The frequency of Epstein-Barr virus infection and associated lymphoproliferative syndrome after transplantation and its manifestations in children

Transplantation. 1988 Apr;45(4):719-27. doi: 10.1097/00007890-198804000-00011.


Twenty cases of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)-associated lymphoproliferative syndrome (LPS), defined by the presence of EBV nuclear antigen and/or EBV DNA in tissues, were diagnosed in 1467 transplant recipients in Pittsburgh from 1981-1985. The frequency of occurrence in pediatric transplant recipients was 4% (10/253), while in adults it was 0.8% (10/1214) (P less than .0005). The frequency of LPS in adults declined after 1983 coincidental with the introduction of cyclosporine monitoring. However there was no apparent decline of LPS in children. We describe these ten pediatric cases and one additional case of LPS in a child who received her transplant before 1981. The frequency of EBV infection in 92 pediatric liver recipients was 63%. Of these subjects, 49% were seronegative and 77% of those acquired primary infection. Of 11 cases of pediatric EBV-associated LPS, 10 were in children who had primary infection shortly before or after transplantation. These results reinforce the importance of primary EBV infection in producing LPS, which was previously shown in adults. Children are at greater risk because they are more likely to be seronegative for EBV and to acquire primary infection. Three clinical types of LPS were recognized in children. The first (5 cases) was a self-limited mononucleosislike syndrome. The second syndrome (4 cases) began similarly, but then progressed over the next two months to widespread lymphoproliferation in internal organs and death. The third type (2 cases) was an extranodal intestinal monoclonal B cell lymphoma, occurring late after primary infection.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • DNA, Viral / isolation & purification
  • Herpesvirus 4, Human* / genetics
  • Herpesvirus 4, Human* / immunology
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infectious Mononucleosis / diagnosis
  • Infectious Mononucleosis / epidemiology*
  • Infectious Mononucleosis / etiology
  • Lymphoproliferative Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Lymphoproliferative Disorders / etiology
  • Lymphoproliferative Disorders / pathology
  • Nucleic Acid Hybridization
  • Pennsylvania
  • Serologic Tests
  • Syndrome
  • Transplantation / adverse effects*


  • DNA, Viral