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Am J Transplant. 2005 Mar;5(3):566-72.

Cellular immunity to Epstein-Barr virus in liver transplant recipients treated with rituximab for post-transplant lymphoproliferative disease.

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1
Center for Cell and Gene Therapy, Baylor College of Medicine, Texas Children's Hospital and the Methodist Hospital, Houston, Texas, USA. bsalvado@bcm.tmc.edu

Abstract

The evaluation of long-term cellular immunity to EBV in pediatric orthotopic liver transplant (OLT) recipients after treatment with the humanized anti-CD20 monoclonal antibody (Rituximab) has not yet been explored. At our institution, one child with EBV-related mononucleosis-like syndrome and five children with polymorphic-EBV-PTLD occurring 6-88 months after OLT were treated with Rituximab. Treatment was well tolerated. All children achieved complete remission. After Rituximab, B-lymphocytes were undetectable in the peripheral blood and EBV-load, monitored with real-time PCR, decreased to undetectable levels in all children from >4000 copies/microg DNA at diagnosis. Four to eight months after Rituximab, EBV-load increased (>4000 copies/microg DNA) in four children, and PTLD recurred in three. Their frequency of EBV-specific T-cell precursors, measured by Elispot analysis, remained lower than in healthy controls. Rituximab effectively induced regression of PTLD in OLT recipients. However, EBV-specific T-cell immunocompetence, which may be crucial for the long-term control of EBV-mediated proliferation, did not improve.

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