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Surgery. 1981 Aug;90(2):204-13.

The Epstein-Barr virus in the pathogenesis of posttransplant lymphoproliferative disorders. Clinical, pathologic, and virologic correlation.


Twelve renal transplant patients with lymphoproliferative disorders (LPDs) were studied. Two clinical patterns were identified: (1) Young patients present with an infectious mononucleosis-like illness with fever, sore throat, and lymphadenopathy soon after transplantation or antirejection therapy. Many organs are ultimately involved, and the clinical course is one of a rapidly fatal LPD. (2) Older patients present a longer time after transplantation with symptoms of solid tumors involving the central nervous system, oropharynx, liver, or small bowel. The clinical course is slower, but it is progressive and fatal. Morphologically these LPDs can all be classified as polymorphic diffuse B-cell hyperplasia (PDBH) or polymorphic diffuse B-cell lymphoma (PBL). Cell marker studies in four patients demonstrated a polyclonal B-cell proliferation. Transition from a polyclonal B-cell proliferation to a monoclonal tumor may occur. Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) specific antibody titers, anticomplement immunofluorescence staining of tumors for the presence of the Epstein-Barr nuclear antigen (EBNA), and EBV complementary ribonucleic acid (cRNA)/deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) hybridization and vDNA/DNA reassociation analysis implicate EBV as the probable etiologic agent in these disorders. Successful management of these lethal LPDs may depend on discontinuation of immunosuppression and removal of the allograft. Antiviral therapy, however, may prove to be useful.

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