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Epstein–Barr virus lymphoproliferative disease after hematopoietic stem cell transplant

Rouce, Rayne H.; Louis, Chrystal U.; Heslop, Helen E.

doi: 10.1097/MOH.0000000000000083

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

Correspondence to Dr Helen E. Heslop, Center for Cell and Gene Therapy, 1102 Bates St, Suite 1620, Houston, TX 77030, USA. Tel: +1 832 824 4662; fax: +1 832 825 4665; e-mail:

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