HLA-E Polymorphism Determines Susceptibility to BK Virus Nephropathy after Living-Donor Kidney Transplant

Human leukocyte antigen (HLA)-E is important for the regulation of anti-viral immunity. BK polyomavirus (BKPyV) reactivation after kidney transplant is a serious complication that can result in BKPyV-associated nephropathy (PyVAN) and subsequent allograft loss. To elucidate whether HLA-E polymorphisms influence BKPyV replication and nephropathy, we determined the HLA-E genotype of 278 living donor and recipient pairs. A total of 44 recipients suffered from BKPyV replication, and 11 of these developed PyVAN. Homozygosity of the recipients for the HLA-E*01:01 genotype was associated with the protection against PyVAN after transplant (p = 0.025, OR 0.09, CI [95%] 0.83–4.89). Considering the time course of the occurrence of nephropathy, recipients with PyVAN were more likely to carry the HLA-E*01:03 allelic variant than those without PyVAN (Kaplan–Meier analysis p = 0.03; OR = 4.25; CI (95%) 1.11–16.23). Our findings suggest that a predisposition based on a defined HLA-E genotype is associated with an increased susceptibility to develop PyVAN. Thus, assessing HLA-E polymorphisms may enable physicians to identify patients being at an increased risk of this viral complication.


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