Burkitt post-transplantation lymphoma in adult solid organ transplant recipients

Sequential immunochemotherapy with rituximab (R) followed by cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, vincristine, and prednisone (CHOP) or R-CHOP is safe and effective in an analysis of 8 patients


  • The German Study Group on Post-Transplantation Lymphoproliferative Disorder is a member of the German Competence Network Malignant Lymphomas.

  • R.U.T. is the principal investigator, coordinated the research and takes primary responsibility for the article. R.U.T., P.R., R.N., H.L., S.O., J.A., M.P., and H.R. recruited the patients. D.L. performed fluorescence in situ hybridization analyses, I.A. served as reference pathologist. B.G. served as reference virologist. H.Z. and R.U.T. collected the data, performed the analyses, and wrote the article.



Burkitt lymphoma post-transplantation lymphoproliferative disorder (Burkitt-PTLD) is a rare form of monomorphic B-cell PTLD for which no standard treatment has been established. Currently, the treatment of Burkitt lymphoma outside the post-transplantation setting involves high doses of alkylating agents, frequent dosing, and intrathecal and/or systemic central nervous system prophylaxis. In PTLD, however, such protocols are associated with considerable toxicity and mortality.


The authors present a retrospective series of 8 adult patients with Burkitt-PTLD. Six patients were reported to the prospective German PTLD registry or were enrolled in the PTLD-1 trial, and 2 patients had received treatment before 2000, thus allowing for comparison with the pre-rituximab era.


Seven of the 8 patients were men. The median age at presentation was 38 years, and the median time since transplantation was 5.7 years. Five of 8 patients had histologically established, Epstein-Barr virus-associated disease, and 7 of 7 patients were positive for a MYC translocation. Five of 8 patients received sequential immunochemotherapy (4 courses of rituximab [R] followed by 4 cycles of cyclophosphamide, doxorubicin, vincristine, and prednisolone [CHOP] or R plus CHOP [R-CHOP]). In this group, 5 of 5 patients reached complete remission (CR), and their overall survival (OS) was significantly longer (P = .008) compared with the OS for 2 of 8 patients who received first-line CHOP and did not respond. One of 8 patients (who had stage IV disease with meningiosis) received combination therapy (cyclophosphamide pretreatment, rituximab, intrathecal chemotherapy, whole-brain irradiation, and radioimmunotherapy) and reached CR. Overall, 6 of 8 patients reached CR; and, after a median follow-up of 4.7 years (range, 1.7-4.8 years), the median OS was 36.7 months. There was no treatment-related mortality under first-line therapy.


In the largest adult case series in Burkitt-PTLD to date, sequential immunochemotherapy with rituximab followed by standard CHOP or R-CHOP was a both safe and effective treatment. Cancer 2012. © 2012 American Cancer Society.