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Leuk Lymphoma. 2000 Sep;39(1-2):37-49.

Treatment strategies for Epstein-Barr virus-associated hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (EBV-HLH).

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Kyoto City Institute of Health and Environmental Sciences, Kyoto, Japan.


In Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infection, the virus immortalizes B lymphocytes and cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) are directed toward both latent and lytic viral antigens expressed on EBV-infected B-cells. Various EBV-associated diseases occur as a result of this disruption of immune surveillance. In the majority of EBV-associated hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (EBV-HLH) cases, the major cell types containing EBV DNA are not B-cells, but clonally proliferating T-cells or NK-cells. Proliferation of these cells produces severe immune reactions in the host, and the clinical features related to massive cytokine production at the onset of disease are unique and distinct from other EBV-associated diseases. In the treatment of EBV-HLH, therapeutic infusion of EBV-specific CTLs appears to be ineffective, and eradication of EBV-containing cells is useful but not sufficient to save lives, because of high incidence of acute mortality due to cytokine-induced multiple organ failure and neutropenia-associated opportunistic infections. The optimal treatment strategy for this disease consists of three steps: (1) control of cytokine storm including coagulopathy and multiple organ failure, (2) control of opportunistic infections, and (3) eradication of clonally proliferating EBV-containing T- or NK- cells by immunochemotherapy and, if necessary, hemopoietic stem cell/bone marrow transplantation (SCT/BMT).

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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