Success of Immunosuppressive Treatments in Patients with Chronic Graft-versus-Host Disease

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Moderate to severe chronic graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) is treated with potent immunosuppressive therapy (IST) to modulate the allo-immune response, control symptoms, and prevent further organ damage. We sought to understand the types of treatments used in clinical practice and the likelihood of successful treatment associated with each. A chart review was performed for 250 adult patients at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center enrolled in a prospective observational study. After a median follow-up of 5.6 years for survivors, approximately one-third were still on IST (of whom half were on fourth or greater line of therapy), one-third were alive and off IST, and one-third had relapsed or died. Approximately half of survivors stopped all IST at least once, although half of these restarted IST after a median of 3.4 months (interquartile range, 2.3 to 8.0) off therapy. Successful discontinuation of IST for at least 9 months was associated with myeloablative conditioning (P =.04), more years since transplant (P =.009), and lack of oral (P <.001) and skin (P =.049) involvement compared with those who had to restart IST. We conclude that patients with chronic GVHD usually receive multiple lines and years of IST, with only a third off IST, alive, and free of malignancy at 5 years after chronic GVHD diagnosis. Patients stopping IST should be cautioned to self-monitor and continue close medical follow-up, especially for 3 to 6 months after stopping IST.




Lee, S. J., Nguyen, T. D., Onstad, L., Bar, M., Krakow, E. F., Salit, R. B., … Flowers, M. E. (2018). Success of Immunosuppressive Treatments in Patients with Chronic Graft-versus-Host Disease. Biology of Blood and Marrow Transplantation, 24(3), 555–562.

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