Molecular pathology of posttransplantation lymphoproliferative disorders

Semin Diagn Pathol. 1997 Feb;14(1):15-26.


Posttransplantation lymphoproliferative disorders (PT-LPDs) represent a heterogeneous group of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) associated lymphoid proliferations occurring in the setting of immunosuppression associated with solid organ transplantation. Some PT-LPDs regress after a reduction in immunosuppression, whereas others progress despite aggressive therapy. Previously defined histopathologic categories do not correlate with clonality, and neither histopathology nor clonality has reliably predicted their clinical behavior. Recently, correlative clinical, morphological, and molecular genetic analysis has suggested that PT-LPDs are divisible into three distinct clinically relevant categories as follows: (1) plasmacytic hyperplasia: most commonly arise in the oropharynx or lymph nodes, are nearly always polyclonal, usually contain multiple EBV infectious events or only a minor cell population infected by a single form of EBV, and lack oncogene or tumor suppressor gene alterations; (2) polymorphic lymphoproliferative disorders: may arise in lymph nodes or extranodal sites including the gastrointestinal tract and lungs, are nearly always monoclonal based on the presence of clonal immunoglobulin gene rearrangements, usually contain a single form of EBV, and lack oncogene or tumor suppressor gene alterations; and (3) malignant lymphoma or multiple myeloma: present with widely disseminated disease frequently including the bone marrow, are monoclonal based on clonal immunoglobulin gene rearrangements, contain a single form of EBV, and contain alterations of one or more oncogenes or tumor suppressor genes (c-myc, ras, p53). Thus, proto-oncogene and tumor suppressor gene alterations appear to be associated with disease progression and an often fatal clinical outcome. Furthermore, multiple PT-LPD lesions occurring in the same individual but in multiple anatomic sites, either simultaneously or dysynchronously over time, may show distinct clonal immunoglobulin gene rearrangement patterns and evidence of infection by different forms of EBV, suggesting that each lesion represents a distinct clonal neoplasm that may show distinctive clinical behavior. Therefore, whenever possible, a biopsy of each one of the several PT-LPD lesions occurring in an individual should be obtained to derive a true assessment of the pathobiological nature and clinical aggressiveness of an individual's disease.

Publication types

  • Congress
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Herpesviridae Infections / etiology
  • Herpesviridae Infections / pathology
  • Herpesvirus 4, Human
  • Humans
  • Lymphoproliferative Disorders / etiology
  • Lymphoproliferative Disorders / pathology*
  • Lymphoproliferative Disorders / virology*
  • Organ Transplantation / adverse effects*
  • Organ Transplantation / pathology*
  • Postoperative Complications / pathology*
  • Proto-Oncogene Mas
  • Tumor Virus Infections / etiology
  • Tumor Virus Infections / pathology