Aggressive NK-cell leukemia (ANKL) is characterized by systemic infiltration of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)-associated natural killer cells and poor prognosis. We report a case of ANKL in which EBV-specific cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTLs) were induced. A 41-year-old male suffered from fever, pancytopenia, and hepatosplenomegaly. The number of abnormal large granular lymphocytes in the bone marrow was increased and the cells were positive for CD56 and EBV-encoded small nuclear RNAs. The patient was diagnosed with ANKL and achieved a complete response following intensive chemotherapy. He then underwent allogeneic peripheral blood stem cell transplantation from his sister. Conditioning therapy consisted of total body irradiation and cyclophosphamide. Graft-versus-host disease prophylaxis consisted of cyclosporine and methotrexate. On day 31, complete donor chimerism was achieved and no acute graft-versus-host disease developed. The ANKL relapsed on day 80, and cyclosporine was rapidly tapered and chemotherapy was started. During hematopoietic recovery, the number of atypical lymphocytes increased, but they were donor-derived EBV-specific CTLs. The patient achieved a partial response and EBV viral load decreased to normal range. Unfortunately, ANKL worsen again when the CTLs disappeared from his blood. This is the first case report of ANKL in which induced EBV-specific CTLs may have contributed to disease control.
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