15 April 2019
Different forms of graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) remain a major cause of morbidity and mortality after allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT). The prognosis for steroid-refractory chronic GVHD (cGVHD) remains poor. Our aim was to evaluate extracorporeal photopheresis (ECP) treatment in cGVHD patients with different organ involvement to detect subgroups of patients with the best response.
Thirty-four patients who underwent HSCT and developed moderate (n = 7) or severe (n = 27) steroid-refractory or steroid-dependent cGVHD treated with ECP were included in the analysis. A matched cGVHD control patient group untreated with ECP was collected for comparison.
Compared to the control group and the stable/progressive disease (SD/PD) patients, individuals with complete/partial remission have higher overall survival and lower transplant-related mortality. Furthermore, patients with complete and partial remission (CR/PR) had significantly higher levels of albumin and platelets after ECP treatment compared to patients with stable or progressive cGVHD (SD/PD). Corticosteroid treatment and other immunosuppressive agents could successfully be tapered in the CR/PR group compared to the SD/PD patients. In this study patients with skin cGVHD are those with the highest rate of CR/PR after ECP treatment.