Post-transplant lymphoproliferative disorders (PTLD) after solid organ transplantation

Crit Rev Oncol Hematol. 2005 Oct;56(1):155-67. doi: 10.1016/j.critrevonc.2005.03.015.


Post-transplant lymphoproliferative disorders (PTLD) are a well-recognised and potentially fatal complication after solid organ transplantation. They include a spectrum of disorders ranging from benign hyperplasia to invasive malignant lymphoma. The majority of cases are associated with Epstein Barr virus (EBV)-driven tumour formation in B cells and are a consequence of the detrimental effect of immunosuppressive agents on the immune-control of EBV. This review provides an update on the pathogenesis and clinical features of PTLD after solid organ transplantation and discusses recent progress in management. Reduction in immunosuppressive therapy remains a key component of therapy for EBV-positive PTLD and may lead to remission in early disease. Chemotherapy is used when reduced immunosuppression fails to control early disease and as initial therapy for many cases of late disease. Unfortunately, the mortality for PTLD that fails to respond to a reduction in immunosuppression remains high. Newer treatments include manipulation of the cytokine environment, B lymphocyte depleting antibodies and adoptive T cell immunotherapy using allogeneic or autologous EBV-specific cytotoxic T lymphocytes. Although early results appear promising, well-designed clinical trials are needed to assess the efficacy of these novel approaches. EBV vaccination may in the future prove an effective prophylaxis against EBV-driven PTLD but until then, avoiding excessive immunosuppressive therapy may help minimise the risk of PTLD.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Epstein-Barr Virus Infections / complications
  • Epstein-Barr Virus Infections / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Immunosuppression Therapy / adverse effects*
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / adverse effects
  • Immunosuppressive Agents / therapeutic use
  • Lymphoproliferative Disorders / classification
  • Lymphoproliferative Disorders / etiology
  • Lymphoproliferative Disorders / therapy*
  • Organ Transplantation*


  • Immunosuppressive Agents