kidneys from seropositive donors were 3.5 times more likely to develop an infection due to BK papovavirus than were seronegative recipients of kidneys from seronegative donors. The antibody status of the donor did not affect the likelihood of an increase in titers of antibody to BK papovavirus in seropositive recipients. These results suggest that BK papovavirus may be transmitted with transplanted kidneys and that transplant recipients who are at risk for primary infection by this route are more than twice as likely to have increased titers of antibody to BK papovavirus as those who are at risk for the reactivation of an infection. Further studies should be performed to define the relative role of cadaver vs. living, related kidney donors in the transmission of BK papovavirus and the clinical syndromes that are related to primary and reactivated infections.
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