, Volume 72, Issue 12, pp 1631–1643 | Cite as

Managing Post-Transplant Lymphoproliferative Disorders in Solid-Organ Transplant Recipients

A Review of Immunosuppressant Regimens
Review Article


Post-transplant lymphoproliferative disorders (PTLD) are a heterogeneous group of potentially life-threatening complications that occur after solid organ and bone marrow transplantation. Risk factors for acquiring PTLD are type of organ transplanted, age, intensity of immunosuppression, viral infections such as Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) and time after transplantation. Due to a dearth of well designed prospective trials, treatment for PTLD is often empirical, with reduction in immunosuppression accepted as the first step. Rituximab, a monoclonal antibody directed against the CD20 antigen of immature B cells, is often used as monotherapy after reduction in immunosuppression, although this is associated with a high risk of relapse if patients have at least one of the following risk factors: age greater than 60 years, elevated lactate dehydrogenase levels and Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group Score between 2 and 4. For such patients, rituximab should be considered in combination with CHOP (cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, vincristine and prednisone), particularly if high-grade PTLD is present.

Although widely prescribed, the use of ganciclovir for PTLD remains controversial as EBV-transformed cells lack the thymidine kinase necessary for ganciclovir activation. Newer antivirals that combine ganciclovir with activators of cellular thymidine kinase have shown promising results in preclinical studies. In the absence of controlled trials, surgery may be indicated for localized disease and radiotherapy for patients with impending spinal cord compression or disease localized to the central nervous system or orbit.

Future interventions may include adoptive immunotherapy, intravenous immunoglobulin, mammalian target of rapamycin inhibitors, monoclonal antibodies to interleukin-6 and galectin-1, and even EBV vaccination. Although several trials are in progress, it is necessary to wait for the long-term outcome of these studies on risk of PTLD relapse.



No sources of funding were used to prepare this manuscript. The authors have no conflicts of interest that are directly relevant to the content of this article.


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© Springer International Publishing AG 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of MedicineCreighton University Medical CenterOmahaUSA
  2. 2.Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology983285 Nebraska Medical CenterOmahaUSA

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