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Epstein-Barr virus and persistent graft dysfunction after liver transplantation

Wiley Blackwell (John Wiley & Sons)
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/0270-9139(91)91416-x
  • Biology
  • Medicine


Abstract Epstein-Barr virus infection has been associated with a broad spectrum of clinical manifestations, depending on the immune status of the host. In this report, we describe two liver transplant patients who received hepatic allografts from donors serologically positive for Epstein-Barr virus and who experienced primary infection with Epstein-Barr virus associated with prolonged liver graft dysfunction. In both patients, Epstein-Barr serologies converted within 3 mo of liver transplantation, and hepatic histological study revealed mononuclear infiltration of the sinusoids evolving to pronounced immunoblastic features suggestive of evolving lymphoma. In both cases, in situ hybridization studies confirmed the presence of Epstein-Barr virus genome in the liver. Furthermore, polymerase chain reaction analysis suggested that high levels of Epstein-Barr virus DNA were present in biopsy specimens obtained during the episode of acute hepatitis that followed Epstein-Barr virus serocon-version. The degree of Epstein-Barr virus DNA estimated by polymerase chain reaction appeared to increase in parallel with the progression of parenchymal lymphocytic infiltrates. In one patient, a biopsy sample from a cervical node also revealed high levels of Epstein-Barr virus DNA estimated using the polymerase chain reaction technique. Furthermore, in these patients, Epstein-Barr virus DNA levels appeared to decrease dramatically after discontinuing azathioprine administration and beginning treatment with acyclovir. These two cases illustrate the dynamics of Epstein-Barr virus immune regulation and confirm chronic hepatic allograft dysfunction related to Epstein-Barr viral infection.

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