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Am J Surg Pathol. 2000 Apr;24(4):614-21.

Epstein-Barr virus-associated multicentric leiomyosarcoma in an adult patient after heart transplantation: case report and review of the literature.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, University of Innsbruck, Austria.


Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)-associated smooth muscle tumors following solid organ transplantation are extremely rare, with only 12 cases reported in the literature thus far. The exact pathogenetic role of EBV infection in the oncogenesis of these soft tissue tumors in immunodeficient patients and the biologic behavior of such tumors is still unclear. We report a 26-year-old man in whom multiple smooth muscle tumors developed 36 to 51 months after heart transplantation. All tumors, two synchronous liver nodules, two subsequently occurring paravertebral tumors, and a single tumor in a vein at the left ankle were surgically resected. The tumor tissue was processed for routine histology and immunohistochemical (IHC) stains. Additionally, competitive polymerase-chain-reaction (PCR), reverse-transcriptase PCR (RT-PCR), as well as in situ hybridization (ISH) were used for EBV particle quantification and gene transcription analysis. The histologic features and immunohistochemical profiles were consistent with leiomyosarcoma in all tumor nodules. EBV infection was detected in >95% of tumor cell nuclei by EBER 1/2 ISH. Competitive PCR revealed 3105 EBV particles per milligram of tumor tissue. The EBV gene expression pattern analyzed by RT-PCR and IHC corresponded to the latency type III with specific expression of EBNA1, EBNA2, LMP1, and LMP2A genes. Under continuous antiviral therapy (famcyclovir) the patient currently shows no evidence of disease. Our data indicate that EBV infection plays a causal role in the development of smooth muscle tumors following organ transplantation. A latency type III, identical to EBV-associated posttransplant lymphoproliferative disorders, was identified and suggests a common pathogenetic mechanism in the development of these histogenetically distinct neoplasms. The fact that the patient currently shows no evidence of disease may be the result of the continuous administration of antiviral therapy because the soft tissue recurrences of the leiomyosarcoma occurred while the patient was not receiving antiviral prophylaxis.

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