Immunotherapy for Epstein-Barr virus-associated cancers

J Natl Cancer Inst Monogr. 1998;(23):89-93. doi: 10.1093/oxfordjournals.jncimonographs.a024180.


Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)-associated lymphoproliferative disease (EBV-LPD) is a frequently fatal complication of organ transplantation and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. We have studied the safety and efficacy of adoptively transferred, gene-marked virus-specific cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) as prophylaxis and treatment of EBV-LPD in recipients of T-cell-depleted allogeneic bone marrow. In 42 patients treated prophylactically, no toxicity was experienced. None of these patients developed EBV-LPD, in contrast with eight of 53 (15%) patients who did not receive prophylactic CTL. Three patients who had not received CTL developed aggressive disease and received CTL as treatment. Gene-marked CTL homed to tumor sites and selective accumulation of marker gene was detected in tumor tissues. Tumors regressed completely in two patients, but the third died of respiratory failure. Infused CTLs persisted for up to 3 years in vivo, they rapidly reconstituted EBV-specific immune responses to levels seen in normal individuals, and they reduced high viral titers by two to three logs. We are now using autologous EBV-specific CTL to treat patients with relapsed EBV-positive Hodgkin's disease and we are developing methods for the generation of antigen-specific lines. This approach could be applied to patients with HIV who develop EBV-LPD, using CTL derived early in the course of HIV infection.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • B-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Cell Transformation, Viral
  • Herpesviridae Infections / complications*
  • Herpesviridae Infections / immunology
  • Herpesvirus 4, Human / immunology*
  • Hodgkin Disease / therapy*
  • Hodgkin Disease / virology*
  • Humans
  • Immunotherapy, Adoptive*
  • Lymphoproliferative Disorders / therapy
  • Lymphoproliferative Disorders / virology
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • T-Lymphocytes, Cytotoxic / immunology*
  • Tumor Virus Infections / chemically induced*
  • Tumor Virus Infections / immunology