Deciphering the BK Virus Enigma in HIV Patients



Raquel Burger-Calderon


Research Mentor:

Dr. Jennifer Webster-Cyriaque, DDS, PhD


Clinical Co-mentor:

Dr. David Margolis MD

Home DepartmentMicrobiology/Immunology
Project Description

Ninety percent of the world population undergoes BKV serovoncersion during early childhood and even though most primary infections remain asymptomatic, complications such as hemorrhagic cystitis, ureteric stenosis, vasculopathy, pneumonitis, encephalitis, retinitis, and even multi–organ failure have been linked to BKV. These complications are especially common in immuno-suppressed and –compromised individuals, such as graft carriers, HIV + and HIV associated Salivary Gland disease patients (HIVSGD). Numerous studies confirming the presence of BK viral sequences and proteins in human cancers have associated more deleterious implications such as cancer to BKV infections as well and one to two percent of HIVSGD patients will develop lymphomas.

My goal is to further decipher the life cycle and pathogenesis of BKV in the setting of HIV SGD. Toward this end I will pursue following translational studies.

  1. Assess the importance of BKV as a possible complication of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) by analyzing the BKV viral load in patients pre- and post-HAART
  2. Identify the virologic response to the antiviral targeting BKV in HIVSGD
  3. Determine whether HIVSGD is associated with BKV primary infection by analyzing blood from HIV positive children
  4. Specify the role that HIV plays in the pathogenesis of BKV salivary gland infection in vitro