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High Levels of Epstein-Barr Virus DNA in Blood of Solid-Organ Transplant Recipients and Their Value in Predicting Posttransplant Lymphoproliferative Disorders

American Society for Microbiology
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  • Virology
  • Medicine


Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) DNA was quantitated in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) from 25 healthy subjects, 105 asymptomatic solid-organ transplant (SOT) recipients, and 15 SOT recipients with symptomatic EBV infections by using a newly developed quantitative-PCR technique. Patients with symptomatic EBV infections had significantly higher (P < 0.001) median EBV DNA levels than asymptomatic SOT recipients and immunocompetent individuals. In SOT recipients, the positive predictive value of EBV DNA levels of >1,000 genome equivalents (GE)/0.5 μg of total PBMC DNA was 64.7% for symptomatic EBV infection, while the negative predictive value was 96.1%. In 19 of 32 (59.3%) asymptomatic SOT recipients, EBV DNA levels were consistently below 1,000 GE for as long as 18 months, while 10 of 32 (31.2%) patients had 1,000 to 5,000 EBV GE at least once during follow-up. In a minority of patients (3 of 32; 9.3%), ≥5,000 GE could be detected at least once during follow-up. Reduction of immunosuppressive treatment decreased EBV DNA levels by ≥1 log10 unit in patients with symptomatic EBV infections. Quantification of EBV DNA is valuable for the diagnosis and monitoring of symptomatic EBV infections in SOT recipients.

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