Lymphoproliferative disorders after solid organ transplantation-classification, incidence, risk factors, early detection and treatment options

Pathol Oncol Res. 2011 Sep;17(3):443-54. doi: 10.1007/s12253-010-9329-8. Epub 2010 Dec 31.


Posttransplant lymphoproliferative disorder (PTLD) is a heterogeneous disease group of benign and malignant entities. The new World Health Organisation classification introduced in 2008 distinguishes early lesions, polymorphic, monomorphic and classical Hodgkin lymphoma-type PTLD. Based on the time of appearance, early and late forms can be identified.PTLDs are the second most frequent posttransplantation tumors in adulthood, and the most frequent ones in childhood. The incidence varies with the transplanted organ-from 1%-2% following kidney transplantation to as high as 10% following thoracic organ transplantation-due to different intensities in immunosuppression. Immunocompromised state and Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infection are the two major risk factors.In Europe and the US approximately 85% of PTLDs are of B-cell origin, and the majority are EBV-associated. Symptoms are often unspecific; extranodal, organ manifestations and central nervous system involvement is common. Early lesions respond well to a decrease in immunosuppression. Malignant entities are treated with rituximab, chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgical therapy. Adoptive T-cell transfer represents a promising therapeutic approach. The prognosis is favorable in early PTLD, and poor in late PTLD. Five-year survival is 30% for high-grade lymphomas. The prognosis of EBV-negative lymphomas is worse.Lowering the risk of PTLD may be achieved by low dose maintenance immunosuppression, immunosuppressive drugs inhibiting cell proliferation, and special immunotherapy (e.g. interleukin-2 inhibitors). Early detection is especially important for high risk-e.g. EBV-negative-patients, where the appearance of EBV-DNA and the increase in its titer may help.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Lymphoproliferative Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Lymphoproliferative Disorders / etiology*
  • Lymphoproliferative Disorders / therapy*
  • Organ Transplantation / adverse effects*
  • Risk Factors