Quantitative EBV Viral Loads and Immunosuppression Alterations can Decrease PTLD Incidence in Pediatric Liver Transplant Recipients


*Corresponding author: John A. Goss, jgoss@bcm.tmc.edu


Epstein–Barr virus (EBV) is a common viral infection in pediatric liver transplant patients and can lead to development of post-transplant lymphoproliferative disorder (PTLD). Differing studies have used immunosuppression reduction, antiviral medications or i.v. CMV-immunogloublin for EBV prevention and treatment. The purpose of this study was to determine whether implementation of a protocol for frequent EBV monitoring and EBV viral load-driven immunosuppression reduction could decrease the incidence of PTLD in our patient population. All data were prospectively collected between 2001 and 2004 at a single institution. Seventy-three patients were entered into the study. Patients were divided into a historical control group (pre-2001, 30 patients) and a treatment group (post-2001, 43 patients). Approximately 1271 blood samples of 73 patients were collected between 2001 and 2004. Eleven out of 43 patients received immunosuppression tapering due to high EBV viral loads (>4000 copies/μg DNA). One patient developed allograft rejection after immunosuppression modulation. Prior to 2001, the incidence of PTLD at our institution was 16%. After instituting a protocol for EBV monitoring, the incidence of PTLD decreased to 2% (p-value < 0.05). These findings illustrate that frequent EBV viral load monitoring and preemptive immunosuppression modulation have an integral role in preventing PTLD in the pediatric liver transplant population.