The Tumor Microenvironment in Post-Transplant Lymphoproliferative Disorders

  • Lukas Marcelis
  • Thomas TousseynEmail author


Post-transplant lymphoproliferative disorders (PTLDs) cover a broad spectrum of lymphoproliferative lesions arising after solid organ or allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. The composition and function of the tumor microenvironment (TME), consisting of all non-malignant constituents of a tumor, is greatly impacted in PTLD through a complex interplay between 4 factors: 1) the graft organ causes immune stimulation through chronic antigen presentation; 2) the therapy to prevent organ rejection interferes with the immune system; 3) the oncogenic Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), present in 80% of PTLDs, has a causative role in the oncogenic transformation of lymphocytes and influences immune responses; 4) interaction with the donor-derived immune cells accompanying the graft. These factors make PTLDs an interesting model to look at cancer-microenvironment interactions and current findings can be of interest for other malignancies including solid tumors. Here we will review the current knowledge of the TME composition in PTLD with a focus on the different factors involved in PTLD development.


Post-transplant lymphoproliferative disorders Epstein-Barr virus Microenvironment, immunosuppression 



We would like to recognize and thank the other members of the ‘Leuven PTLD consortium’: prof. dr. Daan Dierickx and prof. dr. Gregor Verhoef (department of Hematology) and prof. dr. Olivier Gheysens (department of Nuclear Medicine) with whom we collaborate for all PTLD focused research. The artwork used for Fig. 1 was created by Veerle Haemels.

Financial Support

TT holds a Mandate for Fundamental and Translational Research from the ‘Stichting tegen Kanker’ (2014–083).

LM is a PhD student, financially supported by KULeuven, Department of Imaging and Pathology, ‘Stefanie’s Rozen fonds’, ‘Fonds Tom Debackere’, ‘Stichting Me to You (’ and “Emmanuel van der Schueren beurs (Kom op tegen Kanker)’.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Imaging and Pathology, Translational Cell and Tissue Research LabKU LeuvenLeuvenBelgium
  2. 2.Department of PathologyUniversity Hospitals UZ LeuvenLeuvenBelgium

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