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EBV-associated post-transplantation B-cell lymphoproliferative disorder following allogenic stem cell transplantation for acute lymphoblastic leukaemia: tumor regression after reduction of immunosuppression - a case report

Alexander Krenauer1, Alexander Moll1, Wolfram Pönisch2, Nicole Schmitz1, Gerald Niedobitek3, Dietger Niederwieser2 and Thomas Aigner1*

Author affiliations

1 Institute of Pathology, University of Leipzig, Liebigstr. 26, 04103 Leipzig, Germany

2 Division of Hematology and Oncology, University of Leipzig, Johannisallee 32, 04103 Leipzig, Germany

3 Institute of Pathology, Sana Klinikum Lichtenberg and Unfallkrankenhaus Berlin, Fanningerstr. 32, 10365 Berlin, Germany

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Citation and License

Diagnostic Pathology 2010, 5:21  doi:10.1186/1746-1596-5-21

Published: 31 March 2010


Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)-associated B-cell post-transplantation lymphoproliferative disorder (PTLD) is a severe complication following stem cell transplantation. This is believed to occur as a result of iatrogenic immunosuppression leading to a relaxation of T-cell control of EBV infection and thus allowing viral reactivation and proliferation of EBV-infected B-lymphocytes. In support of this notion, reduction of immunosuppressive therapy may lead to regression of PTLD.

We present a case of an 18-year-old male developing a monomorphic B-cell PTLD 2 months after receiving an allogenic stem cell transplant for acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Reduction of immunosuppressive therapy led to regression of lymphadenopathy. Nevertheless, the patient died 3 months afterwards due to extensive graft-vs.-host-disease and sepsis. As a diagnostic lymph node biopsy was performed only after reduction of immunosuppressive therapy, we are able to study the histopathological changes characterizing PTLD regression. We observed extensive apoptosis of blast cells, accompanied by an abundant infiltrate comprising predominantly CD8-positive, Granzyme B-positive T-cells. This observation supports the idea that regression of PTLD is mediated by cytotoxic T-cells and is in keeping with the observation that T-cell depletion, represents a major risk factor for the development of PTLD.