The association of BK virus infection with hemorrhagic cystitis in blood and marrow transplant (BMT) recipients was first demonstrated two decades ago. During this time, therapeutic interventions focused on supportive measures such as hyperhydration, continuous bladder irrigation and topical administration of agents that alter the mucosal surface of the bladder wall. In recent years, PCR amplification of viral DNA in the urine and plasma has solidified the association of BK virus infection with hemorrhagic cystitis, demonstrating that higher urine and plasma viral loads occur in the setting of disease. The evaluation of virus-specific therapy has lagged behind assessment of the viral load and theories of pathogenesis. Extrapolating from successes in the treatment of BK virus nephropathy in the renal transplant population, cidofovir and leflunomide are identified as potential effective agents for the treatment of BK virus-associated hemorrhagic cystitis. The fluoroquinolone antibiotics may prove to be effective as prophylactic agents. Given the manifestation of BK virus infection in organs outside of the urinary tract in an increasing immunocompromised patient population and the availability of potential antiviral agents, therapeutic trials need to progress beyond the small case series in order to improve the morbidity and mortality caused by BK virus-associated hemorrhagic cystitis in the BMT population.
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