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Background: Chronic graft-versus-host disease (GvHD) is a major cause of morbidity and mortality after haematopoietic stem cell transplantation occurring in 6% to 65% of the recipients. Currently, the therapeutic mainstay for chronic GvHD are corticosteroids that are frequently combined with other immunosuppressive agents in people with steroid-refractory manifestations. There is no established standard treatment for steroid-refractory chronic GvHD. The therapeutic options in these people include extracorporeal photopheresis (ECP), an immunomodulatory treatment that involves ex vivo collection of mononuclear cells from peripheral blood, exposure to the photoactive agent 8-methoxypsoralen, ultraviolet radiation and re-infusion of the processed cell product. The mechanisms of action of ECP are not completely understood. Objectives: To evaluate the effectiveness and safety of ECP for the management of chronic GvHD in children and adolescents after haematopoietic stem cell transplantation. Search methods: We searched the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (Issue 9, 2012), MEDLINE and EMBASE databases from their inception to 12 September 2012. We searched the reference lists of potentially relevant studies without any language restriction. We searched eight trial registers and five conference proceedings. We also contacted experts in the field. Selection criteria: Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) comparing ECP with or without alternative treatment versus alternative treatment alone in paediatric patients with chronic GvHD after haematopoietic stem cell transplantation. Data collection and analysis: Two review authors independently performed the study selection. We resolved disagreements in the selection of trials by consultation with a third review author. Main results: We found no studies meeting the criteria for inclusion in this review. Authors' conclusions: The efficacy of ECP in the treatment of chronic GvHD in paediatric patients after haematopoietic stem cell transplantation based on RCTs can currently not be evaluated since we have found no such studies. Current recommendations are based on retrospective or observational studies only. Thus, ideally, ECP should be applied in the context of controlled trials only. However, performing RCTs in this patient population will be challenging due to the limited number of patients, the variable disease presentation and the lack of well-defined response criteria. International collaboration, multicentre trials and appropriate funding for such trials will be needed. If treatment decisions based on clinical grounds in favour of ECP are made, people should be carefully monitored for beneficial and harmful effects and efforts should be made to share this information with other clinicians, for example by setting up registries for paediatric patients that are treated with ECP.
Weitz, M., Strahm, B., Meerpohl, J. J., & Bassler, D. (2014, February 25). Extracorporeal photopheresis versus alternative treatment for chronic graft-versus-host disease after haematopoietic stem cell transplantation in paediatric patients. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. John Wiley and Sons Ltd. https://doi.org/10.1002/14651858.CD009898.pub2