Acute graft-versus-host disease (aGvHD) continues to be a major obstacle to allogeneic haematopoietic stem cell transplantation. Thymic damage secondary to aGvHD along with corticosteroids and other non-selective T lymphocyte-suppressive agents used in the treatment of aGvHD concurrently impair thymopoiesis and negatively impact on immunoreconstitution of the adaptive immune compartment and ultimately adversely affect clinical outcome. Extracorporeal photopheresis (ECP) is an alternative therapeutic strategy that appears to act in an immunomodulatory fashion, potentially involving regulatory T lymphocytes and dendritic cells. By promoting immune tolerance and simultaneously avoiding systemic immunosuppression, ECP could reduce aGvHD and enable a reduction in other immunosuppression, allowing thymic recovery, restoration of normal T lymphopoiesis, and complete immunoreconstitution with improved clinical outcome. Although the safety and efficacy of ECP has been demonstrated, further randomised controlled studies are needed as well as elucidation of the underlying mechanisms responsible and the effect of ECP on thymic recovery.
Flinn, A. M., & Gennery, A. R. (2016). Extracoporeal photopheresis treatment of acute graft-versus-host disease following allogeneic haematopoietic stem cell transplantation [version 1; referees: 2 approved]. F1000Research. Faculty of 1000 Ltd. https://doi.org/10.12688/F1000RESEARCH.8118.1