Background: BK viremia, a prerequisite for BK virus nephropathy (BKVN), affects 5% to 16% of pediatric renal transplant recipients (PRTR). We evaluated the safety and efficacy of a novel approach to treating BK viremia using fluoroquinolones and leflunomide in PRTR.
Methods: We studied 230 PRTR at Mattel Children’s Hospital, UCLA, who underwent renal transplantation between January 2003 and October 2010. Nineteen patients were found to have BK viremia. Ciprofloxacin was started when the BK viral load was greater than 625 copies/mL, and patients were switched to leflunomide if BK viral load did not decrease after 2 months of ciprofloxacin therapy. All patients underwent transplant kidney biopsy, and their estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) and BK PCR was measured serially. The side effects of ciprofloxacin and leflunomide were recorded in each patient.
Results: There was a significant decrease in BK viral load in patients treated with ciprofloxacin and leflunomide (P<0.001) with only a small reduction in immunosuppression. BK viremia was associated with a significantly decreased eGFR (P<0.001), and treatment with ciprofloxacin and leflunomide was associated with improved eGFR (P<0.001). This approach resulted in a BKVN rate of only 1%.
Conclusions: This analysis demonstrates for the first time that, used in a stepwise fashion, ciprofloxacin and leflunomide are effective and safe treatments for BK viremia in PRTR.