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Chest. 2003 Oct;124(4):1242-9.

Posttransplant lymphoproliferative disorder: incidence, presentation, and response to treatment in lung transplant recipients.

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Department of Pharmacy, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC 27710, USA.



Posttransplant lymphoproliferative disorder (PTLD) is a relatively infrequent but devastating complication that occurs after solid-organ transplantation. Although the optimal treatment for this condition is unknown, rituximab, a murine/human chimeric monoclonal antibody, has shown promise in the treatment of PTLD. In this report, we define the incidence, clinical features at presentation, and response to treatment of all cases of PTLD observed at our institution over a 10-year period, including four patients who received treatment with rituximab.


A review of all patients who underwent lung or heart-lung transplant at Duke University from 1992 to 2002 was performed (n = 400), and demographic and clinical outcome data were extracted.


PTLD was observed in 10 of 400 patients (2.5%). Patients who acquired PTLD were predominantly > 55 years old (8 of 10 patients) and with a native disease of COPD (7 of 10 patients). Diagnosis of PTLD was made a median of 343 days after transplant. The type of transplant and Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) status prior to transplant did not appear to influence the risk for PTLD. Patients presented with thoracic organ involvement (7 of 10 patients), extrapulmonary disease (2 of 10 patients), or both (1 of 10 patients). Histologic subtypes included polymorphic B cell (n = 4), monomorphic B cell (n = 3), B cell without further classification (n = 2), and anaplastic T cell (n = 1). Only one patient responded to reduced immunosuppression alone. Patients treated with surgery or radiation (n = 2) or rituximab (n = 4) had favorable responses to therapy. Both patients treated with chemotherapy died related to complications of treatment and PTLD.


Presentation and histologic appearance of PTLD varies considerably among lung transplant recipients. PTLD was more frequent among older patients with COPD, regardless of pretransplant EBV serology. Rituximab appears effective as a first-line therapy for PTLD, but additional studies are needed in order to define its efficacy and side effect profile in this population of patients.

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