Features of Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) reactivation after reduced intensity conditioning allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation

Leukemia. 2011 Jun;25(6):932-8. doi: 10.1038/leu.2011.26. Epub 2011 Feb 25.


This single centre study assessed the incidence, kinetics and predictive factors of Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) reactivation and EBV-related lymphoproliferative diseases (LPDs) in 175 consecutive patients who received a reduced-intensity conditioning (RIC) before allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (allo-HSCT). The cumulative incidence of EBV reactivation at 6 months after allo-HSCT defined as an EBV PCR load above 1000 copies of EBV DNA/10(5) cells was 15%, and none of these patients experienced any sign or symptom of LPD. A total of 17 patients, who had EBV DNA levels exceeding 1000 copies/10(5) cells on two or more occasions, were pre-emptively treated with rituximab. With a median follow-up of 655 (range, 92-1542) days post allo-HSCT, there was no statistically significant difference in term of outcome between those patients who experienced an EBV reactivation and those who did not. In multivariate analysis, the use of antithymocyte globulin as part of the RIC regimen was the only independent risk factor associated with EBV reactivation (relative risk=4.9; 95% confidence interval, 1.1-21.0; P=0.03). We conclude that patients undergoing RIC allo-HSCT using anti-thymocyte globulin as part of the preparative regimen are at higher risk for EBV reactivation. However, this did not impact on outcome, as quantitative monitoring of EBV viral load by PCR and preemptive rituximab therapy allowed for significantly reducing the risk of EBV-related LPD.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Murine-Derived / administration & dosage
  • Antilymphocyte Serum / adverse effects
  • Antilymphocyte Serum / therapeutic use
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation / adverse effects*
  • Herpesvirus 4, Human / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Lymphoproliferative Disorders / virology
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Rituximab
  • Transplantation Conditioning / adverse effects*
  • Transplantation Conditioning / methods
  • Viral Load / drug effects
  • Virus Activation / drug effects*
  • Young Adult


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Murine-Derived
  • Antilymphocyte Serum
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Rituximab