Clonal analysis of posttransplant lymphoproliferative disorders, using both episomal Epstein-Barr virus and immunoglobulin genes as markers

Am J Clin Pathol. 1994 May;101(5):590-6. doi: 10.1093/ajcp/101.5.590.


The authors analyzed the clonality of 15 samples of B-cell lymphoproliferations arising in eight organ allograft recipients, using immunoglobulin (Ig) gene rearrangement and the fused terminal fragment of episomal Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) DNA as independent clonal markers. The tumors arose from 1 month to 4 years following transplantation. All tumors were monomorphous, high-grade lymphomas of immunoblastic (6 cases), large-cell noncleaved (centroblastic, 1 case), or small noncleaved (1 case) type. All tumors were highly aggressive and failed to respond to decreased immunosuppression alone. Each tumor had clonal Ig gene rearrangements, including those that were negative for surface Ig. In 13 of 15 specimens (seven of the eight cases), the tumors also contained latent, circularized EBV genome. In 10 specimens from six patients, the tumors contained a single predominant form of episomal EBV DNA, indicating clonal cellular proliferation of an EBV-infected progenitor cell. Three specimens from one patient showed more than one band of episomal EBV DNA, suggesting oligoclonal expansion, despite the detection of only a single clone by Ig gene rearrangement. Linear replicating EBV DNA was not detected in any of the cases. Synchronous or metachronous specimens from multiple sites were studied in five patients, four of which were EBV-positive cases. Two patients had identical Ig gene arrangements in each specimen, indicating a single neoplastic clone at all sites; one case was EBV-negative, and the other had identical EBV episomes in each specimen. In the other three cases, apparently different Ig gene rearrangements were found at different sites. In two of these, however, the same predominant EBV episome was present at each site, indicating a common clonal origin. The third case had oligoclonal EBV bands in each specimen, with distinct patterns in at least two different sites, suggesting true multiclonality. Analysis of EBV genomes is a useful adjunct to Ig gene analysis in assessing the clonality of these lesions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Clone Cells
  • DNA, Viral / analysis
  • Female
  • Gene Rearrangement, B-Lymphocyte / genetics
  • Genes, Immunoglobulin / genetics*
  • Herpesvirus 4, Human / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Immunophenotyping
  • Lymphoma, B-Cell / genetics
  • Lymphoproliferative Disorders / genetics*
  • Lymphoproliferative Disorders / immunology
  • Lymphoproliferative Disorders / microbiology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Transplantation, Homologous / adverse effects*


  • DNA, Viral