Role of Epstein-Barr virus status and immunophenotypic studies in the evaluation of exfoliative cytology specimens from patients with post-transplant lymphoproliferative disorders

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Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Post-transplant lymphoproliferative disorders (PTLDs) are well characterized in tissue sections, but their evaluation in exfoliative cytology specimens is limited. This study reports a 25-year experience with PTLDs in exfoliative cytology specimens.

METHODS:

All solid organ or allogeneic stem cell transplant recipients with PTLDs and exfoliative cytology specimens from 1987 to 2011 were identified. The cytomorphology, Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) status, flow cytometry, immunohistochemistry, and molecular studies were reviewed from all exfoliative cytology specimens previously diagnosed as atypical lymphoid proliferations or PTLDs.

RESULTS:

A total of 55 patients (age range, 1-72 years) with PTLDs had 434 exfoliative cytology specimens. Thirty-six of the 55 patients (65%) had 54 specimens with abnormal lymphoid proliferations (12% of the specimens), and 26 of these patients had 37 specimens available for review (15 cerebrospinal fluid specimens, 12 peritoneal fluid specimens, 9 pleural fluid specimens, and 1 bronchoalveolar lavage fluid specimen). Thirty percent of the reviewed cytology specimens were diagnostic of PTLDs, including 8 cases of monomorphic post-transplant lymphoproliferative disorder (M-PTLD) with abnormal B/T-cell populations identified with flow cytometry/immunohistochemistry and 3 EBV-positive specimens with a differential diagnosis of polymorphic PTLD versus M-PTLD. All cases diagnostic of a PTLD had 1 to 3 ancillary studies performed. Forty percent of the cytology specimens (15 of 37) were suspicious for a PTLD, but ancillary studies were performed for only a third of them, and they did not support a definitive diagnosis of a PTLD. Thirty percent of the cytology specimens (11 of 37) appeared reactive, but they lacked sufficient ancillary studies to exclude a PTLD.

CONCLUSIONS:

Atypical lymphoid proliferations are common in exfoliative cytology specimens from patients with PTLDs, and they require ancillary studies at least including immunophenotyping and EBV evaluations for a definitive diagnosis. Cancer Cytopathol2016;124:425–35. © 2016 American Cancer Society.

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