Helsingin yliopisto


Helsingin yliopiston verkkojulkaisut

University of Helsinki, Helsinki 2006

Cytomegalovirus in the Process of Chronic Allograft Nephropathy

Ilkka Helanterä

Doctoral dissertation, May 2006.
University of Helsinki, Faculty of Medicine, Institute of Clinical Medicine, Department of Medicine, Division of Nephrology and University of Helsinki, Department of Virology and Department of Surgery .

Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is a major cause of morbidity, costs and even mortality in organ transplant recipients. CMV may also enhance the development of chronic allograft nephropathy (CAN), which is the most important cause of graft loss after kidney transplantation. The evidence for the role of CMV in chronic allograft nephropathy is somewhat limited, and controversial results have also been reported. The aim of this study was to investigate the role of CMV in the pathogenesis of CAN.

Material for the purpose of this study was available from altogether 70 kidney transplant recipients who received a kidney transplant between the years 1992-2000. CMV infection was diagnosed with pp65 antigenemia test or by viral culture from blood, urine, or both. CMV proteins were demonstrated in the kidney allograft biopsies by immunohistochemisrty and CMV-DNA by in situ hybridization. Cytokines, adhesion molecules, and growth factors were demonstrated from allograft biopsies by immunohistochemistry, and from urinary samples by ELISA-methods.

CMV proteins were detectable in the 6-month protocol biopsies from 18/41 recipients with evidence of CMV infection. In the histopathological analysis of the 6-month protocol biopsies, presence of CMV in the allograft together with a previous history of acute rejection episodes was associated with increased arteriosclerotic changes in small arterioles. In urinary samples collected during CMV infection, excretion of TGF-β was significantly increased. In recipients with increased urinary excretion of TGF-β, increased interstitial fibrosis was recorded in the 6- month protocol biopsies. In biopsies taken after an active CMV infection, CMV persisted in the kidney allograft in 17/48 recipients, as CMV DNA or antigens were detected in the biopsies more than 2 months after the last positive finding in blood or urine. This persistence was associated with increased expression of TGF-β, PDGF, and ICAM-1 and with increased vascular changes in the allografts. Graft survival and graft function one and two years after transplantation were reduced in recipients with persistent intragraft CMV. Persistent intragraft CMV infection was also a risk factor for reduced graft survival in Cox regression analysis, and an independent risk factor for poor graft function one and two years after transplantation in logistic regression analysis.

In conclusion, these results show that persistent intragraft CMV infection is detrimental to kidney allografts, causing increased expression of growth factors and increased vascular changes, leading to reduced graft function and survival. Effective prevention, diagnosis and treatment of CMV infections may a major factor in improving the long term survival of kidney allograft.

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Last updated 05.05.2006

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