Diffuse large B cell lymphoma post-transplant lymphoproliferative disorder (DLBCL-PTLD) represents a fatal complication after a solid organ transplant (SOT). Approximately 50% of DLBCL-PTLD can be related to Epstein Barr Virus (EBV) infection. However, the EBV status is not taken into account in the DLBCL-PTLD categorization, although increasing evidence suggests its critical role in biological, clinical and prognostic aspects of the disease. In this single center retrospective study, we compared clinical and histological features, as well as outcomes of DLBCL-PTLDs by EBV status.


This study focused on patients with SOT who were diagnosed with DLBCL-PTLD at Mayo Clinic (Rochester, MN). Patients were identified through the Mayo Clinic Lymphoma Data base and the University of Iowa/Mayo Clinic SPORE Molecular Epidemiology Resource (MER), between 1989 and 2017. The histology was re-reviewed (RLK) and classified according to the WHO Classification or Tumours of Haematopoietic and Lymphoid Tissues 2017. Cell of origin (COO) was performed by Hans algorithm. EBV RNA in situ hybridization (EBER) was performed. Cox proportional hazards models were used to assess the association of clinical factors in overall survival (OS).


148 DLBCL-PTLD were identified. The median age at SOT and at the time of PTLD diagnosis were 50 years (range: 15-71) and 56 years (range: 18-82), respectively. The median time to PTLD diagnosis from SOT was 38 months (range: 1-499). The types of SOT included renal (44%), liver (36%), cardiac (9%), renal/pancreas (5%), pancreas (8%), lung (7%) and multiorgan (4%). 62% were stage III-IV, 30% had elevated LDH and 67% had an IPI >1. 88% of patients presented with extranodal disease, and 16% had involvement of the grafted organ. Eighty-three (56%) cases were EBV positive. The COO information was available on 35 cases. The non-GCB subtype was identified in 24 cases and GCB subtype in 11 cases. The initial treatment was as follows: reduction in immunosuppression (12%), immunosuppression reduction with rituximab (26%), rituximab alone (5%), chemotherapy with or without rituximab (35%). Patients with EBV positive PTLD were more likely to have grafted organ involvement (20% vs. 8%, p=0.047) and late PTLD (occurring after 12 months from SOT - 60% vs. 8%, p<0.001) than patients with EBV negative PTLD. There was no association between EBV status and age, sex, stage, LDH, and extranodal site involvement. At a median follow-up of 80 months (range 9-269), 83 patients (56%) had died. The 5-year survival rate from PTLD diagnosis was 56% (95% CI: 48-65%). The median OS was 85 months (95% CI: 37-148). There was no difference in OS in patients with EBV positive PTLD (median OS=84.7 months, HR=1.21, 95% CI: 0.77-1.92) versus patients with EBV negative DLBCL-PTLD (median OS=85.4 months, p=0.41).


Our study assessed the impact of EBV status on the presentation and clinical outcome of DLBCL-PTLD in a 148-patient single-institution cohort. 56% of cases were EBV positive. EBV positivity was associated with grafted organ involvement and late PTLD diagnosis. Patients with EBV-negative and EBV-positive disease had similar survival from PTLD diagnosis.


Maurer:Celgene: Research Funding; Morphosys: Research Funding; Nanostring: Research Funding. Cerhan:Nanostring: Research Funding; Jannsen: Other: Scientific Advisory Board; Celgene: Research Funding.

Author notes


Asterisk with author names denotes non-ASH members.