Posttransplant T-cell lymphoma. Report of three cases and a review of the literature

Cancer. 1994 Jun 15;73(12):3064-72. doi: 10.1002/1097-0142(19940615)73:12<3064::aid-cncr2820731227>;2-0.


Background: Although 14% of the malignant lymphomas after organ transplantation are reported to be T-cell lymphomas, only a few cases are described in the literature.

Methods: The authors presented three new cases. They summarized the clinical data and analyzed histologic and immunochemical findings. The presence of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) and human T-cell lymphoma type 1 (HTLV-1) were investigated. T-cell receptor (TCR) rearrangement was analyzed by Southern blot technique in two cases.

Results: Two of the three lymphomas developed after renal transplantation. One was a T-cell lymphoma of pleomorphic medium-sized cell type and the other was a T-cell lymphoblastic lymphoma; the third T-cell lymphoma was an anaplastic large cell (Ki-1 positive) type that developed after heart transplantation. No association was established with EBV or HTLV-1. A monoclonal TCR rearrangement was found in the two cases that were analyzed. A literature search revealed 22 other cases. Nineteen of the 22 reported cases were peripheral T-cell lymphomas. Almost all lymphomas presented in extra-nodal sites. The time between diagnosis and organ transplantation seemed to be influenced by the type of immunosuppressive therapy. In five cases, EBV was detected in the tumor cells. A monoclonal T-cell receptor rearrangement was found in eight cases and a polyclonal proliferation in one case. Response to therapy was variable, but often poor.

Conclusions: The etiology of posttransplant T-cell lymphomas remains unclear. Similarities with posttransplant B-cell proliferations are the predominant extranodal presentation and the finding that the time of occurrence is influenced by the type of immunosuppression. In contrast with posttransplant B-cell proliferations, only a minority of the cases are associated with EBV. Most tumors appear to be monoclonal. Prognosis is generally poor, but tumor presentation with localized disease might have a somewhat better prognosis.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Base Sequence
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • DNA Probes
  • Female
  • Gene Rearrangement
  • Heart Transplantation / adverse effects
  • Herpesvirus 4, Human / isolation & purification
  • Human T-lymphotropic virus 1 / isolation & purification
  • Humans
  • Kidney Transplantation / adverse effects
  • Lymphoma, T-Cell / etiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Organ Transplantation / adverse effects*
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell / genetics


  • DNA Probes
  • Receptors, Antigen, T-Cell