Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infection is common after liver transplantation in children and is associated with the risk of posttransplant lymphoproliferative disorders (PTLD).Methods.
This retrospective study examined the frequency of gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms and the risk of PTLD in pediatric liver recipients who developed symptomatic EBV infection. We reviewed 172 children who received orthotopic liver transplants between March 1988 to December 1994. Twenty-two cases were retransplants. The mean age at transplantation was 3.7 years (range, 0.1-17 years). The immunosuppressive regimens consisted of induction therapy with Minnesota antilymphocyte globulin/antithymocyte globulin/OKT3 in most cases and maintenance therapy with prednisone and either cyclosporine or tacrolimus (FK506).Results.
After 1 year of minimum follow-up, 54 of 172 patients had symptomatic EBV infections (confirmed by serology, histology, or whole blood polymerase chain reaction. At the time of infection, 38.5% (21/54) had either diarrhea or GI bleeding or both. PTLD developed in 11 patients (6.4%). The incidence of PTLD was 42.9% (9/21) when GI bleeding or diarrhea was associated with EBV infections, compared with 6.1% (2/33) when EBV infection was not associated with GI symptoms. Seven of 10 (70%) patients with GI bleeding and 2 of 11 (18.2%) with diarrhea developed PTLD. Of seven patients examined by endoscopy for GI bleeding, two had biopsy-proven PTLD of the GI tract, whereas one of two patients examined by endoscopy for diarrhea had biopsy-proven PTLD.Discussion.
In summary, a high incidence of PTLD was found in patients who developed GI bleeding or diarrhea associated with EBV infection after pediatric liver transplantation. In these patients, endoscopy and biopsy may lead to early diagnosis of PTLD.