Reactivation of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) after bone-marrow transplantation leads in many cases to lymphoproliferative disease that responds poorly to standard therapy and is usually fatal. To prevent or control this complication, we prepared EBV-specific cytotoxic T-lymphocyte (CTL) lines from donor leucocytes and infused them into ten allograft recipients. Three of the patients had shown signs of EBV reactivation, with or without overt lymphoproliferation, and the others received CTL infusions as prophylaxis. No patient developed any complication that could be attributed to the CTL infusions. In the three patients with EBV reactivation, EBV DNA concentrations (measured by semiquantitative polymerase chain reaction [PCR]), which had increased 1000-fold or more, returned to the control range within 3-4 weeks of immunotherapy. The most striking consequence was the resolution of immunoblastic lymphoma in a 17-year-old patient who received four CTL infusions (two 1 x 107/m2 and two 5 x 107/m2). Because the CTL had been genetically marked before infusion, we were able to show by PCR analysis that they persisted for 10 weeks after administration. EBV-specific donor-type T-cell lines seem to offer safe and effective therapy for control of EBV-associated lymphoproliferation.
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