Purpose of review: Epstein–Barr virus (EBV) reactivation can cause significant morbidity and mortality after allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplant. Delays in reconstitution of EBV-specific T lymphocyte activity can lead to life-threatening EBV lymphoproliferative disease (EBV-PTLD). This review highlights recent advances in the understanding of pathophysiology, risk factors, diagnosis, and management of EBV viremia and PTLD.
Recent findings: During the past decade, early detection strategies, such as serial measurement of EBV-DNA load, have helped identify high-risk patients and diagnose early lymphoproliferation. The most significant advances have come in the form of innovative treatment options, including manipulation of the balance between outgrowing EBV-infected B cells and the EBV cytotoxic T lymphocyte response, and targeting infected B cells with monoclonal antibodies, chemotherapy, unmanipulated donor lymphocytes, and donor or more recently third-party EBV cytotoxic T lymphocytes. Defining criteria for preemptive therapy remains a challenge.
Summary: EBV reactivation is a significant complication after stem cell transplant. Continued improvements in risk stratification and treatment options are required to improve the morbidity and mortality caused by EBV-associated diseases. Current approaches use rituximab to deplete B cells or adoptive transfer of EBV cytotoxic T lymphocyte to reconstitute immunity. The availability of rapid EBV-specific T cell products offers the possibility of improved outcomes.
Center for Cell and Gene Therapy, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston Methodist Hospital and Texas Children's Hospital, Houston, Texas, USA
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