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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Chimerism-based pre-emptive immunotherapy with fast withdrawal of immunosuppression and donor lymphocyte infusions after allogeneic stem cell transplantation for pediatric hematologic malignancies

  • Author(s): Horn, B
  • Petrovic, A
  • Wahlstrom, J
  • Dvorak, CC
  • Kong, D
  • Hwang, J
  • Expose-Spencer, J
  • Gates, M
  • Cowan, MJ
  • et al.

© 2015 American Society for Blood and Marrow Transplantation. The presence of increasing host chimerism or persistent mixed chimerism (MC) after hematopoietic stem cell transplantation for leukemia in children is a predictor of relapse. To reduce the risk of relapse, we prospectively studied post-transplantation chimerism-based immunotherapy (IT) using fast withdrawal of immunosuppression (FWI) and donor lymphocyte infusions (DLI) in children with early post-transplantation MC. Forty-three children with hematologic malignancies at 2 institutions were enrolled prospectively in this study from 2009 until 2012 and were followed for a mean of 42 (SD, 10) months. Twelve patients (28%) were assigned to the observation arm based on the presence of graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) or full donor chimerism (FDC), and 5 (12%) sustained early events and could not undergo intervention. Twenty-six (60%) patients with MC were assigned to IT with FWI, which started at a median of 49 days (range, 35 to 85 days) after transplantation. Fourteen patients proceeded to DLI after FWI. Toxicities of treatment included GVHD, which developed in 19% of patients undergoing intervention, with 1 of 26 (4%) dying from GVHD and 1 (4%) still requiring therapy for chronic GVHD 21 months after DLI. Patients with MC undergoing IT had similar 2-year event-free survival (EFS) (73%; 95% confidence interval (CI), 55% to 91%) compared with patients who achieved FDC spontaneously (83%; 95% CI, 62% to 100%); however, because 50% of all relapses in the IT occurred later than 2 years after transplantation, the EFS declined to 55% (95% CI, 34% to 76%) at 42 (SD, 11) months. There were no late relapses in the observation group. EFS in the entire cohort was 58% (95% CI, 42% to 73%) at 42 (SD, 11) months after transplantation. Evidence of disease before transplantation remained a significant predictor of relapse, whereas development of chronic GVHD was protective against relapse.

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