• Epstein–Barr virus;
  • cytotoxic T lymphocyte;
  • adoptive transfer;
  • chronic active EBV infection

We describe an experience of a specific immune transfer treatment in a patient with chronic active EBV infection. The patient had low anti-EBV T cell-mediated cytotoxic activity in his peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC), which may have been the primary cause of the disease. An EBV-specific cytotoxic T lymphocyte (CTL) line was established from PBMC obtained from the patient’s sister whose human leucocyte antigens (HLA) are identical to patient's. The patient received three courses of intravenously administered CTL at 3-week intervals. The number of the cells was increased with each course of treatment. After infusion of the T cell line, anti-EBV CTL activity was detected in the patient's PBMC. CTL activity increased markedly after the second course of immune transfer therapy. The amount of EBV DNA in the patient's plasma showed transient but repeated decreases. Serum levels of tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α), which had elevated before treatment, began to decrease after initiation of treatment. No adverse effects were directly associated with CTL infusions. Despite having previously received a pneumococcal vaccine and prophylactic antibodies, the patient died of infection caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteraemia 27 days after the third infusion. Although the long-term efficacy and safety of this therapy remains to be established, our findings suggest that adoptive transfer of CTL specific for EBV obtained from an HLA-matched donor might be a promising treatment for patients with chronic active EBV infection.