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

    loading  Checking for direct PDF access through Ovid



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.


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.


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.


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.

Related Topics

    loading  Loading Related Articles