Depletion of EBV-infected cells in donor marrow by counterflow elutriation

Exp Hematol. 1998 May;26(5):395-9.


Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)-associated posttransplantation lymphoproliferative disease (PTLD) is a well-recognized complication of T cell-depleted (TCD) allogeneic bone marrow transplantation (BMT). Certain methods of TCD, such as counterflow elutriation (CE), have not been associated with an increased incidence of PTLD. Since CE depletes B cells as well as T cells, the hypothesis that CE depletes donor marrow of EBV-infected cells was tested in this study. Marrow samples from 70 donors were assayed by qualitative and semi-quantitative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplification to detect EBV DNA in four cellular fractions produced by elutriation: a small cell fraction (F70), two intermediate-sized cell fractions (F110 and F140), and a large cell (hematopoietic precursor-enriched, lymphocyte-depleted) rotor-off (R/O) fraction. The distribution of B cells in elutriation fractions was 21% (F70), 59% (F110), 18% (F140), and 2% (R/O). Qualitatively, the frequency of EBV DNA detected in fractions was 49% (F70), 57% (F110), 73% (F140), and 44% (R/O). The relative concentration of EBV DNA in each fraction was determined by semiquantitative PCR. The mean number of EBV DNA copies per 150,000 cells was 0.57 (F70), 4.6 (F110), 5.7 (F140), and 0.61 (R/O). Relative EBV DNA load in each fraction was calculated by multiplying the mean concentration of EBV DNA per fraction and mean mononuclear cell content in each fraction. The relative distribution of EBV DNA was 0.5, 58, 40, and 1.5% in the F70, F110, F140, and R/O fractions, respectively. No correlation between the amount of EBV in the graft and development of PTLD could be made, because only one of the 70 recipients developed PTLD and this was following autologous hematopoietic recovery. Although these results demonstrate that the majority of EBV-infected cells in marrow are separated from the TCD graft by counterflow elutriation, further studies are required to differentiate the role of this phenomenon from that of other potential factors, such as the amount of T cell depletion and recovery of EBV immunity in the pathogenesis of PTLD after BMT.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Bone Marrow Cells / cytology*
  • Bone Marrow Cells / virology*
  • Bone Marrow Transplantation / adverse effects
  • Cell Separation / methods*
  • DNA, Viral / blood
  • Herpesviridae Infections* / transmission
  • Herpesvirus 4, Human* / genetics
  • Humans
  • Lymphoproliferative Disorders / etiology
  • Tissue Donors
  • Tumor Virus Infections* / transmission
  • Viral Load


  • DNA, Viral